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Last week at the Windows Phone Summit, it was finally revealed that Zynga will be bringing Words with Friends and DrawSomething to Windows Phone this fall. Actually, Microsoft's Ben Rudolph teased that both games are "so-close-you-can-taste it" meaning we may be getting those marquee titles by the end of the summer (fingers crossed).

It also looks like that Zynga partnership is going deeper than just those two games. The popular online gaming company just announced 'With Friends' which is hailed to be their own social gaming network and it sounds a lot like Xbox LIVE--you can create a profile, see your friend's profiles, message them and see what they have been playing. Heck, you can even meet people with similar game interests.

What makes this fascinating though is the fact that it works across platforms. The social network will launch on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and of course be on the web, making it a true cross-platform gaming social network...thing

We're not sure if it will be any good but we just like the fact that Zynga is on board with Windows Phone these days.

Source: Wired

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Continuing that trend of providing the best customer experience on Windows Phone, Nokia has put up a page where regular users can check to see if Windows Phone 8773 aka "Tango" has been released yet, or even just the status of the update.

Located at www.nokia.com/global/support/software-update/lumia/software-update-for-nokia-lumia/ uses can select which region they are in and the drill down to their carrier or Lumia version number.

Interestingly enough, the AT&T Lumia 900 is not even on the list for North America which strongly implies that the carrier is skipping the update and heading right for Windows Phone 7.8 which will include the few Tango features. We're not sure if that's good or bad as Tango doesn't really bring much more than a few MMS enhancements to the 900 but still, it would have been nice to see it as there is no ETA on 7.8.

For T-Mobile, we just posted that the Tango update for the Lumia 710 should go live tomorrow, June 27th, after a delay of a week. We'll be keeping an eye out for that one.

Edit: Some readers correctly point out that Nokia specifically mentions this update is only for the Lumia 710 and 800, so we shouldn't expect the 900 to be listed. This is partially true but only because non-North America (AT&T, Rogers) Lumia 900s shipped with "Tango" pre-installed already, so they don't need the update. Only AT&T and Rogers (as far as we know) and a handful of smaller countries don't have 8773/Tango pre-installed. 

Source: Nokia; Thanks, bilzkh, for the tip

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According to a second leaked internal memo, T-Mobile US is set to kick off the Windows Phone Refresh (aka "Tango") rollout tomorrow, on June 27th. We previously received word from sources that June 20th was the destined date, but it seems as though the upgrade has been delayed slightly. 

The Nokia Lumia 710 is the Windows Phone that will benefit from the update that will be installed via Zune (or the Mac Connector). Internet sharing capability, disappearing keyboard fix, as well as a number of other improvements, are bundled with introduced features which will please those who have been waiting patiently.

Be sure to keep a watchful eye on the lookout for any update notifications.

Thanks, Jacinta, for the tip!

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Microsoft's Connected Car team may be looking to bring many aspects of the Project Detroit car to consumers. Project Detroit was a suped-up Ford Mustang packed with the technological horse-power of Windows Phone and Kinect. It's audio, security and lighting systems could all be controlled through a Windows Phone.

According to the job posting, Microsoft is looking for someone to help integrate not only Windows Phone and Kinect with automotive technology, but also Windows 8, Bing, Azure and TellMe. The result would be a fully-interactive vehicular experience:

"The new Connected Car will know its riders, and will interact with them naturally via speech, gestures, and face tracking. It will learn their habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. Through a growing catalogue of applications, it will inform and entertain them, and keep them connected with the people and information they care about."

While Microsoft already offers its Windows Embedded technology in such products as Ford's Sync and Kia's UVO, along with many others, this goes above and beyond.

"The combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform tomorrow’s cars from passive objects into intelligent assistants for both the driver and their passengers."

It looks as though the posting may have disappeared from the website, but you can read it in its entirety below.

