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Surface rear facing camera

While we aren't sure what the specs will be on the Surface tablets camera, Microsoft refers to the camera as a LifeCam, the branding for their webcams. This likely means the Surface will be loaded with the typical LifeCam software as well.

But here's an interesting aspect of the camera. It is positioned at a 22 degree angle and when you flip out the kick stand, you basically create a tripod for hands free recording.  This will be a nice feature for recording meetings, your child's birthday party, opening presents at Christmas and all the other situations where you need to have your camera stationary.

Surface front facing camera?

The Surface is also fitted with dual microphones for decent audio for your videos or audio quality for Skype calls. Based on the images we've seen on the Surface, it appears there is a front facing camera to help with those Skype calls as well.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft goes beyond the typical laptop styled camera on the Surface.  Would it be too much to hope that Microsoft borrows HTC's 16mp BSI sensor from the HTC Titan II?

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18

Surface website for all that is the Surface

Surface Website

The Surface website has... well... surfaced.

It launched shortly after Steve Ballmer introduced the new tablets to the world and is slowly becoming populated with details on the Surface.

You've got a gallery, video and downloadable spec sheet currently on the site. Hopefully, we'll see pricing and availability popping up on the Surface website.  As well as more details of what's in store with the Surface.

Just point your favorite browser to Surface.com for all the details.

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WP Central

One of the biggest decisions some of us are going to have to make is which Surface device to get--the zippy and light RT version or the big Win8 Pro one?

Of course price, of which we have no idea, will certainly come into play as will your needs. We're a bit torn ourselves between the two but are leaning towards the RT for a "play" device while we keep our Lenovo laptop for our hardcore writing and reporting duties.

To help make it easier (or perhaps harder), Microsoft has gone ahead and done a side-by-side of the two devices and their respective specifications in the above image. We'll also repost them below:

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48

What does the new Microsoft Surface tablet cost?

Microsoft Surface Tablet

And that's the real question, isn't it? When it comes time to put up or shut up -- and Microsoft's not yet saying when or where you'll be able to buy one of the new Surface tablet laptop thingies -- just how much are you going to have to shell out? Here's the official line.

Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Not exactly long on details, is it. But even if it's competitive with a comparable ARM tablet (of which there are a scant few, by the way) or an Intel Ultrabook, you're still going to be handing over several hundred dollars. What's more is that nobody's saying whether the Surface Touch Cover -- that's the official name for the keyboard cover -- will be optional, or if it'll come with the tablet. 

That's long been a complaint about tablets like the ASUS Transformer Prime. By the time you buy the tablet and optional keyboard, you're well within laptop costs. But we'll all keep our fingers crossed.

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Microsoft Surface Tablets to sport VaporMg casing

Surface Tablets VaporMg Casing

Microsoft made a point in their Surface tablet presentation to bring attention to the tablets casing, VaporMg. We are told it is pronounced Vapor-Mag but what is it and why is it so special?

According to Microsoft the casing is created by molding metal and depositing particles that creates a finish similar to a luxury watch. Using magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65mm. Much thinner than your typical credit card but lighter and stronger.  The end result is a 10.6" tablet that weighs in at 32 ounces.

Combined with the Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the front of the Surface tablets and VaporMg casing protecting the back side, these tablets appear to be Lumia tough. I just wonder when we'll see the first video of someone driving a nail with a Surface tablet.

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Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft this afternoon in California breathed new life into its Surface line, taking the table-top wonder and scaling it down into pair of Windows 8 (and Windows RT, but more on that in a minute) tablet/latop hybrids.

First things first: The new Surface is based on a 10.6-inch display. The Windows 8 Pro version is an Intel-powered beast, while the Windows RT version, as you'd expect, is powered by an ARM processor. The former squeezes things into a 13.6 mm-thick magnesium chassis, while the Windows RT version, with its more traditional mobile architecture, takes things down to a mere 9.6mm. Either way, these things are thin.

But addding a little bit of bulk -- 3 mm to be exact -- is the Touch Cover. Think iPad Smart Cover, only with a full multitouch keyboard built in.

