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Windows Phone News

The Harvest was one of the premier gaming titles to launch with Windows Phone 7 back a few months ago and while the game has received favorable reviews (see ours here), stability was a problem. In fact, the game was recently pulled due to so many issues but has just reappeared sporting a v1.1 update and fixes all around.

So if you  had given up on the $6.99 game, despite its awesome graphics and RPG game play, you may want to give it another go as things seem to be much better.

Source: ElectronicTheater

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Microsoft has finally gone on the record regarding sales of Windows Phone 7. Guess what? They weren't telling us before because they were embarrassed by the numbers (or rather, they should not be). In an official press release and interview with Achim Berg, vice president of business and marketing for Windows Phones, Berg goes on record about sales figures, expectations and other aspects of Windows Phone 7. The big part of the interview, though, is where Berg discusses those numbers:

News Center: Windows Phone 7 has been in market for almost two months now worldwide, how are sales going?

Berg: Sales are ramping well as our reputation is growing for offering users a unique experience and are in line with our expectations – especially when compared to other new platform introductions...

...Another is phone manufacturer sales – phones being bought and stocked by mobile operators and retailers on their way to customers. We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks, which helps build customer momentum and retail presence.

Of course, Microsoft has famously launched Windows Phone 7 "worldwide" on nine different devices, so making a direct comparison to the iPhone or Android not exactly accurate. Clearly, Apple had more momentum on launch even when severely hampered by supply shortages and a U.S. only launch. Still, 1.5 million is not too bad for a company many had written off in the mobile space and combined with their 18,000 developers (and growing), we think Microsoft is certainly in a good position in the end of 2010. Coming in 2011 we have "wave 2" of devices, Chassis 2 designs, numerous major updates and further roll-out of new product synergies (Xbox, Zune, Windows 8, etc.). Sounds good to us because Microsoft is ready to fight.

Speaking of updates, Berg said this, which we'll leave you with: "...We are on a path to begin releasing the first of several updates in the next couple of months".

Source: Microsoft, PressPass; Thanks, ericesque, for the tip!

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Microsoft certainly has a lot on its plate these days, between launching Windows Phone 7, delivering updates, working with developers, rolling out tools and finally working on that Marketplace thing. It's a huge task and although it has been quite smooth, there will be bumps. Such is the case here with Microsoft attempting to combine WM6.x apps and game sales with WP7 for a "unified payout process"--a massive yet noble undertaking. 

Evidently, there is a delay resulting in payments being pushed back from the end of December to the end of January to this group of hybrid WM6.x/WP7 developers. But in attempting to be the good guys here, Microsoft is offering developers $100 or 2% of their sales, whichever is larger, in attempt to ease things over. In a letter addressed to developers, Microsoft says:

...due to this migration to a unified payout process for apps developed for both Windows Phone 6.x and Windows Phone 7 we have experienced an unexpected delay that impacts developer payouts this month. As a result, developer payouts for Windows Phone 6.x apps and games sold in November will be processed in the last week of January, not in December as expected.

We regret that we cannot make the scheduled December payout and appreciate the importance of predictable revenue streams to businesses of every size. As a small token of our appreciation for your patience in this matter, we will also be depositing an additional $100 or 2% of the payout owed (whichever is higher) in addition to depositing payouts for your sales earned in late January. This additional deposit will be made to all developers which met the monthly payout threshold for November.

Good on Microsoft for being honest and trying to do something right in this situation. Once gain, they may not be perfect, but they do try to keep their developers happy.

Thanks, Ronny Gydar, for the info!

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8

Facebook updated for Windows Phone 7

Your Windows Phone Facebook application has been updated. Version 1.1 brings support for Facebook Places and for tagging photos.

Facebook still lacks chat support and the ability to upload videos but this update is a step in the right direction.

Check your Marketplace Tile for the update on your Windows Phone or if you haven't installed the Facebook app yet, you can find it here (opens your Zune desktop).

via: pocketnow

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What's the biggest complaint about the current Marketplace? Okay, besides the occasional crashing issue, the next big complaint would be that when you search for something, anything, results come up for apps and music, with no ability to filter it down. In turn, it makes finding an app quite difficult.

Step in XDA developer ebadger to rescue us (until Microsoft gets around to refining the store) with AppFinder. The app is simple enough and free: you launch it, type in what you are looking for and it dynamically shows you the results. It's even smart in that if you type in "reader" it doesn't have to be the first word, but will find all apps with the word "reader" in the title. Oh yeah, and it only searches apps.

You do need to know exactly what you want to find for it to work, but you can also browse around easy enough to discover new apps along the way. Plus we hear ebadger is going to be adding some features, so it can only get better from here.  In short, we're throwing AppFinder on our "must have" app list as it's a huge help for our Marketplace woes. Grab it here on your phone or the Zune desktop.

