Rumors

So for all of us that were hoping that Microsoft and Bungie were secretly working on a Halo-port, we can probably stop now, or at least diminish it a bit. According to CVG, Bungie put out a job request for a senior mobile application programmer to startup their mobile gaming entry to the market:

Bungie is embarking on a new and challenging journey and if you have a serious passion for mobile application development we want you to be a part of it. Our mobile development team is focused on establishing real time connectivity for millions of users and terabytes of data. Join our team and define the interface of Bungie's next gaming universe to the world.

So it sounds like Bugie is just getting started on the whole "mobile gaming" thing, which is obviously the next-big thing in 2011. That's the good news. The bad news is, as previously noted, it doesn't sound like we'll be getting many titles from them for at least nine to twelve months. Of course, Microsoft has been aggressive in this area, so no reason that Microsoft Game Studios couldn't have something up their sleeves in conjunction with Bungie, but chances are looking a little more slim today. The only positive side is that at least the gaming hardware should be pretty redonk in a year, right?

Oh, and it's not too inspiring that they call it "Windows Mobile" in the advert nor that they mention iOS--twice. Sigh.

Source: Bungie; via: CVG, TechRadar

 

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Microsoft video chat coming to Windows Phone?

I don’t believe Microsoft could have fit anything else into CES this year without the entire building expanding, providing the audience with insights into what’s coming and what’s to be expected. There were many key products announced while all things Windows Phone 7 left many slightly disappointed.

A Microsoft employee threw some comments about where the mobile platform may head from here on out. A feature that was discussed is an application sharing the same concept as FaceTime. However, the obvious observation being that no WP7 device currently has a front-facing camera. Could be a new feature for future WP7 devices, or a WP8 requirement? A front-facing camera for WP8 has been hinted at.

One feature of the iPhone that owners are extremely pleased with (and is the reason as to why some wont switch) is FaceTime – a family member came round my house with her new iPhone 4 the other day needing assistance with setting it up. It is pretty impressive, wandering around talking and watching someone who is doing the exact same thing, only thousands of miles away.

Microsoft may be slightly behind in the smart phone marathon, but they are pulling out all guns and a FaceTime feature for Windows Live wouldn’t be surprising, which would make a partnership with Skype less likely. The service they offer through Live is growing along with its user-base (I, myself have barely used it prior to WP7) and integrating services such as this would be a huge plus, especially for the platform itself.

Source: NeoWin

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Awhile back, we first broke the news about Windows Phone 7 and the tough protection scheme Microsoft has implemented to prevent piracy. Specifically, private keys (PVKs) which are tied to the hardware and need to server-authenticate. This hurdle would prevent non-approved devices from accessing all LIVE services and severely limit device functionality. Interestingly enough, just weeks later this was confirmed by team DFT, who were attempting to hack WP7 to the aging (but versatile) HTC HD2.

Fast-forward today and it is being claimed (not yet demonstrated) that certain aspects of PVK has been breached. But, like before, they're still far from a viable implementation. Pocketnow has summarized this as follows:

Several different methods are being attempted to bypass the limitation, including the search for a so-called "corporate key," which would essentially be a universal PVK for large-scale activations. Unfortunately, because all devices are security-flashed at the factory, such a key may not even exist. Secondly, overseas developers -- beyond the reach of Microsoft legal, apparently -- are said to be hacking the different bits of the device-side authentication piecemeal, but because of the unusually intricate security measures employed by Redmond, "it doesn't really look good" according to our source.

What does this all mean? In reality, that nothing has changed. While porting portions of the WP7 OS to the HD2 is doable, attempting everything is and will remain very difficult. So difficult in fact, it begs the question if this is worth all the effort. At least here in the U.S., with a new Samsung Focus fetching for $99 without 3rd party sales, WP7 hardware seems cheap enough to negate the value of hacking a broken but new OS onto the HD2.

Source: PocketNow

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Although Windows Phone 7 coverage at CES 2011 has been a bust (more on that later) a CDMA verion of the HTC Trophy has run its way through the FCC guantlet.  There was no direct mention of the "Trophy" name; however, a nearly identical model number to the European version of the Trophy was mentioned in the docs (PC40200 vs PC40100).  The device was also granted approval through the WiFi Alliance using the same certificate as HTC's Mozart and Surround.

