Pink and Microsoft Tablet (Take 2): A couple of updates

Pink and Microsoft Tablet (Take 2): A couple of updates

Summary: Project Pink and the rumored remake of a Microsoft Tablet are back on the rumor treadmill this weekend. It's been quiet out there lately on both fronts. Here's a recap -- plus a couple of small updates -- that I've heard recently about these two skunk-works efforts

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Project Pink and the rumored remake of a Microsoft Tablet are back on the rumor treadmill this weekend.

It's been quiet out there lately on both fronts. Here's a recap -- plus a couple of small updates -- that I've heard recently about these two skunk-works efforts. And just so it's clear: Microsoft isn't corroborating or even commenting on Pink or the new Tablet. This info is purely from sources.

Pink: Yes, it's a Microsoft-branded (but not Microsoft-manufactured) phone. Yes, it also will feature premium mobile services (like the Zune video store and music subscription/purchasing). I wouldn't be surprised if Pink looked like -- or at least was targeted at the same demographic as -- the Sidekick, given the Danger folks have been at the core of Pink's development team since Microsoft acquired Danger in 2008.

Last I heard, Pink was being built on top of the Windows Mobile 7 core, which is in development, but now not expected to be available on phones until late 2010. Does that mean it's impossible that the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010 will be the Pink launch pad,as one Mac site reported this weekend? I'd say it's still possible that Microsoft could show off Pink (privately or publicly) at CES. After all, Microsoft already chose an ad agency to handle the Pink campaign. It'd make sense for Microsoft to start trying to build buzz for Pink earlier than it actually will ship.

Pink (or whatever it is codenamed these days) definitely still seems to be an active project. Stephen Chapman over at UX Evangelist -- who is quite skilled at combing through on-line job sites and resumes -- recently sent me this mention of Pink on LinkedIn:

Peo Orvendal Senior Dev Lead Microsoft July 2008 – Present (1 year 3 months)

Working in the new V1 Pink team at Microsoft.

Update: 9to5 Mac has posted a link to a drawing of what it says is one of the two Pink phones due to be launched at CES 2010. This allegedly, is the "Turtle" Pink phone. There's another that is codenamed "Pure," 9to5 says.  I never heard there were supposed to be two Pink phones. But then again, who knows; Microsoft plans are always in flux.

Microsoft Tablet (Take 2): Like TechFlash's Todd Bishop, I received a tip earlier this year that Microsoft was going to make another run at the Tablet. Chief Experience Officer J Allard, who has been been noticeably absent from public appearances over the past few months, is supposedly leading the charge.

More recently, I heard that at least one exec from Microsoft's Surface team is part of the Tablet effort, too. Microsoft officials have hinted before that they're set on building a smaller Surface. At one point, that project was going by the codename "Oahu." But the new Tablet effort is allegedly part of something that is known as "Alchemy Ventures," according to the couple of tips I've gotten on it to date. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft is waiting for Apple to show its Tablet hand before trotting out its revamped Tablet.

No word on whether Microsoft will field a Microsoft-branded Surface/Tablet combo or rely on one or more hardware partners to produce multiple designs. But this job description for a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft in the Entertainment and Devices Division surely could be for the secret Tablet-remake:

Division: Entertainment & Devices Division Excited by Xbox 360? Fascinated by the technology that powers the Surface? Ever wonder how your Zune HD got built? Bring your talent and passion for building great products to the Manufacturing Test Engineering team! Our team is where all these cool products and more come together. We are a small, high-energy engineering team that builds all the systems that make sure these great products work perfectly as they leave our factories. We literally design and build all the test system used to check our products from the beginning to the end of the manufacturing line and are literally responsible for billions of dollars of products being delivered at the highest quality to our customers.

As a Senior Program Manager, you will own a broad set of feature areas and products, working with our mechanical, electrical, firmware, software, design verification and reliability engineers along with Manufacturing to bring a product from concept into mass production. You will also develop partnerships with internal and external organizations to ensure that our products deliver a superior customer experience.

