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A few days ago, we reported that Microsoft is looking to create an open-source framework for bringing Xbox Live features to games for all mobile platforms. An additional report from The Verge has since added additional fuel to the fire, giving us a slightly clearer picture of what that means for Xbox Live on Windows Phone and other mobile devices.

Xbox Windows Phone has long been in dire need of a change. Read on to find out what went wrong, and how likely it is that the upcoming open-source framework will set mobile Xbox Live games back on track.

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Windows Phone 8.1 is still far off from being made available to the general public, but Microsoft has managed to get the operating system through Bluetooth SIG certification. What this means for consumers is they'll have ability to take full advantage of Bluetooth 4.0 in the next major update. The listing was filed on January 31st and is a sign of what's to come in Windows Phone 8.1. 

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Whether you are an individual, hobbyist Windows Phone developer or part of a developer studio that builds Windows Phone apps, it’s quite an effort to develop, test, and market the apps.

Therefore, it hurts when an app submission fails certification, and you have to correct and resubmit the apps. Not only does it increase the effort and resources, it also delays the app release and any marketing plans.

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The Nokia Lumia 525 is an interesting little device, creeping in and out of the spotlight recently. While the handset, codenamed "Glee," wasn't covered at Nokia World 2013 in Abu Dhabi, the Chinese certification agency has passed the Lumia 525 through on its website. Images published on the website (no longer available) were quickly grabbed by LiveSide and are on display above.

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If you follow our Xbox Windows Phone editorial coverage, then you know I’ve often been critical of the Xbox certification process. Microsoft created a set of certification policies back in the Xbox 360’s early years that were intended to ensure the highest quality game releases and discourage the release of buggy games. These same policies were then extended wholesale to subsequent Xbox platforms, including Games for Windows Live (PC), Windows 8, and Windows Phone.

Problem is the aging and restrictive policies weren’t designed to reflect the changing nature of the games industry, and certainly not to account for the differences in development between consoles and platforms like Windows Phone. Modern game development isn’t about shipping a game and then trying not to ever update it. No, games these days (whether they have In-App Purchases or not) are updated continuously throughout their life spans.

Indie hits like Minecraft and top smartphone games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope would never have remained as relevant as they are without the constant stream of updates and support from their developers. And the Xbox certification policies dating back to 2005 have been nothing but an impediment towards that kind of support. BUT it turns out that Microsoft discreetly relaxed their policies towards updating games earlier this year – on the Xbox 360, at least.

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For years, publishing games in the South American nation of Brazil was a laborious and mysterious process. While most countries allow developers to publish games with no additional certification beyond those of the platform holder, a few states like Brazil, South Korea, and Russia add on their own approval processes. As you’d expect, the challenge of navigating Brazil’s certifications without speaking Brazilian Portuguese has long prevented many games from releasing in that territory.

Thankfully, the Brazilian government revised their certification policies a few months ago. Now games that have an ESRB or PEGI certification can be submitted for approval through a fast and simple process. Should your game not have one of those certifications, you can alternately request the Brazilian DJCTQ certification.

Windows Phone Central has created a guide for both processes. Follow it, submit your games, and don’t miss out on all those potential Brazilian Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT customers!

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Over the last couple of months, Windows Phone Central has been highly skeptical and/or critical of Microsoft’s dedication towards Xbox games for Windows Phone. As the weeks without a new Xbox release (excluding Nokia exclusives) have grown, so has our certainty in an underlying problem. This culminated with a game developer stepping forward to explain Microsoft’s reticence towards approving new Xbox projects, not to mention the conspicuous snubbing of Windows Phone in the announcement of the multiplatform WSOP: Full House Pro.

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The Samsung ATIV S may be the next Windows Phone 8 device to hit the shelves in China.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry has certified it to receive a network license, green-lighting it for release. There's no official word yet on when the ATIV S may make it's way there or even what carriers may offer it. CNMO, the site who reported on this, believes that when it finally does arrive it will fetch around 4,000 yuan ($642). This is a bit cheaper than Nokia's recently-released Lumia 920T, a rebranded Lumia 920 designed to run on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network.

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An unknown Samsung Windows Phone (SCH-S759) has been WiFi and Bluetooth certified. The device is reported to be CDMA compatible, which leads us to believe this smartphone could be a version of the recently announced Omnia M. Unfortunately, not much else is known about the handset with no other detail or specifications being listed, apart from a spotted agent string - Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows Phone OS 7.5; Trident/5.0; IEMobile/9.0; SAMSUNG; SCH-S759.

