Windows Phone News

For those of you folks who want to check out the things Microsoft will be talking about this week at their "Worldwide Partner Conference 2010" (WPC10), you can stream the keynote speeches right here.

Of interest to us will be Brandon Watson’s reported keynote at 2pm EST, where of course Windows Phone 7 will be discussed.

We'll do up a summary afterwords for those who can't watch it live. We're hoping to hear more of these unannounced consumer features alluded to recently and maybe some other surprises.

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Mozilla's Director of Developer Relations, Christopher Blizzard, sat down with Gizmodo to discuss Firefox's mobile browser (formerly known as Fennec). Blizzard took the opportunity to reaffirm the company isn't developing for Windows Phones. This isn't anything new but it's more so how Mr. Blizzard make the affirmation that caught our attention.

"[On Windows Phone 7] they said, 'You can use stuff in Silverlight if you want, but you have to come through our app store, and we get to veto.' We're not going to bother. They're gonna ship some version of IE, which is gonna be terrible..."

We will assume "they" is Microsoft.  In referring to Windows Mobile Blizzard said,

"We were going to do Windows Mobile because Windows Mobile really needed a good browser, but they shut down their platform.".

We can't blame for Mr. Blizzard presenting Mozilla's mobile browser as the best thing since sliced bread but there are good browsers out there for the Windows Phone. Skyfire and Opera come to mind.

So, can a Windows Phone 7 ever survive without Mozilla's mobile browser? Are the current crop of browsers on Windows Mobile that bad? Personally, I think Mr. Blizzard is well off the mark. How about you?

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It looks like Microsoft has updated Bing for Windows Phones, though what the update provides isn’t immediately clear. Microsoft’s download site shows the "Date Published" as 7/1/2010. My Bing version went from 5.1.2010.5040 to 5.1.2010.6280.

The last update we saw to Bing was the big one back in May that gave us turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts. Grab the download from Microsoft, and let us know if you see anything new and improved.

Thanks to Muirwoody in the WMExperts forums for getting us looking.

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No doubt the media seems to be riding Microsoft pretty hard these days, especially with the KIN situation which was a divide that should have stayed behind doors at the company. Throw in the supposedly influential, yet sketchy world, of "analysts" and you have a perfect storm of just bad media complete with regurgitation.

The latest comes from 'Gerson Lehrman Group' the "most valuable NYC company no one outside of Wall Street has ever heard of." which means of course you're suppose to take them seriously, even though like most things tied to Wall Street it has the academic research chops of a fourth grade show-n-tell project.

In an "article" (we use the term loosely here) called "Microsoft's Mobile Demise" who's main prediction is that "It is highly likely that after the KIN fiasco, Microsoft will exit the mobile OS space within the next year.", it is put forth that Microsoft blew their cred with KIN and that Windows Phone 7 just won't deliver. Full of assumptions, lack of context, splash of straw man and no data and you have yourself some headline making material that lacks any substance.

Here's a fact: even if WP7 doesn't sell well at first, Microsoft won't fold shop because they are stubborn as heck with tons of money to throw at the problem. The Xbox market is a perfect example, with them notoriously writing off $1B in repairs for the dreaded 'Red Ring of Death" hardware failures, or even just taking a loss on hardware sales for years just to gain market place strength. KIN was so unknown, distanced from WP7 and under the radar that no will be talking about it in 6-months, which is precisely why it was "killed" now.

Sure Microsoft has a huge hill to climb, but to predict their exit from the market in a year? That takes cajones. And to have such poor "analysis" passed off on such a supposed influential financial consulting site/expert network is sort of insulting.

Sound off in comments.

[Thanks, Anon tipper]

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Microsoft's 2010 Rockstar Award winners received an unexpected surprise to go along with their trophy and prize check, a Windows Phone 7 developers device. The Rockstar Award is presented to a student team that developed the most compelling Windows Phone 7 application for the Imagine Cup 2010.

Team Beastware, Advanced Technologies Academy (a high school in Vegas) students Christian Hood and Eric Lo (ages 17 and 16 respectively), took the prize and are one of the first non-Microsoft developers to get Windows Phone 7 devices.