A couple of points to remember in all of this: Microsoft is a software and services company. Execs have made it clear they plan to get out of the MP3 player business after "at least one more" Zune HD device. Microsoft is more interested in making money off subscriptions. That's why Zune is morphing into a set services are going to move to mobile phones, including Pink.

Point two: Microsoft's plan in the mobile device space is to partner more closely with fewer vendors. That's what the "chassis" model is all about. Microsoft creates a very detailed chassis spec and then allows partners to bid on making devices that comply with the spec.

Palm's publicly confirmed move to get out of the Windows Mobile business and put all its eggs in the WebOS one (after marketing its line of Windows-Mobile-based Treos for a few more quarters) surely wasn't something the beleagured Windows Mobile team wanted/needed to hear this week. But as of late, Microsoft is cozying up lately to a smaller cast of characters, including HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and a few others.

What are your expectations? Will Microsoft field a Pink phone in early 2010? Might a Surface-like Tablet PC be close behind?

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility

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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  • Microsoft should release a High end WM 7 Phone

    In fact a high end phone which will effectively show off all capabilities of WM7, because i don't think that Microsoft can rely on any of its partner to do that. Especially as its biggest partner for WM phones,HTC, is more and more focused on Android than on Windows Mobile.
    So Microsoft has to take on itself to build high end WM 7 phones and to find trusted partners to do the same. I even think that if need Microsoft should be the only one to design and release WM 7 phones. This way, it would be sure that there won't be a whole spectrum of WM phones from the most crappiest to the most appealing one.
    Regarding ,the tablet, i don't think it is such a great idea as even if Microsoft is working on one since a while, because of all the iTablet rumors, people will claim that Microsoft is copying Apple once again.
    It is ironic as Microsoft is the one which came with the tablet concept first.
    On an another hand Microsoft can take advantages of Windows 7 strengths to finally release an appealing and very usable tablet.
    So i think that they should announce a tablet,and if possible release it, before Apple announce one.
    timiteh
    • Copying?

      Of course MS is adopting much of what works for Apple. Why wouldn't
      they? You can see examples in this very article. One could argue that the
      Newton was a tablet, but obviously the current tablets running Windows
      are not copies of the Newton. Similarly, I would argue that if the rumors
      about the Apple tablet are even close, it would be far from a copy of
      Windows tablets -- in fact, it sounds in many ways almost like the
      antithesis of the Windows tablet. Finally, who cares what fanboys -- of
      any product -- say? It's just noise.
      dukeoconnor
    • Not sure where you're getting some of this...

      HTC is putting a LOT of work into WinMo. And the HTC Touch Pro 2 has recently come out and this phone is amazing. Some of the best hardware on ANY phone out there.
      Heatlesssun
      • Good example, but overall trend...

        [i]"HTC is putting a LOT of work into
        WinMo."[/i]

        That's great, but HTC was Microsoft's biggest
        supporter and the reality is, they see the
        writing on the wall and are now shifting more
        resources over to supporting Android based
        devices.

        [i]"And the HTC Touch Pro 2 has recently come
        out and this phone is amazing. Some of the best
        hardware on ANY phone out there."[/i]

        That's all well and good, it does seem to have
        a nice screen. However, if you haven't
        noticed, the software has been the leading
        factor in differentiating platforms lately.
        Windows Mobile is now the anchor holding this
        device back. It won't be until version 7.0
        that Microsoft is able to compete again.
        That's pretty far off yet and who knows where
        the rest of the market will be by then. Right
        now, Microsoft is hemorrhaging market share.
        Palm is dumping WinMo devices in favor of
        WebOS. Motorola is dumping them in favor of
        Android. Even HTC is scaling back in favor of
        Android.
        techconc
        • RE: Good example, but overall trend...

