Windows Phone News

In an interesting article at ComputerWorld, Microsoft discusses their new Metro UI and how efficient it is at doing basic, everyday tasks. In turn, this "20%" number is thrown around a bit, with the claim that it takes much less effort to use their mobile OS over others.

While 20% is numerically hard to substantiate, is easy to validate in certain areas. The appeal for Windows Mobile, for many, was the Today Screen, where you could pack a ton of info to your liking so that with a one-look glance you knew what was up in your world. Having easy access to the calendar when you turn it on, one-button search (something Android actually pioneered), as well as dynamic tiles continues this tradition in WP7. The good news is it sounds like Microsoft took a page from Palm's book, where they notoriously would count the number of "taps" it took to do a task and aim to reduce that as a metric for efficiency.

CW goes to mention that this whole simple UI/20% efficiency thing is the basis for their new ad campaign. Who knows, maybe Microsoft is onto something here. Palm's Garnet/WebOS and the iPhone all do well for their simplicity and elegance, the same rule should apply to Microsoft.

Source: ComputerWorld

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Well, at least we have some good news for today. Looks like the much anticipated Dell Venue Pro has received a pass from the FCC, as found out by our friends at TmoNews, giving a clear pathway to launch. Well, assuming there aren't any shortages.

While the Venue Pro goes on sale in Europe next week on the 8th (non-US GSM bands) there are no dates nor prices for the U.S. launch, meaning we still may be a few weeks out. Still, that's one less hurdle in the way.

We have to admit, it's a tough choice between the Focus, HD7 and Venue Pro.

Update: Click here to be notified of more info on the Dell Venue Pro by Dell themselves. (Thanks, odugoose!)

Source: TMoNews; UnwiredView

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This is the big question everyone is wondering about now: how will next Monday go when Windows Phone 7 finally goes on sale? More specifically, will there be enough to go around?

UK operator Orange is reporting shortages, including an email that was sent out that stated

We will be launching with limited amounts of both our Windows Phone 7 devices, the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7. We are, however, anticipating that our competitors could be in a similar situation.

And that's from the lead launch partner over there. In turn, Orange is offering a gift certificate to HMV as an apology. Now, Business Insider is wondering the same about the U.S. market. Shortages are appearing most likely due to a lack of available components, most likely being AMOLED screens. HTC has had to replace its AMOLED screens with Sony's Super LCD technology because Samsung cannot produce enough (evidently they are building another factory to meet demand). On a conspiratorial note, BI notes that how Google is suppose to launch their G2 phone on the same day as the Windows Phone launch here in the U.S. Samsung is rumored to making that phone, though they have denied it.

All we know is AT&T is no where to be found for pre-orders with just 6 days left. Foreboding?

Source: Business Insider, Mobile Today

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Some more good news, we suppose, coming from Microsoft suggests that many developers have taken an interest in the Windows Phone Marketplace, launched just last month. Evidently, Microsoft has seen registration increase by 40% over the last few weeks, bringing the total amount of registered developers to a sizable 12,000.

While we don't necessarily expect 12,000 apps right away, we assume some of those developers will make multiple programs, meaning we won't have any shortage anytime soon. But enough tip calculators, m'kay?

Source: FierceDeveloper

 

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We knew Microsoft adding phone locating services to Windows Live in the form of "Find My Phone" and now we've seen it in action. The Find My Phone services are found on your Windows Live home page under "Devices". You'll see a list of all your Windows Live supported devices and under your Windows Phone, you'll see the Find My Phone options.

When you click on "find this phone" you are given four options; 

  • Map it: Marks your phone's approximate location on Bing Maps
  • Ring it: Will ring your phone for one minute using a distinctive ring tone (even if the phone's set to vibrate or silent)
  • Lock it: Locks your phone
  • Erase it: Performs a hard reset

In testing each option on the HTC Surround, you don't have to wait long for results. The Windows Phone was mapped, rang and locked in seconds after I clicked each command. The map location can be zoomed in and my location was narrowed down to a 20 yard area.

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No suprise here but Bill Gates has a Samsung Focus and is using it to Tweet , take photos.

When IdentityMine (see our interview here) mentioned that Bill Gates was using their Twitter app, we grew curious. When we saw a photo, we remebered EXIF data and walla...the data above. Guess ol' Bill still gets some perks, eh? Getting a Focus before the rest of us. Congrats Bill and hope you're enjoying it!

ps Love the 'Artist Info'. Nice Easter egg there.

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Not gonna lie: When I played the Sims on my Gameboy Advance SP (the best one) along with the Urbz (Sims in the city), I was totally hooked on playing it everyday. I still jokingly make the "hungry noise" when I need mad eats.