The winning app, Droid Assault, is a 2D XNA framework based game that uses the phone's accelerometer (simulated for the PC by using a Wii controller) for navigation and you fly through space shooting down enemy ships and dodging their bombs. 

A total of 131 teams submitted apps for consideration and you can find a list of the runner's up here.  Team Beastware plans on fine tuning Droid Assault and release in on the Windows Marketplace once Windows Phone 7 hits the market. 

Oh and to make you even more jealous of the situation, we've heard that Microsoft is giving the Imagination Cup participants (about 400) complimentary Windows Phone 7 devices when they become available.

Follow the break to see a short interview of the winning team as well as a demo of the game.

[via: windowsteamblog.com]

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14

Windows Phone 7 audio & media codecs


File this under "old, but we missed it" and since s2gordon asked about them in comments yesterday, figured we'd answer...

We're going to leave this to you folks to determine if this list of officially supported audio and video codecs in Windows Phone 7 is a good thing/bad thing, since to be honest we're not aficionados in that area.

Our off-the-cuff first take? It's basic and expected. Nothing extraordinary. 

Full list of WP7 codecs after the break.

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First, Brandon Watson, Microsoft's Director of Developer Experience, fielded questions from various Windows Phone sites. And now Frank Prengel, Technical Evangelist for Windows Phone and Windows Embedded at Microsoft Germany, has opened up in a Q&A session hosted by TamsPPC- the Windows Phone Blog.

Prengel touched on how manufacturers can use the different chasis styles to differentiate their Windows Phone 7 devices from others and that Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile 6.5 will co-exist in the market for sometime.

Prengel also distinguishes the differences in WP7 and WinMo's priorities. He says, "Windows Mobile was traditionally designed primarily to replicate the desktop on a phone, putting the highest priority on manageability, flexibility and line of business applications. Windows Phone 7 actually follows a different approach. Here, the end user experience has absolute priority – usability, performance, stability are the most important design aspects."

As with Brandon Watson's Q&A, Prengel doesn't make any earth-shattering revelations about Windows Phone 7. He did close by saying that WP7 is bringing phones, desktop, web, and game consoles closer together connecting them through the various Microsoft cloud services--possibly referencing services like Skydrive, Xbox Live, Sharepoint, My Phone, Windows Live and who knows what else they haven't told us yet.

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While the AT&T LG eXpo made an initial splash, mostly before it even came out, it sort of fizzled in the U.S. market, partially related to limited availability, partially limited to being overwhelmed by HTC's dominance.

Still, it's nice to know that LG hasn't forgotten about its small but dedicated user base, as they just released a new ROM update for the eXpo--v10G. While it does not deliver Windows Mobile 6.5.3 or any radical changes, it does offer some bug fixes, enhancements and other little bits noted by users:

  • Read/Receipt message delivery
  • Backup PIN usage when using the fingerprint scanner to secure the device
  • Removed MMS app; replaced w/ stock WM version
  • Better signal strength
  • Fingerprint scanner works better

People are reporting that overall it's a solid update, keeping the device running well on that 1GHz CPU. The LG Idles interface remains roughly the same and the OS doesn't seemed to have changed version numbers, but hey, at least it fixed a few things without creating any new problems, right?

Read the announcement here, read the directions and grab the .exe download here.

Bonus: If you want to go the custom ROM style, check out Dark's 'Dragonstorm' ROM v4 based on the v10g core.

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1

AT&T data slowdown

If you're an AT&T customer and have experienced slower than normal data speeds, don't believe the rumors AT&T is about to cap data speeds.  It's also not a result of customers excessively using the new iPhone 4.  Instead, it's a software glitch.

Over the past few days AT&T customers have voiced concerns over plummeting data upload speeds and AT&T is reassuring customers this is not an attempt to place a cap on data speeds or any other conspiracy theories to undermine data usage.  AT&T is even using Facebook and Twitter to help get the message out.

According to AT&T the problem is a software issue which AT&T and it's network partner, Alcatel-Lucent, has identified. The slowdown apparently is only effecting those with Laptop Connect or smartphone customers using 3G HSUPA-capable phones under certain conditions.  The problem is only affecting about 2% of AT&T's wireless customers and is limited to markets with Alcatel-Lucent equipment.

