Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft Surface phone is likely in Spring 2017 Reuters

Microsoft seems to be planning to bring out its long-rumoured Surface series smartphones in three different versions catering to various segments of the market. But users will have to wait a while as the handsets will be out only in 2017.

These three models are aimed at consumer, business and prosumer or enthusiast groups with different price tags suiting the categories they belong to. Besides, there would be changes in terms of hardware features such as processor, internal storage and others, sources familiar with the plan told Windows Central.

This reflects what the company's CEO Satya Nadella wrote in an open letter to employees back in 2015 about future Windows Phone devices.

"We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software. We'll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love," wrote Nadella.

This could be disappointing for consumers waiting for budget models of Surface phones as the list does not contain anything for the low-end market, which is dominated by Android phones and models coming from manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi.

Not much information is available about the hardware side but Microsoft Pen technology is likely to be part of the upcoming Surface lineup. As for software, Continuum that made its debut in Windows 10 would also be a major feature.

However, 2017 looks to be a long time away, and Windows 10 Mobile fans can expect high-end devices such as HP Elite x3, Alcatel's Idol 4 Pro and Acer Jade Primo, before that period.

Microsoft is expected to hit the phone market around the same time as Windows 10 Redstone 2, which has been pushed to sometime in spring 2017. Expect the Surface phone series around the same time frame.