As previously reported, Verizon is intending to release a WP7 Trophy in early 2011.  While it is unclear when exactly "early" refers to, this FCC approval means it's on the horizon. Our bet? Latest: end of February.

Source: FCC; via: PocketNow

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Microsoft insider and author of Windows Phone Secrets Paul Thurrott has revealed some additional details about some of the Windows Phone 7 updates we can expect in 2011. We’ve discussed several of the rumors that have been floating around, and Thurrott confirms much of what we’ve been hearing.

The first update, rumored to be announced tomorrow night at the opening keynote at CES in Las Vegas, is entitled “NoDo” (No Donuts) reportedly in response to Android 1.6 (Donut). Thurrott reports that NoDo will RTM in January, with consumers seeing the update in the early February timeframe, after testing by carriers. NoDo will have copy and paste, CDMA support, and supports Qualcomm’s 7x30 chipset.

Thurrott also confirms what we’ve been hearing about Mango, which has been termed a “Major” update to Windows Phone 7. Mango should see HTML5 and Silverlight support within the browser, also bits of the Trident 5 rendering engine contained within Internet Explorer 9. Referred to within Microsoft as the “entertainment” branch, Mango is something we will definitely be looking forward to.

From a scheduling standpoint, Thurrott makes it clear that we should expect more updates between NoDo and Mango, though he doesn’t go into additional detail.

We’ll be on hand at CES this week to keep you up to date. For the latest and greatest news, follow us on Twitter (@wpcentral, @backlon, @philnickinson, @tferrill).

Source: WindowsPhoneSecrets

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According to Thurrott's WinSuperSite, Windows Phone 7 may be sending large chunks of 3G data behind our backs, data that is not easily explained by any apps and regardless of WiFi availability. This is actually the first we've heard of this issue, but Thurrott claims this is "widely reported" so we're not sure what to make of it.

According to one reader who wrote into WinSuperSite:

I went and looked at my AT&T account online and noticed that my phone was sending huge chunks of data seemingly in patterns. For instance on November 21-24 it sent between 30 and 50 MB of data at 10:41pm each day and Dec 1-4 it sent between 30 and 50 MB of data at 9:41am each day. On December 23rd I turned on airplane mode so my phone could no longer send data. I turned airplane mode off briefly on December 23rd and the phone sent 400 MB of data.

Curious. Personaly speaking, I have a lot of 3rd party apps installed--66 to be exact--and when I just checked my AT&T data usage, I'm below 700MB with 5 days left on my bill-cycle. Translation: I'm certainly not having this problem. Granted, I don't use Facebook nor have my pictures backed up to SkyDrive, so those two may be the culprit. [Update: And yes, I have my "send feedback" enabled for Microsoft, so that's not it either]

But enough jibber-jabbing, any of you experiencing this supposed wide-spread issue or is this just a fluke? Sound off in comments.

Source: WinSuperSite Mailbag

Related: How's your data consumption since going to WP7?

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We realize some of you are audio freaks and only demand the best, so its should come as a relief to you that Klipsch audio is evidently working on a WP7-compatible series.

The Klipsch "i" series are more than headphones, providing in-line music controls for manipulating the music player of the device it is connected too. Obviously these are not universal so Klipsch needs to tailor their hardware for the phone, much like the iPhone/iPod line.

No word on ETA, but we'll keep you posted.

Thanks, A, for the tip!

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We knew from a few months ago that SHAPE Services, the developers of the popular instant messaging utility IM+, were committed to a Windows Phone 7 client. Since that time, we have not heard much more about it, but at least according to one report, it's far from dead.

Forum member and former iPhone blogger Nabil was able to speak to one of his contacts at SHAPE Services and reported the following:

I just got word from my person at Shape Services. They are testing IM+ for Windows Phone 7 internally, so it's not vaporware, and are planning to drop it on us in "January-February." Horray!

While not an official statement from SHAPE Service, it looks like it will have to do until we hear more. Nabil also speculates about some of the (well known) issues that IM developers may face when building for WP7:

Currently, WP7 doesn't support independent sockets. What that means is that you can't just connect to ports and services. WP7 supports HTTP and HTTPS connections right now. Until we get socket support, we can't connect to the actual IM servers. We need to connect to a proxy server first.