Source: Microsoft; More: Surface gallery

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15

Microsoft Surface PC promo video

Two tablets -- erm, laptops -- one epic video. Microsoft obviously is throwing its full weight behind its reimagination of Surface, which is coming in the form of a Windows 8 hybrid that runs the best of the Windows of yesterday in a form factor for tomorrow.

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WP Central

Is Windows Phone a  "potential competitive threat" to Android?

We all know that there is a great war going on right now in the smartphone world. Apple and iOS continue to be taking most parts of the world by storm, where as in North America RIM's numbers have plummeted over the last year or two. So where does that leave Windows Phone?

Well it would seem that for most people it is apps that are important and that is where Flurry comes in, where we found this interesting report. Flurry is an analytic company that tracks developer support across all the major smartphone operating systems. The statistics are easy for Flurry to trace as when a company creates a new project in Flurry Analytics it will need to download specific SDKs.

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13

Photosynth version 1.1 update is a must have update

Photosynth v1.1 update mandatory

The other day we saw an update for Photosynth for Windows Phone get pushed out taking the app to version 1.1. We didn't know what all the update involved but today we are being told the update is mandatory or the app will stop working after June 20th.

Apparently the update was necessary to correct an oversight with the original version that was released about a month ago. Version 1.0 was released with a safety feature designed for beta tests that calls for the app to expire automatically within 30 days. Anyone running version 1.0 of Photosynth after June 20th will receive a "application expired" message and the app will shut down automatically. So, if you've been putting off the update to version 1.1 now is the time to update your copy of Photosynth.

If you haven't installed Photosynth to your Windows Phone, it's a free app that you can find here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Source: Photosynth Blog

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T-Mobile update for Lumia 710

A leaked internal T-Mobile memo shows that the carrier will begin pushing out the Windows Phone Refresh (Tango) update for the Nokia Lumia 710 in two short days. Windows Phone update 7.10.8773 will begin rolling out on June 20 and will continue in a staggered fashion through July 31.

Users will be notified over the air and through Zune that an update is available. The memo describes the following fixes and improvements:

  • Enables tethering hotspot
  • Resolved keyboard disappearing
  • Resolved unlock screen getting stuck
  • Improvements to uplink speed
  • Improvements to camera quality
  • Improvements to proximity sensor
  • Improvements to software stability

The memo itself also states that Microsoft is responsible for pushing the update and that T-Mobile has no control over who gets notified when. So even if you are feeling antsy and try to call them, T-Mobile customer service will not be able to help you out.

Source: T-Mobile; Thanks, Jacinta, for the tip!

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Tango is popping up on MS France and Spain

Windows Phone Refresh, also known as Tango, is expected to be heading to consumers pretty darn soon. Hopefully, as proof of that, Microsoft has updated some of their Windows Phone update history pages to explain upcoming changes that Tango will bring with it. Among them, is improved messaging features, including the ability to attach multiple images, videos, audio notes and tones to text messages. In addition, Windows Phone Refresh will let users export contacts from their phone to SIM card and vice versa.

That is all for specifics, but the site also says that the update will bring "other improvements in quality" and  "enhancements for Windows Phone." There's no timetable listed, but presumably, those countries showing the updated webpage are likely to be seeing the update rollout sooner than others.

So far, we have seen Tango added to the French and Spanish Windows Phone sites, but sadly, not the U.S. one. It's likely made its way out to other countries' sites as well.

Have any of you seen it elsewhere?

While we all wait you can check our hands with Windows Phone Tango in our video tour on the Lumia 710 after the break.

Source: Microsoft; Via: MonWindowsPhone

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WP Central

Only for demonstration purposes

We are only a few hours away from Microsoft's media event where it is expected the software giant will take the wraps off their own tablet running Windows 8.  We have now seen leaked specs on an Xbox Surface tablet. Could this be Microsoft's tablet or is this a completely different device?

According to the specs that have surfaced on the Xbox Surface the tablet will sport a 7" 1280x720 screen, SD card support and Bluetooth/Wifi radios.  There is also indications that the Surface will have four USB ports, an ethernet port, and HDMI port.

Note when reading the specs: there are TWO devices, one tablet and one "stationary". Don't confuse the two.

