The Windows Phone platform has finally started to gain some much needed traction, and to keep the momentum growing and expand the ecosystem Microsoft has reputedly begun development of a reference design for Windows Phone 8.

The reference design is supposed to attract more handset vendors to Redmond’s Windows Phone 8 operating system, particularly medium sized smartphone makers based in China.

According to a report at Digitimes, industry insiders believe the aim here is to help bring out more midrange and entry level devices powered by Windows Phone 8, specifically in several emerging markets.

Several leading smartphone makers in China — Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE — have all outlined plans to bring out Windows Phone 8 smartphones this year. But mid-tier companies are still missing from the party, and a reference design will go a long way in helping them create new devices.

Microsoft is reportedly trying to get the Windows Phone 8 reference design out by the middle of the year, and several new smartphones based on the reference design could follow soon after that.

Chip maker Qualcomm is said to partner up with Microsoft in helping build the design. Both companies have had a fruitful partnership together, with Qualcomm designing chipsets for all Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5 models currently out in the wild.

MediaTek is another experienced chip maker that is reported to have teamed up with Microsoft, with the chipset vendor enjoying strong business ties with Chinese smartphone makers.

All in all, this could potentially be another milestone in bringing Windows Phone 8 to masses at low-end and midrange price points, which could only bode well for the future success of the platform.

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