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As we get close to the big Windows Phone 8 announcement next week, certain bits of info are starting to leak out. Case in point, Verizon has been a sieve lately and now we have what looks to be some credible info on two important aspects: pricing and availability.

First up is the expected release date: Monday, November 12th. That coincides with some other info we were tipped on including Verizon employee training that is occurring now and an HTC “Save the date” for the 6th. While AT&T is presumably still beating Verizon here for a launch, it is by mere days. In fact, T-Mobile is then expected to launch their phones just 48 hours later.

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With launch day and general availability of Surface devices set to begin in a few short days the reviews have started to appear. After months of speculation and mountains of questions about price and specs, we’re finally at the end of this saga. Microsoft have dished out Surface devices to the great and the good for some pre-release exclusives.

Surface represents a few key things for Microsoft, firstly it will be the public face of Windows 8, and secondly it is designed to showcase ARM devices and the new WinRT touch interface. From the moment it was announced this was going to be such a critical element for the entire launch of Windows 8. How well it’s received depends on not only the hardware but also the software. Check out our roundup after the break..

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Microsoft, the company that has been plagued by security concerns with Internet Explorer in the past, has announced that it would change its new disclosure policy to inform customers explicitly that it will not use personal information obtained from product and service usage. This will protect customers from data being passed onto third-party companies for marketing and advertising.

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Leave it to perpetual leaker @Evleaks on Twitter to post an image of the upcoming Verizon Nokia Lumia 822.

We’ve seen the device before and have heard some negative feedback from those who are disappointed that it’s not the 920, but you have to admit the device looks nice in white—albeit in this tiny render.

The device features a 4.3” screen with wireless charging built in and is rumored to fetch for just $50 on contract. That’s not a bad deal though we’re hoping Verizon goes “big” with a flagship Nokia phone in the near future.

The latest rumor pins Verizon’s WP8 release schedule sometime in November, possible between the 6th and the 12th.

Source: @Evleaks; Thanks, Michael S., for the link!

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Verizon HTC 8X

Here we go folks, with the rumor of Verizon having issues with Windows Phone 8 being dispelled by Paul Thurrott recently, we can get back to guessing when it will launch.

Luckily, we don’t have to guess too much as reader Adil T. has tipped us on this image and some launch info for Verizon. The info comes from friend of his who works for Verizon and as you can see, that gorgeous HTC 8X is running on Big Red’s network (check the Phone Tile).

Regarding the launch, HTC evidently has a “save the date” for Tuesday, November 6th with a launch window around the same time—in other words, very soon.

Oh and is that an ATIV S on that screen back there or is that just a generic Windows Phone?  We’ll try to dig up some more info as it comes in. Thanks, Anon, for the info!

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It’s never fun to take things too seriously, which is why we like this video of a purported Surface unboxing. Performed with a mock Russian accent, the video takes a jab at the “old” Microsoft (or rather what some people still perceive as being Redmond’s problem: clunky, non-working software and hardware).

We won’t say too much more on this because it speaks for itself. But we definitely got a chuckle out of it.

Source: Puppet Shed; Thanks, 47project in comments for the tip!

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Microsoft has begun shipping its Surface Windows RT tablets, according to confirmation emails that have been received by those who submitted orders. We've previously looked at delays and possible issues surrounding Microsoft's Surface pre-ordering process that left customers baffled not knowing when they'd receive their product.

We then covered the tweet that was published by the Surface Twitter account, which stated that original shipping and delivery dates will be upheld by Microsoft. No delays, always a confirmation consumers enjoy hearing. 

Could these emails be also sent in error? Only time will tell, but we highly doubt it.

Thanks, Rudy, for the image and tip!

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To celebrate the launch of the Surface RT tablets, Microsoft is giving away a twelve month Xbox Music Pass ($99 value) to the first 100 people in line at their local stores.

There is also the hint of additional Xbox prizes to be given away at the launch events.

Just follow this link to find a store near you and plan on arriving early. Curious is anyone will be camping out for the Surface RT.  If so, good luck!

Thanks, stmav, for the tip!

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Update: The Lumia 920 is still hidden from the Best Buy system but if you use this link, you can still find it and evidently pre-order it. Thanks, anujtwp, for the link

Just this morning we woke up gleefully to find that Best Buy was finally taking pre-orders for AT&T’s Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X. Even better was what seemed like a fair price for the Lumia 920: $150 on contract, coming in below the normal $200 mark for high-end smartphones.