Xbox Surface Specs

Again, we don't know if the Xbox Surface is what we'll see at today's Microsoft's media event but it does look like an interesting device. What makes this all a bit more interesting is LiveSide has attained a second document that has the same Xbox Surface branding, corroborating the story.

Hit the break for page two of the leaked specs and take note that under Tablet Device (Controller) specs there mention of "Kinect Workloads".  Could the Xbox Surface have Kinect motion technologies built in?

Update: We should also not that Barnes & Noble are not a part of tonight's announcement, lending credence to this idea a bit more

Source: LiveSide; StephenWagner.com

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BrushFire

Microsoft's live-survey app code named 'BrushFire' is in early alpha stages of development

The notion of using live feedback and crowdsourcing during events isn't new--heck your teachers probably did when they asked you to "raise your hands" when voting on something as a kid. But this is 2012 and we need something with a little more bite to it. BrushFire is such an attempt.

Made by Microsoft (and technically for internal use only at the moment) the app is is still in the "alpha" stage meaning don't expect it to actually work. But the concept here is what's neat. From the app description:

"This is for internal MSIT use only. The application allows users to complete surveys by supplying a provided code. The application is alpha and only demonstrates the first activity type of survey. Future versions will include other types of activities. You can use the code MSIT to sample the application. "

How BrushFire works, in theory, is when a presenter at a conference wants to get feedback or interact with the audience in some e.g. a survey, they can fire one up and have it broadcast through this app to the audience. The audience can then take the survey on their phones and the info is calculated in real time. This type of feedback is often done with product testing and audience screenings of movies but now the technology can go anywhere and be configured nearly on the fly.

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WP Central

In this week’s hot thread we are talking about  Microsoft giving away all our exclusive apps. Earlier in the week we received the news that Microsoft was releasing the XBOX companion app on Android and updating the IOs version to 1.5 bringing features that even Windows Phone doesn’t have. The question here is does it matter? Is Microsoft shooting itself in the foot giving away exclusive apps to other platforms?

In this thread “Well the scumbags did it....just go ahead and throw the ecosystem away” forum member inteller is saying just that. He thinks that by making this app and other Windows Phone exclusive apps available on other platforms Microsoft is killing Windows Phone:

“Stealth update for XBL on iOS adds all the Companion functionality we had exclusive. Let's just go ahead and release Office and remove any other reasons for people to come to Windows Phone. Bag of tools...is anyone running Microsoft?”

These are strong words indeed and tough for Windows Phone users to hear.

We would sit with our friends on a Saturday night and show off apps like this one to our iPhone toting companions. “Look what I can do with my Windows Phone” is what we would say. This app and others like it are how we could show our Windows Phone's superiority. If these apps lose their exclusivity, is this making Windows Phone less relevant?  

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Network Setup

Nokia's network configuration app has been missing for months

Finally some news for all of you who have been itching for Nokia's Network Setup app, according to Nokia Support it's the final stages of submission to the Marketplace and should be available late next week. From a post on their support site:

"I can now let you know that a new version of the Network Setup app will be reviewed this week to go live and it should be published worldwide later this week (wk24). Please be aware that propagation through Marketplace may take an additional 3-5 days after the app is published."

The Network Setup app is crucial for pulling down SMS, MMS and carrier gateways for unlocked Lumia phones. In short, if you've unlocked your Nokia handset and threw in a new SIM you most likely were able to make phone calls but things like data and sending MMS were hit or miss. With this app, you can detect network settings to auto configure your phone.

The app went missing a few months ago without much word from Nokia. Presumably there were some issues with the app and it had to undergo some changes. That process looks now to be complete.

Incidentally, our Lumia 610 did ship with Network Setup pre-installed so Nokia is not losing those on the unlocked phone front just yet. But at least for all others your trouble should be over soon. We'll keep you posted when it goes live in the Nokia Collection.

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Nokia has finally released an "exclusive" video game for their Lumia line of Windows Phones. But no, it's not Angry Birds: Space or anything from EA, it's a little indie title that they had on Symbian awhile back called Climate Mission 3D.

Sounds like a bad 80's movie to us. That or an episode of Captain Planet.

