Microsoft has been steadily falling behind in mobile computing, but solution providers are encouraged by recent scuttlebutt that Microsoft is preparing to make a splash with new mobile devices.
Over the weekend, Microsoft posted a job listing that invites engineers with interest in Surface, Xbox 360 and Zune HD to apply for a position in Microsoft's Manufacturing Test Engineering team. This rekindled earlier speculation that Microsoft may be planning to release a touch-screen tablet device modeled on Surface, in part to counteract the impact of Apple's rumored tablet.
Microsoft's long-rumored 'Pink' smartphone project, which has reportedly been hampered by repeated Windows Mobile 7 delays, will come to fruition in the form of two new devices to be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, according to published reports.
Emelie Hersh, chief operating officer for InterKnowlogy, a Microsoft partner in Carlsbad, Calif., says a Microsoft tablet would have "fantastic" potential due to the vast development capabilities of Windows Presentation Foundation, which allows graphical elements to be displayed on smaller devices more effectively than they've been in the past.
"Surface is a great form factor for development of enterprise applications, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that a smaller device would help extend the viability of those apps," Hersh said.
Surface has been one of the more interesting products to come out of Microsoft in recent memory, but the costs involved with getting up to speed on Surface development have been a bar for solution providers. But a Surface-inspired tablet, combined with compelling and affordable apps from Microsoft's soon-to-be-launched Windows Marketplace For Mobile store, could put Microsoft back into the mobile conversation.