Sounds plausible. I hope we get something akin to a mini surface (assuming that is practicable)
From the look of it, it is a mobo reference design, not a shell reference. Most likely a law suit protected mobo design since MS designed it.
I might have read that wrong, but it seems that the reference design is ultimately the blueprint for existing WP8 devices, specifying the exact ingredients (possible solutions for chipsets, etc) needed in order to pass certification. They're just taking their process of working with vendors to build these devices and basically open sourcing it so that newer manufacturers can ramp up production faster.
What made you think it had to do with the rumored Surface Phone? If anything, the mention of other smartphone vendors sort of negates that claim.
I wonder if this is a counter to the sense the OEMs are pointing their fingers at Microsoft and Microsoft is pointing their fingers at OEMs for lack-luster sales.
In addition to it basically being a rumor, the Surface Phone is the least likely product they would create because 1.) vendors aren't really making bad phones to begin with, so it won't add value in terms of energizing the smartphone community and 2.) they would want to invest in delivering newer form factors to keep promoting Windows 8 and its ability to retain compatibility with x86 apps.
I think Elop gives it away. His welcome to competition is a bit fake when he made a lot of risk jumping into freezing water. And from the look of it, he is aware of Chinese competitions. Lumia is actually a surrogate of Microsoft phone if you look closely.
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