Regardless of Cartman-like reaction it's not half bad. The 3D graphics are well done and the music is chill enough without being annoying. You basically have three mini games--Iceberg, Ants and Trees--which keep you occupied with little tasks like making bigger icebergs, forcing slave ants to do you bidding by collecting pine needles or populating the earth with fruit launching trees.

WP Central

Although we jest at the theme of the game, considering it's free it' s not a terrible time killer. While the initial levels are dead simple (to train you) it does get a little challenging. There are also things to unlock and do around the globe and we guess the message ain't too bad albeit tacky.

But hey, free is free so if you're on a Nokia Lumia phone go and grab Climate Mission 3D  now in the Nokia Collection. Thanks, Kay O., for the tip

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WP Central

Update: Microsoft's lawyers (Covington & Burling LLP) have had the document in question taken down from the source, tacitly confirming the legitimacy of the leak.

Sometimes we have leaks with small tidbits and then on the rare occasion you get the motherload. That just happened minutes ago as what looks to be Microsoft's entire game plan for the Xbox 720 (yes, even they're calling it that) has just leaked online.

The document is called "Xbox 720 9-24 Checkpoint" and looks to be about 2 years old but it is full of some glorious details about what Microsoft has (or had) planned for the living room. Everything from the 720's architecture to it's base OS (Windows 8) is online to be viewed.  Ex-Microsoftie Shane Nokes also notes it's "an old discussion deck" but not necessarily that it's legitimate (though the amount of details suggests that it is).

We're still going over the massive slideshow but here are some highlights:

  • XTV - Xbox TV will be launched "Holiday 2012" and will be what it sounds like. Full support won't be till the Xbox 720 though in 2013. It will work on the Xbox 360, Phone and PC.
  • Fortaleza (Kinect 3D Glasses) in 2014 with WiFi for living room; by  2015 it will have a cell radio/4G for use everywhere
  • By 2015 "Xbox experiences served up form the cloud. Instantly on any screen."
  • Xbox 720 Media Hub - "Record TV in the background and serve up to any device in the household.Stream your personal videos, music, photos and more and play them back from any device. Start and play your favorite Xbox games from other devices like phones and PCs with RemoteFX technology...Take your entertainment everywhere. Start on one screen but instantly  pause and play it again from any other device makes it best way to enjoy your TV, movies and music when you’re on the go."
  • Kinect v2 Sensor (2013) - Better 3D Play Space (closer, wider, deeper); Improved Voice Rec.; 4 Player tracking; Dedicated Processing; Improved HD 

Some now are speculating that Monday won't be a Microsoft Tablet but an "XTV" announcement. That actually makes sense as Los Angeles is the entertainment home. Regardless, if Microsoft doesn't announce it Monday you can bet that it's coming soon (if it's to be ready for the holiday season).

We're sure there's a lot more nuggets in there and we'll update as we go through it. We can imagine there are some nervous folks at Microsoft right now but honestly, this is some amazing stuff.

Source: Scribd (download removed at the request of Covington & Burling LLP); via Michael Gillett (Twitter); More slides after the break...

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WP Central

We have to admit, we're rather loving this speculation about what Microsoft will unveil on Monday and it finally looks like it's coming into focus.

On Monday, June 18th, Microsoft will take the wraps off of their own tablet running Windows 8 (or a variant of), confirming an earlier report.

The New York Times is now going on record as having spoken to "people with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans"  that indeed, it is a tablet of their own making. As the Times points out, this is the first time in the company's 37 year history that they are making their own computer. That's huge.

What makes the situation difficult is how Microsoft's OEM partners will react--after all, they'll be competing with their own team, so to speak. On the other hand, Google has been making "Nexus" devices for some time now--devices which set the bar for what they expect as far as quality in hardware and design. Truth be told, the Nexus line of Android phones have been some of the most popular as they are both cheaper and more stable having no 3rd party skinning.

If Microsoft heads down this path, the tablet unveiled on Monday will surely be priced very competitively and also be a "pure" device. That notion certainly appeals to us and we're betting you're going to thrilled with it as well. What's more, according to the New York Times, Microsoft is aiming this directly at the iPad making this a bold (and overdue) move.

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1

Windows Phone Central Ringtone Contest (Reminder)

Got some musical chops? Then make us a ringtone and win yourself a Nokia Play 360!

