Category Archives: Microsoft

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PSA: Stop using Amazon rankings

Let me list a few truths before beginning here. Windows Phone (as much as we like it) is not penetrating the market in ways that Microsoft intended when it was announced about two years ago. The low global market share is a downer to most of us, the performance in countries where there is quite a bit of money to go around is poor, and such information would make anyone hit their head on their desk in frustration. But fear not, Microsoft is winning in one area – Amazon. Yep, that Amazon – one of the major sources for online purchasing of goods and services from books to electronics (even food and underwear) – its a site where Windows Phone seems to perform extremely well. The success for Windows Phone and Amazon is given ad infinitum by other sites which also report Microsoft related news and even as recently as last week in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 announcement by Joe Belfiore. It’s definitely something to be proud of because Amazon is a great site and I have nothing but praise for the site. But then, let’s place some logic into that success, because there’s a lot that doesn’t make one iota of sense for mentioning Windows Phone success on Amazon.

To begin with, let’s consider how things are ranked by Amazon. Taking a quick gander at the Amazon.com Frequently Asked Questions yields:

What Sales Rank Means – As an added service for customers, authors, publishers, artists, labels, and studios, we show how items in our catalog are selling. The lower the number, the higher the sales for that particular item. The calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated each hour to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com. We hope you find the Amazon.com Sales Rank interesting!

So, to dismiss some of the questionable content of the message, the main goal is the rankings Amazon provides are not an indicator of how much of a specific item is being sold, but an indicator of how well an item is selling compared to other items in the same category. Of course, there are several factors to consider here (such as whether or not there’s a specific holiday for instance, or time, or type of day) to determine how that rank is performed.

Let’s also consider one more thing: statistical data. As indicated by emarketer more than seven out of ten internet users are online buyers. Furthermore, it was expected that 148 million US consumers ages 14 and older will make at least one purchase online. From 2010 – 2015, nearly 30 million consumers will join the ranks of online buyers, representing 3.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Given the statistics, it would indicate some very strong numbers for Windows Phone, right? I mean the Lumia 900 has topped Amazon charts constantly, the online buying avenue is shown to grow further, what’s the holdup? Well, for most trends, it would appear that smartphones are a bit of a different bag of tea.

If you have a carrier/retailer in your area, make a quick observation. Walk into that store and see how many people are there. Assuming that the statistics are true, one can conclude that people aren’t buying phones in carrier/reseller stores, but buying them online. But if you take a look in a carrier/reseller store, chances are there are quite a few people that still go into a store. Whether it is to purchase an accessory, pay a bill, buy a new phone, the carrier outlet still represents a large percentage of mobile phone purchases. This isn’t something that is isolated to any mobile phone actually. In fact, the lines outside of an Apple store on the sale of a new iPhone are just as long as they have been since 2007 (if not longer).

So this leads to a fundamental flaw for using a completely online ranking (like Amazon) as a predictor of mobile platform performance. Despite several people using Amazon as a means to shop for mobile phones (or anything), several more people still go to retail stores. This is certainly the case for smartphone purchases regardless of age. For a moment, let’s assume Amazon rankings for smartphone are accurate, that would also mean that the platform penetration in America would be far higher (which we know it’s not).

For my bloggers, pundits, and everyone who reads, can you do me a little favor? Stop using Amazon as a predictor of Windows Phone success. It is about as much as a statistical inaccuracy as Dewey vs. Truman in the late 1940s for any history buffs out there. While online shopping is growing and represents a very fast growing user base, the people that still go to brick and mortar carrier shops dwarfs the people that use Amazon, and frankly it should. A platform’s success is based on several factors and it is an aggregrate of information including online shops and reseller outlets and the brick and mortar store. I’m not trying to be a jerk when I make this plea, but please just stop. Windows Phone has to hang on any positive accolade it can, and that number is getting fewer and fewer as time goes on. But harping on Amazon is akin to deception here and Windows Phone doesn’t need to deceive its user base.

How about we stop spreading the inaccuracy then? I mean you don’t have to but it would probably make me happier if you did. But it’s your call.

