Google's Chromecast is a hit, and now it appears Microsoft wants to replicate something similar for Windows Phone and probably Windows PCs.
Windows Phone Daily and Nokiapoweruser did some sleuthing at the Federal Communication Commission's website, and look what they found: a new mobile accessory from Microsoft. At first it wasn't clear what the product was, but after checking other resources online it appears Microsoft is making a Miracast dongle for HDTVs.
Miracast is a screencasting standard for connected devices over Wi-Fi Direct. Coincidence?—Microsoft recently added Miracast support to Windows Phone via the Lumia Cyan firmware for Windows Phone 8.1.
It appears the new dongle would take advantage of Windows Phone 8.1's Miracast-based Project My Screen feature to broadcast your screen to a TV. This could be used for putting anything from videos and games to presentations and photos on your living room's big screen.
Adding a dongle to support Miracast on TVs is key, because the technology has yet to see wide adoption despite being supported in the latest build of Windows.
The way Miracast works currently, it mirrors your display and relies on the casting device for its data—similar to Apple TV. So you can't send a Breaking Bad episode from Netflix to a Miracast device and then start playing a game on your phone, the way you can with Chromecast.
But the advantage of mirroring a display on your TV is that you don't have to wait for developers to add Miracast support to their apps, because it's a system-wide feature.
A casting dongle for Windows Phone 8.1 is great for starters, but there may be more to this than just smartphones. Microsoft also built Miracast support into Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1. That means the upcoming Microsoft Miracast dongle should also work with your laptop, desktop, or Windows tablet.
There's no word on when this dongle might be announced or what it will cost, but Microsoft does have a Lumia event scheduled for September 4, where we could see the Lumia 730 and 830. That would be a good time to introduce a Miracast device, and while this is a Windows Phone event, we'll be listening to see if the dongle also supports PCs.