Needless to say, I'm really nerdily excited about downloading the Sims 3 for Windows Phone 7 next week. It's already in the Marketplace, but EA just posted some more screenshots to look at till then because teasing is evidently fun. In addition, you can see a video of it in action after the break, posted by PocketNow.

 

Source: @eamobile; YouTube (Pocketnow)

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As these new WP7 devices become more and more available, slight differences are starting to become evident. One of those differences appears to be load times for video games, with the Samsung clearly beating the HTC 7 Trophy out in a head-to-head.

Much speculation has been circulating that the reason for the difference is the memory: the Omnia 7 uses Samsung's NAND chips while HTC uses internal memory with expandable microSD, causing slower performance. While this was "theory" a few days ago, it appears now to be accurate and we agree with that this is the culprit (but are open to other ideas).

So that may be the trade off folks: expandable memory vs. faster speeds. Which do you prefer? It is worth noting for U.S. customers that the HD7, Samsung Focus and Surround all have microSD cards (and probably Dell Venue Pro), so there's really not much choice. Only the LG Optimus is unconfirmed for its memory configuration.

Source: YouTube; via wmpoweruser

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Although we've known about this device for quite some time now, the HTC T9199 aka the Oboe is close to a release in China as it was just "officially" announced. The device is actually quite nice, even if it is still running WM6.5.3. Think HD2 but dual CDMA and GSM. No date or price has been announced but we imagine it is imminent.

Rest of the specs, to refresh are as follows:

  • 1Ghz Snapdragon
  • 512MB RAM/512 ROM
  • 5MP camera
  • BT 2.1, Wifi, aGPS, 3.5mm headset, etc.
  • 800x480 4.3" screen

It actually seems like quite a nice phone, albeit 6 months too late for the U.S. market. Still, for China, it may do well, even with Windows Phone 7 on the horizon there.

 

Source: CellFanatic

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Well, there's no direct evidence to support this, though we've heard rumors internally that this was coming real soon in addition to this new tidbit: MS_Nerd is reporting that Sprint will begin pre-orders for the much anticipated Sprint 7 Pro on Wednesday,  December 8th.

Notice that's exactly 30 days after AT&T and T-Mobile begin to sell their stock, so either someone is making a good connection or we see a reasonable pattern here. It also sort of jives with the FCC certification recently that suggests a 7 Pro release is getting quite close. Combined with Sprint and Microsoft being cozy recently at Sprint's Developer Conference and we think CDMA D-Day may be fast approaching.

No word on actual release date, though we can guess.

Update: BGR is reporting that this pre-order is happening, but only for Microsoft employees. That's certainly a new one on us, though perhaps it has to do with those 89,000 devices they have to give out. We also think that a public pre-order can't be to far behind this one.

Source: Twitter (@ms_nerd)

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Some preliminary news coming from O2 suggests that the HTC HD7 is quite the hit, with pre-orders being sold out and the telecom reporting "at least five-digit sales". O2 also have an exclusive on the device till an unknown time, similar to T-Mobile U.S.

So far, no word on our side of the pond on HD7 pre-orders and it will be interesting to see how next Monday goes when the device is finally made available. It's not clear if T-Mo will carry it in stores that day too, but we'll keep an ear out. Any of you get your orders in or are you waiting?

Source: Dropnews; via WinodwsPhoneMix

 

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As mentioned earlier, the last week of October would se the kick off of Microsoft and AT&Ts advertising campaign. Word is that "extended" ads were appearing before the films 'Hereafter' and 'Paranormal Activity 2', which opened this weekend.

Likewise, some TV & YouTube spots are now appearing, including the three after the break. All three are very short (15 second spots) and continue the theme of "we need a phone to save us from our phones", which some people like and others are 'meh' about. We fall into the former category as we think they're at least conversation starters, mildly shocking and certainly entertaining.

Still no word about T-Mobile ads as they get ready to launch their HD7 next Monday as well. Check the ads after the break, especially the "bedroom" one. Saucy.

Source: Windows Phone (Youtube); via PocketNow & Twitter (@windowsphone)

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Windows Phone 7 has some speed to it. From running apps to simply starting up your Windows Phone, the zip Windows Phone 7 has is a noticeable improvement over Windows Mobile. The 1ghz processor helps speed things along nicely.

While the HTC Surround's start-up speed isn't as fast as what we've seen with the HTC HD7 boot times, it's still very respectable. From pressing the power button to seeing the Start Screen is just a smidgen over thirty seconds.

