Microsoft Pink: 'Just a Sidekick' or more?

Microsoft Pink: 'Just a Sidekick' or more?

Summary: Ever since Gizmodo published photos of two alleged Microsoft Pink phones (codenamed "Turtle" and "Pure,") I've heard repeated refrains of "That's it?" Really? A weak Palm-Pre knock-off and a generic sliding-keyboard design?


Ever since Gizmodo published photos of two alleged Microsoft Pink phones (codenamed "Turtle" and "Pure,") I've heard repeated refrains of "That's it?" Really? A weak Palm-Pre knock-off and a generic sliding-keyboard design?

One tipster of mine said Microsoft's intention with Pink is not to be cool and flashy. (Well, they succeeded if these photos are real. A Microsoft phone with the Zune HD touch interface would be a million times cooler.) Instead, the source said, Microsoft is attempting to walk the fine line between delivering cool, co-branded Microsoft-Sharp phones and delivering something that would completely alienate Microsoft's phone OEM partners.

"Pink is a unique software stack and unique designs," said the source, who requested anonymity. But,  at the same time -- even though Microsoft and the Danger team the company acquired would hate this characterization -- they also are really glorified Sidekicks, the source added. (Looks like this source or others with a similar story are busy spreading that word, based on a new post by's Ina Fried.)

What's more interesting about Pink than the actual hardware is the software plus services stack. This source says that is what is codenamed "Purple." (I'd heard previously Purple was the codename for the Pink user interface, so this doesn't seem like too far a stretch.)

What's in the Purple stack? Here's where things get even hazier. Is Windows Mobile 7 the base upon which Pink phones will be built? From what I heard, that was Microsoft's original plan. It's worth repeating that the OS for Windows Mobile phones, to date, has been Embedded CE at the core, with a lot of customization and layering of a Windows Mobile interface/elements on top. Will Pink phones follow in that mode or break from it? I have no idea.

I asked another source of mine this week whether Windows Mobile 7 will be the foundation upon which Pink phones are built. His reply was odd: He said that being a platform was not a top-priority for Windows Mobile 7. (Make of that what you will....)

What I am still hearing is that the Pink phones will feature a lot of the same kinds of premium services that future Windows Mobile phones will -- everything from access to a common Windows Marketplace app store, to the Zune subscription/playback music service, to a Zune-branded video service.

Microsoft officials aren't commenting on Pink or on the recent Gizmodo images... So for now, there's no way to know how much of this is real or when any of it will materialize.

Update: One reader sent me a point worth mentioning. Danger, the company Microsoft acquired in 2008 and which is believed to be the folks behind Pink at Microsoft, built a platform that was Java-based.  From Danger's Web site:" Danger has developed its own Danger Operating System that is compatible with Sun's J2ME standard (CLDC 1.1 and MIDP 2.0)." If the Pink phones are running this platform, that proves they are Sidekicks at heart, the reader said.

Topics: Mobile OS, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Wi-Fi, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Easy decision

    I had been agonizing over whether to get a new WinMo 6.5 phone or wait to see what the Pink/Purple phones were going to be like. Now that I know, it's an easy decision. I want an HTC Leo (assuming it comes to the states), but after seeing the amazing design of the Courier prototype, I thought the Pink/Purple phones would have great design. I do have one question though, are these built on the chassis reference designs MS has been supplying or is that completely seperate of the Pink/Purple stuff?
  • Those phones sure ain't pretty (NT)

    P. Douglas
  • Its all about Silverlight

    "being a platform was not a top-priority for Windows Mobile 7"

    I wouldnt be surpirsed if Silverlight is the actual UI for the phone to make CE less important. A strong core with full visual adaptability.

    In fact, if they could use silverlight to allow users to create their own UI experience, Microsoft would make a phone that is the direct opposite of the "mold" created for the apple user experience.
  • Should be making a zune HD phone with windows

    wow I like microsoft and love windows phones but holly crap is this a looser phone. Now adays a phone needs to have style and functiuon. This is based on the ugliets phone out the prer which as we are seeing is a losser phone except it has some idea to take for the next round.Microsoft should be making a true iphone competitor. I want to see a zune HD phone built. Give me the same ipod/iphone cross with a zune and windows based cell phone with a nice big 3.5" touchscreen in hd with ability to output hd video to larger screens ie lcds.Push thier own products out there re work zunes music store backwards to how the original software was setup when it was clutter free fast and user friendly to rival itunes crap. Make the files not locked like itunes does so users can share music they buy with all thier devices. Then microsoft has a real true competitor to the iphones out there..his phone is a waste who wants a palm side kick pink turtle phone??
    • Do you have a clue about Apple iTunes do you?

      [i]"Make the files not locked like itunes"[/i]

      Or do you just ramble? I do believe MS locks their music to the Zune and
      not Apple to the iPod. It is a DRM thing that MS does.
      • Displaying your own ignorance!

        I wish ppl would [b]STOP[/b] blaming MS for the whole Digital Rights Management thing! It was NOT a brainchild of MS (nor Apple who till recently was [i]also[/i] supplying all of their media as DRM'ed), but the various arms of the entertainment industry putting the screws to BOTH companies.

        Apple has since been able to begin shifting to non-DRM'ed media, appeasing the entertainment industry by charging a little more for non-DRM'ed media. MS though has a more delicate balance to maintain, as Windows is still (falsely) seen as the "pirate's platform of choice... ludicrous as ANY OS user can merrily DL music, but anyhow. Perception can be a powerful ally or enemy.
        • DRM was a HIGH hope for MS.

          From the get go, MS recognized that the company controlling the
          DRM would control the media and received the royalties. As a result,
          MS was a very early pusher (and highly favored the use) of DRM for all
          media distribution. I do not think neither Steve Balmer nor Bill Gates
          wrote an open letter to the music industry for the abolishment of

          I do not think (actually I know) it was not MS or Amazon to first offer
          DRM free music for digital download purchase.

          As for your MS fine line excuse... You do realize iTMS is easily
          available on the "pirate's platform of choice" don't you. Not only that,
          that is where the majority of iTMS music store purchases (of non-
          DRMed media content) happens?

          As for the posters accusation that Apple locks down their music, it is
          simply false and based on ignorance or simply MS Worship fanboyism.

          FWIW: I find that my friends that own macs have fully legal media
          libraries. The ones that do extensive "pirating" use either Windows or
          Linux. Could be, those that are more willing to spend more money for
          a better comping experience are also more likely to not steal IP and
          actually pay the creator for their media content. Perhaps not. But
          often perception is based in reality.

  • Wow the speculation is THICK!

    This is probably one of hundreds of designs. So, how is it news? Oh, that's right, it's not. ZDNet doesn't do news any more, just gossip. bah!
  • Only Way

    The supposed "leaking" of information is the only way Microsoft stays in the mobile conversation these days. They've got nothing else.
  • RE: Microsoft Pink: 'Just a Sidekick' or more?

    Mary Jo
    Why does Microsoft think they have to do EVERYTHING in the technology business? I get so frustrated since I consider them a very good software company but when they branch out and try to do hardware--look out! Same thing with their insane desire to be an online search company--although Bing may prove me wrong...
  • RE: Microsoft Pink: 'Just a Sidekick' or more?
  • RE: Microsoft Pink: 'Just a Sidekick' or more?

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