Is Microsoft planning to Surface its own smartphone?

Officially, Microsoft and Nokia seem to be the best of friends when it comes to Windows Phone 8 hardware. Nokia is betting big on the newest iteration of Microsoft's mobile OS, launching in a few weeks. But unofficially there may be trouble in paradise. It sounds like Microsoft may be getting ready to introduce its own Surface-branded smartphone; a phone that will directly compete with Nokia.

Earlier this week both BGR and WPCentral ran stories about a rumored Surface phone, and they claim to have heard their tips from separate sources. While neither site is naming names, both express confidence in their sources.

Of course Microsoft itself is staying on-message and talking about Windows Phone 8 and its partnerships with Nokia (and other phone makers such as Samsung). But maybe they need to be a bit more straightforward about the whole issue, if they want to keep their partners happy.

According to The Verge a Microsoft spokeman told them, presumably in response to a question about the Surface phone: "We are big believers in our hardware partners and together we’re focused on bringing Windows Phone 8 to market with them." The Verge's Tom Warren refers to this comment as a 'non-denial' of the Surface phone rumors.

Consensus thinking (see also VentureBeat's take on the topic) seems to be that if Windows Phone 8 launch goes off according to plan, the Surface Phone idea will be shelved, but if WP8 struggles then Microsoft will take matters into its own hands in 2013.

For anyone considering buying a launch Windows Phone 8 device on a 2 year contract later this year, 2013 seems pretty near-future (and let's face it, it really is). Maybe that old handset will do for another six months until Microsoft shows its hand? It seems to me that Microsoft needs to very firmly and specifically deny the Surface phone rumors or else risk sabotaging the launch of its own OS.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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