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Reuters reports what we kind of knew back in December, that Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer approached RIM about making a Nokia-style deal to scrap its own operating system in favor of adopting Windows Phone. Unlike Nokia, however, RIM decided it would sink or swim on its own, declining an infusion of cash from Microsoft, in exchange for a stake in the company. During a conference call yesterday, RIM CEO, Thorsten Heins, shot down the idea of moving to another company's OS, be it Android or Windows Phone:

“We came to the decision that joining the family of the Android players, for example, would not fit RIM’s strategy and its customers,” he said. “We are not trying to be one of many. We’re trying to be different. We’re trying to be the best solution for our customers that buy a BlackBerry, know why they want a BlackBerry. And we’re aiming for nothing less than being a viable, successful, mobile computing platform of the future. This is what we’re aiming at. And I think that’s the difference. If you compare us with others, did we take the hard road? Absolutely. Absolutely. But having done this and building and completing this new mobile computing platform that then expresses itself as a smartphone or as a tablet or as a vertical application or embedded in cars, whatever you want to do, that is where we will take BlackBerry. And this is – that’s why it was absolutely required and necessary to build its own platform. I would argue the other way around. If I continue to rely on somebody else’s OS and somebody else’s platform, would that allow me in the long run to really differentiate towards my customers and provide them the services and the environment that they request from me and that they would like to have? I have a big question mark around this. So I think going this way and building the platform we are building has the absolute intent to serve our customers and our markets better than on a standard-based OS and platform.”

Cheers to RIM for standing their ground. Sadly, integrity doesn't always translate into success. Yesterday saw them reporting a large loss for Q1. In addition, they announced that their latest operating system, BlackBerry 10, will not see the light of day until Q1 of 2013. Their struggles have also led to the decision to cut about 30% of their workforce, about 5000 jobs, in order to save money. Read more at Crackberry.com.

Source: ForbesReuters

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US Cellular has informed PCMag that they are looking forward to Windows Phone 8, which will play a major part of the carrier's lineup. The carrier currently holds a single Windows Phone - the HTC 7 Pro. It's a positive sign to see the smaller US carriers positive announce their support for Microsoft's mobile platform.

"We believe in giving our customers the latest technology and device options and we are excited about the Windows 8 phone. It will be an important part of our device lineup going forward."

It's going to be exciting to see which Windows Phone 8 devices go where, and how the carriers play their part in the marketing and promotion of the platform. We're yet to hear anything from Sprint, which has the potential to disappoint loyal Sprint Windows Phone owners who are arguably amongst the most dedicated.

Source: PCMag, via: Engadget; thanks, Michael, for the tip!

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Todd Brix has announced on the Windows Phone Developer Blog that Windows Phone 8 will support 180 countries at launch. The platform currently covers 63 markets, making this a fairly sizeable improvement. Developers will also be able to make full use of this added support, which will be a bonus for consumers in those markets.

So which countries are being added? Check out the chart after the break for all the juicy details...

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BaconSync is a really neat feature coming to the Windows Phone app Baconit . The feature is still in beta form and should be released to the masses shortly.  For those not familiar with Baconit, it is a Reddit.com app for your phone which we have been impressed with and BaconSync looks to make it even more impressive. 

BaconSync is a in-browser extension for Baconit that synchronizes read links across multiple phones and browser. It is currently only compatible with Chrome browsers. The extension not only lets you review what you've read from your Windows Phone on your PC but you can send web pages from your PC to your Windows Phone. In these situations you'll receive a toast notification on your Windows Phone that will send you straight to the web page.

BaconSync is an handy extension that will extend the capabilities of Baconit rather nicely. The BaconSync extension should be ready shortly and in the meantime, if you haven't tried Baconit, you can find the free version here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  There is also a donation version that you can find here for $1.99 to help support the developers efforts.

                    

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Windows Phone Central and Stephen Elop at Nokia World 2011

Just when you thought the situation couldn't get any better for Nokia, or CEO Stephen Elop, some positive news has come out the HQ with Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia's recently appointed chairman, reaffirming faith in the Windows Phone strategy. The chairman also backed Elop's performance thus far.

"For the first time in the history of technology, the Windows Phone 8 operating system makes it possible for users to have the same experience on a PC, tablet or smartphone, and for many people on their televisions via their gaming consoles, and to do the same thing almost seamlessly from one screen to the next."

The switch of focus from the dwindling Symbian to Microsoft's new vision of the smartphone has been continuously questioned, but with the brand development the manufacturer has carried out with the Lumia line of Windows Phones, the future is looking at least slightly more bright. Siilasmaa commented on Elop's performance:

"Extremely analytical, critical, open and transparent."