But alas, something is awry and the Lumia 920 has gone missing from Best Buy’s site. Even more odd is how the HTC 8X is still listed for pre-order. Glitch? Error? Sold out? We really have no idea and hopefully tomorrow either we’ll wake to find it fixed or we’ll ask Nokia if they know what’s going on with the whole deal.

In addition, some people who have pre-ordered the Lumia 920 mentioned to us a ship date of October 23 or 24th. While we don’t have any knowledge if that is accurate, we’re leaning on this being an error from Best Buy. We’re not expecting that phone to ship until November 4th—but hey, we like surprises just like anyone else.

Thanks for everyone who sent this in!

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XNA is dead. Long live XNA!

So, as many of you have heard, Microsoft has killed off XNA and every game written in the framework is doomed.

Except that isn’t the whole story.

If you don’t know, XNA is a game development framework made by Microsoft to aid developers in rapidly creating cross platform games. The name stands for: XNA's Not Acronymed. Writing a game in XNA enables it to run on Windows, XBOX, Windows Phone, and the [now dead] Zune HD. The only real changes that need to be made are the controls and UI (different screen sizes). Even if you’ve never heard of XNA, chances are that you’ve played a game made in it if you’ve ever used a Windows Phone. One such game is ARMED! - which now has a Windows 8 version made in MonoGame.  XNA was loved by a lot of people, and gained popularity because it was an easy entry point into 2D and 3D game development, and it was a good way to reuse code across platforms.

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Looks like if you live near a Microsoft Store or even a pop-up holiday kiosk you can stop by and get a reservation card good for one Surface RT come October 26th.

The info comes via our forums where member jdevenberg was given a pass from a Microsoft pop-up Store employee at Washington Square in Beaverton, Oregon. The pass simply reads that a Surface has been reserved and all the shopper has to do is bring the pass at 12pm on October 26th. This sounds like a good deal for those of you who are wanting to go and get one in the Store that very day instead of pre-ordering online.

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AT&T is gearing up to launch the Nokia Lumia 920 very soon—in fact we expect an announcement on pricing and availability sometime on Sunday.

Word is that AT&T reps are also in the midst of training with the device, becoming familiar with its main features and selling points. Part of that training is being done with these videos that demonstrate the highlights of the Lumia 920.

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Windows Phone Central Reader's Roundup Contest

About once a week we sit down and roundup various apps and games for our Windows Phones. We've rounded up navigation apps, ninja styled games, spy apps and even London travel apps. While there's already a roundup in the works for this week, we want to do a game roundup based on your recommendations.

And to spice it up a little, we've got a few prizes to give away in the process.

All you need to do is head on over to this Windows Phone Central forum's discussion and share your top three Windows Phone games. We'll tally up the recommendations and next week roundup the top five WPCentral reader recommendations.

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Microsoft unveiled its plan to release a family of Windows tablets branded Surface. From that point onwards, we've waited patiently, speculating what the pricing could be. Today Microsoft has revealed the pricing for both of the available ARM-based Surface RT tablets on its online store. So, how much are we required to save before looking to make the purchase?

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It Don't Matter If you're Black Or White...or does it?

This photo of the HTC 8S has been generating a lot of comments on Reddit with most people throwing out the word “sexy” to describe it.

The question you may be wondering is what’s the deal with the black and white? Is that some HTC thing? The answer is ‘nope’ as it is part of Windows Phone 8’s “ease of access” settings, meaning you can do this on any new device you choose. (We erroneously reported this earlier as an added theme--that's close but not 100% accurate).

The “High Contrast” mode was first detailed by WPArea.de back in July when the first SDK initially leaked. In short, it allows you to go to an all “black and white” theme including white on black or vice versa. Obviously this is meant for people with visual impairments but evidently a lot of you are enthralled with its appearance—guess we can call it Metro extreme mode?

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Live Apps, Microsoft's new marketing language

Yesterday we ran a story with some new marketing material for Best Buy that focused on Windows Phone 8. What caught our attention was the use of the term ‘Live Apps’ and even more so the description on how to view them (swipe up, down, left, right).

The idea as the time was that this might be some new feature—possibly related to multitasking e.g. mimicking how Windows 8 handles multiple apps. The other was that this was just Microsoft’s rebranding of Metro apps to Live Apps (due to that trademark issue).

This morning, we can share a lot more information on this that has come forward. Some good, some disappointing.

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