AT&T is implementing a short-term fix that will provide normal 3G speeds to these areas while Alcatel-Lucent works on a long-term fix.

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Geez, we're wondering if Microsoft was ever going to update that 'Windows Mobile 6.5. upgrade' list on their site, specifically the AT&T Samsung Epix (here for the full review, in case you forgot).

Actually, jokes on us as Microsoft hasn't updated that list since March 4th. C'mon guys...seriously?

Anyways, the real news here is that the Samsung Epix has finally received a proper WM6.5 ROM upgrade. So what if AT&T stopped selling the device months ago, all of those current owners will be pleased to get the update. But we do have to shame AT&T and Samsung here a bit: nine months post-WM6.5 is just a wee bit too little, too late, fellas. Start the Samsung super-complicated WM6.5. update here.

[Thanks, badcat160, for the tip & Wireless_Guru for the pic!]

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Microsoft has been busy updating their Bing service, adding Zune store support, access to social sites like Twitter and overall just making it a real solid competitor to Google's platform.

Recently at that Cannes Lions advertising conference, Bing on Windows Phone 7 was demoed and it brings the same search plus all that new stuff as well. Some of these advanced features are the following, as detailed by 1800PocketPC:

  • Twitter and Facebook Search about the keyword with one click – It looks like you can also drill down to results by your friends only.
  • Share with your Friends
  • Barcode and CoverArt Scan and Bing gives you info on that product

Interestingly, a lot of these same features are already available on another mobile OS--yeah, that one. On June 22nd, Microsoft rolled up a nice update for the iPhone/iPad which included all of the above, including that bar-code scanner feature which rivals Google's Shopper/Bar Code apps on Android.

While we're pretty excited to see Bing and Zune get front and center on Windows Phone 7, we're still hoping that Microsoft hasn't forgotten WM6.x and will update their Bing software soon, you know for the rest of us. If and when it comes, you can bet the above feature set should be included.

Check out the video here, specifically at 9:10 and 14:03.

[Thanks, Saijo]

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8

WP7 Rumors: July Launch?

 

When Microsoft pulled back the curtain on Windows Phone 7 earlier this year at the 2010 Mobile World Congress, expectations called for a Holiday Season 2010 release date. Not too long ago, that projected release date was pulled back to October and now we're seeing signs that it may be pulled back to the end of July 2010.

An AT&T retail signage outline has been discovered identifying two Windows Phone 7 plaques to be set on or about July 24th. We don't expect phones to be on the shelf come July 24th but it's a good indication we might see WP7 phones sooner than expected.

It's not uncommon for retail stores to begin advertising new phones weeks, if not months, before the actual phones hit the shelves. So, the October launch may still ring true if not a September launch. Confidence is high that Microsoft will meet the Holiday Season 2010 deadline, it's now a question of how ahead of schedule Windows Phone 7 will be.

[read: Engadget.com]

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HTC posts Q2 earnings

HTC has released self-assessed financial results for the second quarter of 2010 and things are looking really good for the Taiwanese company.

HTC is reporting a revenue growth of 58% and net profit increase of 33%. This well surpassed the April forecast of a 50% revenue growth. Total revenues reached NT$60,532 million (about $1.88 billion US dollars) during the second quarter. For the month of June alone, the company experienced a 66% revenue growth from June of 2009. 

With HTC's commitment to Windows Phone 7 and their continued commitment to Android Phones, the remainder of 2010 should be just as profitable.

[read: htc.com]

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We haven't been covering too much the ongoing attempts to get Google's Android OS to run on Windows Mobile hardware--it's a moving target with varying results depending on your device--but mtllc555 has gone ahead and shown what a fully-functional Android looks like on a Diamond 2.

Results? Impressive.  

The OS is relatively fast for basic functions (a little sluggish on graphics) and overall seems to be working for every function (call, web, market, etc.).

Unfortunately, to get Android to run on your phone will depend on your hardware and radios (GSM vs CDMA) as each phone requires its own 'team'--some are more ahead than others. For instance on the CDMA Touch Pro 2, sound doesn't work and battery life is not that spectacular.

