It's still an iPhone and Android world, but at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next Monday, expect Microsoft's Windows and Windows Phone platforms to show some intriguing signs of life.
There won't be a lot of huge phone and tablet announcements at the show, and Microsoft's own presence will be dialed back compared to previous years. Nonetheless, we might see some interesting new developments--especially if key rumors pan out.
Here's a breakdown of all the speculation and concrete details concerning Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone hardware heading into next week's event.
What little we know for sure
Of course, most hardware manufacturers won't talk about their plans for MWC ahead of time. Trust us--we asked. Huawei, HTC, and Asus declined to comment, while Nokia replied with a schedule of its speaking arrangements. Samsung didn't even respond to our queries.
The big official news ahead of the show is that AMD will demonstrate a new Turbo Dock technology for future Windows 8 hybrids. Unlike existing keyboard and trackpad docks--which merely add battery life to whatever devices they're connected to--Turbo Dock can crank up CPU and GPU performance by up to 40 percent, and it also provides an option for extra storage. It's unclear, however, if PC makers will announce any actual products with this technology at MWC.
We also know that LG will show off a Windows 8 hybrid called the Tab-Book, which includes a keyboard that slides out from behind its multitouch screen. Still, LG has held off on most of the details, saying only that the hardware boasts an Intel Core i5 processor and an IPS display. The Tab Book launches this week in Korea, but there's no word on additional availability.
Rumors and speculation abound
The rumor mill is where things get interesting. In the run-up to MWC, we've seen reports of a Nokia Windows Phone with true PureView camera technology and a Nokia tablet running Windows RT. There's also been talk of a 7.7 mm-thin Windows Phone from Huawei called the Ascend W2. It's rumored to pack a 4.5-inch display and a sizeable 2,800 mAh battery, and we could see a 6.1-inch Huawei Windows Phone phablet as well.
Just don't expect all those rumors to pan out. Strategy Analytics performed "extensive channel checks" this week, and believes that Nokia will hold off on announcing a Windows RT tablet. Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics' executive director of global wireless practice, thinks the company is better off solidifying its position in smartphones first.
"It's a question of timing, I think," Mawston said in an interview. "Nokia doesn't want to move into tablets too soon, especially if you look back at the Nokia netbook that it launched three years ago. That sank without a trace and sold very small volumes, so any move into the computing market for Nokia will not be taken lightly."
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