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A Second Look - Windows RT and that Surface tablet

Ever since Microsoft first announced to the world their intentions to “re-imagine” Windows it has been a rather wild ride. Their new touch screen user interface, WinRT wasn't just radical for its looks, it ushered in a totally new apps eco system while simultaneously sending the Start Menu to the technology grave yard.

The changes to the OS ran deep and Microsoft had been busy readying Windows 8/RT to run on the highly power efficient ARM processors. Their plans for that became clearer when they shocked the technology world by announcing their own tablet computer, the Surface. With the changes to Windows came a new declaration that Microsoft re-position themselves as a Devices and Services company. They have built their eco system and the next logical step has been to control the hardware that uses it. The culmination of their efforts in re-imagining Windows and becoming a devices and services company can we seen best in one single product, their Surface tablet running Windows RT.

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Sprint has finally confirmed what we already kind of knew for a while now: They will be hopping on the the Windows Phone 8 bandwagon. In an emailed statement to PCMag, the company said that it's cold feet have warmed up and that they will bring Windows Phone 8 on board in 2013:

"Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint's customers - operating on its 4G LTE network - next year."

There had been inklings that this may happen, like Ting, a Sprint network reseller blogging that it would support the latest version of Windows Phone "sixty days after Sprint has it," but there was plenty of reason to wonder as well. Not only did Sprint kill off it's poorly-selling, yet highly-acclaimed HTC Arrive, but they also put out an internal document stating that there were no Windows Phone 8 devices slated to offered any time soon.

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The new Windows Phone 8 sync client has been received with mixed reviews. On the one hand, people like the new modern UI look and exceptionally minimalist feature set. But perhaps it was a bit too barren?

Luckily the Windows Phone 8 sync client (for Windows 8) has been updated today to version 1.1.2303 and indeed the syncing ability for music and media has been refined. You can see in our before and after shots that your music is now place into what look like Tile/Folders as opposed to just “slots”. Right click on the folder will give you the ability to add the UI common “check” allowing you to sync that whole folder. If we had to guess, we’d say Microsoft purposefully made it much more “touch friendly” for you Surface and touchscreen users.

Head past the break for some comparison shots...

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Samsung ATIV S gets pushed back to December


Samsung ATIV S - First to announce and last to market

Yesterday we commented how Samsung appears to be late to the Windows Phone 8 train with their ATIV S smartphone. While not as visually eye-catching as HTC or Nokia's offerings, the device has strong appeal to the smartphone traditionalists out there or just those who want every high spec tossed into a phone. Sporting a 4.8" display, 32GB of onboard storage (with an expansion card option), dual-core 1.5Ghz CPU, a massive 2300 mAh battery and a slick, metal finish, the phone has its fans.

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Nokia Lumia 920 enters the world of Minecraft

The Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone has entered the world of Minecraft in a very creative fashion. The Lumia 920 model was created by Minecraft player Gokuroyu, took 14 days to complete and includes over 370,000 blocks.

And it's not just the outershell. Gokuroyu takes us inside the inner workings of the Lumia 920 to display the camera, memory storage, XBox Music and more.

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Nokia Lumia 920 sold out at both Telstra and Clove

If news of the Lumia 920 selling out in China, but then being withheld due to incorrect pricing, wasn't enough then we've also got word that both Telstra and Clove have both sold out in the first day of going live. It appears (depending on how many units were stocked in the first batch) demand is high for the handsets - even at full / the correct price.

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Windows Phone Brazil expects 7.8 update in Q1 2013

Sure we love bringing you folks the latest on Windows Phone 8 or what executive is leaving Microsoft this week, but what many of you really want to know is what about the 7.8 upgrade?

While we still don’t know what it will contain, or rather if it will have more than just a new Start screen, we always knew it was destined to come after Windows Phone 8 comes out. Now, Windows Phone Brazil (official Twitter account), has responded to a question about that update to current Windows Phones.  The answer is that the 7.8 update is expected for Brazil in Q1 2013, which sounds about right to us (and is vague enough to leave some wiggle room).

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T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 810 unboxing and video tour

Hey, look at that! The Nokia Lumia 810 exclusively for T-Mobile showed up on our doorstep and we decided to film us opening her up.

Now although Mobile Nations guru Phil Nickinson played with a dummy Lumia 810, yours truly has not had a chance to even touch one—so this will be my first “hands on” with T-Mobile’s new device. Off the cuff? The screen, even at 4.3” and 800x480 is really bold, bright and eye popping, due in part to some ClearBlack and an OLED display. It also blends seamlessly with that soft-touch black body, which feels quite nice to hold...

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The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D is reporting that effective immediately, Windows unit President Steve Sinofsky is leaving the company. The move is considered to be "mutual" and deals in large part to Sinofsky not being a "team player", evidently rubbing some executives in other divisions the wrong way. It’s a shocking move because if anyone, Sinofsky has become the face of the new direction of Microsoft, having “saved” Windows 7 and pushing Redmond towards Windows 8 and beyond.

