The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is still dominating headlines this morning as more information keeps coming out. Evidently, during negotiations with Microsoft, one of the critical issues Nokia was focused on was reaching "a very low price point", according to Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, this position was agreed upon:
"We have become convinced that we can do that very quickly"
As we mentioned earlier, Nokia produces nearly 1 million phones a day due to their huge infrastructure and production lines. With Microsoft tapping into that, it seems easier for them to lower prices on phones to the carriers--something that smaller OEMs might not be able to match. Either way, consumers look to win.
One method of doing this is going beyond Qualcomm for their chipsets. Qualcomm was named by Microsoft as their primary chip provider for Windows Phone, but now we're getting news that Microsoft is looking beyond the company for other alternatives (NVIDIA , Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson and Ericsson come to mind). That should be especially good for Nokia who have had a rocky relationship with Qualcomm, with the latter owning the CDMA market (even though both agreed to work together last year).
Looks like there will be lots of changes to the Windows Phone landscape come late 2011 as fallout form the Nokia partnership continues.
Now that Mobile World Congress 2011 is officially over, we figured we would let you folks see some behind the scenes photos of the event, Microsoft's Windows Phone booth and some of the scenery (for scale). This year MWC had over 60,000 attendees, which was a huge increase from last year. Needless to say, it was quite the experience.
Slashgear managed to get their hands on a letter from Nokia to their developers (under Launchpad) that states Nokia is willing to give two handsets away for free, in an attempt to keep their community happy with the monumental change that is coming their way. The letter is quite to the point about the matter:
We are also excited to offer you one free admission to the next Nokia World/Nokia Developer Summit later this year. We will take care of the registration costs.
To assist you with your development activities in the near-term, we will ship one free Nokia E7 device to all program members. Additionally, we will send to you one free Nokia WP7 device, as soon as it becomes available.
To accelerate your mobile app development, we will provide free tech support on all Nokia technologies for the next three months (up to 10 tickets). Equally, if you would like to take advantage of a free User Experience evaluation of one of your apps, please let us know and we will work with you to make those arrangements.
This all sounds about right to us: developer devices in the fall, big launch in early 2012, work on your dev community in the meantime. Nokia currently ships one million phones a day (once again, according to Rich Greene), meaning in the next year, Microsoft is going to get a huge punch in the arm in terms of mass production and availability when they tap into that system.
This partnership sounds better and better to us everyday.
Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft held a developers day seminar that covered some old ground, but also lots of new stuff as well. One of the talks was presented by Microsoft's Joe Marini, Principal Program Manager, Windows Phone and it dealt with IE9 on Windows Phone.
The question about Adobe Flash was of course asked and so far, it doesn't sound like anything is close to being released:
So the questions is, are we going to support Flash in IE9 for Windows Phone
We are working with Adobe, but it has not yet been decided the last time I checked--part of that is Adobe is doing what they have to do and we're doing what we have to do. The last I checked the team is working with them but I don't think they have any announcement whether it's going to definitely work or not.
We also asked Marini about updating IE9 independently of the OS--something that was mentioned nearly a year ago, specifically does this feature exist/will Microsoft be using it? The good news is that the feature is still there:
One of the great things of Windows Phone 7 is we now have the ability to push out updates independently of the OS. We haven't announced what that schedule is going to be, but as we get closer to the release date they'll have more to say about that, but we're paying very close attention as to the best way to do that
Finally, the big stuff. After the break you can watch two excellent videos: (1) A seven-minute presentation on IE9 for Windows Phone 7 including all the standards, support and design implementation--a must for developers(2) A short demo of some HTML5 rendering on a live Windows Phone running IE9...
There have been a few reports and articles that have been published today about the recent questioning of Microsoft condemning Open Source to death – this isn’t true in its entirety. So, what has actually happened?
Well, without touching the horrible statement that all open source applications and games are banned, forgotten and condemned, we shall lightly pass through with Microsoft seem to be only tackling the GPLv3 and its derivatives. Neowin has reported that Microsoft is completely against Open Source (but have recently altered the title of their article) and are by no means completely correct.
GPLv3 being banned from the Marketplace is simply Microsoft taking steps in covering its back and preventing what situations Apple has found regarding licensing and Open Source (VLC in particular). Ruling out any code that falls under the license so Microsoft doesn’t violate the GPL is how it’s supposed to work. A fantastic post written up by Sasha Kotlyar (developer of WM6 Task Manager) explains quite clearly why Microsoft has chosen to disallow code that is under GPLv3.
“Because version 3 of the GPL family of licenses includes what has been dubbed the "anti-Tivoization" clause. Tivoization, from the name TiVo, is what that company did to its hardware in order to prevent unauthorized firmware modifications. In essence, they released the complete source code to the firmware that runs on TiVo boxes, but compiling such source code does not yield binaries that can run on the TiVo. That is because the authorized, official binary code is modified by TiVo to include a digital signature that must be accepted by the hardware before said code is allowed to run. GPLv3 includes a clause that prohibits this behavior.”
