Microsoft is reportedly planning to offer a branded handset model.
The Wall Street Journal cited sources within the company's manufacturing partners in reporting that the handset is currently undergoing a test phase in Asia. The device would reportedly offer a screen size between four and five inches, though no other details on availability or features were given.
The move would give Microsoft a branded offering for its Windows Phone 8 platform as well as a handset model to accompany its Surface tablet model. Currently, the company relies on vendors such as Samsung, HTC and Nokia to build and sell handsets.
Microsoft has said that the Windows Phone 8 handsets would be hitting the market internationally in November and rollouts would continue through the new year.
The company has not yet provided any formal comment on whether it would be seeking to develop a handset offering. When the company formerly launched Windows Phone 8 earlier this week, Microsoft highlighted upcoming handset models from all three of its major hardware partners.
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said in October that the company was planning to further expand its hardware operations, statements which touched off speculation that a handset release could be planned.
Currently, Windows Phone 8 is one of the few major smartphone platforms to not include a branded offering from its vendor. Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) both maintain exclusive rights to develop handsets for the iOS and BlackBerry platforms, while Google offers its Nexus line of handsets and tablets for Android.
The release of a branded tablet could further strain the relationship between Microsoft and its hardware partners. When the company first unveiled the Surface tablet earlier this year, analysts suggested that tablet vendors could be upset with the increased competition from Redmond.
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