Microsoft is reportedly preparing to launch a line of smartphones with built-in social networking capabilities, aimed squarely at young people, next week.
The phones, code-named project Pink, will be available later in the month in the US, sources close to the project told the Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft has already lined up a carrier partnership with Verizon Wireless.
The phones have been designed entirely by Microsoft, and manufactured by Japanese vendor Sharp, the sources said.
While the software is based on elements of Windows Phone 7, it will not be interoperable. If true, this will be Microsoft's first foray into directly designing mobile phones.
The announcement is expected on April 12, at a San Francisco media event.
Microsoft has struggled to make headway in the mobile phone operating system market, a situation exacerbated by the success of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS.
ComScore this week revealed that Microsoft lost four points of market share in the smartphone market last quarter, ending with 15.1% of the market.
In contrast Google – which develops its own range of Nexus smartphone running on its Android OS - jumped 5.2 points to 9%, and Apple held steady at 25.4%.
On the record, Microsoft has confirmed it will be ready to announce project Pink next week, but has remained tight-lipped on the details.