A Surface branded phone from Microsoft has been long rumored.

Now the word on the street is that the company is finalizing the testing of the handset and ready to start mass producing it very soon. Several sources have reported these rumors last week – now add another one to the mix.

The usually reliable Digitimes reports that FIH (that’s Foxconn International Holding) has landed orders from both Microsoft and Amazon for smartphone devices set to launch in the middle of 2013. Microsoft’s sets will obviously make use of its Windows Phone 8 operating system.

If true, the Surface phone could become the third member of Microsoft’s new hardware family, behind the regular and Pro versions of the Surface tablets. The company apparently isn’t stopping there, with some even suggesting a dedicated 7-inch gaming device is also being worked on.

It remains to be seen what devices make their way to the market, and how much success they find. I personally think a Surface smartphone is pretty much a done deal by now, when companies with little experience in the hardware realm like Google have shown how to do it right.

The gaming tablet is still a far off bet, but with Amazon preparing to launch their Kindle smartphones, a Microsoft branded Surface phone could be in our hands in 2013. Nevertheless, Microsoft’s foray into the hardware sector has excited a lot of circles.

I say a lot, because not everyone is pleased with Microsoft’s efforts in the hardware industry. Hardware manufacturers like Acer, Fujitsu have already publicly expressed their discontent on Microsoft venturing into the hardware field.

Smaller hardware manufacturers believe that Microsoft is so powerful it could practically kill off the entire ecosystem with its $63 billion in cash.

Interesting times lie ahead.

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