With the release of the Focus 2 and Omnia M, one could hope that Samsung is rising to the bar set by Nokia within the Windows Phone market. It's rumoured that this Samsung Windows Phone is set to head for China, probably to combat Nokia and the Lumia 800c, unless Sprint or Verizon is secretly set to unveil a device? We look forward to seeing some more details come to light in the near future, so stay tuned.

via: Unwired View, Blog of Mobile

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According to a Brazilian Nokia blog, Microsoft has reportedly added over 300 games to the regional Marketplace boosting it from just over 90 games the other day. Most thoughts will now be: "wait, what?" and rightfully so. It would appear as though the Brazil Marketplace is restricted by tighter certification regulations than other markets. This requires a clear guide to be published on each title that is available on the Marketplace detailing censorship (much like PEGI) and approval by the Ministry of Justice.

Google with their Android Play market reportedly gets around this by hosting the content in the US and having it only accessible via web (and paid in US dollars).

We'd like to chime in with a quick search performed by us reveals that some of these newly added titles don't sport visible ratings -- The Impossible Game being a good example, though it's good to see more content being added for markets to download and enjoy. There's nothing worse than owning a smartphone, yet not being able to access the catalogue of content.

With the new additions, the Brazilian Windows Phone Marketplace now boasts over 7,000 titles which is a start.

Source: TouchNokia (translation); thanks Little Angry for the tip!

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We've seen the Nokia Lumia 610 pass through Indonesia certification and now Nokia Windows Phone has appeared on the radar. The Nokia Lumia 719 recently passed certification through the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

Details on the Lumia 719? The product detail lists the Windows Phone heading to Asia, North America and South America. The Lumia 719 is described as,

The Nokia 719 is a versatile, well-designed smartphone offering users easy and seamless to make the most of every moment, every day.

Bluetooth SIG shows the 719 having a 5 MP auto-focus camera with HD video recording to capture and a 3.7” Clear Black display.  We can only guess that the remainder of the specs are similar to the Lumia 710.

Where the 719 is destined is anyone's guess at this point. Could it be an AT&T version of the 710? An unlocked, budget oriented version of the 710? Hopefully more will come to light on the 719 next week at the 2012 Mobile World Congress. We'll be there and will try to shed some light on things.

Source: Bluetooth SIG via: Liveside

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Over at the Windows Phone Developer Blog Todd Brix just announced that with the new year comes new markets for Windows Phone. Since the initial release of Windows Phone the geographic availability of the Marketplace has been spreading, and with this there are 6 new markets: Argentina, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and the Philippines.

In the post he mentions that this does not mean that those markets are available to WP7 users there just yet, but rather that developers can now publish their application there in anticipation.

There are also a few extra rules which govern what content will pass certification. So if you have an application that may possibly have questionable content I would suggest publishing it first to the rest of the world, and then these new markets, to make sure you don't get stuck in certification hell.

With the these new rules in-place I imagine that quite a few developers will not be able to get their applications to these areas:

Examples of potentially offensive content in certain countries/regions include, but are not limited to the following:
• People in revealing clothing or in sexually suggestive poses
• Religious references
• Alcohol references
• Sexual or bathroom humor
• Simulated or actual gambling

However that's not totally a bad thing, because from the look of it these markets will never have to deal with any fart-apps!

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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Since its release in May, Chaotic Moon’s Xbox Live title Enigmo has suffered from an unattainable Achievement. I noted in our Broken Achievements article that the developers had submitted a patch to fix the problem immediately after the game’s release. As the months went by, it seemed like Microsoft would never approve the update.

Today things finally change, as the Enigmo version 1.1 patch is now live! The patch regrettably does not add Fast App Switching support – after all, it has languished in certification hell since May, long before Mango became a reality. But it does fix the broken Achievement, ‘Mad Scientist,’ meaning the game’s full 200 GamerScore can now be earned by all. Just beat level 50 or start a new game and complete a level after having beaten level 50 to unlock it.

The length of time it took Microsoft to approve a very simple fix (7 months) is extremely worrying. Whenever a major problem arises in a game, be it a broken Achievement or a game-killing glitch, the big MS’s first priority should be getting the fix out to consumers. Having a sandwich, taking a nap, having about 200 more sandwiches, and then publishing the update is not good for anyone involved. The developers loses sales from negative word of mouth and awareness of the game’s issues, Microsoft themselves lose the cut they would get from those sales, and gamers become dissatisfied with developer and publisher alike. A rethinking of the update certification policy may be in order.