The rest of the story is that Microsoft is, according to reports from various blogs, releasing the API during the first round of updates, so possibly in January, but more likely in February.

He also notes the same issue applies for Skype and Pandora (although Slacker Radio and IheartRadio seem to be doing just fine). Regardless of the reason, we're fairly confident that early 2011 will bring lots of radical improvements through those "several updates" in the next couple of months.

Come join the discussion in our forums here.

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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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Microsoft watchdog Mary Jo Foley is reporting that Microsoft is prepping a major update to Windows Phone 7 for the fall timeframe. Codenamed Mango, the fall update is rumored to add Silverlight run-time and HTML 5 support as well as additional languages. Foley speculates that Microsoft may ramp up the enterprise functionality with Mango, in particular additional support for Exchange ActiveSync policies that enforce security requirements for mobile devices.

Rumors about the schedule for updates to Windows Phone 7 and what those updates will include have been flying recently. The current best guess is that we are going to see one or two updates in the January/February time frame, quite possible announced or released at CES in January. Many of the talking heads in the industry see that as a likely scenario because the rumored CDMA support would offer carriers like Sprint and Verizon the ability to announce their Windows Phone 7 launch hardware. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is delivering the pre-show keynote on January 5th. One could assume that there would be other minor updates before Mango is released in the fall. Foley also mentioned the possibility of a Windows Phone 8 (codenamed Apollo) launch in late 2012.

Source: ZDnet: All About Microsoft

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Update: WinRumors is reporting from an unnamed source that Microsoft will detail this update in February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. More specifically, there will be two updates: one for copy/paste + CDMA in January and this bigger one sometime thereafter.

Another developer has come forward, this time saying that they expect a significant update to Windows Phone 7 in February. Previous conversations about this update, which is rumored to include copy and paste functionality in addition to CDMA support, had put the timeframe for release in January. Microsoft executives have for the most part stuck with the "early 2011" party line.

The developer also states that the update will also relax some of the restrictions that Microsoft has placed on developers including in-app downloads and local application deployment for corporations. One thing is certain; this update can’t come soon enough for many users. What’s on your wish list? Are you waiting on additional functionality before you make the jump to Windows Phone 7? Sound off in the comments!

Source: Business Insider, WinRumors

 

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There's some hub-bub going over at XDA about whether or not Microsoft is remotely re-locking jailbroken phones. In order to understand the process, we need to step back for a second.

ChevronWP7 worked by installing a security certificate on the phone in addition to the program--basically it's spoofing, making it look like it is a developer device by looping it back to the PC. Once they pulled the program they also pulled the certificate and people's phones were relocked again. XDA member Cendaryn managed to grab the certificate and now we can manually install it on the phone thereby re-enabling the process.

Now, a few users are receiving warnings to uninstall homebrew apps when they are run, leading some to think that Microsoft is revoking the certs from people's phones ergo re-locking them. (For the record, my Google Maps is working just fine). However, co-developer of ChevronWP7 Rafael Rivera has Tweeted that  "Microsoft is NOT remotely locking your phone. Don't panic..." and that he'll clarify in a bit.

So in short, no Big Brother issues, no Microsoft bringing the hammer down stuff. Probably just a quirk of how the developer-systems checks for a valid certificate.

Update: The developers of ChevronWP7 respond here. In short, after 2 weeks the device checks in with Microsoft to see if it should be unlocked. If it is not validated, it re-locks automatically (but it can be unlocked by the same process again). Short of it is Microsoft is not targeting devices to be re-locked.

[Image credit: Windows Phone Hacker]

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Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore was interviewed today at the D: Dive into Mobile Conference by Walt Mossberg (of Mosspuppet fame) regarding Windows Phone and Microsoft’s renewed foray into the smart-phone market. There isn’t much new information to be gleaned; confirmation of the early 2011 update to include copy and paste, the Marketplace reaching 3000+ apps, Walt stating that Windows Phone 7 doesn’t compare with iOS and Android (like I said, nothing new).

What IS intriguing is Belfiore’s response to Mossberg’s questions about Microsoft’s tablet strategy, namely the fact that Microsoft is pushing Windows 7 (a desktop platform) as it’s tablet OS; whereas Apple, Google, and even RIM (Blackberry) are all using touch-based platforms for their tablets.

Walt: But why not just scale up WP7? You have a modern touch based interface. Why isn’t that your tablet platform?

