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Rumors

All the rage these days is around Google and their "+" network, which many are laughing off and just as many others are hailing as the next big thing. Microsoft obviously has a great ride going with Facebook but there is something still missing from the equation perhaps, something related to Bing, searching, sharing information and more.

The website Fusible learned that Microsoft has purchased the domain http://www.socl.com/ and today a teaser page had gone up with a new service called 'Tulalip'--the very image you see above. What is clear is that Microsoft is definitely working on something social related as that image touts the message “With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever” with logins for Twitter and Facebook (good news for those who don't want a new account). The design is clearly Metro-inspired, looking very much like the Live Tiles in Windows Phone.

Of course, the page is no longer up and instead we have a message from Microsoft Research stating:

“Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest,”

While that could be plausible, we think this is something closer to launch than just an internal design project. The "Terms of Service" and "Privacy Statement" suggest that this wasn't just meant for internal purposes. The big question of course is what exactly does it do? For that, we'll have to wait. Of course if it is an official project, will we see integration with "Mango" come fall?

Update: Read Mary Jo Foley's excellent write up this morning on her thoughts about Tulalip (including its name)

Source: Fusible; via VentureBeat

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17

Microsoft to buy Hulu?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Microsoft is one of several companies interested in buying online video giant Hulu.  Anonymous sources said that Google and Yahoo! have also met with Hulu reps in meetings arranged by Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners, their financial advisors.  The three potential suitors are eyeing the mass of popular shows that millions over viewers tune in to online, and the over 600 advertisers that have jumped on board with Hulu, including big players like McDonald's, Toyota and Johnson & Johnson. Of course, as these things go, none of the alleged parties are admitted anything.

Hulu's ownership has been struggling with the site's popularity, as they have attracted advertising revenue, but at the same time have caught serious flak from cable and satellite providers, who carry the same content.  They backed off from an earlier initial public offering that was projected to earn them a cool $2 billion, so it is thought that that may be what it would take for a sale to happen.  Netflix, who is seen as a similar kind of service, is valued at just about the same amount. 

Microsoft seems like a good fit, as they already offer access to Hulu Plus on XBox Live.  The acquisition would make further integration with XBL, and potentially WP7, that much easier and sweeter.  Their recent purchase of Skype is a clear sign that they are not afraid to throw around some cash to expand their multimedia capabilities. 

Source: Los Angeles Times; Via: SeattlePi

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13

Android is Nokia's backup plan? [Rumor]

According to a report over at the Fone Arena, Nokia have undergone some experiments in the Android field as well as Windows Phone 7, which is expected when they were deciding on a different OS to focus on since Symbian was a losing cause.

Our dear friend Eldar Murtazin has remained adamant that we can look forward to some Android devices in 2012 should the WP7 partnership with Microsoft fall through. I don't believe Nokia should have any problems with selling any devices should they stick to their incredible N9 design approach and engage in some effective marketing. Let's just see what happens when Sea Ray hits the shelves before anything else.

Via: Fone Arena

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Curious thing: during the leaked video of the Nokia's 'Sea Ray' Windows Phone, we actually never see the three-buttons for Back, Win and Bing Search. This lead to the natural speculation that there would be capacitive buttons, like other Windows Phones.

A new image has come forth though of the device and it shows, in fact, that there may be 'virtual buttons' meaning they are on the screen. But instead of taking up the 800x480 real-estate, they are probably using an 854x480 screen, much like the N9 that this so closely resembles.

A few words of caution though:

  1. Our own Richard Edmonds questions its authenticity--there's no glare on the button area, though there is a glare above and below them (see image below)
  2. Those buttons look like the WP7 emulator's, big time. Very suspicious.
  3. It certainly looks "off" plus it's probably just a mock up someone made
  4. Assuming it's true, this is far from finalized hardware and 'prototype' needs to be used here
  5. Nokia still has a lot of time to change or modify the design

At this point, we're not confident that this is legit, or if it is real, not final. Either way, we're not crazy about the sharp corners of 'Sea Ray'. There's a reason why the Focus feels so nice in the hand (and even the LG Quantum) and it has to do with the smoothness of the design.

If these virtual buttons are here to stay, it's not too much different than capacitive buttons, but we're not crazy about the idea. Finally, this looks more like the 'Sea Ray' is just a modified N9 rather than a "ground up" Nokia Windows Phone, making it slightly less interesting, in our opinion.

Update: Reader swc_ant has a nice comment based off his experience working on phone hardware. We agree with his assesment that it's a sticker/tape serving as a place holder.

