Windows Phone 7 hit the U.S. Market just over thirty days ago with the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround landing at AT&T and the HTC HD7 hitting the shelves at T-Mobile. The new Windows Phone lineup would eventually be joined by the Dell Venue Pro at T-Mobile and the LG Quantum at AT&T. As far as hardware is concerned, the new Windows Phones have their own strong points but what about the OS?
Microsoft choose not to upgrade Windows Mobile, instead deciding to start with a clean slate and build a new OS. We saw more design and development controls were put in place to bring uniformity to Windows Phone 7.
So how does it look after thirty days? Are you satisfied with what you've experienced so far with Windows Phone 7? Did Microsoft hit the nail on the head and exceeded all your expectations? Or do you feel the need to run screaming back to Windows Mobile or another system all together?
Feel free to share your thoughts on the first thirty days with Windows Phone 7 in the comments sections. After the jump, you can see some of our thoughts on the first thirty days with Windows Phone 7.
The long awaited and highly innovative Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, which utilizes Bing maps, geolocation and asynchronous multiplayer support for some good old tower defense, is finally coming to our phones this month. Specifically, December 15th, according to Karl Stricker who works for Microsoft on Xbox LIVE for Windows Phone7.
For many, this game should really show off some hitherto unseen gaming support on Windows Phone 7, bringing a new level of creativeness to mobile gaming. This will be one of the first games to highly interact, by way of achievements, with a console game on Xbox 360 (Crackdown 2: Deluge). No word on pricing.
Quick word to our readers who are also developers for Windows Phone 7: you evidently can now grab your download stats for your application from Microsoft's APP-HUB website.
For context, recently a few developers became vocal at the lack of analytic tools available to them regarding app downloads. In turn, they did not know if their app was selling and as a result, whether they should invest time and money for "push" services. Microsoft had been candid with developers in this regard, noting that payments and these tools will come "later" understood to be February. Perhaps in response, it looks like Microsoft may have decided to get those tools out now.
Just a quick note: get ready to have some more Xbox Live fun on your Windows Phone today. Word is that Bubble Town 2 and Star Wars Cantina will be arriving, worldwide, in the Marketplace.
Bubble Town 2 looks like a Snood clone (ZOMG), which basically means you fire little critters up at a wall of other critters--getting 3 or more in a row removes them (trust me, it's addicting). Star Wars Cantina, on the other hand, has been described as Diner Dash + Star Wars which sounds quite the combo. No word on pricing but we image in the $4.99 range would be about right. Both are Xbox Live titles meaning try-before-you-buy will be available along with achievements and leaderboards.
Two high profile Microsoft figures, Joe Belfiore and Charlie Kindel, director of the Windows Phone program and GM of the Windows Phone 7 Developer group respectively, were recent guests of two separate tech events. They were there of course to discuss Windows Phone 7, the smartphone market and the challenges that Microsoft is facing in relation to their competitors.
The big news, for some at least, is that when both were asked about early sales numbers and both refused to provide any details. At D: Dive Into Mobile conference in San Francisco, Belfiore said it was "too early" to talk numbers, whereas Kindel, in Paris at Le Web 2010, only mentioned that they planned to "sell a lot" in 2011.
Many are taking this evasive posturing as signs that Microsoft's sales numbers are either lower than expected or simply not worth talking about--after all, anything less than yhe oft cited 200,00+ daily activations of iPhones and Android devices will be seen as a failure. It seems to us that what bothers many in the media about Microsoft's position is not so much the possible sales (or lack thereof) but the denial of a sensational story for the media (a narrative that could only hurt their image). Yet even then, we still have to mention it.
Microsoft's position, for many, is bewildering only for their lack of self aggrandizement--they know they are the underdog here and while they are proud of their OS they know that this will be a multi-year challenge, not an overnight success. That sort of realism should be respected, but in this day and age of tech cynicism, it is met mostly with surprise. Fact is we, nor Microsoft, expect Windows Phone 7 to post any real significant market numbers till at least the end of 2011, giving them a 12 month window to get their OS recognized. We think that since currently only 20% of mobile phone sales are smartphones (Gartner, 2010), they have time and room for maneuvering. While not exciting, that's the reality.
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.
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?
Biased post alert: I'm a hugeReddit fan and if you're into politics, science, humor or just learning neat stuff, all wrapped in a bacon blanket of a vibrant social community (while riding on a narwhal), then you should be too.
Alien News, by CH3 software, is a dedicated reader for the site, which encompasses users posting links to news articles, discussion of said article and voting up or down (aka upboats/downboats) of all content. The program comes in two versions: one completely functional, free and ad-supported the other ad-free for $0.99.
We gave the app a test run and came away impressed. It's smooth, fast and intuitive. There's some room for improvements e.g. voting needs to be more clear, but overall for an early release, we're pleased. Thankfully, we can now get our F7U12 comics to go. [Note: We incorrectly state in the video that the developer has an Android version]
Alien News can be found here (launches your Zune Desktop) or with Microsoft's Tag Reader from your Windows Phone, after the break.
Google yesterday released the SDK for version 2.3 of the Android OS (AKA Gingerbread). There are a number of new features offered for both developers and end-users including basic UI and speed improvements, better power management, Near-field communications, and support for SIP (voice and video chat).
Increased support for gaming is one area that Gingerbread has received a lot of attention recently, in part due to the oft-rumored PSP phone. Android 2.3 does a number of very geeky things in the background to increase performance, as well as allowing developers access to additional sensor events. Additionally, new video drivers and native graphics management will give Gingerbread applications improved graphics quality.