"We, the Microsoft Connected Car team, have a strong track record and an extensive customer base in the automotive industry. In the past fourteen years, we delivered various iterations of our Windows Embedded Automotive platform to the automotive suppliers of major auto brands such as Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, and McLaren. We also partnered directly with select automakers to create integrated Telematics products such as Fiat Blue&Me, Ford SYNC, and Kia UVO. Featuring cutting-edge communications, travel information, entertainment, and accessory control via voice and touch interfaces, these products have been highly successful, increasing the automakers’ US sales of by up to 35% and telematics adoption up to 70%.

Yet our ambitions do not end there. For the next generation of the Connected Car Platform, we plan to leverage the full power of the Microsoft ecosystem including Kinect, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Live, Bing, Azure, and Tellme. The combination of rich local sensing, user identification, cloud access, and data mining will transform tomorrow’s cars from passive objects into intelligent assistants for both the driver and their passengers. The new Connected Car will know its riders, and will interact with them naturally via speech, gestures, and face tracking. It will learn their habits, and offer personalized contextual information and driving assists to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. Through a growing catalogue of applications, it will inform and entertain them, and keep them connected with the people and information they care about. The possibilities are endless."

Source: Microsoft; Via: IStartedSomething

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With the announcement of Audible for Windows Phone being released last week, many of our UK readers were asking for the same availability which was absent from the UK Marketplace. Windows Phone Central reader Mark got in touch with the Audible team for information on a possible app for those who reside in the UK, and we have positive details to relay.

According to a representative from the company, the Audible.co.uk app is set to be available in the Marketplace within the next day, but we've now seen it available for download (via direct link) in the UK. Find an excerpt of the email response below:

"I am pleased to announce that we have just been informed that the UK version of the app on the Windows platform has launched today, and will be available in the marketplace as of tomorrow."

You can download Audible from the Marketplace for free using the direct link or QR Code.

Thanks, Mark, for the heads up!

 

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Microsoft has released a number of new advertisements that carry on the "Smoked by Windows Phone" marketing campaign, which started at CES 2012 earlier this year. Ben ('The PC Guy') Rudolph heads up the adverts that are set to air on TV. The above video shows Rudolph challenging a member of public on the streets of Seattle (as opposed to Microsoft Stores) to see who can locate and share a restaurant with friends the fastest.

We like the new style used in the videos, which appear to be slightly more calm and focus more on the beauty of Windows Phone instead of simply how many wins the platform can achieve. Rudolph runs the participant through exactly why Windows Phone is more efficient at everyday tasks. Luckily, he gave Ramona a shiny new cyan Lumia 900 so Android wont slow her down in future.

Be sure to check out the Microsoft YouTube playlist of the advertisements to view the rest.

Source: Microsoft (YouTube playlist); via: Windows Team Blog

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Welcome to the Windows Phone summary of the week, where we cover the latest news from the past six days that matter most. Should you find yourself being absent throughout the week, you can be sure to catch up with what's going on with Microsoft's mobile platforms by checking our weekly summaries.

Before we kick-off with the summary itself, we've got episode 144 of the WPCentral Podcast, with special guest Paul Thurrott. We've also had the pleasure of interviewing IronSun Studios, the makers of MonstaFish and Fathom. With all the Windows Phone 8 (and 7.8) announcements, it's good to see what everyone thinks about the limitations of first and second generation handsets.

But alas, head on past the break for the full summary.

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Microsoft's Ben Rudolph is shown in Microsoft's latest video giving the new 7.8 Start screen a brief tour. The video was part of Microsoft's new 7.5/7.8 page which just covers some basic features that we already know about.

Call it damage control or Redmond genuinely being excited for the update, but the video featuring the Lumia 900 seems designed specifically to remind us that Nokia's flagship phone is alive and well. 