          Yes, but HTC has been tearing it up on the software end, as well. The TouchFlo 3D front end on the Touch Pro 2 is both gorgeous and functional, and they bundle (and default to) Opera Mobile to give it a modern browser. Plus, Windows Mobile actually has better apps in many categories than the iPhone, and the selection dusts that of Android or Palm.

          But I'd be developing for Android too, if my company developed the best smartphone on the market, released on 3 of the top 4 carriers for as low as $199, and I still couldn't get it reviewed on most gadget sites or even get it placed in most retail stores.

          It's frankly ridiculous.

          Hopefully, the advent of the actual WM6.5 release will bring the spotlight back long enough to show what an awesome phone this is.
          wanorris
  • RE: Pink and Microsoft Tablet (Take 2): A couple of updates

    Thanks for sharing the rumour. It's not long since I wrote a blog post predicting this, in which I explained why it seems inevitable:-

    http://www.timacheson.com/Blog/2009/aug/zune_hd_portable_media_player_launch_date_announced#comment49

    I'm glad you mentioned Zune HD in this context: " after ?at least one more? Zune HD device". To quote part of my own original blog the day after Zune HD was first unveiled:-

    "I predict that by 2012 Microsoft will launch something that could be described as a Zune phone."
    Tim Acheson
  • Putting the kart before the horse. Won't work.

    The issue I see for MS is that "mobile" is not like the PC in many ways, specifically they have limited storage, memory, and CPUs and must maintain low power consumption.

    When building a device like this the designers/engineers look at what features they want and build to support those features, NOT to support every possible feature the OS may have to offer. That leaves MS in the position of either having dozen's (hundreds?) of different distros, or one distro that is bloated with code that will never be used.

    Bottom line is that when it comes to small, low power devices, one size fits all simply doesn't work.

    Of course the fact there are now so many free OS's in this space that developers have the full source code to and is easily modified to meet their exact needs puts MS even further into a hole they can't get out of.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • What's in the Kart is important.

      I think another article today shows that the key to the Apple strategy is that they had a monetization plan prior to going into the iPod. When Jobs started talking about getting into the home entertainment, everyone poo-pooed them. However the fact that they linked the apple online store, the retail store, then the iTunes store, and now the AppStore into an amazon-like buying experience. Apple is now primarily one product line, one that is focused on delivering and managing content (DRM or otherwise) for the non-business user... which everyone is.


      The CE market is all about content. OS's and big apps are not the method of growing profits. Apple is taking the Visa (and to a lesser extent the media distributors) model of business, where they are delivering a platform to act as a seemless distributor of content, by providing HW that is integrated by SW that is integrated by a backend (mobileMe/AppleStore) to deliver content in manner that is painless ($1.29 for a song/ringtone... all I need is a password?... $4.99 for an app that does exactly what I want/need (until I stumble upon one slightly better for $3.99). and making 15-30% on the content transaction, and making 30-50% on the HW transaction. The HW sales are feeding the transition, and eventually, Apple will move away from HW as being the profit center of the company, and content management will be their key, with HW and middleware (webkit, OS X) allowing them to control the 'reference platform' of excellence.

      MS has no such strategy. They are still in protect their MS Office cash cow, by OS lockin. Until they lose that mindset, and get into leadership instead of lockin (Word on a Cell phone? Sorry, ain't gonna happen)

      Apple is selling an integrated experience, and is exploiting a well designed (okay, OS X/Webkit/HTML5 is slightly better designed than Win7/WiMo7/MSN/Zune/ActiveX/.Net/etc etc) OS/app development model. but the key aspect is Microsoft's dependence on 3rd rate HW partners and it's inability to build a reference experience because of it, makes for a doomed experience of 'copying' apple.
      xlt75
      • I disagree.

        Apple isn't about to drop their hardware business anytime soon ... not with it generating billions of dollars of profit while they only-just cover costs on their online services.