Joe: We’re 4 weeks out of introducing this new thing. We’ve tried to help our partners do a great job. Forward looking, we’re going to focus on what our customers want most.

Four weeks (tomorrow) would be the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a certain Steve Ballmer will be giving the opening keynote. Last year at CES was when Ballmer announced the "Slate" form factor, which hasn’t moved ahead much in the past year. Could Microsoft be readying a tablet based branch of the Windows Phone 7 OS? I’ve got my fingers crossed, how about you?

Source: Engadget

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All right you Final Fantasy nerds, if we know one thing, we know the following video footage will get you all giddy.

Somehow, someway, Final Fantasy VII is evidently running on Windows Phone 7.

When we look back at those 50 Xbox launch titles, we don't recall seeing anything from Square Enix, so we're thining "Homebrew" here. Then again, what's with those official looking Windows Phone logos? What is even more exciting is the tease at the end of the video where it says "Rejoice. It's coming. And maybe not only this one PSOne Classic" obviously alluding to other major titles. Odd timing too, what with that utterly craptastic Playstation Phone becoming more of a reality tonight. The poster does say this:

This is some footage of the current progress of "FFWP7". In this version it still looks like the timeless classic for the PlayStation 1, but maybe there'll be a graphical upgrade.There's a lot of power in a WP7-Device and so the highly-anticipated remake of FF7 could be the result :)

Could this be some awesome, side loaded emulator? Or is it the real-deal? We'll leave that to you. Discuss.

Thanks, Diablo, for the link

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Update: Now the 16gb version is available for $149.99 on contract with free 2nd Day Shipping if ordered by December 2nd. (Thanks breadbooze and Jose P for the tip!)

Update: Well looky here, if you follow THIS LINK, you can order the 8GB version for $99 on contract right now. Not bad. (Thanks, Sam S., for the info!)

The Venue Pro may make it for Christmas after all. We have to leave this as a question mark because Dell took down the offending page with the goods on it, but before they did Pocketnow managed to get a screen grab. The pricing is $149.99 with contract or $499.99 without and will not work on AT&T's 3G--so T-Mobile only this shall remain.

December 14th seems like a good date, as it leaves time to order just before the holiday. Now the bigger questions are will that date remain, can they make it and can they do it without any more glitches?

Source: Dell (not working); via Pocketnow, GoWindowsGo

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We've been covering the rumored software update for Windows Phone 7 for sometime now, even having our forum members add some info to the mix. So far, the update is suppose to have the following features:

  • Bing turn-by-turn directions, improvements
  • Custom ringer support
  • Copy/Paste
  • Multi-tasking (of some form)

We have a feeling that's just the beginning, as Chris Walsh, known for his contribution to ChevronWP7, has evidently been leaked some info on the update, calling it "massive" and more tantalizingly, "MS took 3 months to do what Apple did in 3 years" and "Lets just say the could have called it Windows Phone 8"--that's exactly the kind of thing we and the market in general want to hear.

Whether or not it all bares fruit remains to be seen, but too many independent sources are all saying the same thing: the first update to Windows Phone 7 will impress.

Oh and one more thing (snicker), Chris promises some screenshots later today. Stay tuned.

Source: Twitter; via mobilitydigest

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Although there have been reports of people porting over WP7 to the HTC HD2 and some chatter of people being able to make ROMs  (though not load them), there may yet be one final hurdle that could be very difficult to overcome: PVK.

PVK are the private keys Microsoft evidently uses to sign off on the OS that is also tied to the hardware. Specifically, some aspect of the OS looks for and then pulls these keys from the device motherboard for verification. If the keys cannot be found, the motherboard must be replaced or serviced. While elements of the phone/OS might still work without the PVK key, core elements such as Xbox, Marketplace, Windows Live or Zune...basically any "cloud service" will not.

The challenge to developers/hackers would be to circumvent this security, much like folks have managed to get around Microsoft's Genuine Software checker for Windows 7 and Office products. No easy task, we imagine.

In addition to  the above image,  there is an accompanying "Service Advisory" on one of the HTC internal sites that reads:

Description:

This Service Advisory aims to resolve invalid PVK or PVK missing issue for any returned WP7 units

Condition(s) to follow this service advisory:

1. When customer complains about can not access Microsoft services such as XBOX, Marketplace, Windows Live and Zune on the WP7 devices.