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Anyone who started off on the internet in the 1990's will remember the ubiquitous RealPlayer from RealNetworks--it was the only real video option besides the just-as-awful QuickTime. Then, YouTube came along and the world became a better place.

Today, RealNetworks announced their next plan: a cloud-based media network.  Called Unifi, the service "...enables users to store personal media (music, videos and photos) and access it via any Web-connected device." Pretty revolutionary, if this was four years ago.

On top of the service, they plan to offer direct support for Windows Phone 7 in Q2, so like mid-year. We can't really say we're thrilled, but hey, maybe Unifi will be really awesome? Ahem, yeah.

Source: BroadcastEngineering

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Epic games, creators of popular Unreal series (head shot!) and even more popular Gears of War, has been busy porting their amazing Unreal Engine 3 to mobile devices like the iPhone and evidently Android (soon).

All of this begs asking the question what about Windows Phone 7? After all, Epic games has a pretty cozy relationship with Microsoft and the Xbox universe, not to mention PC gaming. Between that relationship and knowing the Unreal Engine works well on mobile, what's the holdup?

No surprise, but it's Microsoft, despite Epic games asking them to be allowed native access, or as Mark Rein of Epic Games has said "They've been nudged but so far nothing". That's sort of a bummer, but as noted by Examiner, it's still early and Microsoft is probably busy doing all of those other fixes. But lets hope that Microsoft and Epic team up sooner than later for some mobile gaming bliss.

Source: @markrein (Epic Games); via: Examiner

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Although HTC users get to use a pretty solid (and free) mobile YouTube application that even handles HQ videos, the rest of us are left on the sidelines for some 3rd party developer. Luckily, one has come forward: SWFlight and their app called RealTube which fetches for $1.99 in the Marketplace. The app basically converts Flash to Silverlight. Smart.

The app is in some ways better than HTC's since it is not bound just by YouTube, but rather can play all sorts of videos found on the internet: MSN, MySpace, FunnyorDie, CNN, DailyMotion, etc all in HD (when over WiFi). The app also works over 3G for those on go. It does lack full YouTube integration, so managing your account of favorites and sharing seems like a no-go too, plus if someone sends you a link, it won't open RealTube (no file association). Still, despite the obvious limitations, video quality is quite high and the search works pretty well, even allowing filters.[Edit: Although I didn't know how to in the video, to get results from a specific web site, "...add the phrase site: to your search, for example: crazy cats site:funnyordie.com"]

While $1.99 is a bit pricey, the free trial at least lets you take it for a test drive (the trial is fully functional for a generous 15 days) and for you video hounds out there, this seems to be a solid solution, especially for a v1.0.  Grab the app here on your phone or Zune desktop.

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The world is aflutter today (and journalism has taken a back seat) with the unsubstantiated rumor that Nokia, under leadership of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who used to work with Microsoft, is in secret talks to work with Microsoft on releasing some Windows Phones. The rumor comes from Eldar Murtazin, who has attained near celebrity status with his rumor posts, despite the mediocre track record. In a post he writes (translated):

In the last month behind closed doors is a discussion of expanded cooperation Nokia and Microsoft (two-way discussion, initiated by the new leadership of Nokia). Not simply the exchange of technology, but creating an entire line of Windows Phone devices that may go under the name Nokia, through the sales channels for the company, and will also have the characteristic features of its products. This is a desperate measure of the two companies. The last step for the salvation of Android, which crushes everything in its path.

Nokia has very recently denied such future moves, instead reaffirrming their committment to Symbian and MeeGo OS, yet the rumor persists, perhaps out of wishful thinking. It is certainly possible that Nokia may release a secondary line of phones with WP7 on board--heck, Palm did the same years ago till they got back on their feet (to fall on their face again)--but we're not holding our breath on this one. For one, there is no secondary source that comes even close to backing this up and number two, financially it doesn't make much sense (see summary at ZDNet).

But we'll leave the possibility open. We're just not that confident in the idea. Even if Nokia does go forward with a Windows Phone line, so what? Has Nokia hardware (in absence of their OS) been anything truly remarkable? Or has HTC, Samsung and Apple grabbed the spotlight with hardware innovation and unique design? Call us cynical, but we're going with the latter. If Nokia and Microsoft hatch out a plan though, it will only help Windows Phone presence in the market.  That is something we could live with, even if we are skeptical of the whole idea.

Source: Mobile-review; via ZDNet

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In the ongoing saga with certain Windows Phones not playing well when unlocked (specifically MMS issues), there was an official tool and an unofficial one. The former was Samsung's app located in their app store ("Samsung Zone") and it was evidently quite limited in function (going by the average rating of 1 star). Later an unofficial homebrew solution was produced though it required you to have developer access/jailbreak the device.