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While the Samsung Focus has an openly accessible microSD card slot, it appears it will take some effort to get to the HTC Surround's.  Perhaps even more difficult than we saw with the HTC HD7.

When you remove the battery cover, you'll see the SIM card slot and next to it a metal cover that's just about the right size for a memory card. The cover is secured by the phone's backing that is riddled with tiny screws with "VOID" stickers covering them.  You also have several metal tabs/hooks that pinch into the backing to help hold it in place plus, what appears to be, a plastic rivet holding things down as well.  On top of all that, there's no mention of accessing the microSD card slot in the User's Manual.

While I'm sure some creative minds will find a way to disassemble the Surround and expose the microSD slot, a few thoughts come to mind:

  • If HTC wanted us to have access to the slot, they would have made it easier to get to
  • Even though you could probably disassemble/reassemble the Surround you void the warranty and there's no guarantee it will accept another card
  • As secure as the Surround's backing appears to be, you run the risk of damaging something.  Making re-assembly all the more difficult.

While it would have been nice to see an openly accessible expansion slot, I'm sure 16gb's of memory will be plenty for most users.

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Someone had some extra time at XDA and went the extra mile, tearing down their Omnia 7 to its barest parts. Pretty amazing to see it all stripped down.

Unfortunately, it looks like Samsung opted for soldered NAND memory instead of an replaceable microSD card, meaning the Omnia 7 is stuck at just 8GB (or 16GB on some models) for eternity. Of course, this makes us wonder about the decision process in regards to memory and it being user-replaceable or not. It seems that if Samsung never wanted you to touch it, they would just use NAND, which we now know they have access to and no problem using.

Source: XDA; via Windows Phone Hacker

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For those of you excited about driving simulated race cars on a 4" screen, boy has EA Mobile made your day! They posted up a few screenshots of the upcoming Need for Speed: Undercover video game for Windows Phone 7, which works with Xbox Live as well.

And in case still photos don't do it for ya, you can watch a hands on video by Laptop Mag after the break.

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In an interesting follow up to the "beware if you install more memory to WP7!" advice from Microsoft, AT&T seems to have no problem with you doing so. If you recall, in the article, the responsibility was basically passed off to the carriers if they want to "support" such behavior. Microsoft had said that many of the microSD cards out on the market were unreliable and therefore may cause problems.

Over in the AT&T forums, user eshudnow emailed Jeff Bradley, Senior Vice President of Devices for AT&T about the issue and this is reportedly his response:

Thanks for your interest in our new Windows Phone 7 devices. We are very excited as well about this great new experience being delivered on some very cool devices on the nation’s fastest network.

The devices will support the addition of up to a 32GB class 2 (or higher) microSD card. You need to insert the card before you power up the device the first time so that the operating system can map it as available memory to maximize its utilization. This is outlined in the Quick Start Guide you receive in the box. I encourage you to read this before you launch the device the first time to have the best experience with a microSD card.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you have a moment, please let me know your experience.

So there you go. The max (at this point) seems to be 32GB and AT&T has no issue with you doing this and in fact, they give you explicit instructions on how to go about doing it. Sounds good to us. Hopefully other carriers will take a more lenient approach. Though this still raises the question if there will be a "warranty void sticker" and if so, will AT&T still enforce that or not?

Source: AT&T Support Forum; Thanks, electricbopeep, in comments!

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We've made mention that one way to prepare for Windows Phone 7 is to establish a Windows Live ID. If you times slipped by and you haven't created a Windows Live ID, don't worry. During the initial set-up of your Windows Phone 7 device, you're given the option to sign in with an existing Live ID, skip the step all together or create a Windows Live ID from your phone.

While some may opt to choose "not now" and skip the Windows Live ID all together, to make the most of Windows Phone 7 you really need the ID. As the screen shot mentions,

"To get apps, play games, use a Zune Pass, automatically sync Windows Live information to the web, and more, you need a Windows Live ID."

In establishing a Windows Live ID doesn't mean you can't use Google, Yahoo, or another Exchange Server for your email, contacts and calendar.  It simply opens more doors for your Windows Phone to access.

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HTC Surround Unboxing

While we're a little over a week away from Windows Phone 7 devices hitting the shelves in the U.S., we've gotten the opportunity to review the HTC Surround.

Scheduled to land on AT&T's shelves on November 8th, the Surround's first impressions was rather surprising. The phone felt good in the hand and was thinner than expected. I half expected the sliding speaker to add more thickness to the phone.  The Surround makes such a strong first impression, I'm re-thinking my original choice for my Windows Phone 7 device.

We'll get a full review up shortly but in the meantime, we've put together a short un-boxing video to tide everyone over.

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