Nothing new is revealed in the video that we haven't seen already but with the recent faux-rumor that Microsoft would be building it's own phone (and then their denial at Information Week), Nokia needs as much positive spin as they can get. There is little doubt that the "no Windows Phone 8 for current phones" is hurting the Finnish quite hard, as their stock has dropped to a 16-year low, hovering at $2.16 a share.

Between Nokia's commitment to continually deploy new software (like this weekend's Play To and Camera Extras) plus the 7.8 update, we're not feeling too bad about the 900's status but clearly it has divided the community

The question though is how soon is this 7.8 update coming? Obviously it's still in testing though it doesn't look too far off either. Here's to hoping for end of the summer, at the latest.

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Windows Phone Central ran yet another interesting poll this past weekend on the forever controversial topic of “What should Windows Phone be called”?

The proposal was to re-name “Windows Phone 8” to “Windows 8 Phone” due to the benefit of co-branding and the fact that the new iteration of Microsoft’s mobile OS shares the same kernel as the upcoming desktop OS.  The benefit for advertising seems obvious to us as consumers will see the significant overlap between the two systems.

Of course there are some problems with the proposal, including the fact that the Windows Phone group at Microsoft may not want to consider themselves under the umbrella of Steve Sinofosky’s Windows desktop division just yet. There’s also the issue of version updates and whether or not both systems would stay in parallel (though we think that could be easily solved by planning appropriately).

Still, you folks spoke up. Once again we had a large turnout with 5,773 of you voicing your opinion. Surprisingly 54% of you agreed that Windows 8 Phone would be the better choice (something we actually agree with ourselves) while 37.5% thought that Windows Phone 8 was just fine. Meanwhile, a small but significant portion thought that “something else” would be better.

That “something else” of course is always hard to nail down. Many of you thought that Microsoft should capitalize on the “Surface” name and make a “Surface Phone”. While it certainly has a nice ring to it, the name “Surface” seems more appropriate for a tablet device than a phone due to its structure and shape. There's also the (slight) possibility that Surface tablets could bomb and then Microsoft would have two bad names floating around.

The other popular name is not surprisingly related to Xbox—either XPhone or something similar. Though the Xbox brand is certainly successful, Microsoft is clearly courting enterprise with Windows Phone 8 and we’re not sure the more button-up types would opt for a gaming-centric themed phone. Heck, we hear that even the new white phones are a little too flamboyant for some business types—no joke.

The take away message though we think is clear: If Microsoft is serious about aligning their various operating systems, then perhaps doing the same for their names--for practical usage as well as branding—may not be a bad idea at all.

Thanks for all who voted and your thoughts on the matter!

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On June 14th, rumors were circulating that Microsoft was poised to buy Yammer, a social-network and messaging service for enterprise, for at least $1 billion dollars. Speculation cooled down a bit as Microsoft intended to focus on the Surface and Windows Phone 8 announcements but a new week is upon us and so the deal is now official.

Microsoft has now purchased Yammer (www.yammer.com) for a massive $1.2 billion in cash and it will be folded into the Microsoft Office Division, led by division President Kurt DelBene. The team will continue to report to current CEO David Sacks to maintain continuity, at least for the near future.

A statement from Microsoft on the acquisition states

“The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love. Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.”

Yammer is only four years old but has nearly 5 million users including employees at 85 percent of the Fortune 500, making it an interesting and strategic purchase. So why the acquisition even though Microsoft has Lync and Sharepoint already? Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) ruminates that Microsoft "...needed a cooler brand and wanted the cross-platform support" which sounds about right to us.

Here's to hopefully seeing Yammer built into Windows Phone 8.

Full press release after the break...

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It was a few weeks ago when Nokia and Microsoft announced that Bing Maps would be getting a bit of a backend overhaul. Specifically in two areas: new color codes for traffic and more detail on back roads.

Perhaps even more importantly, some countries which previously didn't have access to mapping data would be getting the feature in a timed rollout. All in all, 24 countries were being added to the list including Italy and the UK.

