Rumors

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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    We’ve been hearing whispers about Sony-Ericsson considering Windows Phone 7 as a platform for quite some time now. Historically, SE has teased us with the X1a running Windows Mobile, but most of their smart-phones have run Symbian and (more lately) Android.

    Now the aforementioned rumors are starting to gain volume (and perhaps credibility) as we have some YouTube video with what appears to be a slide presentation containing specifications and some basic renderings of both an X7 and X7 mini handset. The X7 is rumored to boast a 4.3" screen, 1.2GHz processor, and an 8.1 megapixel camera. The X7 mini supposedly sports a 3.5" screen, 1GHz processor, and a whopping 10.1 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom and a Xenon flash.

    My biggest hurdle to believing these rumors is the simple fact that every Windows Phone 7 devices is an extension of Xbox Live. I would think that Sony would have to be pretty desperate to be in the smart-phone game to bite that particular bullet. Couple that with the rumors over at our frenemy site Android Central about the "PSP Phone" and the waters aren’t as clear as we would like.

    What do you think? Would Sony-Ericsson actually put out a Windows Phone 7 device? Which of these would you go for? Let us know in the comments. YouTube video after the break.

    Source: YouTube; via: PhoneArena

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    In our forums, poster MarcMaiden happened to have a conversation with a Microsoft employee who stopped by his work (AT&T). The MS employee, who will remain anonymous, was "...going to a few stores and retailers to see what kind of response we were getting...looking for feedback to send to the developers to know what exactly they should work on."

    Marc asked him a few questions about the platform and the answers are quite revealing, namely about that rumored January firmware update which should bring quite a bit of functionality to the OS.

    Q: Why isn't there an option to add custom ring tones?

    A: Microsoft is working on an application that will be included in an update in January which will allow the consumer to edit, customize, and add ring tones of their choice. This app will also include a user "library" to search and download ring tones.

    Q: What about turn by turn navi?

    A We are beta testing it right now. again, ETA January.

    Not really too much info, but with Copy/Paste, custom ringer support, turn by turn navigation in Bing, Skydrive and possibly multi-tasking support (via hubs), this should be pretty huge. Not yet a member of forums? Hop in and join the conversation!

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    For those of you who are very anxious to get Angry Birds on Windows Phone 7 (see this forum thread), the developers of said super popular game, Rovio, have chimed in on the matter. Kind of.

    As you can see above, in response to the question of them making a port for our beloved phones, they said "We are looking into that, nothing to announce quite yet".

    It's almost sad that the above quote is news-worthy, but darn it all if that game is not in high demand by people these days. Now stop asking already!

    Source: @roviomobile

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    Although just getting a Dell Venue Pro seems hard enough these days, getting to its storage card may even be harder. That's assuming it even has one.

    In one of the first shots of the device without a battery cover, there's nary a SD card in sight. Granted, it could be buried below somewhere, requiring you to break out some mini-screwdrivers, but this is no Samsung Focus, which has the slot readily accessible. Of course, with that recent warning from Microsoft to AT&T, you may want to hold off anyways.

    The device is reported to come in two varieties: 8GB and 16GB, so at least there's that option. Still, for those looking for a 40GB Venue Pro, you may be out of luck or have a lot of work ahead of you.

    Update: Over at wmpoweruser, it was shown that indeed the Dell Venue Pro does have a microSD card, so upgrades are a go, if you want to risk it.

    Source: PocketNow

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    Dell Venue Pro: $199.99

    With just hours before the big day, we just received word (unconfirmed, but highly probable) that the Dell Venue Pro will sell for $199.99 on contract. No word on cost without a contract, though we imagine it to be in the $550 range. The source of the price quote is none other than a Microsoft store, who will be selling both AT&T and T-Mobile phones tomorrow morning.

    This sounds right as every other phone is selling for $199.99 (Samsung Focus, HTC HD7, HTC Surround) so this fits right in with the current line up, no more, no less.

    Now that you know the price of the Venue Pro, which should be showing up online any hour now, is your decision made for you? If so, take our poll!

    Thanks, Joel K., for the tip!

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    According to Robert Scoble, tomorrow is not only a big day for Windows Phone in terms of launching hardware, but also for the Marketplace which will see a flood of new apps.

    Not much is known as to exactly what will be released nor how many, all Scoble says is "Lots of Windows Phone 7 apps coming out tomorrow." and in response to whether they were ports or something completely different, he responds with "the apps I have seen for Windows Phone 7 are completely new".

