Looking to a Zune Update for Windows Phone Hints

There have been lots of rumors as well as hints and ambiguous official statements from Microsoft regarding what it plans to show and announce next month at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.

Now, one influential blogger claims to have found proof that a Zune-like, Microsoft-powered (NASDAQ: MSFT) phone is on the way.

Australian tech enthusiast Long Zheng said in a blog post this week that the latest device driver update for the new Zune HD media player contains lines of entries that he claims specifically refer to a long-rumored Zune Phone.

"Coinciding with the scheduled Zune.net maintenance today, a new Zune software update was also released (version for those playing along at home). What might appear as just a regular software update is actually hiding a very big secret. The illusive 'Zune Phone' is pretty much confirmed," he wrote in a post on the I Started Something blog.

He also pointed to a series of entries that specifically refer to Zune phones.

One driver in particular references "specific hardware IDs that are locked to a vendor (Microsoft) and product which under USB body regulations cannot be masked, thus this has to be Microsoft devices. 'Pink' anyone?" he added, referring to the codename for a long-rumored, Microsoft-designed handset.

The company has been reportedly working on Pink for many months. While speculation is that "Pink" was created by Microsoft, it may not be directly marketed by the software giant -- depending on which version of the rumor wins out, if any.

Microsoft's standard response to questions regarding Pink has been that the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.

But earlier this month, the rumors got another boost when Jefferies & Company analyst Katherine Egbert said in a technology note that she expects Microsoft to introduce Pink either at MWC next month, or at CTIA in Los Angeles a month later.

Despite Microsoft's official silence on the matter, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, said in early January at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that he had gotten to "play" with Windows Phone 7 -- ostensibly the operating system that would underlie a Zune phone.

At CES, Bach also said that what Microsoft will show at MWC will be "something that sets the bar forward -- not in an evolutionary way, but something that feels, looks, acts, and performs as something completely different."

Pink, anyone?

Meanwhile, Microsoft's response to questions regarding Zune HD and a Zune-like phone is as cagey as ever.

"As far as rumors of a 'Zune phone,' we have no plans to create a Zune phone," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

That said, however, the door isn't completely closed.

"It makes sense that someday Zune could be part of a phone experience, but there have been no announcements about how or if that will happen," the spokesperson said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Microsoft, Windows Phone, Zune, Mobile World Congress