For all of the flak that Microsoft has received over their re-entry into the Mobile segment with Windows Phone 7, it’s worth noting that Xbox live is currently the most complete mobile gaming platform on the market. No other device on the planet offers the same combination of graphics, performance, communication technologies, and social gaming that can be found on a Windows Phone. Google and Apple are only recently turning their focus towards gaming with Apple’s Game Center and increased features for developers on both iOS and Android, but no other platform can compete fully right now with Xbox live on Windows Phone 7.
As is common knowledge, no company nor division is limitless in resources, not even the mighty Microsoft. That, however, won't help out non-U.S. Windows Mobile users who rely on Bing and its free turn-by-turn navigation. In an effort to refocus talent and resources, Microsoft has basically turned away support for Windows Mobile 6.5 outside the United States. In a statement they noted:
In July 2010, mobile customers using version 4.6 or older of the Bing app for Windows Phone, received a notification that the Bing app is no longer available on their device. Bing is committed to delivering a mobile strategy that rapidly evolves to meet the needs of customers, and as a result has decided to optimize the Bing app for the newer Windows Phone devices to ensure the best mobile search experience.
Of course that was in July and we're not just hearing about it, which not to sound glib, raises the question: who the heck noticed? Why is this becoming an issue now, five months later? We have no idea as we were under the impression that navigation serves like TomTom, etc.. were more popular than Bing.
Whatever the reason, there's your explanation. It would be nice to have indefinite support for Bing in Europe and we suppose 10 months from its release is a little early.
Everyday we learn something new too and this was one of those things either we knew and forgot or just never knew, but evidently you can only have 15 apps on your device with push notifications.
Mind you, push notifications are those things we barely have right now but they do drive "live tiles" to update. And seeing that there are maybe seven apps that we know of that do push updates (Flixster doesn't count as they can't figure out how push updates work), we don't see this as an immediate problem.
But still, we imagine six months from now, a few of you will have 15 apps pushing notifications (and getting 2 hours of battery life--kidding) who will want to install that 16th app. Well, when you try, you'll be met with a "InvalidOperationException(Channel quota exceeded)" error. Of course, developers can code around this by letting the user know they should uninstall one of their other apps, but still...kind of an odd limitation. Though we suppose nothing is infinite, right?
Luckily, Microsoft has some time to push an update to change this should it become a problem, though we're not convinced yet that it ever will be for normal users.
Update: Developer Dave Amenta lets us know the following: "I have lots of tiles updating and there appears to be literally ZERO impact on battery (one updates at least every 10min)". So maybe we do want 16 apps pushing? ;-)
Update 2: Microsoft's Jamie Rodriguez responds. He notes that MS could change the limit in the future and they are constantly evaluating userr habits and needs. Doesn't contradict previous information.
We just couldn't narrow down how early, "early 2011" meant. Could it be by the end of the first quarter or sooner?
According to a one sentence post over at Windows Phone Secrets, the "early" means January. Not much detail beyond that and it will be interesting to see if the Trophy can beat the iPhone to Verizon's lineup.
The good news is that once we all survive the Holidays and College Bowl season, January is right around the corner. If we hear anything sooner, we'll be sure to pass it on.
In an interesting competition recently held at the Budapest New tech Meetup, developers from three platforms--iOS, Android and WP7--had a "live coding event" (hey, nerds have to have their fun too).
The goal was simple: they had 1.5 hours to write "...an app that allows users to rate presentations at a meetup". The coders had no knowledge in advance of the project and it had to "display the names of the presenters, the title of the presentations, some summary and of course, find a way to actually do the rating."
The gist of the competition is that the Windows Phone 7 trounced everyone. Whereas the iOS and Android groups had created one page of the app, the WP7 team created "...a mostly working application with most features implemented". In addition, the Androiders had problems with Compiz (a Linux window manager), which kept crashing.
Overall an interesting story and although real-world developers don't have these constraints, the fact that the WP7 group was able to write a full app so quickly, without even writing any code (they used Expression Blend’s Sample Data feature i.e. mostly drag and drop) is pretty impressive. See previous "coding war" coverage here and here.
Wild rumor turned into fact today as copy and paste is being slowly pushed out to certain developer devices.
The OS update bumps the version number to 7.0.7338 from the current 7.0.7004.0, which is also probably not the final shipping version. In fact, Conflipper noted back in November that they are internally up to the 7.0.75xx level already--so this is definitely early/incomplete. No other new features are noted with the OS upgrade, so this may be just an early tester version to get feedback on usage and stability from developers.
Of course once you finally see it in action, you're left a little crestfallen---almost a "that's it?" kind of thing. After all, this is pretty basic and boring stuff here. Still, such a small feature will go a long, long way for PR with our new OS.
Glow Artisan was first released in December of 2009 as DSiWare for the ubiquitous Nintendo DSi handheld gaming device. It was received with fantastic reviews from nearly every critic and gamer to give it a go.
If anything, Glow Artisan is a bit overwhelming and fantastic. Powerhead Games has constructed a puzzle game with such depth and scale that every other game within the same genre has been put to shame. I mean, there are puzzle games and then there's Glow Artisan. A puzzle game's puzzle game. Now that Glow Artisan has been ported to WP7 as part of the library of Xbox Live Arcade games we'll have to see how well this puzzler translates to a single screen. So far, things look fantastically overwhelming.