Exclusive First Shots Of Microsoft's Secret Project Pink Phone

These are the first photos of Microsoft's Project Pink phones, snatched from deep within the bowels of the Microsoft/Verizon industrio-complex - not the Turtle, but the larger, Sidekick-like Pure. This doesn't look like Windows Phone 7, so what is it?

The shots come just hours after a leaked advertising campaign for the Turtle outed Verizon as a carrier for the Pink Turtle, without so much as a mention of the Pure.

Our tipster confirms the Pure is also headed to Verizon, but doesn't have a release date - though it's hard to imagine the release date would fall too far out of line with the Turtle, which is expected to hit stores at the end of April. Anyway, this thing: It's strange! The panelled interface, with fixed squares for everything from music (with Zune typography, for what it's worth) and email to RSS feeds and what looks like a unified social networking hub. As hinted earlier, the aesthetic is similar Windows Phone 7, but it's not Windows Phone 7. This looks like Windows Phone 7: Feature Phone edition.

Our source got a few seconds to use the handset, and said it was intuitive and "better than Android", with Windows Phone 7-style animations throughout. That said, the app situation is still utterly confusing. There's apparently an download screen, but it's not populated with anything yet. This could mean two things: Either the Pink phones will tap into the Windows Phone 7 marketplace somehow, which would be great (but also doesn't make sense), or they'll have apps like the Zune has apps - which is to say, only sort of, and only from selected partners.

The more we see, the more this looks like it's stacking up to be a Zune-ified followup to the Sidekick. But who does Microsoft think they're going to sell this thing to? Tweens?

Update: Firmware Leak We've got our hands on leaked Pink firmware, and we've dumped all the icons and photos we could extract. Sadly, there's not way to run this right now, but we can see a lot of what's shown above, like the homescreen application icons, in full resolution. There are also traces of Zune, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Windows Live. There are some shots (discovered by someone else who's got the firmware) that show a lockscreen dialler, but these are likely placeholders of some sort. Finally, we've got a shot from the Turtle's camera, which appears to have flash.

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Here's what we can glean from the dump so far:

• The carrier is definitely Verizon

• The OS is based on Windows CE, like the Zune and Windows Phone 7. This doesn't mean a ton to users, but the guy who passed us the firmware sums up what that means under the hood:

Everything is programed in .NET a lot like 7 is. It does not say it inside the files where I have seen, but It is coded in XAMl and is in the structure that CE 7 is supposed to be structured, it is my belief that it will be based off CE 7, and it will have a lot of tie in to Windows Live as well.

• Turtle and Pure codenames are used in the firmware, but that doesn't mean that those'll be the shipping names for the product. There are also codenames for the "Pride" and "Lion" handsets, which appear to just be the CDMA versions of the Turtle and Pure, respectively.

• The Turtle's screen is 320x240, while the Pure's is 480x320 - the same as the iPhone.

• There are reference to something called "The Loop", which sounds like some kind of central social networking hub.

We're powering through the firmware dump now, so we'll post more as we get it. [Special thanks to our tipsters, and Conflipper]

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