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(Pocket-lint) - Since Windows Phone 8 was first revealed in June, Microsoft has been tipped to produce its own smartphone handset. According to reports, that day could be fast approaching.

The Wall Street Journal has been told by anonymous sources that tests have already begun in Asia on a Microsoft handset that houses a screen of between 4 and 5 inches. It’s unclear whether this phone will go into production or if Microsoft is simply experimenting.

Either way, the reports will have shaken Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OEMs such as Nokia and HTC, both of which have invested heavily in the new OS, officially rolled out on 29 October. 

Previously Microsoft has restricted itself to supplying the software for smartphones, rather than manufacturing the hardware. However, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, recently declared the company sees itself “as a devices and services company now rather than just a software provider”

Of course, Microsoft has form in manufacturing hardware in other divisions, notably with the Xbox 360 and more recently the Microsoft Surface tablet. 

However, if it does indeed enter the smartphone handset arena, the likes of Nokia and HTC will be hoping Microsoft’s approach is more Google than Apple.

Despite Google owning Motorola Mobility, the company ensures its Android platform is available to multiple manufacturers without delay, whereas Apple restricts its iOS to its own array of mobile devices. 

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Such hearsay is not enough to convince us a Microsoft smartphone is on the cards just yet, but Pocket-lint will certainly be keeping an ear out for any other whisperings.

Writing by Danny Brogan.