Microsoft "Turtle", a "Pink" smart phone  (Source: Gizmodo)

Microsoft "Pure", a "Pink" smart phone  (Source: Gizmodo)
Microsoft's new phones look to carve out a new niche for themselves

Its been a rough week for Microsoft in the secrecy department.  First pictures of its Courier bi-screen multi-touch tablet leaked, and now pictures of its upcoming smart phone hardware, codenamed "Pink" have also hit the internet, courtesy of Gizmodo.  The site posted pictures of two upcoming Microsoft phones, which it swears are 100 percent authentic.

The first phone is dubbed "Turtle" and looks akin to a squat Palm Pre.  Like the Pre, it has a sliding screen to feature a QWERTY keyboard.  It looks like it has a head phone jack on its top and a microSD card to the left of the keyboard.  On the back face there's a camera and what looks like possibly a flash.

The second Pink phone, the "Pure" looks kind of like the "Slide" variant of the T-Mobile Sidekick or the Samsung A877.  It appears to have a memory card slot below the keyboard, a headphones jack to the left of the keyboard, and a flash+camera in the back. 

The phone's similarity to the Sidekick is hardly coincidental.  Microsoft bought Danger, one of the makers of the Sidekick's interface, almost two years ago.  And Microsoft has partnered with Sharp to produce the hardware for the phones -- and you guessed it, Sharp made the Sidekick's hardware.  The phones will be Microsoft and Sharp cobranded.

Reportedly the phones will be receiving Zune services features (such as the Zune Pass subscription service) and will also have its own app store.

Will the phone's be competitive with the iPhone, currently the most popular consumer smartphone on the market in terms of "toy" appeal?  It's hard to say.  The phones are bulkier and have larger screens.  However, they will also likely feature the powerful Windows 7 Mobile OS, and have a physical keyboard, a welcome step up from the iPhone's virtual keyboard.  One immediate question that has not yet been answered is whether they might be packing NVIDIA's Tegra onboard, like the new Zune HD.   If they have it, they could be competitive gaming platforms to the iPhone as well.

Early comments regarding the images have not been kind to Microsoft, though, with some bloggers saying the phones look like uglier version of the Sidekick, and inferior to the iPhone/Palm Pre.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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