Rumors

It started with an open letter from financial analyst Adnaan Ahmad, addressed to CEOs Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) and Stephen Elop (Nokia), explaining the mutual benefits that could arise from the two tech titans teaming up.  What came next was a flurry of rumors that it might happen and show of confidence from stock traders.  In the days since Ahmad posted his letter, Nokia's stock prices have risen more than 4%, a sign that those in the market may be trying to show a vote of confidence in Ahmad's wishful thinking.

Though these rumors have been bubbling ever since Elop left his post at Microsoft to take over as Nokia's CEO, Elop said last week that the phone maker might "create and/or join other ecosystems," lending further credence to possibility.  Spokesmen from both companies have refused to comment on the validity of the rumors, but there is speculation from those in the know that Elop is going to announce the news during an upcoming speech on February 11.

Be it true or not, Nokia needs to do something soon.  They have been steadily declining in market share, and according to some recent analytics, have already lost the number one spot to Android. 

Source: New York Times; Via: Seattle Pi Blogs (Nick Eaton)

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The future of Sony in the smartphone market has two major considerations for Windows Phone:

1) Will Sony make a Windows Phone 7 device?

2) Will Sony push their PlayStation platform on other mobile OSs?

The answer to the first is maybe. More specifically, Sony is keeping the door open to make a Windows Phone in the future, but as far as anyone knows, there's nothing immediately on the horizon. One reason for that is that some speculate Sony would not embrace a phone that makes the Xbox 360 its centerpiece. After all, this may seem to downplay Sony's own efforts in mobile gaming.

Sony though seems to be taking a mild mannered approach to the issue, suggesting that they are in fact, hardware/software neutral when it comes to their mobile PlayStation suite (prominently launching on Android). In a press event, SCE CEO Kaz Hirari stated:

We're focusing first on Android... There's also Windows [Phone], iOS and so forth, but we don't have the resources to make it compatible with everything from the start.

The statement is an echo of a recent meeting where Sony previously described the PlayStation suite as "hardware neutral". This seems to take out the argument that Sony won't ever do a Windows Phone either due to fears of competition in mobile gaming. In fact, we could imagine Sony doing a Windows Phone featuring Sony mobile gaming on it. But now the ball is in Microsoft's court: would they allow such a deal and partnership to go forward? This could be an interesting next few months and we'll try to grill Sony on this issue at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.

Source: PocketGamer

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HTC Mozart coming to T-Mobile? [Rumor]

Our friends at TmoNews are reporting form one of their trusted sources that the HTC Mozart may be coming to T-mobile rather soon.

The device has that aluminum uni-body design, giving it one of the most solid builds we've experienced of any Windows Phone. It also features a rather impressive 8MB camera with dual xenon flash, 3.7" capacitive screen and a super bright LED for charging (seriously, it's blinding). There's also hints that it may come int 8GB and 16GB versions, though more details are needed. 

Anyone looking to pick up this bad boy? From our usage of it (sans U.S. 3G) it's one of the most svelte phones we've handled. Peep the video above of Dieter taking our Mozart for a spin...

Source: TmoNews; Thanks John C, for the tip!

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Yeah, so we've fallen over the whole AlphaJax craze (see George's double review of it and Spell It!; my thoughts here)

An obvious next step for the app would be for Xbox LIVE support--after all it already has great asynchronous game play/multiplayer support, push updates and is just a solid app. But not many games have gone from non-Xbox status to Xbox LIVE certified--actually we can't think of any. That's because to get that coveted status, you need to do a lot of collaboration with Microsoft and meet their very high standards to get access to the LIVE universe.

Will AlphaJax be the first to transition? We don't know but on their Facebook page, they strongly hint at the possibility. When asked about Xbox LIVE support they responded with "stay tuned...!"

Oh we will, we will. Thanks, Ricardo Dawkins for the tip

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Mediaroom is Microsoft's official IPTV streaming option and it provides a lot of media ability--in fact Mediaroom 2.0 was just announced at CES and offers "...whole-home digital video recording, on-demand capabilities, access to both operator-hosted content and Internet TV, and interactive applications.". It's like AT&T's U-verse but better.