        How can you talk about "lockin" and point the finger at MS whilst choosing to ignore Apple's FAR worse lockin. Apple aggressively defents its hardware & OS monopoly - ask Pystar what it thinks about being sued out of existence for daring to offer machines that are compatible with Apple's OS.

        The fact of the matter is that Microsoft has always fostered a partnership of companies who offer products to their marketplace whereas Apple wants to be the sole source of all your hardware and software ... and increasingly ... your services too.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
        • Apple is no monopoly

          Apple's EULA forbids the use of OS X on non Apple hardware. Psystar is
          openly violating that. How is that related to monopolies in any way??

          MS partnerships? Right, tell that to the Plays for Sure crowd.
          Monkeypox
          • Yes, they are ... even by YOUR definition

            Apple is rigidly enforcing its monopoly of computers that can run OSX and computers on which OSX can run.

            As you state: "Apple's EULA forbids the use of OS X on non Apple hardware"

            Therefore, they're actively preventing competition. This is called anti-competitive behavior and is being exhibited by a company who owns the monopoly in Apple-compatible computers.

            QED.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • Whose definition?

            Nowhere was monopoly defined. You claiming otherwise is just another
            example of you making things up out of whole cloth.
            YOUR implies definition of monopoly, on the other hand, is absurd.
            Anyone can narrow the definition of monopoly enough that it applies to
            every product in the market.
            Johnson&Johnson has a monopoly on adhesive bandages that carry the
            name Band-Aid. Coca-Cola has the monopoly on Cola that is made
            using their recipe. MIcrosoft has a monopoly on operating systems that
            use their non-disclosed APIs.

            QED? You also clearly have NEVER taken a class in logic.
            SpiritusInMachina
        • Yes, go ahead and ask Psystar

          They will be the first to tell you that their bankruptcy had NOTHING to
          do with Apple's law suits. They went under because, for whatever
          reason, they just could not sell many machines.
          SpiritusInMachina
          • Now, why did they not sell any machines, I wonder?

            Could it be becuase nobody wanted to buy their machines knowing that Apple was going to shut them down?

            Would YOU buy a Mac clone if you knew the company wouldn't be there 6 months from now?

            Apple's law-suits were directly responsible for preventing Pystar from competing with Apple (who did NOT modify any Apple software and, in fact, paid for the OSX licenses) which is anti-competitive.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • Alice in Wonderland

            "Could it be becuase nobody wanted to buy their machines knowing
            that Apple was going to shut them down?"

            I very much doubt that, but if you have any data to the contrary, feel
            free to post it. I suspect that the main reason that people didn't buy
            from Psystar is that the people who were willing to deal with the
            headaches inherent in using their OSx86 distro were also the types of
            people who could just as easily do it themselves, and save themselves
            money. Certainly that is the message from every forum and BB on the
            subject I have ever read, including the many threads at the OSx86
            boards.

            "Would YOU buy a Mac clone if you knew the company wouldn't be
            there 6 months from now?"

            Sure. Do you think that suddenly they are going to magically stop
            working?!? Just because Psystar goes under, does not stop the
            machines from working. And seeing as how they are NOT the authors
            of the OSX hack, but rather get it directly from the OSx86 folks, I fail
            to see what difference Psystar's collapse would make. All they are
            doing is providing the service of bundling the OSx86 Kalyway distro
            on PC hardware.
            You knew that, right?

            "Apple's law-suits [sic] were directly responsible for preventing Pystar
            from competing with Apple..."

            No they weren't. Even Psystar says this. I seriously doubt you know
            their situation better than they.

            "... (who did NOT modify any Apple software and, in fact, paid for the
            OSX licenses) which is anti-competitive."

            Um, yes they did. Well, actually, no they didn't. As I have already
            informed you, they used a standard OSx86 install. They bought the
            license for each machine to bypass legal issues, NOT to install it.