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Windows Phone 8 in-depth: The new Start screen

Microsoft’s reboot in mobile – Windows Phone 7 was all about the ability to ‘glance & go’ and making things more seamless than what other platforms had to offer. The Metro design language is all about making things more personal and relevant to your digital life. The minimal nature of Metro, live tiles, built-in social integration, bringing all of Microsoft’s assets together were some of the key features that would differentiate Windows Phone from the rest of the mobile landscape. The Start screen in Windows Phone 7 with live tiles were one of the biggest differentiators for Windows Phone 7 from a ‘sea of sameness’ that was a grid of icons that were just application launchers. The Windows Phone Start experience has always been about making things feel more personal with no decoration, no ornamentation but ‘your’ content & the ability to ‘glance & go’ information without having to dig into apps to find out what’s going on. The overall experience is unlike anything else on the market. Metro is all about elimination of unnecessary faux elements and puts content & people first over skeuomorphism. It’s digitally authentic.

Users can pin all sorts of stuff on the Start screen. You can pin people, groups of people, apps, stuff from inside of apps (in Windows Phone 7.5), map locations, artists, albums, photo albums, documents, shortcuts, email inboxes, folders from email inboxes, websites. It’s like a digital bulletin board where you can pin pretty much anything. With Windows Phone 8, this experience has gotten even better. Microsoft says live tiles are the face of Windows Phone and with Windows Phone 8, this pretty face has become drop dead gorgeous.

As you can see, now you can decide whether a live tile is small, medium or large. Small tiles make it possible to have awful lot of live tiles on the home screen and getting quick acess to content without much scrolling. Medium tiles are pretty much like they have been on Windows Phone and the large tiles are a huge addition. You can not only see if you have new texts but even who the senders are and previews of the texts in the live tile itself; same for Email. Third party app developers should leverage this feature addition incredibly well. The negative space and the arrow depicting the app list have been removed in favour of a more center aligned Start screen with slightly larger tiles. This new Start screen is also going to be available to current Windows Phone 7.5 users in an upcoming update to Windows Phone 7.8.

So, the Start screen, the most apparent feature that sets Windows Phone apart, is getting a pretty big evolutionary update. This not only enhances the glance & go experience but also makes the phone more personal than ever before. It’s the perfect representation of who you are, who are important to you and what you care about. Simply, it’s ‘your life – digitized’.

The evolution of the Windows Phone Start screen is clearly in alignment with what Microsoft showed off in it’s Productivity Future Vision video. Good times ahead.

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Huawei Ascend rises to the Windows Phone challenge

Not to be completely outdone by today’s massive HTC product leak for Windows Phone 8, Huawei, Microsoft’s newest chum announced their plans for Windows Phone 8. While the specs of the device are a bit quiet, there are somethings that can be said about the Huawei Ascend. We know it’s coming to Europe, China, and the United States at first, with other markets later. The company plans to market the device to carriers and operators through a series of promotional activities to boost hype about the device. Shao Yang, chief market officer of Huawei, writes:

2012 is building up to be a great year for Huawei. Now, we are poised to end the year with a big bang – with the introduction of our first smartphone running on the Windows Phone platform. We’re very excited about this relationship with Microsoft which will enable us to provide our customers with a bigger array of Huawei smartphone choices

Interesting developments. We will let you know of any specs that come our way.

via: Engadget

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HTC Windows Phone roadmap leaked, may one up the competition

For anyone whose followed my twitter (@domineus), you would’ve noticed that for a period of time, I used the HTC One series of Android devices (specifically the One S and One X). In spite of some issues that were reported on both devices, the One series was aesthetically pleasing, had a great camera, and overall provided a great user experience. But in my use, I kept wishing that Windows Phone could have the One series in some fashion. That wish may come true if the recent rumors from the people at the verge are true. Windows Phone will get similar hardware that powers the One series of devices.

On the low end of things, the HTC Rio is expected to have a 4.0 inch WVGA display, a 5-megapixel camera with 720p, and fauxg (or the standard 14.4 Mbps HSPA) all powered by the MSM8227 Snapdragon S4 plus. Next comes the HTC Accord, which shares some striking similarities to the HTC One S with a 4.3 inch display, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video, and 42Mbps (4G). Unlike the HTC One S, the HTC Accord will trade the Amoled display and the 960×540 resolution with 720p and Super LCD2 with 1 GB of RAM with a better dual core processor apart of the Snapdragon S4 Plus line. Finally, the top tiered device in the HTC Zenith will pack a 4.7 inch 720p Super LCD2 with 8-megapixel camera, 42Mbps HSPA+, and a quadcore processor (if the phone is familiar to the HTC One X, well it does). The devices will be shipping this year with the Rio and Accord landing in October and the Zenith launching in the fourth quarter of this year.

