Microsoft is now going above and beyond to promote the applications that developers have already brought to the Marketplace in anticipation of the Holiday season. We’ve already discussed Bing Visual Search for Windows Phone 7 Apps, which makes it quick and easy to find software for your phone from any computer. An additional push is being made with advertising in the Xbox dashboard on Xbox 360 console, utilizing an established customer base to expand the popularity of the platform. Microsoft is also featuring specific apps within the Marketplace and on Windowsphone.com.
One thing is for sure, Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to establish Windows Phone 7 as one of the premier smart-phone platforms on the market.
...now busily buying every microSD card they can get their hands on and testing it in their phones, and when they have a list of which cards perform well enough to recommend they'll be distributing the information.
That is certainly a 180 from previous positions and we think Microsoft gets it here: the cat is out of the bag and users will try to swap their cards, regardless of the dire warnings on internet blogs. Going into more detail, Microsoft's senior product manager Greg Sullivan described the issue more succinctly:
Yes, it's about read write speeds [which is what the SD class number indicates]. The IO rate is part of it but actually what's equally important are the bit error rates. That will impact the speed of the checksum rewrite.
On the one hand we feel bad Microsoft has to go through with all of this, but on the other, this was a situation clearly not well managed from the start. The reason given for the mishandling is an old one: time. Microsoft simply did not have enough time or resources to test all the cards before launch. At least it appears they are owning up to the matter now and we can look forward to a "recommend list" in the future.
In what is becoming a regular occurrence these days, Windows Phone 7 got some major screen time on tonight's Hawaii Five-O (CBS).
Dano basically sneaks into the "bad guy's" house and breaks out his LG Optimus 7 to snap some photos as evidence. He then "shares" them with his partner (who looks to be using an iPhone; cat fight anyone?). Overall, a nice demonstration of the WP7 camera system, even if it annoyingly resets your settings after each launch.
Bonus/Hey that's no coincidence: Microsoft and AT&T premiered their new commercial tonight which also features the camera function of WP7. How odd! (New commercial after the break).
This is an interesting bug discovered and evidently acknowledged by Microsoft: when using a non-Exchange, non-Gmail account like Hotmail, if you forward an email it sends itself as an attachment (*.eml) to the recipient instead of inline. See other reports here.
Microsoft has apparently agreed to look into the matter (acknowledged in a @winphonesupport tweet), which is a good start.
For now, the solution is simple if not awkward:
Select Respond, as normal
Instead of Forward, choose Reply
Delete the email address in the To: field
Replace with address you want to Forward to
Evidently this problem existed on our old WinMo devices (we actually vaguely remember this) and perhaps even on Android, meaning this may not require a fix on our end but rather Microsoft's.
Update: Our own Tim Ferrill tells us it happens with his Exchange 2003 server as well.
But after reading John Gruber's excellent article on Where Are the Android Killer Apps? I realized that Microsoft has done something that Google/Android have not: taken away Apple's exclusivity on various games and killer apps. Sure, we don't have nearly as many and are still lacking some big ones, but isn't that just a matter of time? Here's Gruber's quote on the matter which sums it up perfectly:
A final thought, regarding Android’s relative weakness as a software platform. iOS’s exclusivity for a bunch of big-name mobile games — Need for Speed Undercover, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth, Monopoly, Tetris, The Sims, Assassin’s Creed — has been broken. Not by Android, where none of these games exist, but by Windows Phone 7, a one-month-old platform.
That really is huge. Why, despite how popular Android is, have they failed to get many big titles? Why no killer, exclusive apps, except the closely held "Google experience" ones (e.g. Gmail, Google Talk)? We already know about why there's no Netflix (poor security, fragmentation).
Of course we know the answer: Microsoft puts a lot of emphasis on courting developers, even throwing money at them to cover the cost of development. Sure it's brash, perhaps uncouth but it works. Remember, this about the ends (consumer experience) not so much the means (save it for you business ethics class). Fact is, at this pace, Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 will have more quality big-name offerings than Android, who's big sellers instead tend to be ones that modify or fix the OS.
Sounds a lot like our old Windows Mobile, aka the past.
So yes, Apple, we'll take your ports and exclusives and any apps that make your platform "unique"--you'll loose that and a reason for people to choose your product over Windows Phone 7.
While the Zune software on Windows Phone 7 is quite powerful, the ability to find and stream podcasts on the go is quite limited. We take a quick look at the freeware app Podcasts! by Melting Bot Software and show why it's a must have if you listen to or watch podcasts away from home.
Oh Dell, the world is on your side: everyone wants a Dell Venue Pro and you have a unique chance here to really make a splash in the smartphone market. Too bad you can't seem to get this launch right. First there were delays, broken dates, mislabeled batteries, Wi-Fi issues and now we're hearing SIM card problems. They finally responded recently.
Issue is this: the few customers who had bought early "engineering" models are being called and told that the new replacements are available at the Microsoft stores. Upon exchanging and replacing the SIM, it turns out the Venue doesn't read them and errors out stating "Sim is invalid or not inserted". It's evidently not an isolated problem either:
Popped my SIM card in there and was faced with a SIM card error message. Having lots of phones I figured the card was not seated and opened it up and reseated it. Well to make a long story short.. I tried three different SIM cards in two other units and none of them would take the card. -Dan S
My brother's phone still works fine, but I rebooted my phone once and now my SIM won't be read. I've tried three different SIM cards and all won't read. -Arcarsenal
...same problem now that I have rebooted. The Sim can't be recognized anymore. -richlee111
And the same people witnessed multiple others in the store with the same problem. In the same thread, it is mentioned that Qisda is actually manufacturing the device. Looks like Dell has some calls to make. We still think the Venue Pro can make a solid phone, once these issues are sorted out. Lets hope that happens.
Update: as of 12pm, Focus is listed as 'Backordered'
This is no doubt the best deal yet: Walmart, today only, is offering the Samsung Focus for less than free. That's right, they will owe you $25 t if you commit to a 2 year plan and take that beautiful phone from their hands.
During check out, enter in this code: 25rafpcver1 which will take $25 off of the already $0.01 instant price. Part of that discount is a $100 Walmart gift card, which you'll receive by mail (if you order online) but we hear you can get it back instantly if you buy in the store. Note that the "Lets Talks $25 discount" will expire today, meaning tomorrow this phone will only be free with a new contract and more importantly, they don't seem to offer the cheaper 500 minute plan.
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:
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.
We mentioned last week that Samsung was making Windows Phone 7 its number one OS, knocking Android down a notch and putting their own Bada OS in a distant third.
Now a graph, reportedly from Samsung themselves, seemingly confirms the earlier story that for 2011 Samsung will put Windows Phone on 63% of its smartphone releases. Android follows in a distant second with just 32% and Bada at a tiny 6%.
Samsung must see something special with Windows Phone 7 and evidently that "licensing cost" argument is blown out of the water. Free licenses alone won't win you OEM love, our little robot friend. Now if Sammy could just bring their Super AMOLED gear to the remaining carriers...
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?
Miss Bubble Breaker from your old Windows Mobile Phone? Have no fear, Blue Rose Systems has just what you need. Popper 2 (link will open your Zune browser) is a bubble-breaker styled game that has three game modes to give it a unique feel and sets it apart from the traditional game we've grown accustomed to.