WPCentral Ringtone Contest

First, we'd like to congratulate Windows Phone Central reader Elvis7. Elvis7 has been randomly selected to win our week one prize in the Ringtone Contest, a $50 gift certificate to the WPCentral Accessory Store.

Second, if you haven't entered an original ringtone, you only have another week to enter the Ringtone Contest for your chance to win a Nokia Play 360. We've already seen several great entries and as a reminder, here's how the contest works:

  1. Create an original ringtone
  2. Post it in this Windows Phone Central discussion
  3. The ringtone has to be original content to qualify. No use of copyrighted music or materials unless it is yours.
  4. You can submit two entries but they need to be distinct and original
  5. You have until June 23, 2012 at 5pm EST to submit your entry.

From there, we'll listen to all the entries and select the two ringtones that stand out as the best to us. Expect the winners to be announced by June 28th.

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Nokia

What's Nokia teasing for this Monday?

Update -- And we hate to the bearer of bad news but we've heard from a very trusted source that this has nothing to do with Microsoft's announcement come Monday. So what is it? We're told that the area code for Hawaii--808--is the key here. Specifically a new 41MP camera phone called the 808 Pureview--you may have heard of it---that impending announcement is exciting but not for Windows Phone users. Sorry.

Looks like Nokia is itching to tell us something and that something is for this Monday, June 18th. The same Monday that Microsoft is set to announce something as well. Related? Probably.

Nokia doesn't say much on the matter but they did post the above image of the Hawaii islands and what look to be zoom features. If we had to bet, they're hinting strongly at some 3D mapping feature coming to Bing Maps.

Could it also be part of a hardware RT tablet? Maybe. There is currently a lot of speculation whirling around the idea that Microsoft is unveiling their own tablet hardware possibly made by Nokia this Monday but we may need to tone it down and settle for some Microsoft-Nokia mapping collaboration instead.

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Here's an interesting Windows Phone game...

Zombies, Run! is a game (or is a exercise app?)  where you listen to missions that place you against zombies while jogging.  As the mission progresses you earn or collect supplies. After your run, you use the supplies at your your base township. The town in turn uses the supplies to support growth and as your town grows, more missions become available.

Asides from the video game features, Zombies, Run! will also track your distance, time and pace of your runs. A ZombieLink is also in the works to let you view and share your running data online.  The game also has Live Tile support that will send you into the game where you left off.

Zombies, Run! Screenshots

Zombies, Run! contains more than thirty missions that last anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes. You can play the game while jogging around the neighborhood, around a track or from a treadmill.

Zombies, Run! is an interesting way to pass the time while you're working up a sweat. The app is already seeing success on the Android and iPhone markets and the developer is excited about bring the app to the Windows Phone Marketplace.  The game already has t-shirts and game blog that you can find here at the Zombies, Run! website.

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T-Mobile is having a 2-day Fathers Day blowout

T-Mobile is running a an awesome 2-day Fathers Day sale that includes a couple Windows Phones.

Today and tomorrow, you can snag a slew of 4G phones, tablets and hotspots for free with a new 2-year contract. Amongst the myriad devices is HTC's Radar 4G and Nokia's Lumia 710, which is available in both black and white. All devices are free after rebate and are available both online and in brick and mortar stores.

So if you're looking to avoid one of those "Cats in the Cradle" situations, head over to T-Mobile June 15-16 and get the old man some 4G goodness.

Source: T-Mobile; Via: WindowsPhoneDaily

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Microsoft improving Marketplace turn around times

Windows Phone Marketplace quicker turn around times

Microsoft is constantly working to improve the Windows Phone Marketplace experience. A few months ago we saw a commitment to the quality of apps appearing on the Marketplace. Now Microsoft is turning its attention towards the turn around time it takes an app to go from submission to appearing on the Marketplace.

It now takes three to four business days, roughly speaking, for an app to go through the certification process and be published on the Marketplace. The lag time between certification and having an app available is now about one day.

For example, recent updates for Logoarama and People Search took about four days with the updates becoming available under 24 hours of certification.We are still seeing it take about 48 hours (or longer) to have price changes become visible but the overall app submission process seems to be improving.

Source: Windows Team Blog

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