For a moment, let’s consider this. On the one hand, I hate it when a company hot dogs a device because it looks so similar, it looks like a rehash. The message it gives users is that it’s a rehash why buy from them? Frankly, the rehash cuts down on production costs and saves the company resources that should be given to the consumer (in theory) while maintaining a quick release schedule. Try as you might, it’s difficult to consider any OEM that hasn’t rehashed a design ad nauseum on Windows Phone (including Nokia). That said, I am loving that one of my secret wishes for Windows Phone came true and it leaves me far more excited knowing HTC is pulling out some big guns.

Now how about a 16 megapixel Zenith?

source: the verge

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Windows Phone 8 makes a splashing debut

Windows Phone 8 had a lot of speculation even prior to the release of Windows Phone Mango. Eager bloggers and enthusiasts alike salivated at every single new tip or detail that came across the net that would give a piece to the proverbial Windows Phone puzzle. Unlike Mango, which was leaked ahead of schedule, Apollo had us grasping for straws. So much like the Surface event, many were eager to see if the leaks corroborated to what Microsoft had in mind. And to our surprise, they did. But, in typical Microsoft fashion, several new curveballs were added that leaves us stunned. If you missed out on any of it, why not take a read of some of the most important changes to Windows Phone. Save from lack of upgrades for current devices that is.

Updated Hardware requirement

The leaks were right on the money here. We have some hardware to boast about! A new change in kernel (from Windows Embed Compact to Windows NT), which brings a panoply of changes. Dual core support (and beyond), two new resolutions (1280×720 and 1280×768) with continued support for 800×480, and the return of MicroSD slots as a form of storage. All good things for us spec happy folks. While we’d love to know the RAM, camera capabilities, the GPU of Windows Phone 8 (praying for Adreno 320) and base NAND storage options, this is more than enough for now isn’t it?
YES ADRENO 305 AND QUALCOM S4 PLUS IS ON BOARD! THANK YOU MICROSOFT

Internet Explorer 10

Not much to be said here because it was a given that Internet Explorer (IE) 10 would be bundled on all Windows Phones, just as it has been bundled on all Microsoft Windows Mobile operating systems. However, continuing the cue from Windows Phone 7, it is more closely like the desktop Windows 8 experience. SmartScreen, antiphishing, and html 5 are the key improvements over Windows Phone Mango and Tango.

The current SunSpider benchmark is ranked at 1,200ms in comparison to the Ice Cream Sandwich Samsung GS III which only touts about 1,460ms. Interesting developments.

Native Code

Developers Developers DEVELOPERS will be happy with this. Windows Phone programs have been sandboxed since it’s platform revival in 2010, missing out on some crucial gaming and applications that are on other platforms. Now, native makes a triumphant return to Windows Phone and Windows (they do share a common platform) based on DirectX. The take away message is if you make games for Windows 8, you can make the same game or app on Windows Phone 8. Microsoft also touts a lot of new partners, and HAVOC engine which will bring a new breed of games to the Windows Phone and Windows platform. Now, with all of that said, does this mean Sonic CD and possibly the Chaos Rings series is coming to a Windows Phone near you? Let’s hope.

NFC and wallet experience

Okay, it’s a lock. Android has it. Apple will probably have it as well. And now so does Windows. However the way NFC is done is through a special sim card (some tech that we’ve seen last year) to power NFC. Now whether OEMs will also bundle NFC on board is anyone’s guess, but it’s a good thing. Now how that plays with Windows 8 hardware or the rest of Microsoft’s ecosystem is a good guess. We’ll let you know. Probably.

One huge aspect that Microsoft has been very open arms with is the wallet experience. In sum, it’s similar to both Android and Apple solutions while appearing to have some more basic control versus the other platforms by taking the best of both worlds approach.

Nokia Maps

Offline mapping solution? Check. 3D views? Check. Turn by Turn directions (which actually work)? check. Global mapping data? Super huge check! This is what Nokia’s marriage to Windows Phone brings to the end user. Let’s just say better maps is something all Windows Phones users have been praying for ages. Even down to using the most insane solutions to get a good mapping system. Kudos to that!

