A small Zune software maintenance update released today's got three glaring references to drivers for phone devices. The collision of Zune content and Microsoft mobile software is basically imminent, sure, but are these the Zune phones? Probably not.
The references show up in the download's driver package which lists three new devices alongside the regular Zune product IDs, all tagged with a Phone.Device descriptor. The most we can safely assume from this is that three phone devices—or software version, maybe?—will support Zune content, which could point to an announcement as incremental as Windows Mobile 6.x getting Zune media support, or as momentous as three actual Zune phones, or Pink phones, or, you know, anything new.
But the timing's the thing. What's exciting to most people about this update is how close to Mobile World Congress it is—that's the place where Microsoft is expected to release something major for mobile, and where we expect them to first show off Windows Mobile 7, or whatever it's going by nowadays. Thing is, the proximity of this software update is exactly what makes me worry: Nobody expects Windows Mobile 7 to get released at MWC, but rather to be demonstrated. If Microsoft is pushing Zune phone support out to consumers, that means that something is about to hit the market, and based on everything we've been hearing, that something could well be a Windows Mobile 6.x variant.