A good place to get started if you're interested (and have some time) is XDAndroid, which has info on the raphael/fuze, diamond, blackstone, topaz and rhodium. The process is not too difficult, can do no permanent damage and is a great way to kill a few hours.

Full video of Android 2.1 ('Eclair') on the Diamond 2 after the break.

[via Windows Mobile Based Phones]

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BirdieSync 2.0 released

BirdieSync 2.0 has been released which supports synchronization of Pocket Outlook with Thunderbird cards and mails, and Lightning or Sunbird events and tasks.

Birdiesync has it's own synchronization engine and does not rely on ActiveSync. The synchronization engine maintains a history, manages unresolved items, and allows for multiple computer synchronization. The independent sync engine may create an unexpected benefit for those wanting to sync their Windows Phone with a home computer and an Exchange Server.

Reading from the FAQ of BirdieSync's website, "It is possible to synchronize your mobile device with Outlook if it is installed on a different computer (without Thunderbird/Sunbird being synchronized on this machine). So you can synchronize your mobile device with Outlook and Thunderbird if they are installed on 2 different machines. Simply be aware that all the modifications performed on either computer will be replicated on the other one." This may not be possible if you're running Windows XP the drivers for Windows Mobile Device Center (needed to connect your Windows Phone to your computer) are bundled with Activesync.  But if you're running Vista or Windows 7, it might be worth a try.

BirdieSync is compatible with Thunderbird 3.1, Lightning 1.0b2 and Sunbird 1.0b1. It is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bits). You can download a 21 day trial version of BirdieSync here and it will set you back 19.95 Euros (about $25 USD if my conversion rate is correct).

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Awhile back we reported on Seesmic being one of the first Twitter apps being available for Windows Phone 7 and it turns out also back in March it was demoed on video for us to see.

While nothing spectacular--it is after all just a Twitter app, it does have some nice features like embedded photos and 'Nearby' which shows all Tweets based on your geographic location. Overall it looks pretty smooth.

The speakers in the video are French, so any secret info they are probably not discussing will remain hidden to us, but the demonstration of the app more than speaks for itself.

Watch the video after the break.

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4

Verizon ETF Settlement upheld

Verizon's ETF lawsuit has apparently come to a close with a California Appeals Court upholding a $21 million refund that will go to about 175,000 customers. The lawsuit came about when customers challenged Verizon's Early Termination Fees. The plaintiffs claimed that Verizon violated California consumer protection laws and similar State and Federal laws by imposing flat ETF's.

The class action settlement, originally agreed upon in 2008, was appealed twice by Verizon with the funds being held in escrow until all appeals of the case have been exhausted. Verizon could appeal to the California Supreme Court but a spokesperson for Verizon stated this ruling ended all ETF related litigation.

Scott Bursor, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, stated "Yesterday's ruling by the Court of Appeal confirms that this is a terrific settlement for Verizon Wireless customers, and now more than 175,000 of those customers will get a substantial refund."

There are no reports on how much the attorney fees in this case will be (likely millions) but the settlement breaks down to about $88 per plaintiff. They were challenging a $175 fee, which has increased since the litigation but is now prorated to comply with applicable laws. 

Verizon claims the increase and change in ETF policy is completely unrelated to the litigation.  No word if the Microsoft KIN was ever a part of the settlement agreement.

[read: nasdaq.com]

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Though Windows Phone 7 is primarily aimed at consumers during the initial launch, Microsoft already has a strong focus on enterprise built within the the OS (Office, Sharepoint, Skydrive, remote management, etc.). This enterprise focus will no doubt become even more robust during further revisions to the OS, hopefully giving Microsoft that edge once again over RIM.

One area that is of interest would be security and encryption. Turns out WP7 supports quite a few forms of data protection algorithms, including the following:

  • AES
  • HMACSHA1
  • HMACSHA256
  • Rfc2898DeriveBytes
  • SHA1
  • SHA256

This doesn't mean that encryption is directly supported out-of-the-box for end users, but it does mean that developers have a wide assortment of tools to handle data encryption when writing their own software for the platform. Rob Tiffiany demonstrates this by writing an app to encode some simple data on the fly. His impression is that WP7 has a very solid base for security, which to bring it around again, is not only is good for business but for corporate environments. 

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