A month ago, rumours had indicated that Microsoft was manufacturing a smartphone that would be launched by the first quarter of 2013. It appears that the plans for this smartphone have received a push in the right direction. A report by The Wall Street Journal now states that sources have informed it that Microsoft is working with Asia-based component suppliers to test its own smartphone design.

The major talking point about the Microsoft smartphone is that there may be close integration with software and hardware, the way Apple does it by designing both the hardware and software of its devices.

A Microsoft handset in the works?

Testing has begun but will it be mass produced?

The WSJ report states that sources have informed it that Microsoft may be testing a smartphone, but it may not go to mass production. The authors Lorraine Luk and Shira Ovide of The Wall Street Journal state that one of their sources claimed that the screen of Microsoft's smartphone that is currently being tested measures between 4 and 5 inches.

An earlier report by BGR stated that Microsoft is following a strategy much like the one for Windows 8. A source had informed BGR that Microsoft is quietly working on a smartphone of its own that will compete directly with high-end devices such as Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III, and also with Windows Phones built by its own vendor partners. 

BGR's source has informed it that the handset is in the late stage of development, and that it will be launched in the coming months. The report also indicates that much like Microsoft's tablets, this smartphone too will be launched under the Surface brand name. As for the launch period, it is likely that the handset will be available by the first quarter of 2013.

BGR has been unable to confirm the exact timing of the launch, though a second well-placed source did suggest that Microsoft will likely not release an own-brand smartphone during the first round of Windows Phone 8 devices that have recently been launched such as the HTC 8X and HTC 8S.

A report by Windows Phone Central also shares the same views on Microsoft unveiling a smartphone, “Information has come forward to Windows Phone Central that demonstrates Microsoft does have their own Windows Phone hardware in the works; in fact, we’ve heard it already exists and is in testing. The source(s) are known to us and not anonymous, though for obvious reasons we must keep them off the record”.

WPCentral speculates the reason behind Microsoft releasing a smartphone, “Sold through Microsoft Store, the devices could fill in a niche for Microsoft while their OEM partners can have the carriers. This would allow Microsoft to have their own “vision” of Windows Phone and a way to update the devices directly, with no one compromising their vision. In addition, their OEMs will mostly be kept “happy” since unlocked phones are not the crux of their business model.”

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