Business essentials that don’t suck

The largest hangup for business users is the lack of encryption, lack of viable options, and generally a poorer business experience than established platforms. Being frank, this is something Joe Belfiore went at length to explain the changes for our favorite platform. Secure boot and encryption, local application development and signing to customers (no more Microsoft seal of approval) and of course the same Windows Core we have come to know and love. How can you not like that? Unless you hate metro…

A new beginning – a new metro start menu

Okay, it’s not THAT new. We still get the metro live tiles that we know and love. But unlike our handsets we have now, we also get the ability to resize live tiles in three sizes. The normal square appearance, the normal appearance we are accustomed to, and now a double sided live tile. There are also some new color schemes that will be provided to the end user. But not a lot of mention of folders sadly. But is it needed now you can resize live tiles? Also gone is the arrow that alerts you to swipe across to the list view. Sadly there is no new notification system (it makes us sad too) but we can hope some developers can help with that one.

Multitasking

The hold back button that brings up the task switcher actually has a purpose now, in terms of multitasking. It could be the final demise of living on a pause system where you still have momentary loading. The new change of course brings us to Android level (or Windows Mobile) level of multitasking which we hope is done right and has a lot of room for multitasking in Windows Phone. But hey, we can only hope right?

Anything else?

Well, there’s quite a bit more to be veyr happy with Windows Phone 8. To begin with, Windows Phone 8 will not come to legacy hardware (something that’s been said ad nauseum), but users will have a new start menu experience at the very least. This brings some interesting news for a variety of reasons. First, any apps developed for Windows Phone 8 are not backward compatible; meaning you can’t run them on Windows Phone 7.x. Secondly, as far as updates, Windows Phone can deliver updates over the air, cutting the carrier middleman out of the entire equation (we hope). Now for that shiny new device, users will get the updates for at least 18 months (same time scale as the current update scheme). For “registered enthusiasts”, they get early access to such updates before the consumer. So again, a lot of similarities but a few key differences.

Speaking of those new devices, who are the OEMs? Well, Microsoft did have a lot of OEMs on board as of Mango (with ZTE and others coming to the rescue), but sadly the OEM pool is down to a paltry four. You can guess at least three with HTC, Samsung, and Nokia. But the new player is Huawei! Could be going for a Chinese and low end strategy for that move. But that can also be fulfilled through Samsung, so we will have to see.

A big change is in app purchases. That says it all.

In sum, a lot of what we are seeing for Windows Phone was verified by the leaks indicated by pocketnow.com by and large. And why shouldn’t it? Joe Belfiore stated most of the information that would be coming down for new devices. It’s a lot to take in, but tell us what you think. Excited or lukewarm?

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Windows Phone 8 – what we are expecting and what we want

It’s been a rocky road for Redmond after its release of its flavorful Mango operating system last year. After the proverbial new car smell, speed increases, more developer APIs, options seen on other platforms came and went, all anyone has really wanted to do was jump to the latest and greatest. For a long time, we knew that the latest and greatest would come in two iterations: Tango and Apollo. The former (Tango) being a Windows Phone operating system for low end devices to penetrate lower end markets while bringing a panoply of changes, and then the elusive Apollo. We’ve heard a lot of rumors about Apollo, so it’s time for a quick recap before we dive right into our personal wish list:

What we know

A kernel change! …in some fashion

This is probably the largest and broadest information regarding Microsoft’s third iteration of Windows Phone. Rumors have been circulating for an extremely long time that the kernel would change from Win CE (which is currently running on Windows Phone) to Windows NT, which is the code behind Windows 8. The switch of kernel source brings a plethora of hardware changes or software changes to the Windows Phone platform and it has a lot of users and bloggers somewhat excited. Perhaps the main reason is that the well needed hardware and software spec bump is likely looming. In some way or other

Is it Windows NT or WinRT

Of course when one connects the dots, does it make much sense that Windows Phone 8 will be powered by Windows NT versus WinRT? On a personal level, I’m trying to draw the rationalization here. Perhaps the change in kernel code to Windows NT could make it far easier for Intel to power a Windows Phone, which has shown lots of interest in powering phones for ages, but how does it compare to WinRT kernel source? If I were to make a bet and a shot in the dark, I would assume that Microsoft would not use Windows NT code, but would use WinRT code that powers its tablet. I think it would still give lots of options (Full HD display and other odds and ends), but lacks specific support for Intel based chipsets. That’s not to say Intel based Windows Phones aren’t coming, but I think they will come next year. My bet? WinRT with some CE code.

