years ahead of time. Scoble says its a device, the Internet's lighting up with rumors -- is it the Xbox portable? Well, we dunno, but as usual got our hands on some pictures. And as usual we can't guarantee they're the real deal, though we are pretty confident in their source. So, let's go over it: these were sent to us detailing it as a Microsoft portable media player, which wouldn't be too far off from what Jobs and BusinessWeek both prophesied Microsoft doing (despite being pretty broadly denied from within).
Now, here's the tricky part with these pictures -- what's with the keyboard and stylus? Because the last time we checked, their Portable Media Center (PMC) OS didn't have (known) support for touchscreen and keyboard input. So is this some new portable OS platform running on CE.net? Or perhaps it's just a fat little Pocket PC device with some media software? Or something totally different -- could Microsoft beat Apple to the punch with the first serious touchscreen portable media device? Or maybe, just maybe, it's that ultramobile lifestyle PC Microsoft was talking about recently. Kinda seems like no matter what the answer, we're all gonna be pretty surprised (for better or worse) come announcement day, March 2nd, being that Microsoft's "not in the hardware biz." (No, peripherals don't count.) But hell, we can't even tell you for sure if these photos are legit, so here we are.
P.S. There's one thing we are indeed fairly sure about: that it's not that prototype "Origami" device announced by National Semi in 2001. Seriously, c'mon, a device from 5 years ago is what Microsoft's got Scoble buzzing about? Bigger pics of this Origami after the break.