We then got word that Samsung was working on an official fix, allowing users of unlocked phones to reconfigure their device for other networks with a simple menu selection. That update has hit today (v1.9) and from early reports seems to work quite well, even allowing MMS on new networks. The app also goes pretty far in reminding you that if you are currently in a contract with a carrier this tool will not work, so be warned. Other than that, Samsung seems to be at parity now with HTC and LG in offering network reconfiguration tools for users. For that, we're quite happy.

Grab the program here on your phone via Zune Desktop.

Thanks, Philipp, for the tip and feedback!

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Microsoft is giving away free Xbox games when you purchase a new Windows Phone 7 device.  Regardless if you purchase the phone through AT&T, T-Mobile, from Amazon.com or any other Windows Phone retailer you can claim your game.

Eligible models include the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum, HTC Surround, HTC HD7, and Dell Venue Pro.

The offer is valid on purchase made between December 17, 2010 and December 31, 2010. The game titles aren't too shabby and include:

  • Kinectimals
  • Kinect Joy Ride
  • Fable III
  • Halo Reach

To claim your game, you'll need to complete a redemption form that is available at www.myfreexbox360game.com and send it in along with a copy of your purchase reciept and a copy of the UPC code from your Windows Phone packaging.  You can find the full Terms and Conditions here.

It may not match Telus's offer to give you a free Xbox 360 gaming system, but it's still a very good offer on some very entertaining games.

Thanks goes out to Robert for the tip!

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While we don't know just how many Mac users out there have a Windows Phone, for those brave enough (we salute you) there is some good news as Microsoft has published an update to the Connector app. To refresh, Connector allows Mac users to sync certain amounts of information and media to Windows Phone 7. While not a full Zune client, it's a step in the right direction for many who don't want to be tethered to Apple's ecosystem.

The latest version (0.6 beta) released on December 16th addresses some ongoing issues:

  • Fixes playback for the AAC files synced from iTunes that wouldn't play
  • Reverse sync MP3s bought from the WP7 phone
  • Properly sync from remote iTunes installs
  • Transfers bookmarks, ratings, release dates that were previously left out

Probably one of the biggest additions is the ability to support firmware updates via Connector, something which we believe all Windows Phone users will need in two months time. Finally, to round it out:

Direct device browsing has been given much more control and lets owners not only manually import individual items from the phone but delete them or preview them.

Other media forms also get improvements. Connector now better handles iPhoto '11 libraries and will organize iPhoto collections by event first and by album only if necessary. The video preparation process has been improved, Microsoft said. Remaining changes bring early support for updating a phone's firmware, faster overall syncing, a new device setup experience and a more graceful handling of when the phone needs to be unlocked with a PIN code.

Sounds like quite the update and not just some minor bug fixes. You can grab the new version right here.

Source: Electronista

 

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Although many would say Bing maps is a pretty solution to mapping in Windows Phone 7, one thing users always enjoy is choice. Two new mapping applications have arrived in the Marketplace recently and while neither is the be-all map-app, both offer some unique features that a few may be interested in. Unlike TA Maps which exploited Google's mapping servers but also required you to 'jailbreak' the device, both of these apps are distributed through the Marketplace, albeit for a price.

Advanced Maps Viewer ($0.99 + no trial): uses Google Maps and includes Street, Satellite, Hybrid and Physical maps in addition to geolocation positioning. OpenStreetMap integration is coming. This app is the most similar to TA Maps including "locate me" but also offers different map layers. It's fast, efficient and works. Downside is no routing. Grab it here in Zune on your phone or desktop.

JustAnotherMaps ($1.29 +  trial): Uses OpenStreetMap (not Google) with routing and searching. This is actually great since it can give directions but it severely needs a "locate me" icon to zoom to your current position. Nothing a simple update couldn't improve upon. This app is better for those in Europe and other countries where Bing Maps is not so accurate or available. Grab it here in Zune on your phone or desktop.

Like we said, neither is perfect and it depends what you want more: Google Maps + Layers or mediocre Search + Routing. Someday we'll get it all, but for now, we'll keep watching what these two developers continue to offer.

Update: @mahoekst alerts us to the very cool and quite impressive Maps Mania (get it here), which also does Google Maps, Bing Maps, OpenStreetMap and custom maps. Nice.

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Although we barely have a T-Mobile version out the gates for what is turning out to be quite the tumultuous launch, an updated version of the Dell Venue Pro sporting AT&T's 3G bands (WCDMA Band II and V) has cleared the FCC. Other candidate carriers include Rogers, Bell, or Telus.