Massive hardware changes

Let’s be honest here. For two years, Windows Phone has been admirably rocking some specs that make even the spec loving individual sigh in dismay. The issue isn’t the type of screen, or the screen size, or even the storage space (hey I sit nice and pretty with 16 GB). I’m talking about the processor, the RAM, and the screen resolution. The processors that all Windows Phones rock are Qualcomm S2 single core processors, which tout a lot of gains over its predecessor and lower battery consumption. In addition, the screen resolution has sat at 800×480 for the past two years, with no changes in the RAM (still 512 MB). For the most part, the experience is bearable because of how Windows Phone is coded. But enough is enough, and its time for a change!

HD displays, dual core processors, and the return of the MicroSD card

The HD display (or 1280×780) thing is a bit of a given, with the recent crop of high end Android devices sporting such a display and Apple’s emphasis on retinal displays in their products. It’s hard not to see that technology is adopting HD displays at a pace where OEM demand is relatively high. Windows Phone is following this trend, but the question of the day is how? Will there be support for 1280×720? More than likely yes. Where some question comes in is the other resolution options. Rumors around the blogging world peg Windows Phones to support a 1280×768 screen resolution (WXGA), which is a bit strange all things considered. More than likely, we will see at least one of the two displays, while still maintaining support for 800×480, and bringing back support to 480×640. Recall that Belfiore indicated that the resolution was supported in the early days of Windows Phone 7, but was dropped in Mango. It’s very likely they will bring it back for devices less than 100 euro (to help Nokia along).

In addition to HD displays (in some form or fashion), dual core is all but a given for Windows Phone. Andy Lees has said it, several others have said it, the processors powering Windows Phone will go up to at least dual core. But, I’d prefer to use the S4 Pro with Adreno 320, but it is very likely that it is reserved for tablets. However, if Windows were to make a splash with a GPU at that scale, it would make users very happy. It represents a compromise between the dual core and quad core debacle, while giving a comparable experience to that of quad core for gaming or intensive applications. But who am I kidding? This is Microsoft and OEMs. Recall that at the release of Windows Phone, speculation was rampant to use the S2 Qualcomm chipsets. Instead, users begrudgingly had phones with S1 processors and not the more battery efficient S2. It’s anyone’s guess whether Microsoft will go with a Qualcomm processor family with Adreno 225 versus the 320. Or who knows, maybe Microsoft will openly support quad core processors as well. Would be a wonderful surprise.

Finally, the fated return of the MicroSD card is expected for Windows Phone. Now let’s recall that most first gen devices used a MicroSD slot versus NAND storage. Samsung was a unique gem in that it offered both NAND and MicroSD for storage. For the most part, it had its hiccups, but it was a very easy experience for me when I used the Samsung Focus. The current generation of Windows Phone chose to exclusively use non expandable NAND based storage, much to everyone’s chagrin. But there is more than enough evidence to support the return of the MicroSD slot, and not be connected to overall storage but maintain different partitions of storage similar to that of Windows Mobile. This makes Windows Phone extremely viable as an option for releasing devices with 8GB NAND storage expandable with MicroSD card. See how smooth that sounds when you say it? It just feels right.

Better Skype, something you will be proud to say is on your phone

Skype debuted on Windows Phone a few days ago, and compared to the competition, it sucks. It is easily one of the worst apps in the marketplace dropping support for Tango specific devices like the Lumia 610. While we have only bits and pieces of the puzzle as to why it sucks so bad, we do know that it will get better in Windows Phone 8 in the form of full Skype integration into the OS. Now what that means is that similar to facetime that pops up on a call on the iPhone, Windows Phone users will get that option.

Carrier Opposition!? Y u no want it?

