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Microsoft Surface Phone hints dropped during earnings call

Microsoft's chief financial officer Peter Klein has announced that the company is looking to expand its Surface product line-up, currently limited to the Windows RT-based Surface RT and soon-to-launch Windows 8-based Surface Pro tablets, giving fresh fuel to rumours that the company is investigating a Surface Phone device.

Speaking during the company's conference call with press and analysts regarding its financial performance in the last quarter, Klein responded to a question regarding Surface with a clear indication that the product line isn't yet finished. Blaming "limited distribution" of the current-generation Surface RT tablets for their slow uptake by consumers, Klein explained: "As you know, we are excited about expanding that. So our goal is to continue to build that business to highlight the incredible power of Windows 8 in an interesting set of devices. We are going to expand geographically. We are going to expand the product line up. We are going to expand retail distribution and capacity. So we look forward to continuing the growth of that business."

Although Klein would not be pushed on the exact nature of his company's plans for expanding the Surface family, an earlier rumour provides a possible direction for the company: its own Windows Phone-based smartphone device.

Claims that Microsoft is planning to launch a flagship line of Windows Phone devices under the Surface brand, in a similar manner to Google's Nexus family of Android products which are sold alongside products from its software licensees, have been spreading for some time. If true, it would prove awkward for Nokia: the Finnish mobile company has recently been pinning all its hopes on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, and while sales of its Lumia 920 and related devices have been strong they would surely falter if an 'official' line of Windows Phone handsets hits the market.

For now Microsoft is concentrating its efforts on the impending launch of Surface Pro, its Intel-powered tablet PC running Windows 8. Should a Surface Phone launch before the end of the year, however, we wouldn't be surprised.

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