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Could the Zune Phone Be Closer Than We Think? New Evidence in Zune Update

As Apple’s mysterious “latest creation” announcement on January 27th draws nearer and nearer, rumors and speculation about Microsoft releasing a Zune smartphone in the near future have also been building up. PC World sees evidence that such a phone would fill in Microsoft’s “three screens and a cloud” strategy; Christian Science Monitor quotes an analyst as saying that they expect a Zune phone “at either the Feb 15-18 Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona Spain, or possibly at CTIA in Las Vegas one month later.”

Now, there’s a new piece of evidence for a Zune phone: the most recent Zune software update contains three intriguing lines of code that seems to hint at three different models of Zune phone on the near horizon.

I Started Something delves into the upgrade and takes the bold stance that “‘the Zune Phone’ is pretty much confirmed”: (emphasis added)

Coinciding with the scheduled 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.

As some of you might know, an .INF file is essential component of a driver package responsible for identifying the driver and associating it with compatible USB hardware IDs, and in this case, the Zune.inf file is responsible for associating devices with the Zune driver.

New to this version of the driver which was actually generated on October 20, 2009 are several lines which pretty much speak for themselves.

%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBMS_COMP_MTPZ
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBVID_045E&PID_0710
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBVID_045E&PID_063E
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBVID_045E&PID_0640
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBVID_045E&PID_0641
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USBVID_045E&PID_0642
%ZuneIp.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZIP, umburn:microsoft-com:device:mtpz:1

; Localizable strings
Msft = “Microsoft”
Zune.DeviceDesc = “Zune”

Phone.DeviceDesc = “Phone”

As Boy Genius Report points out, “this could be an indication of future Zune integration into Windows Mobile 7 but the fact that this emerged just prior to MWC with three specific hardware references is a bit compelling.”

The Zune may have been an easy joke not too long ago, but the Zune HD is a lot better; as tempting as it is to turn the smartphone saga into a footrace between Apple and Google, one can’t count Microsoft out just yet. They certainly need the leg up.

(I Started Something via Boy Genius Report)

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