While an integrated Skype experience is a dream come true for most of us, be mindful that this is something that won’t go over very well on carriers. Time and time again Elop has indicated (in some degree) the frustration Skype brings to carriers who want to do business with Windows Phone. The situation is precarious to say the least. So while we expect Skype on Windows Phone, we also suspect some carrier subsidy to go along with it. Plus fees paid by Skype. Of course, this is also an expectation, it could very well be wrong. Pragmatically, the expectation is there. What carrier would give away their bread and butter service to a direct competitor lying down? Of course, this is idle conjecture, but it wouldn’t shock us that carriers try to add such a surcharge for using Skype. Probably in voice minutes and data. I hope not, but you never know.

A beefier, better camera

It’s hard trying to find an extremely good camera on second gen Windows Phones not named HTC. Even the highly exalted Nokia Lumia 900 has its issues due to lack of BSI sensor and overexposure complaints. If it were just an isolated incident with the Lumia 900 and other cameras performing very well, then that would be okay. But I’ve found that the camera quality on Windows Phone has been pretty bad. Now granted, autofix is one of the greatest features of Windows Phone Mango, but it doesn’t help much in video quality. Luckily, there are some updates to the camera that would help the video quality. A nice bump from the somewhat dated 720P to 1080P will come with other modifications from the OEMs.

Camera Lens, more HTC refining, maybe Pureview

Camera lens is a feature for OEMs that was leaked to the internet through video for Nokia employees. Of course, it gives OEMs the ability to redesign parts of the camera experience. I would say that OEMs will probably take HTC cue and go nuts on the camera; with Nokia leading the pack with the announcement of Pureview technology. Will Samsung also come with a powerful camera punch? One can only hope…

Zune, Rest In Peace

Yep, the Zune software that we’ve been so tied to has slowly been phased out for a bit now with its ultimate demise recently announced. And despite Zune performing like a good work horse, many often long for the days of active sync to make a triumphant return. Who wouldn’t? The ability to drag and drop files without any conversion to go thhrough saves on time and makes a difficult process that much simpler. In its, place, Daphne will come and probably fulfill some of the needs that Windows Mobile active sync performed for Windows Mobile. Well, we hope. We’re not completely sure, we just know that an active sync like solution is coming.

Improved language support and local scout

While Windows Phone is available to 120 languages, language and localization is still an issue to some areas. So we almost expect language to be a cornerstone of the Windows Phone 8 experience. In addition to language, we expect local scout improvements on the level that Americans have. Which is an amazingly good thing. Especially seeing Nokia Navteq is powering the maps, it could be a very good thing to beef up that local scout.

Data management

A huge change in Android Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) has been the ability to visually monitor data usage to ensure that users don’t go over on their mobile plans. Microsoft must’ve paid attention to ICS and will more than likely implement their own data management feature in the form of Datasmart. I expect Microsoft to have a GUI tracking data and minutes used. In addition to that, Datasmart will automatically connect to WiFi hotspots when available and local scout can show users where WiFi is available. Not too shabby, but I’d like to see more user control in that a user can download more than 20 MB via 3g, but I suppose that’s a wish and not a requirement.

Native Code

Developers developers developers may love this. Native code support in Windows Phone. While this isn’t the first time native code has been supported (with OEMs and high end games utilizing native code), but the native code will be given to developers in mass. Enough said. Native code is a very good thing.

Enhanced rich communication

Tired of sms? Getting annoyed with some forms of voice communication? Windows Phone may have a solution for you in its integration with Rich Communication, or the ability to go beyond sms and voice. It’s akin to providing instant message, chatting, live video sharing and file transfer across devices, networks or with people in the address book. Rich communication may have its footing in the Skype acquisition deal, but it sounds like a good option versus other avenues of communications. It provides a unique just works approach, and it’d be pretty silly not to have that on a modern smartphone as an option. We expect it on Windows Phone.

What we don’t know

Update debacle

Microsoft has yet to announce whether all Windows Phone will receive Windows Phone 8. Questions surrounding the update feasibility of current and first gen devices occurred when Eldar Murtazin indicated lack of upgrades to the full Windows Phone 8 experience. Piggybacking on cautions were Mary J. Foley and Paul Thurott, who similar indicated that current Windows Phones may not get an upgrade. The upgrade fiasco has been argued for months, and we aren’t any clearer on whether an upgrade will come to current and previous handsets. However, Microsoft does have a way with leaving relatively successful phones in the lurch from updates starting from Windows Mobile. Sadly, going against my colleague on wpsauce, I will guess that there won’t be a full Windows Phone 8 experience. But, I’v ebeen wrong before. I hope to be wrong again

What else?

