We thought it was a cool honor by Microsoft, even if technically some AT&T stores broke the embargo and allegedly sold some devices on Sunday (curses!). Anyways, we had a chance to speak with Richard about the whole thing, including how it happened and about his phone choice (Focus), and about camping out at 1am in front of the store, in anticipation. That's right folks, he has us beat for dedication.
Take a read after the break for six short questions with the only person who can say "First!" here at WPCentral!
We ran across a Tweet concerning the Marketplace and Windows Phone 7 apps this morning that raised some concern. Apparently there is a website out there, Winmobile7, that according to their "About" page:
"WinMobile7.AppHab.com is the place to discover and share the latest and best Windows Mobile 7 apps through social recommendations as well as reviews from users and our editorial team."
Sounds like an innocent blog that reviews apps right? Well the concerns from the Twitter posts is that not only does the site review apps but it also contains download links for the .xap file that is residing on Microsoft's servers.
Even if you download the .xap file, it's going to take some effort to get it installed to your Windows Phone 7.
You will need the developer tools and device that is unlocked for development. While the developer tools are free, you have to be a registered developer to get an unlocked device. You CAN however download the .xap and rename it as a .zip and look at the structure of the app, though we're 99% sure that the real "code" of the app is compiled/encoded/encrypted.
Not many will be able to do much with this downloadable file. That is unless you're a developer looking to download free apps from other developers. Still, one has to wonder why it's so easy for a third party site to provide download links to Marketplace apps.
Thanks Tim for the heads-upand help on this
Update: Microsoft had let us know that they were aware of the situation and were preparing a response. While we haven't seen a official response from Microsoft, in checking back with the site in question, the Marketplace download links have been removed from the app reviews.
Oh uh, this is not good. With reports of Wi-Fi issues, shipping engineering devices and just general shortages, Dell is not off to a good start with the Venue Pro. And things may have just become worse. According to Clove UK, one of the first sites to offer pre-orders for the device, they're now expecting delays of stock till January. Yup, that's a full 8 weeks away (give or take). We're also told that people who pre-ordered are receiving email notifications of the expected delay.
Is Dell checking their production for errors or are they just having supply issues themselves? No word yet though we're reaching out to Dell for answers. All of this is a shame really since besides the Samsung Focus, the Venue Pro is one of the most anticipated and coveted devices by our readers (see our poll). The bigger question now is: What does this mean for the U.S.?
Dell isn't the only one with problems: my HTC HD7 still hasn't shipped from Amazon despite a pre-order and is not expected to ship for at least a week or two (luckily I have another HD7 already). Anyone else experiencing these delays?
It's already rough enough for a lot of our international readers who will read about an app only to find it's not listed in their localized Marketplace. Or even worse, they don't have a Marketplace of to call their own (hi Sweden!). In Australia they do have their own Marketplace but as Long Zheng reports, there's a 101% transaction fee on top of every app purchase with a credit card.
This has to do with where the transactions are processed (Singapore) and that whole international banking situation. Australians are encouraged to use carrier billing as an alternative until, hopefully, Microsoft fixes the situation. Long Zheng is quick to point out he doesn't think Microsoft is doing this on purpose (and they don't seem to benefit from it) but nonetheless, it's just bad when a $0.99 app costs you $1.99.
Pageonce, the personal finance application, has finally launched in the Marketplace (see our earlier coverage here, including video demo). The free program is similar to Microsoft Money of years past, offering account monitoring, transaction insights, bill tracking, spending history and real time alerts (hello!). Most reports are very positive so far with the biggest complaint being that the available database is too small, meaning your bank for financial institution may not be listed. Yet. We're hoping as Pageonce grows, so will their partners.
You do have to sign up for an account, though it's very simple and basic, allowing you to do it right on the account. We'll do a more focused review in the coming days. If you tried it, hits us up in comments with your thoughts.
Much like how technically the number of applications in the Marketplace doesn't really matter (though you can glean some info from it), how well Microsoft did or did not do on Monday, in terms of raw sales, seems to be a moot a point in the long run. Unless of course you're looking to ask rhetorical questions for major publications. Such was the case yesterday where lots of headlines were phrased "Was the launch a bust?" "Did it underwhelm?" "Is it really a huge success?" etc.
Fact is, we don't know, they don't know and no one will know for awhile. This is understood by everyone. Citing anonymous sources who claim to know that "40,000" devices were sold was passed around as evidence, trumpeting headlines despite not knowing the authenticity of the claim. It's the equivalent of journalist trolling (the use of "?" is always a sure sign). Sure, there were very few lines if any. Sure it was a Monday (launches do better on Fridays) and we now know that stock was quite low (here and here), not even lasting the day at a lot of AT&T and T-Mobile stores (we heard reports of anywhere from 2 to 12 Samsung Focuses per retail outlet).