We can at least verify that those latter two now have traffic as an option on their devices. Users can simply launch Maps and tap the three-dots on the lower menu. There, the "enable traffic" option should now be available.

It's great to see such a feature comes to other regions as it's something many of us have taken for granted since Windows Phone 7 came out in 2010. If you've noticed traffic added to any of these other countries, sound off in comments: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland or UAE.

via: Plaffo; Thanks Andrew, James, for UK info

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E-Plus in Germany is currently preparing to release the Windows Phone Tango update to consumers, according to reports. Much like Australia's Telstra, the update is set to hit Lumia 800 owners. "Tango" introduces a number of new features and improvements to the experience, including added MMS functionality and WiFi tethering (depending on carrier restrictions and firmware versions).

Be sure to keep an eye out for any update notifications and let us know when you receive the release.

Source: Mobile Professionals, via: WP7App.de; thanks, Tali, for the tip!

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The Windows Phone Tango update is currently in testing by Australian carrier Telstra. What is being referred to as the Mango Commercial Refresh 3 update is being tested for release to the Nokia Lumia 800, HTC Mozart and HD7, Samsung Omnia W and LG c900k.

Speculation has the Tango MCR3 update being pushed out sometime in July. The update will bring these older Windows Phones current with the HTC Titan, Nokia Lumia 900 and 610 which are shipped with the updated version of Windows Phone.

Source: wpdownunder; Thanks, Peter and Sheeds, for the tip!

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Name your favorite Batman, win a Dark Knight cover for your Lumia 710

We've mentioned the Dark Knight Rises covers for the Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone before. T-Mobile is currently giving the covers away with new purchases of the Lumia 710. Well, we've gotten our grubby little hands on three of them to give away.

The covers are stamped with the Dark Knight Rises movie logo and we thought it might be fitting to somehow tie the Dark Knight into this giveaway. So... keeping it simple... in the comments let us know who is your favorite Batman. Was it Adam West, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale or is the comic book version the best?

Chime in through the day (say until 5pm PST) and tonight we'll randomly pick three winners, each to receive a Nokia Lumia 710 Dark Knight Rises cover. You do need to register so we can get in touch with you (registration is done here) and remember these cases are for the 710. Feel free to chime in but if you don't have the 710, let us know as you comment to avoid winning a case that doesn't fit your Windows Phone.

Good luck everyone!

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Microsoft is set to open a new store at Westchester in New York, and according to the construction manager on-site it's set to open "very soon" indeed. We've previously looked at an unofficial list of Microsoft Stores that are to be revealed in the states and the software giant has also recently opened a store in Freehold, NY.

New York Metro has a job listing for a Retail Store Teacher position at the Westchester store, should you be interested in such a career with the software giant. More information will be published when the store is open and ready for business, so stay tuned and take a look at the above photo of the retail store under construction.

Thanks, Sean, for the heads up!

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Twabbit for Windows Phone is a Twitter client that is nicely laid out, has plenty of features and overall is a really nice Windows Phone app.

Twabbit's main pages cover your Twitter home page with all your tweets, interactions with other tweets and your direct message inbox. Other key features include:

  • Persistently present tweet button that enables you to compose tweets from anywhere in the app
  • Quick reply bar, Support for multiple Twitter accounts
  • Ability to mute users, hastags and apps
  • Support for Twitter, TwitPic and yFrog photo upload services
  • Live Tile Support

Tweets load fast and there are a ton of settings to let you customize Twabbit to suit your needs and tastes. There's even gesture settings for customizable single and multi-touches.

There is a free trail available for Twabbit and the full version is currently running $.99. Today's the last day to pick Twabbit up for $.99 and then the price jumps to $1.49. If you're looking for a nice Twitter client for your Windows Phone, Twabbit is worth checking out.

You can find Twabbit here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Ever since Microsoft unveiled "Windows Phone 7 Series" back in February 2010 (and then changed it), much debate has taken place on what it should be called. Many people had made convincing arguments at the time that Microsoft should drop "Windows" all together and opt instead for an Xbox alignment.