…Everything else. Seriously, your guess is as good as ours. Windows Phone events have been known to wow people and integrate core features in their respective platforms. While a lot has come out in leaks and speculation, there isn’t enough evidence too say this is coming. Perhaps that is one BIG reason why Windows Phone holds events such as these, to make us eager bloggers happier.

What we want

I want more apps. There I said it. It’s the biggest elephant in the room and it needs to be said. 100,000 apps and growing is nice, but the app experience is a huge differentiator in phones that collectively perform the same tasks in a similar manner. It is the app catalog that personally makes or breaks a device going super main stream. Now granted, Android had extremely slow growth, but it also had carrier support. Windows Phone has some developer support, and very little carrier/reseller support, making it difficult to substantiate reasons to develop. Surprisingly, I am reminded of the chicken before the egg dilemma when trying to determine whether developers or carrier support is more important. Still, it’s nice to have both in hand to maximize the user experiences.

Secondly, would it kill you to add pentaband support? In this day and age, pentaband support is a shangrila that allows users to use their phone on even the weird AWS spectrum, making it far easier to use devices on AT&T bands and international. Ther has yet to be a pentaband Windows Phone and it’s a bit frustrating especially since pentaband support was a Nokia given at one point.

The biggest thing that Windows Phone has to do is provide some sort of hardware cohesion. Microsoft has touted this as the year of Windows 8 by releasing several different products under Windows 8. The strategy is similar to Android and iOS, but a major draw to Windows Phone could be the ability to seamlessly interact with other Microsoft products. Imagine using NFC as a means to connect your Windows Phone wirelessly to your computer and draft a SMS from your computer and send said SMS to your phone. Or the ability to respond to SMS, email, phone conversations through your phone? That’s not science fiction surprisingly. It’s been on several Nokia devices through the ovi suite for ages! That feature is something I haven’t seen supported natively on phones and it almost demands for that experience to come. At least, as a means of offering a unique and cohesive experience among products. Of course, it doesn’t have to be computer/tablet to phone. It can be phone to xbox (and it actually works well), tablet to xbox, computer to phone and so on. The opportunities are endless and to see Microsoft have such a disjointed experience is unnerving.

How about some folders Microsoft? I love metro ui and its guidelines. But folders are on practically every single platform. Toss us a bone Microsoft, we will love you forever.

Finally, control! Give us some control of the ux/ui! We want to change the colors to the metro start menu. Maybe even use an image as a background. Maybe we don’t want to be stuck with the guidelines you define as pretty. Give users the ability to customize.

That’s about it. What about you guys? What do you want?

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Hello Microsoft Surface – the secret tablet unveiled today

So we broke the story earlier about the mysterious announcement for a possible Windows RT tablet. And much to our joy, we were right. At least in part. There’s far more to it than just a WinRT tablet. Welcome to the Windows Surface

The Windows Surface offers some unique features that other tablets have, but its been done a bit differently. There are two different tablets that Microsoft announced: a WinRT version and the Intel version. The WinRT version is 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5 lbs, with a built in kickstand and a magnesium case (vapor mag, apparently the first). In addition, the WinRT version has USB 2.0 support (which for arm isn’t too bad at all). Microsoft’s Intel offering has a 13.5mm at 1.9 lbs and USB 3.0 support with the same vapor mag casing and built in kickstand. The Intel version will have 64 gb of flash storage that will go toe to toe with Samsung’s expected offerings, while the WinRT version will have 32 GB of flash storage. Oh, and it has Office – we can’t forget that.

Of course, the main talk of the town is the keyboard peripherals provided. The first being a touch cover, which is a capacitive touch keyboard without trackpad. The second keyboard peripheral, the type cover is a full touch tactile keyboard with clickable keys. The thinness of the keyboards are a bit remarkable, but of course are magnetically connected. The keyboards also come in various colors (a la something from Nokia perhaps), but still a unique peripheral that isn’t bulky and heavy as we have seen before (ASUS Transformer Prime, iPad peripherals).