All Things D go on to say that “…Sinofsky deputies. Julie Larson-Green will head up the engineering side of Windows, while Tami Reller, who has had headed marketing and served as the unit’s CFO, will have responsibility for the business side of things.”

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We've been so busy around here that we forgot our own Mobile Nations roving reporter Simon Sage managed to get some one on one time with the Samsung ATIV S (see our camera samples from earlier). The ATIV S is headed to Rogers in Canada, among a few other lucky networks (no such luck here in the States, at least so far). 

The video is fun to watch only because you can get to peep how big that 4.8" screen is and how great it looks in AMOLED. Throw in that super thin body, a massive 2300 mAh battery, 32GB of storage, memory expansion and yeah, we're wanting to play with one. It's also interesting to note that you can turn the phone on via the physical Win key--the only Windows Phone 8 device with such a configuration--kudos to Sammy for that one. Too bad we can't think of a way for Nokia or HTC to do the same and keep their slick designs. Can't have it all!

Other than that most of the video is just a tour of Windows Phone 8, which many of you should be familiar with by now.

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NAVIGON USA, one of the more popular navigation apps, has made it to Windows Phone 8. NAVIGON Europe is still in the certification process and should be available for Windows Phone 8 soon.

The NAVIGON apps are feature rich navigation apps that includes user selected downloadable maps. This allows you to travel without depending on a data connection for your maps.

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Microsoft is set to spend an incredible amount of money marketing both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The former is the next version of the company's desktop OS, while Windows Phone 8 is the new release that is hoped to help bring Microsoft into the mobile market with a respectable share of the pie. The Sun has reported that Microsoft has snapped up multiple big names to help push the mobile platform.

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Video sneak peek at glƏƏk! for Windows Phone 8

Probably the best part about Windows Phone 8, besides the OS, is the new tools developers have to enhance their apps. Case in point: glƏƏk! from Liquid Daffodil. The popular Twitter client with a kick of humor is getting some Windows Phone 8-special features and we have a first look.

The good news for the rest of you is you don’t have long to get this as the app has already been submitted to the Windows Phone Store, meaning it should be available within the next few days.

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If you pre-ordered a Nokia Lumia 822 from Verizon Wireless, rejoice! According to screenshots from Verizon's website, your phone will be shipping out tomorrow ... that is, unless you ordered a red HTC 8X. In that case, you can expect it in another week or so, on November 21. None of this is set in stone, however, so don't go blaming us if it takes a little longer. I went through the steps of choosing a HTC 8X in my region, Massachusetts, and got shipping dates ranging from November 15 to November 21. All of the Nokia Lumia 822s showed up as immediately available.

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Just the other day we posted about the new GroupMe 4.0 launching on Android and iOS with an IOU about the Windows Phone version being "on its way". Well, it looks like it was only behind by a few days as GroupMe 4.0 is now available in the Windows Phone Store.

The jump from version 3.5 to 4.0 is indicative of some major changes and indeed, it is. The changelog is quite detailed and mostly focuses on the new UI and design, bringing Microsoft’s new group-chat service up to date with a more “modern” look.

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The Lumia 920T, a Chinese version of Nokia's flagship Windows Phone, has completely sold out on Amazon's website in the region. Not only that, but the sold out notice was published within just 30 minutes of the Windows Phone listing going live.

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Mega-retailer Best Buy has invested some serious time into training employees at their brick and mortar stores about Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 8. Speaking to Forbes, Best Buy's merchant vice president for computing, Jason Bonfig, said that they have dedicated over 50,000 hours to making sure certain blue-shirts, Geek Squad consultants and "Microsoft Advisors" all have a working knowledge of Windows 8, so they can help customers feel comfortable with what is surely a change in what they are used to seeing on a Windows computer.

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Login to Windows Phone Central and leave a comment to this post to be entered to win the Ultimate Windows Phone Prize Pack!

Last week we rolled our new Mobile Nations Passport account system, which makes it easy for any member of Windows Phone Central to also participate across our other sites. With Passport, you have one account and to rule them all!

In honor of the successful roll out of Passport and thanks to our awesome friends at Gogo, we're celebrating with an amazing cross site contest. Each of our sites is running a contest giving away an Ultimate Prize Pack for their platform. And thanks to Passport, you can easily enter for a shot at winning each prize pack on each site.

Thanks Gogo!

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The other day we posted the about how Rogers in Canada was finally getting ready to sell their Windows Phone 8 devices Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. The date was rumored to be November 12th but the announcement was quickly pulled. But thankfully that date appears to be back on...

The Lumia 920 has a very soft launch a few weeks ago with a few stores getting even fewer of the phones. But this finally looks to be the "full launch" and the fact that you can go to the Rogers site and buy either phone is testament to that fact.

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We don't enjoy relaying news such as this, but it appears as though Volt Link, an app enabling Windows Phone owners who are OnStar subscribers (www.onstar.com) to access actions and functionality using the handset, will no longer be supported or available on Windows Phone.

The developer has revealed to a Windows Phone Central reader that a cease and desist letter was sent by GM/OnStar, requesting the immediate withdrawal of the app from the Store.

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