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holiday

They may be small, but they're pretty

Although Microsoft has been opening quite a few full-fledged retail Stores over the past few months, the last time we counted there are still less than 30 nationwide. Microsoft’s solution for this, albeit temporary, is to open mini “Holiday Stores” in malls and shops across the country.

While we don’t know the range for these little popups meaning if some will be big and some tiny, we do know they will look quite nice. Case in point are these two photos from the Galleria mall in St. Louis, where we can see two Microsoft kiosks being prepped for the 26th.

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Microsoft has revealed the entire list of pop-up stores (or holiday stores) it plans to open throughout North America this coming holiday season. It's a positive sign to see Microsoft build a larger retail presence to combat its main competitor - Apple. 32 stores will open up shop in 20 US states, as well as shops in British Columbia, Toronto, and Alberta, Canada. 

With the imminent release of Windows 8, coupled with new Office, Surface tablets and Windows Phone hardware, there's plenty of opportunity for Microsoft to build on its branding revamp to a more simplistic and modern feel. It's a common thought that Microsoft has almost become a new company to what consumers have grown accustomed to.

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Everybody loves free games – especially Xbox Live ones. Updates are usually welcome too. On that note, ad-supported freebie Breeze, from Null City Software and Microsoft Studios, just received a festive holiday update.

Breeze version 1.1 release notes:

  • Adds holiday-based theme support
  • Fixes a few collision bugs

The holiday theme support is quite timely with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Play the game any time between now and Tuesday, February 14th to see the new visuals. The player’s flower is currently a rose, and every level’s maze looks a bit love-lier than usual as well. Rob Hutchinson at Null City also offered this tantalizing comment: “Playing the game at different points of the year may yield different visual effects.” Anybody want to play with your phone’s calendar and investigate that hint?

Breeze is a fun little maze game with 50 GamerScore of easy Achievements – see our review for full details. Considering that the game is free and all dressed up for the holiday, Windows Phone gamers have no excuse not to give it a download. You’ll find it here on the Marketplace.

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Greece may have 99 problems these days but Windows Phone ain't one 'em.

In a new ad from Vodafone, four Windows Phones are featured in a pretty funny take on organizing a holiday party. The ad highlights the Samsung Omnia W, HTC Titan, HTC Radar and then features the Nokia Lumia 800 in all its multi-color glory, showing how that company's namesake still carries a lot of weight in international markets.

We always like to see our friends world-wide get into the Windows Phone craze and this ad goes a long way in helping to promote these new devices.

Source: Vodafone Greece (YouTube); Thanks, Oldboy_GR, for the tip!

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Keep warm with a Windows Phone scarf!

Oh man, we really wish these were for sale. Looks like someone got lucky for Christmas with a custom-made Windows Phone scarf...it's good to have friends who have talent, eh?

The little creation was made by John Yu for his buddy Bryon Cheng as a holiday gift and hot damn, it turned out well. We are certainly envious, even with our Nokia pillow.  (John, if you ever want to make an extra, we'll show it off at CES in Vegas next month--just saying!)

So who's going to be the first to mass produce these so we can sell them here at WPCentral?

Source: Twitter; Thanks, John!

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In a nice nod to nostalgia, Microsoft has made a Bing commercial featuring the toys from the 1964 TV special 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' in addition to that troubled little elf, Hermey.

While Yukon Cornelius drags the misfits on a sled, he soon pops his back. Hermey, now technologically modern, whips out a little clay-mation Windows Phone and Bings 'hot yoga'. Both hilarious and informative, the commercial is our new favorite. But that's the power of childhood memories for you.

Source: Discover Bing; Thanks, Vector555

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If you haven't tried Funny Faces yet, the augmented reality app from Schulte Software Development, then you really should. The app allows you to use the camera to take pictures of people and then add hats, mustaches, pacifiers, etc. to them in real time. And since the app has a custom facial-recognition algorithm, you can effortlessly make someone look ridiculously silly just by pointing your camera at them.

Now in version 1.4, you can go back and add over-lays to existing photos in addition to the new Santa Clause hat and beard-- seasons greeting! Just ask legendary metal singer Glen Danzig! He loves his fluffy new beard and hat.

Anyways, we love this app as it's pretty hilarious and perfect for those holiday parties. You can even share to Facebook or Twitter for rapid humiliation. The app fetches for $0.99 and has a free trial, give it a go here in the Marketplace.

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