Back in February, Microsoft announced that it had signed up nine new hardware partners to Windows Phone, including a couple of brands that were returning to the platform, ZTE and LG. Later the same day, however, LG said that it had no firm plans to release any Windows Phones in the near future, and that it didn't even have any WP handsets on its product roadmap.
Then in May, a render made its way online which, it was claimed, was LG's first new Windows Phone since it quit the platform during the WP7 days. But the company quickly distanced itself from the 'Uni 8', as it was supposedly called, saying that it "isn't a phone that we're going to see released this year" - not exactly a complete denial, and perhaps leaving room for a release in 2015.
While other manufacturers new to Windows Phone have been quick to announce, or at least tease, their new handsets, LG's silence has been deafening, and has led some to conclude that the company has been quietly retreating from the platform before it even returns. But it seems that LG may in fact have just been playing its cards close to its chest.
@h0x0d tweeted a reference to the LinkedIn profile of Joong-Young Lee, a Microsoft Program Manager who has been working at the company since 1997. The profile states that some of the employee's duties at Microsoft Korea have included "OEM PM [project management] work with LG, PC, Phone, TV on Windows Threshold & Windows Phone Blue".
Now, those of you who have been paying attention in recent weeks and months will know that 'Threshold' refers to the next major release of Windows, which may be known as Windows 9 when it launches next year. 'Windows Phone Blue' was the development codename for what became known as WP8.1.
There are a few things worth noting here:
- LG has been working on development of Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Whether or not those devices will be released this year - or if we will have to wait until next year instead - remains unknown, but for those who believed that LG had no interest in the platform, this appears to prove otherwise.
- Microsoft is already working with its hardware partners on Threshold. Given that we're now less than a year away from its launch, this isn't entirely surprising, but it is reassuring to see that LG is apparently committed to sticking with Windows for the foreseeable future.
- Microsoft has been working with LG on something related to TV. Now, this is a bit more intriguing, given that Microsoft doesn't currently have a TV-focused product like, say, Android TV or Apple TV. All of its TV-related efforts currently remain focused around Xbox, so it's certainly interesting to see "TV" and "Windows Threshold" mentioned alongside each other. Whether or not Microsoft has broader plans for a new TV-focused product remain to be seen - there were once rumours of a low-cost 'Xbox TV' device, which has so far failed to materialise.
It's also worth pointing out that the LinkedIn posting itself appears legitimate, with endorsements from current Samsung director and former Microsoft director and program manager Daniel NK Lee, so there's no obvious reason to believe that the job descriptions on Joong-Young Lee's profile are anything but accurate and genuine.
Unfortunately, the profile raises more questions than it answers, but there's certainly plenty of interesting detail to consider while we continue to dig for more information. Hopefully, it won't be too long before we learn more about both LG's and Microsoft's plans for the Windows platform.