Though there are questions, such as battery life and pricing. But there is a strange intrigue thanks to the keyboard and the way Microsoft announced. The main question is why is this better than the current king of the mountain, the iPad? We’ll keep you posted though.

So what say you? Is there some interest in it?

via: Microsoft

images from Microsoft

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Elop: Windows Phones just aren’t selling well

In an attempt to explain the recent financial problems that Nokia has undergone, including some recent firings and corporate restructuring., Stephen Elop has some interesting commentary for Windows Phone sales: it’s not selling all too well.

Stephen Elop blamed the lack of Windows Phone not selling being due to customer service repesentatives who sell mobile devices in stores, a position that Elop candidly stated previously. Elop goes on to argue:

The challenge in all of this is breaking through the strength Android and Apple have in a retail environment

We aren’t getting the traction we prefer.

In an attempt to solve the problem with lack of selling, Nokia will try to lower the manufacture costs of Windows Phone to ranges below the Lumia 610 and try to break into the Chinese markets with the help of Microsoft. The amazing aspect of trying to create a cheaper Windows Phone is Nokia had the market of budget and cheap phones as of the end of 2010; prior to the burning platform speech Nokia made to shed Symbian and go full on with Windows Phone. And yet, Windows Phone is not selling, the retailers are blamed.

That isn’t to say that Elop’s argument lacks any merit because the argument is very true in America prior to the Lumia 900 release in America. But in the time since the Lumia 900, and the CSR training, giving out handsets to employees to make them very savvy of Windows Phone, the retail channel argument is getting a bit dated. At least in Chicago, IL where CSRs almost force the Lumia 900 down anyone’s throats for a period of time.

Commentary aside, is it time for Nokia to shift gears a moment due to the lack of selling?

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Nokia crystallized Windows Phone future by sacking Meltimi execs and 10,000 workers

Nokia has seen some dog days since their transition into Windows Phone. From plummeting market shares worldwide, to declines in stock pricing, and an initial layoff not too long ago, what else can go wrong with our favorite Finnish company? Apparently, a lot more firing and restructuring.

In an attempt to trim the fat and temporarily halt the money Nokia is sieving, 10,000 workers were effectively terminated earlier today. In addition to workers pink slips, top Nokia execs were also fired and replaced by others within the company. Nokia announced it has appointed Juha Putkiranta as executive vice president of operation, Timo Toikkanen as executive vice president of Mobile Phones, and Chris Weber as executive vice president of sales and marketing. In addition, Tuula Rytila has been appointed as senor vice president and chief marketing officer and Susan Sheehan as senior vice president of communication.

What is truly interesting are the people who have stepped down in their managerial roles in Nokia; Jerri DeVard, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Mary McDowell, executive vice president of Mobile Phones, and Niklas Savander, executive vice president of Markets. What makes these people interesting is that the three were heavily vested in Symbian, Meego, and Meltimi operating systems. Meltimi, billed as the OS that offers a unique Meego experience to low end handsets, has essentially been scrapped as has future development of Symbian and Meego.

After the announcement, Nokia stocks fell almost 20% to a record low in decades. Sufficed to say, a very bad day for Nokia, but what do you think? A bad day for Nokia is a good day for Windows Phone? Personally, this is a terrible day for Nokia and makes one wonder if Howard Chui’s questioning of Chris Weber recently didn’t have some merits in terms of short term marketing strategy. However, the firings and stepping down notes that any future developments of future OSes not named Windows Phone may not be happening in the forseeable future. Kudos for Windows Phone?

source: Nokia

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Chris Weber: more customer enhancers, pureview coming for Lumia line

To Nokia, the Lumia series is their last effort to make waves within the smartphone industry and penetrate previous markets it couldn’t do in the past due to lack of carrier support. But is that all Nokia has coming down the pike? What else is Finland’s top property (and Microsoft partner) thinking in the long run? For that matter, what does Nokia think about HTC’s Titan II market offering that breaks the proverbial Windows Phone standardization? Well, Chris Weber has an earful to give in a 20 minute interview with Howard Chui of Howard Forums. Granted, a lot of material discussed are things many of us who follow Nokia news could’ve guessed, but in terms of momentum and some plans, the interview is enlightening. Hit up the interview below and let us know what you think of Chris Weber’s comments about the lack of momentum in terms of not seeing Windows Phone, updates, and a plethora of other things.

via: howard forums