Many would agree. What do you make of the performance of Nokia's CEO with the transition to Windows Phone?

Source: MarketWatch

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Seeing as Microsoft is busy showing off the new Start screen for Windows Phone 7.8 and knowing so far that it is the only announced feature coming with that update, speculation as to when we will get the update is on the tips of everyone's tongues.

We just received a copy of an internal AT&T document which reveals that the 7.8 update won't come out until after new Windows Phone 8 devices launch. New Windows Phone 8 devices are not expected until the fall, putting the 7.8 update off untill very late in the year.

The document was for specific AT&T employees and it breaks down to the reps what the Windows Phone Summit involved including details on Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.8, updates and more. Regarding the 7.8 update, the document states the following:

When will Windows Phone 7.8 be available?
Windows Phone 7.8 will be made available sometime after the Windows Phone 8 is released. 

Although we have verified that this was from AT&T and it seems quite definitive on the matter, we should leave a little wiggle room here for Microsoft. We have seen a lot of changes recently, including the dropping of one display resolution (480x640) just a few weeks ago from Windows Phone 8. That modification happened just two weeks prior to the Summit demonstrating how fluid Microsoft can be on these matters.

Having said that, it's not looking too good for consumers if the 7.8 update is that far off, especially if Microsoft and AT&T tease current Windows Phone users with new WP8 hardware. In addition, AT&T reaffirms that it is only the new Start screen that is coming to WP7.8. Then again, perhaps Microsoft is planning to add more with all of that extra time. We can only hope.

Update: Joe Belfiore actually says the same thing on the Windows Phone Blog "So we’ll be delivering it to existing phones as a software update sometime after Window Phone 8 is released"

Read the contents of the internal memo after the break. Thanks to our source for the info.

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The folks over at Windows Phone Geek have finally made their Developer Marketplace open to all. We last looked at the Marketplace when it was released in beta to a select few. The Marketplace enables Windows Phone developers to pick up (or sell) components, tools, templates, frameworks, and more.

The scheduled month to open up the Marketplace to all developers was September 2012, but with increasing interest Windows Phone Geek have decided to bring the release date forward a few months. Boryana Miloshevska, Founder and CEO, had the following to add in the press release.

"Previously, we announced that the private beta was expected to continue until September 2012. I am pleased to announce that, due to the huge interest, we are starting the public beta two months earlier! Starting today, our component marketplace is open to everyone."

Should you be interested to share any supported projects to the community, you can either give items away for free or publish a price tag to fund some beers. Be sure to check out the Marketplace regardless as the purpose of such a place is for developers to create better quality apps for consumers.

Source: Windows Phone Geek

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The chaps at Microsoft dropped us an email this morning to let us know that an international update of Bing Venue Maps is rolling out.

The update brings us over 2700 venue maps across 30 countries which predominantly are shopping malls. While the update may not be a huge benefit to us daily it may well come in handy for planning visits to new shopping centers. Google rolled a similar service out not too long ago. It's nice to see Microsoft keeping on their toes.

All new Venue Maps are now available through www.bing.com/maps. Simply zoom in over your favorite mall to enter the experience. You can also browse all the available Venue Maps and countries at www.bing.com/maps/venues.

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Microsoft has published a sneak peek at what a potential redesign could look like for the software giant's online property. With Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone all making use of the new Metro design language, it only makes sense that they further improve other products and properties.

We see this as a superb move. Microsoft appears to be improving all aspects of the company to match upcoming product releases. It's also essential to have an aesthetically pleasing website design to attract potential customers, as well as increasing the number of returning visitors.

Let's just hope the company actually rolls out the new design across the entire network of websites for consistency. What do you guys make of the direction Microsoft is heading with the design? 

via: LiveSide

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We've got some good news for those who reside in Australia and own either the Nokia Lumia 800 or HTC Trophy. Vodafone AU is rolling out Windows Phone "Tango" to their customers in a staged release, which will cover a 24-day period until the flood gates are opened for all to receive the upgrade.

Should you not see the update notification immediately fear not as you're probably sat in line for the next tier of the rollout. Peter Skitchen reports that the following represents the release schedule Vodafone AU (and Microsoft) is sticking to.

  • Day 1-6: Available to 10% of devices
  • Day 7-20: Available to 25% of devices
  • Day 21: Available to 40% of devices
  • Day 22: Available to 60% of devices
  • Day 23: Available to 80% of devices
  • Day 24: Available to 100% of devices

In other Australian Windows Phone news, the HTC TITAN on Telstra has received a firmware update after being available for just under a month. No word currently on what has been included in the minor update.