The Marketplace for the Xbox system and WP7 will prevent code under this license due to hardware performing Tivoization, and only Microsoft signed code is accepted. This is what the Open Source license in question goes against. Developers should take note that limited and liberal licenses (including MIT/X11) are usable for use in Xbox & Windows Phone 7 code.
What do you make of all this, and do you believe Microsoft are acting above board in complying with the license?
On Wednesday in Barcelona, Nokia's Chief Technology Officer, Rich Greene, made a surprise appearance at the "Windows Phone Day" seminar for developers. After some softball questions from Matthew Bencke, General Manager Windows Phone, we in the audience had a few moments to ask Greene basically anything. Of course, the UI question came up and his answer is very telling: Nokia has little interest in wrecking the "build once, build for all" ecosystem and there are many more areas where they can innovate rather than "moving tiles around". Below is his full response from the session:
We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but...I'm not speaking for the plan, I'm speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you?
Let me clarify. There are so many places to innovate, it is critically important to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hindrance. We also want customers to move between devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and additional services we can offer will bring people to us, but if there are unfamiliar with a different environment, there may be a barrier to that, so why do it?
The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles around? It just doesn't make sense. We're going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There's unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and innovate in these things.
Pocket-lint have had their ears burnt with the news from an Acer spokesperson that the company is indeed making the move to Windows Phone 7. According to their report, Acer's entry will be timed at around September or October '11.
In a previous article we covered Acer’s commitment to WP7 being internal development only. This update from Pocket-lint’s’ source is potentially fantastic news in an exciting way for a number of reasons, but is actually expected regardless. Acer is a huge Microsoft manufacturer with packing out a huge selection of home computers and laptops.
The exciting part of this update is how WP7 seems to be able to attract more attention from handset makers that leads to more exposure and hopefully more users. Could this simply be because of the upcoming update later in the year (codenamed Mango) which handset manufacturers are awaiting for the platform to mature? What do you think of the report on Acer?
Windows Phone 7 Connecter on OS X goes gold on App Store
Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft have had their connector software that allows seamless synchronisation between WP7 devices and OS X in beta for a few months now since October '10. It has now gone gold.
Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumoured to be in active development which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronisation with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble.
Head on over to the App Store to download the latest instalment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store.
Surprising all Apple focused Windows Phone 7 owners (myself included) with native support for their new platform, Microsoft has had their connector software that allows seamless synchronization between WP7 devices and OS X in beta since October '10. It has now gone gold.
Unfortunately, there is still no Zune software available or that has been rumored to be in active development, which would be welcomed with open arms. There are no reportable features that have been added to the Connector, only fixes and enhancements. Still allowing media synchronization with iTunes & iPhoto and allowing WP7 device firmware updates we don't truly have grounds to grumble.
Head on over to the App Store to download the latest installment for free. Should you have it already and the store is not reporting an update is available, simply drag the Windows Phone 7 Connector icon from your applications list to the trash can and then install from the App Store.
A reliable tipster has just sent us Dell's roadmap for 2011 on both the tablet and smartphone fronts. While naturally Windows Phone doesn't make an appearance on the slate side of things (check out sister-site Android Central for that scoop), we do see plenty of awesomeness from Dell for Windows Phone.
To wit: the Dell Wrigley, due out in July 2011 with a 1GHz processor, a 4" WVGA screen, an 8 megapixel camera on the back capable of 720p video recording. What's more, the Wrigley is branded as "Windows Phone 7 Next Gen," which more than implies that a) a big Windows Phone update will come before then and b) the Wrigley will ship with it.
Additionally, we also see the "Dell Venue Pro MLK" (Windows Phone 7): Additional Features and enhancements" landing in mid-April. Near as well can tell, in Dell parlance MLK stands for "Medialess License Kit." Normally that would apply to, say, Microsoft office, but we have a hunch that in this case it applies to a software update - aka the very same software update that Microsoft has been touting all week here at Mobile World Congress.
According to the analytic firm Flurry Inc., Windows Phone 7 development has seen a boost in development activity. The likely culprit behind this increase is the partnership with Nokia. Regardless, the boost lifts Microsoft passed Blackberry but still behind Android and Apple with respect to developer activity.
Flurry periodically measures the relative support that developers dedicate to various platforms by tracking new application starts. A week after the announcement of the Nokia/Microsoft partnership, Flurry measured a 66% increase in Windows Phone 7 project starts.
There is still plenty of ground to cover. Apple leads app projects with 69% of the apps and Android has 25%. Blackberry development represents 2% of the app projects. From their blog, Flurry sees the boost in developer activity as a positive.