Source: XDA (Steve Chou). via WMPU

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7

Nokia to launch WP7 October 26?

Today Nokia announced announced that its annual Nokia World conference would be held on October 26-27 in London, leading many to to the conclusion that this will be when they kick off the launch of their WP7 phones.  However, there is nothing conclusive about the agenda, which includes two daily keynote addresses and an October 26 "To be announced."

What is known is that Nokia World has historically been where the Finnish phone maker makes big announcements.  At Nokia's N9 today at Communiasia in China, CEO Stephen Elop also lent credence to earlier rumblings that the WP7 devices would arrive in Q4 this year.  If this is indeed true, the October launch would make these Mango phones ripe for Christmas.  What better way to kick of the holiday season than by lifting your company out of the rubble?

Source: Nokia; Via: PCMag

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It should be not too shocking that Nokia will produce numerous styled devices for Windows Phones--after all, they're quite creative over there. So the rumor that one of Nokia's first devices will feature a full QWERTY keyboard should not be too much a surprise.

According to ShinyShiny, who were at a Nokia event yesterday, a rep for the company was a little loose lipped on some details about their foray into Windows Phones:

"...expect a Blackberry-rivalling QWERTY phone in that line-up of phones out this year. Nokia have a A rep said that Nokia wanted to cater to the business market, that Windows Phone was a natural choice for the business user and that business users wanted QWERTY keyboards. I'm taking that as "yes we are releasing a QWERTY phone in our 2011 line-up"."

Sounds plausible. Then again, we're expecting a bit of everything from these guys, so it's just a matter of time anyways. Regarding the release date, nothing too new their either, but like Mango, things look to be ahead of schedule:

"The official release date for the phones is quarter 4 - the last three months of the year - but given that there was a Nokia Windows phone floating around at a Nokia event last night (apparently), I suspect we'll be seeing one sometime round the beginning of that period - September."

Yup, we imagine we could "see" a device in September with a release in October/November. Remember, Nokia has said they won't show the phone till it's close to its final release date. We just know that the next six months should be very exciting.

Source: ShinyShiny; via WPCentral forums (Thanks, @BurnEthanol); Concept phone credit: EagleEye

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WinRumors is appropriately running a rumor story that states Microsoft is getting ready to send out the first-wave of Mango developer devices as early as next week. The article cites anonymously "sources familiar with the company’s plans" so take it with a grain of salt. Still, this is just a matter of when not if for Microsoft, so next week sounds as good as any other week (we also know that Microsoft is getting ready to show of the latest build and features soon, more on that later).

Previously, it was speculated that since most WP7 devs actually own Windows Phones now and they can sideload apps, Microsoft would opt to distribute early Mango builds via a ROM update. But between the number of devices, drivers and the problem of returning the device back to an initial state (if there's a problem) has made such a process implausible, not to mention logistically challenging. Instead, new dev devices with the OS pre-loaded look to go on loan to developers who want them. 

Who gets them first, how to qualify and what type of devices is currently not known, but at least on the latter, modified HTC Trophys (with gyroscope), possibly the HTC Mazaa and something from Asus are possible.

Source: WinRumors

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Nokia's Chief technology Officer, Rich Green will be taking a leave of absence from the company for what is being reported as "personal reasons."  Nokia has officially confirmed Green's departure, but will not specify the length of leave, nor the reasons behind.  Finnish paper Helsingin Sanomat says that two inside sources have told them that that Green will be gone until at least the end of the year and is actually not expected to return at all.  This, they say, is due to a fundamental disagreement with the direction of the company, primarily, Nokia's decision to move exclusively to Windows Phone for their mobile devices.

We first met and heard from Green at Mobile World Congress in February and at least publicly, he seemed absolutely enthusiastic about moving forward with Windows Phone.

This is just more thing that Nokia did not need to happen in an already trying week.  They have recently seen their stock prices plummet, their credit ranking degraded and rumors surface of a buyout.  The partnership with Microsoft seems likely to either make or break the company, though to be a savior, it needs to happen soon.  Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, has big plans for WP7 and hopes to see Nokia-branded WP7 devices by Q4 this year.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat; Via: Cellular-News

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9

WP7 doesn't support IPv6 yet

We've had IPv6 support in Windows for years, but Windows Phone 7 seems to be lacking the successor of IPv4 (one of the Mango features?). v6 has been in talks for a while and Google and other big websites adopting the protocol with network administrators and testers preparing their infrastructure accordingly. 