Source: Peter Skitchen; thanks, Peter, for the heads up!

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While those of us on AT&T in the States are evidently sitting out the great Tango push for June, those up north are having better luck.

We've had two reports from users on Rogers that Windows Phone 7.5 Tango aka 8773 is now being pushed for their Lumia 900s. The update comes in two parts with 8112 going first followed by 8773, meaning users will have enough time to catch their favorite show while their phone backs up and applies the two updates.

Windows Phone 7.5 Tango only brings some minor fixes to the OS with some MMS enhancements but the Nokia firmware is the real juicy stuff. Bringing WiFi tethering and "flip to silence" for incoming calls, the firmware should go a long way in making sure users' phones are running in tip top shape.

For those not wishing to wait, they can take matters into their own hands and force the update manually. Otherwise, if you're on Nokia with an 800 or 710, you can check your device status here.

Thanks, Derek N. and Erik, for the tips and images

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File this under: Experienced users only

Warning:  We’re just going to say that Windows Phone 7.5 Tango is not that big of a deal. It’s a tiny update with a few MMS enhancements and some minor tweaks (most of which are undocumented, but see our hands on video to get an idea). So we’re not sure that trying to manually update your Windows Phone with Tango 8773.98 is a high priority. Nor is the risk of damaging your phone and blocking the upcoming 7.8 update.

And let's be honest, a lot of "fixes" and "tweaks" for your Windows Phone will come from the OEM firmware which this does not provide. Finally, this does not provide the new Start screen. That's Windows Phone 7.8 this is still 7.5.

Having said that, user bobzero on the XDA Forums has posted the Tango OS cab files direct from Microsoft and the needed language files to get the update started. It will break inter-op unlock (for the tiny few of you who have that) but you can go through the process again re-enable it.

The big question for many of you will be How do I do this? It’s not Android-custom ROM hard, but it does require a little prep work and some careful reading.

Luckily for you we wrote a nice little tutorial on how to manually update your phone to 8107 to get the much needed “disappearing keyboard fix”. That same process should work here so long as you replace the 8107 CAB with the 8773 one, obviously. Likewise, you’ll need the language packs too which bobzero has given you.

We haven’t done this yet ourselves but we do have our trusty Samsung Focus 2 and a bottle of Wild Turkey that says we’re going to try it soon.

As usual, sound off in comments on your experience and please, don’t blame us if you damage your phone. Remember: read, ask questions and take your time. And if you're on OS 8107 you need to go to 8112 first.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks, bobzero for this tip and your past ones ;-)

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A non-working, magenta Lumia 900 for Italian Nokia stores

For a few months now we've been teasing the Magenta variant of the Nokia Lumia 900. We first reported that it was scheduled for a Mother's Day release, which would have seen appropriate but alas that never came to be. Since then we've seen the Magenta device show up worldwide a few times including Nokia's own Facebook page but it has yet to be released anywhere.

Now, if you load up NaviFirm Plus and check Nokia's servers, you'll see a Magenta ROM for the Lumia 900 looking pretty. The listed file name is RM-808 VAR ATT MAGENTA (059N3B9) and it corresponds with the same ROM and firmware available for the current cyan, matte black and glossy white versions already available on AT&T.

A snapshot from Navifirm clearly showing a Magenta Lumia 900 ROM for AT&T

While there is no word on availability we're going to take this as a major sign that AT&T is gearing up for its release and it is rather close too. 

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Android is currently the thorn in everyone's side—from Apple to Microsoft to RIM—the “free” mobile OS is continuing to dominate and today they added just a little bit more.

For those who weren’t aware, Google I/O kicked off today. It’s their BUILD, their MIX, their random secret Apple announcement where they show off their big plans for Android over the next few months. Here’s the recap of the big news today which will surely keep Redmond on their toes:

Google Nexus 7 – A 7” tablet that is branded by Google themselves. Analogous to their Nexus line of phones, the mini tablet will set the standard for Android going forward and boy, do they need it. Android tablets are currently fairly terrible (we speak from personal experience with the lauded Samsung 10.1) and Google really needs to get their act together here before Microsoft takes a swing with the Surface.

While a 7” tablet is quite meager and far from ideal, Google did win in a couple of areas. For one, they announced the specifications—we mean all the nitty gritty. It has a 1280x800 display, quad-processor, 9 hours of video playback, WiFi, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth.  It also got a price tag at $199 with pre-orders starting today for a mid-July release.