2. When ASP performs diagnostic program test, ASP needs to follow the below repair actions if the diagnostic program detects invalid or missing PVK.

    If the PVK is invalid or missing, there will be message on device as following when user try to login to Windows Live service.

    To all of this we say good on Microsoft for throwing down some serious security, but alas, the ROM community now has a challenge ahead of itself. Of course, this is probably more motivated by piracy concerns than ROM cookers, but we imagine Microsoft welcomes that as a wanted side effect as well. Combined with the Xbox Live security (see earlier coverage), cracking this OS wide open may be far off.

    Thanks, Conflipper, for the info

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    Update: We think the Windows Phone team may be getting their releases mixed up as in a follow up tweet they now say "Verizon is a valued partner and we look forward to seeing Windows Phone 7 devices in their stores in 2011." Going further, they evidently deleted the earlier tweet you see snapped above ;-/

    It appears that Verizon customers will be enjoying Windows Phone 7 this holiday season after all. A tweet from @windowsphone is giving a strong indication of such and not mincing words about it either; "devices will be rolling into Verizon stores this holiday season and more will arrive in early 2011."

    It's a shame these tweets didn't offer more detail such as when exactly the Windows Phone will hit Verizon and which phone(s) will be first. We've seen signs that the HTC Trophy 7 is confirmed for Verizon but not expected until early 2011. Could the production time table have shortened for the Trophy?

    Or will we see another Windows Phone 7 device appear on the radar for the holidays and the Trophy will be a part of the "more" devices in early 2011?

    Source: Twitter, Thanks, Eric, for the tip!

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    Looks like Tim's skepticism regarding Sony Ericsson jumping on board Windows Phone 7 was justified, though perhaps for other reasons. While no mention of conflicting interests in gaming (Playstation vs Xbox), SE seems to be not too excited about the strict hardware requirements and lack of customization allowed on Microsoft's OS.

    Sony Ericsson France CEO Pierre Perron summed up their position as thus:

    With Windows 7 we run the risk of standardising our smartphones. We would be obliged to compete only on design on price, which we want to avoid.

    The bit of silver lining here is that SE is in talks with Microsoft about carrying the OS, so that part is true.  But considering how unremarkable SE's offerings have been of late, we can't say we're exactly forlorn over this decision if it sticks. If it's one thing SE should avoid, is adding their "special touch to the software. Take a hint, guys.

    Source: TelecomPaper; via wmpoweruser

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    Ballmer and Co. at Microsoft have been pretty coy on the matter about adapting Windows Phone 7 for tablet use. While many of us see it as a no-brainer--it's fast, smooth, elegant, powerful, etc.--Microsoft has said in the past that it won't happen.

    While we still don't expect it anytime soon (WP7 is still very early), Ballmer dropped an interesting tidbit in an Ars Technica interview. On the question of tablets and when they would happen, this exchanged occurred:

    AT: How long am I going to wait... I don't want to ask you lots of stupid questions about tablets because I know you've been asked them before, so what I'm going to ask you is a very specific question: how long am I gonna have to wait to get a tablet that when I'm on-the-go has a nice touch- and finger-friendly interface, and when I sit down at my desk, I can add a keyboard and mouse and get a nice, full Windows experience. When is that going to come?

    SB: I won't give you an answer, because it will all depend on what you want, and we're going to have various things coming at various times coming over the next months and years, and some things, I think you will see things that you will fall [in love with]—I know I'm seeing things that I'll fall in love with, and I know there will be more things that I desire.

    The truth of the matter is, look at that device [my Lenovo X300]. It doesn't weigh anything, it just sits there, pretty nice, and very powerful, works pretty well, so you have to say, OK, what is the scenario that we're trying to optimize against? And you're gonna see some things that do a very nice job over the course of the next, let's call it year—you'll see some stuff now, you'll see some stuff after Christmas, you'll see some stuff as we get new Intel chips, you'll see some things as you move Windows Phone along—and which one you'll fall in love with, I can't predict.

    Yup. Just 10 words long but 10 words that technically did not need to be there if Windows Phone was wasn't being considered for tablet use.

    Dear Microsoft: Wait for WP7 to mature a bit, then just do it.

    Source: Ars Technica; Image: Umang Dokey

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