But enough complaining! Let’s just be happy that Enigmo is working right at long last. As our review states, it’s a fine physics-based puzzler with 3D graphics and a catchy soundtrack. Enigmo costs $2.99 and you can find it here on the Marketplace.

Thanks to Selas Dray for the tip!

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I'm sure you're more than aware of certification offered by Zend, Microsoft and more, but were you aware of a Windows Phone developer certification? It seems Microsoft wish to offer a way for developers to validate their experience, knowledge and skill in time for the predicted 2015 overtaking of the smartphone market.

Why should you bother to become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)? We'll allow the big M to explain the benefits:

"Earning an MCPD shows hiring managers your commitment to your own professional growth and to staying up to date on the latest technologies. Maintaining an MCPD certification complements your experience, providing a key factor that differentiates your resume from those of other job candidates who have similar experience."

As with all other certifications, applicants are to take examinations that test their knowledge and expertise in the field. There are three exams present, first two are prerequisites while the third is the MCPD required exam:

  • Exam 70-506 - MCTS prerequisite: TS: Silverlight 4, Development
  • Exam 70-516 - MCTS prerequisite: TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 
  • Exam 70-599 - MCPD requirement: PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Phone Applications

Certified developers will be required to show competence by completing a re-certification every two years as the platform updates frequently, thus the skill required to be a successful developer will evolve rapidly. For more information and to view the available preparation material, head on over to Microsoft Learning via the link below.

Please note that the MCPD: Windows Phone Developer certification will not be visible on your transcript until September 2011 and Course 10554A for Exam 70-506 is not available until August 2011.

Source: Microsoft Learning

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More WP7 Marketplace spam

We've already waved our hands frantically to Microsoft to get their attention at the sheer volume of spam that was entering the Marketplace, one developer went as far as to create spam apps which served no purpose whatsoever, but were still accepted and certified. This didn't play well with WP7 owners when the platform had just passed the 20,000 app marker.

Microsoft later responded to the complaints and shouts from the community for them to alter certification and deflect any future submissions (we still don't understand how an app called SPAM which only contained information stating that it was spam got through). They basically told us that the team would be contacting companies and developers who have submitted a large number of apps that share similar functionality to offer advice in scaling down to one or a few apps (remember those real estate apps?) Also, the number of app submissions per-day were going to be limited:

"To avoid the scenario where bulk publishing crowds out other apps in Marketplace in the future, effective immediately, we are limiting the number of apps any one developer can have certified in a single day to 20. Developers creating a large number of apps can still submit all of them for certification, but they will be certified at a maximum rate of 20 per day rather than all at once."

While the response was welcomed, it hasn't proved effective unfortunately. Take a look at these new RSS apps that have flooded in the past two days (we counted 41 in total):

Seems as though Microsoft really does need better detection for spam or multiple apps, I'm not sure how the above RSS apps got through however. Surely one would expect the approval system/team would flag numerous submissions that appeared to be identical or similar to prevent duplication or fragmentation?

C'mon Microsoft, sort this out sooner rather than later. Mango is soon approaching and we need the platform to be spotless to aid conversions and potential buyers in taking the leap for WP7.

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Marketplace populating numbers with spam?

After we got through the horrendous amount of champagne at WPCentral HQ with the milestone of 20,000 apps being passed, we decided to take a good look at the new apps being submitted (and approved) to see what really gave the total a sudden shove past the 20K marker. It seems to be down to a good number of apps including the recently famed real estate apps, which have been a constant addition for days now.

There's one better though. Check these absolute beauties out, which were developed by Eric_Rulz (I know what you're thinking, L337 right?). SPAM apps. No, not for the meat, they're not a spam history related app, nor can you order cans of the stuff to your doorstep. I'm talking about useless crap, that type of spam. This guy is trolling via apps. Microsoft is actually allowing someone (probably a competitive fanboy, who knows?) to clog up our marketplace with ridiculous content:

He's not the only one as well, which makes the whole situation more infuriating and this is where I get upset. Remember when we announced our awesome app and a short delay occurred due to the submission being declined? It was due to minute design problems, which (in my personal opinion) shouldn't have prompted the ban hammer to attack us. Now with that in mind, I would certainly find it entertaining for a member of the app review team (whom all seem to be either drunk/asleep or both at the present time) to explain how these spam apps are getting through the quality control?

C'mon Microsoft, you can't boast about reaching goals quicker than competitors if the said goals are being completed by spam, surely? Hopefully they'll get a hand on this soon enough and ensure this doesn't happen in future. 

Thanks Quicky for the tip!

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