And that’s where Microsoft lost everyone last week—no price and no date on availability. That $199 will guarantee this device gets into a lot of hands. Will it be enough to keep Surface from taking off? We doubt it but it’s not helping either. Think Kindle Fire though as Google’s main target though as opposed to an iPad or Surface. Check out our pal Phil's hands on with the tablet here.

Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ – Ah yes, the ridiculous names of Android continues and Android 4.1 was shown off today. What’s more, the SDK is now out and available for download too.  Some of the new features include offline voice-to-text dictation, new notifications which expand upon the current model, improved voice search akin to Apple’s Siri, redesigned camera app and a new service that uses your Google data to recommend things.

Is 4.1 killer? No, as the 0.1 bump indicates this is a minor revision and it’s nothing compared to what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone 8 and the NT kernel. Still, like iOS 6, Android is continuing to build off of their foundation, adding new, somewhat interesting and useful features for consumers.

Jelly Bean 4.1 will be available by mid-July for their Nexus devices but the big question is what about everyone else?  Android has a terrible update record and 4.0 is barely on 10% of devices. In other words, Microsoft has some breathing room here for the fall and its new Windows Phone 8 devices (see, it would have been easier to say “Windows 8 Phones”).

Oh and their unlocked, Galaxy Nexus phone dropped to $350 for those in the US

Google Maps with offline caching – Like the Nokia-Microsoft mapping announcement for Windows Phone 8, users can grab the brand new Google Maps now with offline caching. Powerful stuff

Chrome for Android out of beta – While it’s no IE10, Google took the beta off of Chrome for it’s new Android browser. It should be interesting to see how it compares to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 in the fall.

Nexus Q - Think of it as Google's answer to Nokia's Play 360. A device to stream your music too but price higher. It will fetch for $299 with preorders starting today.

All in all, Google did not announce any game changers, nothing disruptive except for the 7” tablet. That Nexus 7 will do a lot to drop prices on mini-tablets and force Apple and Microsoft to rethink some options in the future but we're not sure it's going to fix Google's problems here.

Google doesn’t  win because it’s better, it wins through market saturation. Read more I/O 2012 coverage at Android Central.

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Qualcomm has announced a Windows RT Metro Style App developer contest at Uplinq 2012. Before you get yourself excited, the competition is only available to those who reside in the states, but should you be eligible you can pocket a chunk of the $200,000 prize - not bad, eh?

Winners will be selected in a number of categories, including 'Best Overall Windows RT app" ($100,000), "Best Compelling Connectivity Use Case" ($20,000), "Best Gaming App" ($20,000), "Best Productivity App" ($20,000) and "Best AllJoyn Peer-to-peer app" ($40,000). Each entered app will be evaluated by a panel.

To enter one must submit their working application where it will then be judged. The entry period is active until October 1st 2012. For more information, check out the competition website. Full press release can be found after the break.

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The Windows Phone Tango update started rolling out to the Nokia Lumia 710 in Canada from Rogers last week. We expected a more global roll out to start today for the Lumia 710 and 800 Windows Phone and sure enough, we've received several tips confirming that today is in fact the day.

It appears that Europe, South American and the U.S. are reporting that they are getting the alert to update their Windows Phone to Tango.

The Tango update includes internet sharing capabilities, a fix for the disappearing keyboard and a handful of other improvements. You can follow along with the global roll out here at Nokia's Tango Update page.

Thanks, everyone, for the tips.

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In our continued "look which celebrity is using Windows Phone now" series, actor, comedian, writer, playwright and all around swell guy Stephen Fry evidently has a Nokia Lumia 900

The famous British personality is well known for his love of all things Apple and is quite fond of his iPhone too. In fact, Fry doesn't seem to be swaying from his love of the iPhone as he took its picture with his Lumia 900.

The evidence comes from this Tweet where the actor comments "My iPhone, pimped into @NCFC colours by the geniuses from @JailBreakCon - I'm blissed out!". The Tweet itself comes from "Microsoft" which we know is the default reference for Windows Phone. In addition, a quick look at the EXIF data from the photo (hosted on SkyDrive) reveals that the photo was indeed taken with a Lumia 900.

Unfortunately, a quick peruse of his Twitter timeline reveals he also has an Android device too and the Lumia 900 gets no mention from him. Meaning? We assume Mr. Fry was given a promotional phone at some point and unfortunately just never really took to it.  Still, maybe he just picked it up and is giving it a go. Either way, we won't hold it against him.

Source: Twitter; Thanks, Craig H., for the tip

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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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