While it's not actually needed at the moment (since networks and ISPs still support IPv4), there will be a point where hardware such as routers will need to be updated (or replaced to increase profit for vendors). With your device, we should see Microsoft adding support for the protocol when networks and carriers start to look at making the change.

Could Nokia be bringing an IPv6 push to WP7 when their devices hit the shelves? Could well be, but for now consumers shouldn't really be thinking about IPv6 since we have a long way to go until the change over from v4 is full steam ahead.

Update: See this post for follow up information

Via: Smartphone France

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4

Windows Phone Mango can save camera settings?

Assuming those early leaked shots of an HTC device running a 12MP camera are accurate, one feature that was right in front of our eyes but we missed: Save Settings.

Last we checked, there are no current Windows Phone that allow camera settings to be saved, much to the frustration of many users. And while the beta developer tools allow the flash-settings to be saved, implying the rest can be too (they're not available in the emulator), this is the first hard proof that yes, once again, the Windows Phone team is eagerly paying attention to our wants and needs.

To be honest, we're not really surprised that this is there. After all, Microsoft so far has given us almost everything we ask for, given enough time. Still, it's nice to know it's coming this fall (fingers crossed).

Update: Tech writer Manan Kakkar has this to say on the matter, referencing the VIP Mango event last week: "...was told at the event that OEMs will have choice, default will be what we have now."

Thanks, Robby Light, in comments for pointing this out

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Eck, there's just rumor upon rumor tonight. This one is from MS_Nerd again, who at least has a solid track record. In a few new tweets, he drops some bombshells:

  1. 3 "new" hardware partners for Windows Phone to be announced
  2. The full Mango wave will launch with ff-cams (front-facing cameras)
  3. Zune Pass will slowly be merged with Xbox Live Gold, adding more 3rd-party content to the subscription (like ESPN).

The first one seems like a nice middle ground between "we'll see new phones tomorrow" and the "we won't camp". Perhaps we'll just hear (or even see) some new devices but from new OEMs (Acer, Asus and ?). The second also seems plausible--heck Microsoft did just buy Skype, it makes sense they'd want to bullet-proof their upcoming phones once they figure out how to integrate "Microsoft Skype" into our OS.

Finally, the third fits in with all the Zune-being-re branded/changed rumors. We suppose it even makes sense to merge the two as they are very similar, no? As Xbox and Zune services grow tighter, it'd make sense to merge those ecosystems. Plus, you know, perhaps MS Points can finally buy music (on the go) or apps, eh?

Source: @MS_Nerd 1 and 2

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File this under rumor, folks, but one that is as likely as anything else, we suppose.

According to Neowin, tomorrow Microsoft will have two major announcements, in addition to the demonstration of Windows Phone 7.5 aka 'Mango'.

  1. The 'Mango' SDK beta will be released/distributed starting tomorrow; because at MIX11 they said "May" on the release, we're near 100% that's true
  2. Windows Phone 7.5 OS is actually finished and is being Released to Manufacturers (RTM) tomorrow, with carriers getting approval over the summer and an attempted universal release to customers for September-ish

That's right, WP7.5 tomorrow will supposedly be the finished, locked and loaded version.

Any truth to it?

Well, we can see them pulling a stunt like this as it'd be very good press, on the other hand, at least according to TechRadar in an interview with Joe Marini (he's in charge of IE on Windows Phone), IE9 mobile is code-complete, but it still needs to be debugged and performance-tuned.  Call us crazy, but that doesn't sound like RTM status to our ears.

So instead of Windows Phone 7.5 being RTM status tomorrow, perhaps it's something similar: it's code complete. That means it's finished, features are locked in and it's basically baked. But, they still need to clean it up, add some polish and remove and bugs left before they RTM-it, which still could be a few months away. That still gives Microsoft some wiggle room and we'll see in a few short hours exactly what their plans are.

Source: NeoWin, TechRadar

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26

Zune services to be split, re-named [Rumor]

As the title says, file this under rumor...but one that may be detailed this Tuesday, the 24th.

According to @MS_Nerd, who has an interesting history with leaks from within Microsoft, the Zune services as we know them will be broken apart, presumably in response to the Nokia deal, which is making some of the backend redundant:

"Wee little rumor seeping out now: Zune next to be split into Xbox mobile, Xbox Live & Windows Live Zune on the 24th."

"And the Zune backend platform will become a "Nokia services on Azure" offering, with content from Netflix, Last.fm & Hulu among others."