Right away we think that's good news, but as Engadget points out, Dell has a history of getting things approved but not releasing them. A sort of "just in case" methodology, we suppose. However, we think in this situation an AT&T bound Venue Pro is quite likely, after all Ma Bell has been aggressive with the WP7 devices so far and we're expecting a "second wave" from them and others in a few months. Not to mention, despite the terrible launch of the VP, it's still a coveted design for many consumers and is only offered by Dell.

But nothing is written in stone, so stay tuned.

Source: FCC; via Engadget

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If you use Xbox LIVE Extras on Windows Phone 7, you may have noticed an update pushed to you today, specifically v1.50012.0 (up from v1.3). And if you're like us, you're wondering what changed? Don't worry, we got you covered:

New countries, new languages! We’re making Xbox LIVE Extras available in new languages including French, Italian, German, and Spanish. This also means that Xbox LIVE Extras will now be available in all the official countries where Windows Phone and Xbox LIVE are available!

Manage friend requests inside Xbox LIVE Extras! You’ll now be able to accept, or reject friend requests inside of Xbox LIVE Extras. Additionally you’ll be able to manage your friends’ lists as well as requests to others.

Even more additional features! We’ve also added a bunch of additional features such as new Avatar animations and configuration options, and displaying your motto on your profile. We’ve also worked to improve overall stability of the application!

We also can't help but notice it's finally faster to load, which is a welcomed change as well. We're going to bet that some of our Euro friends will be happy with the additional language support, allowing them to join in the party.

Go here on your phone or desktop to grab the app.

Source: Michael Klucher's Blog

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While the 2011 Mobile World Congress is still about two months away, rumors that we will see some new Windows Phones announced during the conference are surfacing. Leading the rumors is the ASUS E600.

The E600 is still a bit of a mystery with very little detail being leaked on the companies first Windows Phone 7 device. The phone is rumored to be heading to AT&T and dispels any rumors that ASUS was shying away from Windows Phone 7.

Other potential new phones making an appearance at the 2011 MWC could include one from Acer (the other "A" manufacturer), the CDMA phones (Trophy and 7 Pro) and a GSM 7 Pro.  We keep hearing Acer is going to join the Windows Phone 7 crowd but have yet to see much movement.

We're also expecting more details on the Windows Phone 7 China launch at the 2011 MWC. This will also generate new phones from Lenova, ZTE and Huawei that could be showcased at the 2011 MWC.

Source: Digitimes, via: unwiredview

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While it has only been a few days, the popular Twitter client Beezz is gearing up for a v1.2 update that should make a lot of folks happy.

First off is the new Live Tile, with counters for messages, new Tweets and mentions--not too shabby, though it looks a little crowded. Still, we like innovation. The next features are some biggies that a lot of folks have been clamoring for:

  • favorites
  • lists
  • saved searches
  • conversation view

That just about fills out the most popular Twitter features and we're pretty excited about giving it a spin. No word on ETA this time, but hopefully it will have less hangups than the last update ;-) Stay tuned for more.

Source: @beezzapp

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Leave it up to good old HTC to release the first full YouTube client for Windows Phone 7. Too bad it's only for HTC phones, but you knew that would be the case, right?

The app is surprisingly not yet listed in the HTC App Hub, but you can find it under Apps --> Music & Video --> New for now. Overall, the design of the program is very similar to the old Windows Mobile version but with the panoramic styling of Metro. More importantly, when over WiFi the program supports full HD (aka HQ) playback, as can be seen above. The program is fast, zippy and even search is pretty solid (though make sure you choose your region and extend the range). Other features include Most Viewed, Most Discussed, Top rated, Categories and History along with thumbnails for each.

Not bad HTC, not bad at all. Combined with their Weather hub update, things are looking better for their app selection.

Update: For those having trouble, try this link for the Zune Marketplace.

Thanks, Charlie S., for the tip!

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As developers learn the intricacies of what sells and what does not with the Marketplace, they will adapt. Such a case presents itself with the developer of Impossible Shoota (see hands on), which has been downloaded 21,000 times already, making it one of the most popular apps out there (#6 in games). One of its secrets is that it is free.

Much like on Android and the iPhone, free apps that are ad supported tend to do the best. In response, Elbert Perez who makes Impossible Shoota, has made his other two games free too since they have not been doing nearly as well when selling for $0.99. Because the Marketplace doesn't yet allow developers to go from a paid app to free, he has to re-release them with a "+" at the end so "Scribble Defense+" and Zombiedmix+" are the new names. Later, these games along with Impossible Shoota are expected to gain ads through Microsoft's new XNA-supported ad system. Perez is hoping this works for him and us noting:

Hopefully this will be a successful business model for me because it benefits me and everyone out there looking for a quality game for free.

Even Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds have gone free with their Android version and it has been a huge success for them. Could free and ad supported be the secret developers need for success? We think so.

Download Scribble Defense+ here and Zombiedmix+ here. Videos after the break of both games.

Source: OccasionalGamer

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