Or Google TV but not full of fail.

As Microsoft slowly but steadily continues to merge all of their properties into one (Xbox 360, Mediaroom, Windows Phone 7, Zune, SkyDrive, Office, LIVE services, etc.) it only makes sense that they would be working on a way to take Mediaroom 2.x and integrate on Windows Phone 7 in some official capacity. Indeed, according to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, that is what project 'Rome' is all about.

Supposedly Roz Ho, who worked on "Project Pink" aka KIN is involved on the Mediaroom/Rome project which looks to bring all of Microsoft's media capabilities into one offering: Xbox 360, Mediacenter PC, Windows Phone, etc. hence the name 'Rome' as all roads lead to it.

No word on planned release time frame, but we're thinking that second big update aka 'Mango', later this year, may be a good time.

Source: ZDNet; via electronista; Thanks, Enzo, for the tip

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Although we like the weekly Tues/Wed excitement of our 2-fer Xbox LIVE games (like today), sometimes it's nice to peek ahead. Evidently, the site Xbox 360 Achievements is able to pull down "Achievement" info, hence the data here.

We imagine these are games really close to being released which is why their data is flowing around a bit:

  • Deal or No Deal
  • Game Chest - Board Games
  • Centipede (Game Room)
  • Backgammon
  • I Dig It
  • Implode XL
  • Super Monkey Ball 2
  • Zombie Attack 2: Second Wave

Anything there really catch your fancy? Did we miss anything on that list? If our count is correct, that's exactly 1 months worth of titles. Tune in next week to see if this was accurate or not...either way, more games = good.

Source: Xbox360Acheievements; Thanks, Eric A., for the tip!

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Halo: Nation coming to WP7?

Halo has been previously reported to be coming to the Windows Phone 7 platform, especially around the list of planned releases last year prior release of the OS. At CES, which we were able to cover, Steve Ballmer presented and discussed a number of games coming to the mobile platform. Among these were Fable: Coin Golf and PES 2011 along with many already-confirmed titles, but there was one mention that caught some attention – Halo: Nation.

For any Halo fan, this could mean two things. First (and hopefully correct) there could be a potential Halo title arriving to Xbox Live on WP7 named Halo: Nation. What’s exciting about this prospect is what genre it could be: FPS (probably unlikely), RTS (Halo: Wars on-the-go anyone?) or even a racing alternative (Rocket Race game type on Halo: Reach?). The system and available resources from the devices that run WP7 have enough power to provide the foundations of a truly epic game from Bungie.

A second scenario could be the Halo: Nation podcast is making an appearance on Waypoint that is already available in the Marketplace, and could in-fact not be the extension to the franchise that many of us are hoping for. Although Ballmer was reportedly "confused” with the projects he was discussing, Halo: Nation is noted as being developed separately from Waypoint but a Halo title coming to WP7 is all continued (hopeful) speculation.

Could Halo: Nation be the WP7 title that us Master Chief fans have been waiting for? Or did Ballmer just get the name wrong?

Source: Electronic Theatre

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For our Windows Phone crowd, GeoHot aka George Hotz was famous for his working on jailbreaking the iPhone a few years ago and more recently for jailbreaking the Sony PS3 (and getting sued for it, no less).

In a brief post on his website, he noted his legal troubles and updates in general but ended with this curious bit:

"perhaps a more appropriate way to deal with jailbreakers

I'm going out to buy a Windows 7 phone"

The "more appropriate way" he's referring to was yesterday's meeting with ChevronWP7 and Watson's team who do take piracy seriously but also see the need for community and appropriate outreach. Plus they made a funny. Indeed, Microsoft's approach is vastly different than Apple's and certainly Sony's.

Whether or not GeoHot was serious about purchasing a Windows Phone or not remains to be seen, but hey...if so, welcome George to the good side.

Update: And Brandon Watson as usual brings the welcome to George:

Source: GeoHot; via: Windows Pone 7 Central

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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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