In hindsight, such arguments now seem silly to us as Windows Phone 7 was hardly a killer gaming platform, nor does that send the right message to business/enterprise. Likewise, the phrase "Windows" has made quite the comeback with "8", as early reviews would suggest.

However, reader 'umovies' sent in this idea which piqued our interest because it actually makes sense:

"[Microsoft should] change Windows Phone 8 to Windows 8 Phone. They're going to have more products out so its kinda crazy saying Windows Phone 8 when you got Windows 8 OS, Windows 8 Surface's, you should have a Windows 8 Phone as well and it will get rid of the confusion over Windows Mobile."

Indeed, now that the core of Windows Phone 8 has been shown to be the core of Windows 8 desktop (which will also be used in the next generation of Xbox), it does seem obvious to call it Windows 8 Phone instead. Technically speaking, it's just more accurate. (Heck, our site wouldn't even need a name change as it is still "Windows Phone" but the specific version is just "8".)

Plus as our writer Seth Brodeur notes, you can finally say "I have a Windows 8 Phone" instead of a " I have a Windows Phone 8 phone" which is redundant (notice we usually say "Windows Phone 8 device" to avoid this. but it also sounds...odd).

What do you think? Hit the poll, people, and share it with others. Then we'll see about sending it to Microsoft.

 

Should Microsoft rename Windows Phone 8 to Windows 8 Phone instead?
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The crowd at the new Microsoft Store in Danbury, Connecticut

As we reported last night, Microsoft was set to open their latest Store in the quaint state of Connecticut who famously just allowed alcohol to be sold on Sunday's just a couple of weeks ago (no joke).

Reader Nicholas R. was there and sent us this report and collection of photos from the event. Overall, we're quite impressed with the sound of things and look forward to that Huntington Station opening here in New York. Check out his telling of the event and pics(taken with a Lumia 900, of course) below!

"So I stopped by a couple hours after the store opening this morning. There were a lot of people there, but it sounds like there were even more when the store actually opened. Some people even camped out overnight in front of the mall. Apparently Microsoft was giving out Xboxes, laptops, and tablets to some of the lucky first people. By the time I got there, they only had zip-up blankets, t-shirts, and concert wristbands left.

In terms of store layout, it's actually pretty nice. Although people accuse MS of stealing Apple's idea of wooden tables and chairs, the overall store doesn't feel like an Apple store. It definitely has a different feel; I guess I would call it futuristic. They have the displays with computers, Xboxes, Windows Phone, etc. They also have some Kinects scattered around for people to play with. In the middle of the store is the Answer Desk. A big glass wall is behind the Answer Desk and separates the front of the store for the back. The back is fairly spacious and has a big TV with a Kinect attached to it. Today, they were passing out the tickets for the concert in the back. But I think they might hold other events there in the future. On the wall surrounding the store is a long screen that changes animations.

Their demos actually extended out into the mall space today. They had some more TVs setup with Kinects out in the mall. These were linked together so people could play against each other right there. They also had a DJ stand and some speakers setup, but it was unattended when I got there (I assume that was for the opening). Out in the parking lot, they do have a big stage setup for the concert later in the evening."

        

            

    

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Earlier yesterday we reported that in Italy you can get a free Windows Phone prop for your Xbox Avatar. The prop was specifically a Nokia Windows Phone and it was "locked" to those in Italy.

Now reader Illum1na has done some searching and managed to turn on up in the Dutch Marketplace. Actually, he found four in total:

  • Black
  • Magenta
  • Blue
  • White

Not too shabby. Once again, these items are locked to the Dutch Marketplace meaning you probably won't have much luck trying to get 'em if you're not in that region. But if you are, you'll want to go to this link and grab 'em. You can actually get all four of them, in case you feel like changing it up a bit. 

Thanks, Illum1na, for the link!

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