            Please don't discuss anti-trust and monopoly law, as you CLEARLY do
            not understand either.
            SpiritusInMachina
  • what a mess

    microsoft should just cease this zune / windows mobile /
    sidekick / pink platform desaster and spare their
    shareholders the next billion they obviously plan to sink in
    this bottomless hole.
    bannedfromzdnetagain
  • waiting for apple

    "...I wouldn?t be surprised if Microsoft is waiting for Apple to
    show its Tablet hand before trotting out its revamped
    Tablet...."

    i like that quote.
    mary, are you coming to your senses finally?
    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • Notice the word -revamped-

      Notice the word, revamped.

      Microsoft has been in the TabletPC business for many years and has defined the industry.

      No matter what 'tabletPC' device Apple comes out with, it will be following Microsoft TabletPC technology.

      (TabletPCs have been around since 2002, and PenWindows goes back to 1991)


      Does Apple not let their users see the 'real' world even once in a while?

      Maybe notice some of your delivery people using TabletPCs or your Doctor or your Hospital or your salesman, or a lot of college students that like features more than people thinking they are cool with an Apple logo.

      TabletPCs are old and fairly common in the Windows world, and tried and tested and highly used technology already.

      Ignorance like this is what makes me gag when people talk about the iPhone like it was first successful touch device.

      Touch and Pen input has been around for years and the iPhone is nothing but a rip off of the ideas presented at the TED conference the year before, even adopting the 'made up' gestures the presenters through together for the presentation.

      (Search for TED Multi-Touch) -TED actually released the video for this presentation at the request of the presenters because people kept giving Apple the credit for the concepts used, when they only copied them.

      thenetavenger
      • Cattle cars

        "Microsoft has been in the TabletPC business for many years and has
        defined the industry."

        And even according to them, failed to make much of an impression.

        "No matter what 'tabletPC' device Apple comes out with, it will be
        following Microsoft TabletPC technology.

        (TabletPCs have been around since 2002, and PenWindows goes back
        to 1991)"

        The Apple Newton was developed in 1989, well before Microsoft even
        thought about tablet form-factors, and had full human text input.
        But so what?

        "Maybe notice some of your delivery people using TabletPCs or your
        Doctor or your Hospital or your salesman, or a lot of college students
        that like features more than people thinking they are cool with an
        Apple logo."

        You don't seriously think people are buying this bull, do you?
        What delivery people? Certainly not the three biggest delivery
        companies in the world, UPS, DHL, and FedEx. Doctors?!? I suspect at
        this point that iPhones outnumber tablet PCs more than two to one in
        hospitals and clinics. Students? Check your numbers again, Tablet PCs
        are NOT selling well in the education market at ALL.
        You don't just get to make stuff up, and have it magically become
        true.

        "TabletPCs are old and fairly common in the Windows world, and tried
        and tested and highly used technology already."

        Not really true, but again, who cares?

        "Touch and Pen input has been around for years and the iPhone is
        nothing but a rip off of the ideas presented at the TED conference the
        year before, even adopting the 'made up' gestures the presenters
        through together for the presentation."

        The iPhones heritage stems from the Newton, and multitouch
        interfaces predate TED by DECADES. If you don't know what you are
        talking about, you would do well to not make statements that imply
        that yo do.
        Not that the time frame matters AT ALL, as Apple never CLAIMED to
        have invented multitouch. (Please attempt FUD on that one.)
        SpiritusInMachina
        • And Casio's PDA predated Apple's Newton

          Casio actually invented the first PDA, predating the Newton by 6 years and there were many others in the intervening years.

          It never fails to amaze me just how good Apple is ... at convincing the world that it was the first company ever to offer ...

          GUI
          Mouse
          True-color displays
          MP3 players
          Metal-cased laptops
          Downloadable music & apps
          Touch-sensitive screens
          etc.

          when in reality, it was not the first to release ANY of the above. It even pilfered the core of OSX from FreeBSD and NeXT.
          de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023