From Flurry’s point of view, this week’s spike in Windows Phone 7 developer activity shows that developers not only believe Nokia has given Microsoft Windows Phone7 a shot in the arm, but also that Nokia and Microsoft together can build a viable ecosystem.
One of the keys for success that Microsoft identified early on was developer support. Support that seems to be increasing with Microsoft's new partnership with Nokia.
Feeling that "the Dell Venue Pro has been neglected by the WP7 homebrew community for a while," XDA user Notebookgrail decided to give it some love. Using the native COM .dll (OurCOM.dll), he developed DVP Compass and DVP Flashlight. The names say it all, Compass tells you where to go and Flashlight let's you see it.
DVP Flashlight also sports the following features:
Uses the LED Flash on the device back as a flash.
Black out the screen after 10 secs to save power while in 'On' Mode.
Uses touch gestures (tap) and Button toggle.
At the moment, you need a developer unlocked or Chevron unlocked Venue Pro to sideload these two gadgets, but Notebookgrail has full registry read/write access in his sights. Just follow the links for the downloads.
This afternoon we attended the "Windows Phone developers day" at Mobile World Congress, during which an extensive Q&A was held that involved various heads of the Windows Phone development team, including Larry Liberman, Bryan Agnetta, Joe Marini, Rob Cameron and Brandon Watson.
A question that Microsoft is commonly asked involves the TCP-socket layer support and whether or not Windows Phone will make it accessible for developers. Socket-layers are critically needed for such services as VOIP aka Skype, Viber, etc. We now know that multitasking iscoming to Windows Phone 7 with 'Mango' but now we have a very strong hint that socket-support, in some way, may be coming as well. Those two features are necessary for VOIP. [For a complete background, see J2i.net for relevant points]
Watson does the talking here but dare we say, if you read between the lines you get the feeling that (1) MIX11 will be huge for developers in terms of new features (that are coming with 'Mango') and that (2) Socket-support is a strong contender for a new feature, allowing developers to finally expand beyond simple web-based software. One thing is clear is that Microsoft does not want to disappoint consumers or developers and they are working hard to roll out new features for both, as quickly as possible.
Microsoft has released an official MSN Video app to the Marketplace, which allows you to browse and search clips from the Bing Videos website. (Think of it as the MS equivalent of the YouTube app). Fitting nicely into the Metro UI, MSN video offers the option to watch in both regular or high quality. The HQ vids are obviously much nicer to look at, but as you may imagine, take significantly more time to load up and stream. One snazzy feature is that videos played from MSN Video will later appear in your history in the Music + Videos Hub.
With YouTube dominating the online video market, we're not sure how much MSN Video will catch on. That being said, it is great to see MS supporting WP7 by creating their own apps to make it fresh and increasingly useful.
Twin Blades, an Xbox Live game from Press Start Studio, recently disappeared from the Marketplace. We contacted the developer to find out what happened, and the news is not great.
A PSP Minis port of Twin Blades was recently rated 'M' (Mature) by the ESRB. The Windows Phone 7 version of the game never received an ESRB rating. Microsoft has a 'no mature content' policy for Xbox Live games on Windows Phone 7. Because the ESRB decided the PSP version of Twin Blades is too gory for teens (it is fairly bloody, with the zombie decapitations and such), Microsoft pulled the game from the WP7 Marketplace. Twin Blades was never available on the Marketplace in Germany, where more violent games are almost universally banned.
Will Twin Blades return to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace? Press Start Studios is working on a solution with Microsoft to bring the game back, but no decision has been made yet so they can't say when it will come back.
We're disappointed at Twin Blades' loss as it was one of the meatierXbox Live launch titles on Windows Phone 7. It featured lots of levels, weapons, a lovely gothic visual theme, and a surprisingly mature story. Oh, and plenty of violence against cartoonish zombies.
Will the tale of a gun and scythe-toting nun waging war against the undead return in watered down form? One has to question why mature Xbox Live titles are prohibited on Windows Phone 7 when a child would be incapable of even purchasing a Windows Phone 7 device. It seems Microsoft is trying to protect children from a platform that is almost exclusively available to adults. The iPhone version of Twin Blades, meanwhile, is still available for purchase.
We'll update when Twin Blades' final fate has been decided. In the meantime, people who already bought the game should absolutely not delete it from their mobile devices as it can't be redownloaded.
To date, the official time frame for a CDMA Windows Phone 7 is sometime during the first half of 2011 (March would qualify). This time frame also mirrors the release date (early March) for the first WP7 update, "NoDo", that will contain CDMA support as well as copy/paste and performance enhancements.
There was speculation that the "NoDo" update was delayed due to carriers. Could the carrier delay have been to allow Sprint time to get ready for a Windows Phone launch? Nothing official from Sprint or Microsoft confirming this but March will be here before you know it.