If true, this comes a little more than 2-years after the first Zune team was broken up into hardware and software services, with the former being absorbed under the Windows Mobile group. Now it's the latter which is being divvied and presumably gobbled up by other divisions within the company.

There's been talk for awhile now of "Zune re-branding" and something happening within that division, so this isn't too far fetched. We'll see what happens, if anything, this Tuesday.

Source: @MS_Nerd 1, 2; Thanks, Amir, for the heads up

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19

Verizon bringing in the Trophy on May 26th [Rumor]

I'm sure some (if not most) of the people eagerly awaiting this device are wandering if it's an elaborate plot by Verizon to (for some strange reason I can't quite think of) laugh at their customers in the continued torment that seems to be present. On the other hand, things could just be seriously messed up, and when have carriers ever got something right?

Wireless Vet, an active member on our forums, has received word from a HTC representative that the release date they're looking at is in fact - May 26th.

HTC rep says May 26 release date.

Rep states the phone just finished its official testing yesterday.

Our advice? Don't get your hopes up too much, we've followed the plethora of rumours and this should be taken lightly. Let's not forget the rumoured 19th date too, so if tomorrow doesn't display any sign of the HTC Trophy, then perhaps we have another week to run through. We'll keep you posted should anymore news show up.

Head on over to our forums to join the discussion.

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14

16MP HTC Bresson Windows Phone for T-Mobile?

Call it a merger of rumors, but Pocketnow.com is claiming that the HTC Bresson is the same device in that HTC commercial, the one that mentions a 16MP camera and shows clearly a Windows Phone-design. Combined with the leaked T-Mobile roadmap from ThisIsMyNext (the ex-Engadget team's new gig) which mentions the 'Bresson' for a post-September release (hello 'Mango') and you have yourselves a nice flagship phone.

Though the rest of the specs are unknown, as is the final design (though this is clearly influenced by the Nexus One + Desire S, which we really like), you can bet besides a 16MP camera (really?) the next gen Qualcomm chipset, 800x480 resolution and probably a boatload of memory.

Could Windows Phone 7.5 really be the big moment, the big push that we've all be waiting for? Big hardware, big new OS features and some street-cred? We sure think so.

Side note: People in photography know who is Bresson is, but for the rest.

Source: Pocketnow, ThisIsMyNext

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On Sunday, when the Windows Phone Dev Podcast aired, co-hosts Ryan & Travis Lowdermilk mentioned they had a few more screen leaked shots of Windows Phone 7.5 aka 'Mango'. However, instead of just releasing them, they wanted to verify and go over them a bit.

Flash forward to today and they've posted new pics depicting two new features which should make folks happy:

Smart DJ -  Found on the ol' Zune HD, it's described as thus "If you have a Zune Pass, you'll hear a mix of music from your collection and from the Zune catalog if you're near a known wireless network. Otherwise, if you don't have a Zune Pass or if you aren't near a known wireless network, the Smart DJ mix will just include songs from your own music collection.". Basically it rivals iTunes Genius and is something us Zune'ers have been wanting for awhile. (For a good 'versus' article, see Gounce's iTunes vs Zune piece).

Disable the camera shutter sound - pretty self explanatory, we can finally disable the ever so loud (and annoying) camera shutter noise. Hooray for spy shots!

Combine with all the other features we've heard so far, Windows Phone 7.5 seems to be going a long way in fixing/augmenting the OS in all the right ways.

Source: Windows Phone Dev Podcast

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30

Microsoft set to buy Nokia? [Rumor] [Updated]

I wonder if we could have a drum roll implemented which would start as soon as you read an article such as this. This is to be treated as a big fat, yet juicy, rumor. Eldar Murtazin (a well respected leakster - see his rumor for Nokia to use WP7) has just landed one helluva mind blow with the claim that Microsoft and Nokia could look to merge.

According to Eldar, both parties are to sit around a table with jugs of gin and discuss the potential takeover, which is said to be desired ASAP by Nokia. People believed that Skype was a massive deal, wait until they see a concrete seal between the largest software company and the giant in mobile hardware, if it happens. Note that both are currently in a partnership with Nokia to provide hardware for the WP7 ship.

On a more hypothetical note, this would be an incredible advancement for WP7. If anything, Microsoft could begin tailor making their own branded device(s) for the operating system. Not sure how that would play out with other manufacturers still on the WP7 bandwagon who have given Microsoft the momentum they needed with the launch of their platform, not to mention how committed they are.

