Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

Summary: Microsoft researchers have published a photo of a prototype Microsoft 'Menlo' phone and have shared information about a new sample application codenamed "Greenfield" that is running on it.

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For the past few months, I've been trying to piece together what Microsoft codename "Menlo" is. My tipsters described it as a project by Microsoft Researchers to investigate new operating system possibilities in the mobile space.

One of the research papers I mentioned in my original blog post about Menlo has now been published. (Thanks to reader Charon of Ma-Config.com for the tip about the paper's availability.)

Lo and behold, there's more in that paper, entitled "User Experiences with Activity-Based Navigation on Mobile Devices," about Menlo. From that paper:

"Menlo is a prototype mobile device with a capacitive touch screen (4.1? diagonal, 800x480) running Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 which incorporates a Bosch BMA150 3-axis accelerometer and Bosch BMP085 digital pressure sensor (barometer)."

(Microsoft included an image of a Menlo device in the paper, which I've included at right.)

Running on top of the Menlo platform is a new Microsoft Research Silverlight application codenamed "Greenfield," which is a sensor-centric program allowing users to retrace their footsteps when seeking to find their cars.

Galen Hunt, the Microsoft researcher in charge of the cross-divisional Menlo project, mentioned in his LinkedIn profile that he "negotiated production of custom phone prototypes, designed and implemented major kernel and OS components, implemented runtime and compiler features, and wrote code for demo" as part of his Menlo work.

(Hunt also is the leader of Microsoft's Singularity project. Singularity is a microkernel operating system which Microsoft Research has made available for license. Singularity also was/is the heart of Microsoft's Midori distributed operating system incubation project.)

I mentioned in my original blog post a few of the other Microsoft researchers working on Menlo. The new paper on Greenfield/Menlo lists some others, including a couple of user-interface specialists and senosr researchers. Amy Karlson, who is listed as one of the authors of the paper, also is working on Microsoft Research's "Courier." (No, no the cancelled dual-screen Courier; the Courier phone-based file exchange system that is one of the projects of MSR's Cross-Device User Experience team. This team is focused on understanding how to make PC-phone experiences more seamless.)

So what to make of all this? I don't think Microsoft is going to build its own Menlo phone. (Been there, done that with the failed Kin.) I do think the Menlo team is continuing to focus on a new mobile operating system -- not just the existing Windows Embedded Compact-based ones -- that will work on a variety of processors.

Anyone else have more Menlo information (or guesses) to share?

Topics: Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

About

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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  • Would this be incorporated into WP7? Two Phone OS?

    A
    NamedUser2
    • WP7 and menlo

      Hi. No... I'd say it's safe to say nothing from Menlo is going to be part of WP7. WP7 is based on Windows Embedded Compact 6.0 R3 (soon to be upgraded to Windows Embedded Compact 7). Version 1 of the WP7 OS is due to RTM this fall... MS Research projects have a long leadtime and often don't become products or incorporated into products for years. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @Mary Jo Foley Darn I want a phone with a giant round object hanging off it!
        condelirios
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @Condelirios

        Looks like a floating magnetic compas attached to a waterproof diving case. Or maybe Shrek's handy snack pack of pickeled eyeballs :-)
        AZDnetSubscriber
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

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  • Dear Microsoft...

    Please give up your futile attempts to enter the mobile phone space!

    Thanks!
    tonyhunterajh
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh - Don't like their products, don't use them. Simple. They can throw whatever they want at the market. Just because you don't like their stuff doesn't mean someone else does not. Not everyone is crazy for the iPhone, or even the Droid. Heck, some people don't even care about smart phones at all.
      NordyJ
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

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        erwinhector
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh - How many times did Thomas Edison fail in creating the electric light bulb before he finally succeeded?

      It's common in the business world for some any successful proprietor to have kept on creating new businesses because the old ones failed. It took them a number of tries before they got it right, but the simple fact is that successful business people are only successful because they didn't give up after a few tries, they kept forging ahead until they found the right combination that made them successful.
      PollyProteus
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @PollyProteus
        Since when did "Thomas Edison fail in creating the electric light bulb" He perfected it after stealing the patent. In todays world he would have been sued out of existance
        csumbler
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @PollyProteus Not the best analogy there...

        Edison 'created' the light bulb some 71 years after the first incandescent light bulb was exhibited (Englishman, Humphrey Davy in 1809). He wasn't born for another 38 years after the demo so he wasn't exactly an original thinker as all he did was perfect the work of previous generations and steal the rewards by paying off patent officials to pass his copy off as unique. An Anti-competitive and crooked business man if ever there was!
        dizzy_davidh
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh
      funny, I say the same thing about apple and desktops. Why keep at it when they can't even hang on to their 5.16% market share which is now 5.06% after millions upon millions in advertising.
      rengek
      • Maybe the $45 billion in the bank?

        @rengek That 5.06% is far more lucrative than the vast majority of the PC industry. The fact that Apple, ostensibly a hardware company, is giving Microsoft, a software company, a run for it's money in market cap and revenue, is shocking.
        matthew_maurice
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh Competition is good for consumers, so I am happy. There is a lot of room for improvement in this market, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft fix a lot of what's wrong in smart phones, plus they aren't as hell bent on screwing us.
      Schoolboy Bob
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @Schoolboy Bob

        Dear history-deprived soul: When did Microsoft become the company "not hell bent on screwing us"? Remember the antitrust suits? Remember Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000? XP pre-SP2?? Seriously? That company has been wreaking havoc on the world for 20 years. You can't chalk them up as heroes because they don't have the industrial design, gui design, marketing savvy, and popularity as Apple.
        iamnoskcaj
      • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

        @Schoolboy Bob Thing is, Google's been very successful lately. RIM is not rocking the consumer world, but they still have a following, not to mention the largest share of the US market for smart phones, thanks to business use, particularly centralized device management that isn't yet on Android and will never show up on iPhone (Apple will never surrender the iTunes lock-in).

        But it is reasonable to question Microsoft's involvement, and that quesioning is completely independent of others' efforts.. MS had some smartphone success, but they did nothing to advance their platform. In recent times they have been hemmoraging market share, now well below 10% and still failing. And their recent complete failure with the Kin -- a very obvious stupid at launch -- suggests they don't even begin to understand this market.

        Of course, Palm followed a similar crash & burn strategy, but did produce a grreat solution in WebOS, even if their phones were not all thar competitive. Of course, it was too little, too late to save an independent Palm, and we'll have to see if HP can be nimble enough to fix that.

        MS needs something better than iOS or Android, or why bother?
        Hazydave
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh <br>Dear Google, please give up your attemps to enter mobile phone too. And RIM, this message is for you too... That way the brain washed cult (a.k.a Apple Cult) can feel good about themselves and our numbers.
      catalinst@...
    • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

      @tonyhunterajh
      Dear Google, please give up your attemps to enter mobile phone too. And RIM, this message is for you too... That way the brain washed cult (a.k.a Apple Cult) can feel good about themselves and our one digit market share
      catalinst@...
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  • RE: Microsoft Research shows off a prototype 'Menlo' mobile phone

    Does Microsoft not understand that looks are important? Has Apple taken all of the cool and young people?
    rwhdbee