    Tantalizing. So far, the Marketplace is passed 1,400 apps as of a few days ago. It will be curious to see what Microsoft has in store for us in just a few hours. We'll be keeping a close eye and will report anything we find.

    Source: Twitter

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    While we just heard about IM+ bringing over their instant messaging solution to Windows Phone 7, the other popular client, Palringo, is also likely to do the same.

    No dates given and it doesn't sound like it is yet in active development, but when asked by @sedp on Twitter, they responded with "We'll see how the platform develops but it's likely". It's not a slam dunk answer, but we're confident we'll see them bringing some chattyness to WP7 sooner than later.

    Source: Twitter; Thanks, Sed P, for the tip!

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    Although we're not even sure how one would begin modifying files on Windows Phone 7 to circumvent Xbox Live Leaderboards, Achievements or use pirated software, it looks like Microsoft is already thinking about it. Just in case.

    In a new build of WP7 (not yet released), Conflipper (who is still very much in retirement, so don't get your hopes up) has found an interesting file that says:

    This phone has been banned from Xbox LIVE for violating the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use. To protect the Xbox LIVE service and its members, Microsoft does not provide details about phone bans. There is no recourse for Terms of Use violations.

    This is similar to what happened on the Xbox 360 in 2009 when nearly 1 million users were permanently banned for evidently modifying their Xbox hardware or using pirated software. Presumably, Microsoft is taking preventive action for when XDA and others start digging into the OS, looking to modify their new mobile OS. In that sense, this is no surprise. On the other hand, it is interesting to know that MS has a system nearly in place to react to such a scenario. So take warning gamers, as once you are banned, it's for evah.

    Other notable finds were references in Internet Explorer for copy and paste:

    |Cut|Copy|Paste|Encoding|Print Preview||

    "Cuts the selection and puts it on the Clipboard."

    "Inserts the Clipboard contents at the insertion point."

    Of course we know copy and paste are coming soon, so this is just more evidence that the feature is already in the works. Sweet.

    Thanks, Conflipper, for the info!

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    While we knew that copy and paste is coming to Windows Phone in the first half of 2011, no other specific time frame was given although there is a rumor of a January update, which now seems to be accurate. Arpan Shah, a Director at Microsoft who leads Product Management for Microsoft Project, mentioned in passing about when we can expect that update:

    Critics have commented on the lack of specific features like copy & paste and lack of 100s of thousands of applications. And while both are true, copy & paste will be available as an update in a matter of weeks (early 2011) and as for applications, it’s just a matter of time.

    While not written and stone and we're sure Microsoft would not want to publicly commit to such a timetable, we believe that this is probably quite accurate. If so, we can finally stop hearing about the lack of said feature as a knock against an otherwise fantastic v1.0 release. The rest of that January update is rumored to bring task-manager/hub mutlti-tasking, turn-by-turn directions, clipboard and Skydrive/OWA support.

    Source: Arpan Shah's Blog

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    The other day we had an interesting rumor about the HTC 7 Pro: Sprint was starting pre-orders on December 8th for the new device. As it turns out, we learned that this was for Microsoft peeps only (lucky them). That ties into the "free phones for all Microsoft employees" boast that we heard awhile back and verified recently by Ballmer himself.

    Here are some more details of that program just given to Microsoft employees:

    Do NOT purchase your Windows Phone 7 device prior to November 18, 2010 or after June 15, 2011 . You will not receive reimbursement for your phone purchase if you have purchased your phone outside of the start or end date of the program. (A preorder may be placed through an authorized channel prior to November 18, but not an actual purchase).

    Seems like a fair system: employee picks phone and carrier, pre-orders/purchases through authorized channel, Microsoft reimburses you for the device. No other details were given but it sounds good to us!

    Source: Anonymous tip (thanks!)

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

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

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

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

    Source: Twitter (@ms_nerd)

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    We haven't been covering the Nokia "will they or won't they" rumors about them adopting Windows Phone 7 to either replace or augment their Symbian/MeeGo lineup, but in the case we will because we find it quite definitive.

    In an interview with CNet Asia, Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president and general manager for Markets, said this about using other platforms:

    Currently, we don't think the platforms out there which we are not using--Android and Microsoft--offers an incremental opportunity for us to add value that would sustain a competitive advantage over somebody else. So, no plans.

    Sure, maybe he's just being coy on the issue, but we have a feeling that this is pretty legit. It would have been nice to have Nokia on board, but we'll survive without them.

    Source: CNet Asia

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