So what do you think of this rumor, and the possible merge? Check the source below for a translated version of the original article.

Update: And here's a biggy, Mark Squires who's Nokia's Comms Director, has actually responded: "We typically don’t comment on rumors. But we have to say that Eldar’s rumors are getting obviously less accurate with every passing moment." Ba-zing. That is certainly a rebuke and raises the question of why anyone would listen to such a hack like Murtazin in the first place? (Oh right...we can't retract this whole post). Thanks, dropqube, for the heads up

Source: Eldar Murtazin, via: PocketNow

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Another week, another leak of Windows Mobile 7.5 ('Mango') features. Once again, the chaps at Windows Phone Dev Podcast have managed to get their hands on some screen shots of reportedly new features coming this fall to Windows Phone. And once again, if true, you won't be disappointed.

  • Windows Live Messenger, Facebook chat and AOL Instant Messenger all integrated under Messaging--and remember, we heard this is rumored to be a dual data/SMS system, making it really reliable even when your connection is not. Your presence as well as your friends are displayed in the People Hub dynamically.
  • Office 365 and Skydrive built into Office hub--'nuff said
  • Group Messaging: currently there are some nice 3rd party apps that do this, but the ability to have pre-defined groups to message to will be now native, allowing to create quick groups for Family, Work, Friends, etc. This will work for Email and SMS.
  • Artist art on Lockscreen: This is very cool, especially those with Zune HD players. What this does is pull down the Zune/Artist artwork of your current selection and plays it in a marquee/banner fashion on the screen. It currently does this on your Zune desktop/Xbox (play some music and wiat a few mins, you'll see). Evidently, in WP7.5, you can do this on your phone, making the Zune HD/Windows Phone distinction even less. This was always an awesome thing on the Zune HD, so we're glad it's being brought over.
  • Games Hub gets a facelift, including 'sync' option (potentially for online-game play). We first reported this back at MIX11, so now it's confirmed.
  • Native Checkins are coming e.g. Facebook Places. More info here.
  • Visual Voicemail will use Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)
  • Battery saving features/options (under Settings)
  • WiFi Hotspot support, uses Network Communication and Information Systems (NCIS) technology

Not bad, not bad at all. The messaging features should be very popular as well as the other additions coming to Mango--an update that is rapidly turning into a major overhaul of the entire Windows Phone system. We expect to see more, of course, come May 24th in New York City, so make sure you join us for all the live coverage!

Source: Windows Phone Dev Podcast; Thanks, Brianna, for the heads up

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So obviously the 12th has come and gone and there's still a ton of signs that the Verizon Trophy is afoot. We know Best Buy's were getting them, employees trained...heck, you know the history and still a no-go. Still, once Microsoft/Verizon pulled those Xbox gamer pics & themes, we knew it didn't look too good.

But with May 24th looming, our bet is Verizon would like to have the phone out before that event (though, missing CTIA in March and MIX11 in April didn't stop them either). WPCentral forum member Aog, who has multiple accounts with Verizon, received a call back today from a Verizon rep--so right there your warning lights should go off--and they claim 19th is the new target date:

"VZW rep called back today. Said trophy was releasing May 19th with a voucher for a free xbox game that can be played on xbox and phone."

Yeah, we hate playing this game too, but we know you Verizon folk want anything to hang on to, even if they are unicorn dreams and fairy musings. Still, like the other release targets, this is very plausible as we know big Red has all their pins lined up here.

Oh and that free Xbox game for the 360/phone--Full House Poker or Ilomilo? We're leaning towards the former. And we're putting that under "plausible" since Verizon does have an Xbox theme/gamer pic tie-in. Anyways, join us in the forums and vent or conspiracy-theorize away.

Source: WPCentral forums (Aog); Thanks, peinao, for the heads up

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Picture this - you wake up tomorrow morning, turn on your Mango powered Windows Phone (since this is entirely hypothetical), and what do you see? The voicemail alert. You open up the built-in voicemail manager and out-pops Chuck Norris. He's round-kicking his phone and informing you to give him a ring back at some point to discuss gardening tips.

According to a relatively reliable leaker in a DM to us, this is to be a reality in the next major update. To add to this, a tweet was published shortly after the visual voicemail leak which announced that with the addition of Skype and Live Messenger on the Windows Phone platform, when sending a text to a contact who is currently online on either service, the text will be sent via that available channel of communication.

Too good to be true or just logical next step for Microsoft? Perhaps we'll find out on May 24th, won't we?

Source: WP8 Twitter

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