Microsoft Menlo smartphone prototype spotted

Microsoft's Menlo "frankenOS", said to be an attempt by the company to develop a new mobile platform, has birthed its first prototype, with the suitably hacked-together device you see here being included as part of a new Microsoft Research publication.  According to "User Experiences with Activity-Based Navigation on Mobile Devices" [PDF link], the test hardware "is a prototype mobile device with a capacitive touch screen (4.1-inch diagonal, 800x480) running Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 which incorporates a Bosch BMA150 3-axis accelerometer and Bosch BMP085 digital pressure sensor (barometer)."

In this case, the prototype is being used for location-based services, with a GPS-aware Silverlight app called Greenfield running on top of the underlying Menlo code; that is designed to guide users back to saved positions, such as wherever their car is parked.  Rather than create a new route, however, Greenfield tracks the user's original path – including step counts, whether elevators or stairs were used, what photos they took – and then guides them back along it.

While any eventual device – which is unlikely to be manufactured directly by Microsoft, but by hardware partners as with Windows Phone 7 – will probably not look like this prototype, the new research paper does at least confirm others working on the Menlo team.  That includes Amy Karlson, who is part of Microsoft's Courier phone-based file exchange team, together with Galen Hunt, who is in charge of Menlo.

[via ZDNet]