Did anyone really expect iPhone like masses to appear? No. The only thing to consider is that Microsoft is in this for the long run. This is day #1 of what will be a multi-year process. Two things to remember about Microsoft: they have lots of money and they are suborn when committed to entering a market. Lets revisit this six months from now where adoption rates will be better understood, where the OS has had a chance to build public awareness and real figures make their rounds, shall we? Yes, it's fun to speculate, but everyone in this business knows one day tells you very little e.g. the Palm Pre sold very well for Sprint its first day, fast forward one year and they're sold to HP.
One of the challenges of buying a new Windows Phone is finding accessories for it. Most notably, finding a case that fits. Whether you've purchased the new HTC HD7, Samsung Focus or the HTC Surround more than likely the case for your older Windows Phone is going to be too small. One case style that seems to work the best are those fitted for the HTC HD2.
I choose the Samsung Focus for my Windows Phone and have been using the SPE Top Case for the HD2. The Focus fits nicely in the case with just enough wiggle room to make placement and removal easy. The case itself is well built and I like the brown leather.
SPE makes another case that works well with the HTC Surroud, the SPE Side Case for the HD2. The Surround fit in the side case nicely and the case was comfortable to wear. While the Focus fit the Side Case, due to the thinner form factor, the Focus bounced around alot in the case.
The new Dickey Side Case for the HD2 worked well but some may not like the Velcro closure or belt loop (as opposed to a belt clip). Then there's always the Golla Cases that have plenty of room to carry your Windows Phone, a few credit cards and cash.
So one of the "big" apps released today was iHeartRadio, which basically allows you to stream via internet radio stations from around the U.S. Perfect for you folks who travel and need your talk radio fix, or like to have some background radio while you work.
The app is free, though there is a premium area for some high-profile talk radio. Overall it feels pretty solid. The graphics have some banding, which could be easily fixed with a different background and the selection is decent, but not as great as internet radio. Well worth the download though if radio is your thing.
The Samsung Focus comes with 8GB NAND memory whereas the HTC HD7 comes with 8GB NAND (presumably) and an 8GB microSD card. Of course the Focus can be upgraded by adding a microSD card, but it does not come with one. The theory has it that the HD7 will probably perform slower due to the memory card and indeed, in our tests, this is the case.
Overall, the Focus feels faster in everyday tasks, navigating the UI and of course loading Need for Speed Undercover, in comparison to the HD7. But, that may be due to the Focus not having an SD card. Either way, the difference is obvious in this video.
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.
Microsoft's Bing today launched their visual search tool for WP& apps, allowing you to peruse the selection via any web browser. This kind of a cool thing if you're not at your home PC and want to look up some info about apps for Windows Phone 7or want to send a link to someone. about a particular program.
What we're hoping for next here at WPCentral: Send to phone. Android has this through the AppBrain system and hopefully Microsoft has taken note.
Looks like AT&T and Microsoft aren't reading from the same playbook, but are now.
While ample evidence suggests AT&T had no problem with the end user adding extra memory (see here and here), it looks like the giant is now back stepping a bit. In a post yesterday from Paul Thurrott and confirmed by one of our readers at an AT&T store, the employees are now telling customers do not upgrade the microSD card on the device.
In short, there appears to be a problem with reliability when using non-approved memory. Microsoft is fixing this and it will come out in some OTA update, presumably that one in January that is rumored. The good news is this whole use it/don't use it approach to memory may end once Microsoft sorts out the problem on their end.
For now, we say: take the risk if you know the implications. If your device starts crashing, or having performance issues, well...take out the card and start anew. You're adults, you can figure this out.
So last night on CBS, the new series (of an old series) Hawaii Five-O had a snazzy Windows Phone 7 placement. At about 18 minutes in to the show, two of the characters are in a museum. The male character suggests that the art piece was an original Clifton Bowles, the female doesn't believe him (they never do, amirite?), so he tells her to "Bing it!".
The female lead then pulls out an LG Optimus 7 and proceeds to Bing the gentleman's name. After this the show evidently went to commercial, where not one but reportedly two ads appeared. Not bad Microsoft, not bad.
Things I learned: Hawaii Five-O has a lot of pretty girls in it and I'm glad I'm vegetarian.
As supplies on the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround were flying off AT&T's shelves today, it appears that the LG Quantum will soon be joining the action.
AT&T is now accepting pre-orders for the LG Quantum with a expected ship date of November 15th with all orders processed on a first come, first served basis. Pricing is consistent with the other Windows Phones, $199.99 with contractual discounts or $499.99 out of contract. Of course you could also just pre-order it from LetsTalk for $99 and save yourself a bundle.
So, if you're holding out for a Windows Phone 7 device that has a side-sliding keyboard... now's your chance.