mwc11

Now that Mobile World Congress 2011 is officially over, we figured we would let you folks see some behind the scenes photos of the event, Microsoft's Windows Phone booth and some of the scenery (for scale). This year MWC had over 60,000 attendees, which was a huge increase from last year. Needless to say, it was quite the experience.

See more of the gallery after the break..

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Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft held a developers day seminar that covered some old ground, but also lots of new stuff as well. One of the talks was presented by Microsoft's Joe Marini, Principal Program Manager, Windows Phone and it dealt with IE9 on Windows Phone.

IE9 was just introduced as an upcoming feature for Windows Phone, presumably in the 'Mango' update. While some of it was discussed during Ballmer's keynote, the nitty-gritty was given to Marini, who gave an excellent talk on all things IE9 and IE9 for Windows Phone.

The question about Adobe Flash was of course asked and so far, it doesn't sound like anything is close to being released:

So the questions is, are we going to support Flash in IE9 for Windows Phone

We are working with Adobe, but it has not yet been decided the last time I checked--part of that is Adobe is doing what they have to do and we're doing what we have to do. The last I checked the team is working with them but I don't think they have any announcement whether it's going to definitely work or not.

We also asked Marini about updating IE9 independently of the OS--something that was mentioned nearly a year ago, specifically does this feature exist/will Microsoft be using it? The good news is that the feature is still there:

One of the great things of Windows Phone 7 is we now have the ability to push out updates independently of the OS. We haven't announced what that schedule is going to be, but as we get closer to the release date they'll have more to say about that, but we're paying very close attention as to the best way to do that

Finally, the big stuff. After the break you can watch two excellent videos: (1) A seven-minute presentation on IE9 for Windows Phone 7 including all the standards, support and design implementation--a must for developers (2) A short demo of some HTML5 rendering on a live Windows Phone running IE9...

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Ever since the Nokia-Microsoft partnership was announced and Nokia CEO's Elop mentioned that this was a "special relationship" where Nokia had the right to manipulate the UI and go deeper on the phone than other OEMs, developers, users and analysts had been concerned with what that would mean to the Windows Phone ecosystem in terms of "build once, build for all".

On Wednesday in Barcelona, Nokia's Chief Technology Officer, Rich Greene, made a surprise appearance at the "Windows Phone Day" seminar for developers. After some softball questions from Matthew Bencke, General Manager Windows Phone, we in the audience had a few moments to ask Greene basically anything. Of course, the UI question came up and his answer is very telling: Nokia has little interest in wrecking the "build once, build for all" ecosystem and there are many more areas where they can innovate rather than "moving tiles around".  Below is his full response from the session:

We certainly do, in the context of this agreement, have the right to manipulate the UX, the UI, etc. but...I'm not speaking for the plan, I'm speaking as the Chief Technology Officer: Why would you?

Let me clarify. There are so many places to innovate, it is critically important to provide the greatest opportunity for you the developer, you build once and everybody gets it, when you create more and more variance it becomes a hindrance. We also want customers to move between devices, preferably towards Nokia devices, but move between devices and not to hinder that in any fashion. The hardware and additional services we can offer will bring people to us, but if there are unfamiliar with a different environment, there may be a barrier to that, so why do it?

The other issue is would I rather invest our resources in building really cool augmented reality applications or move tiles around? It just doesn't make sense. We're going to invest much more of our time, as we should have over the years, building on the platform as opposed to building in the platform. There's unlimited amounts of opportunity to differentiate and innovate in these things.

There's some more after the break...

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This afternoon we attended the "Windows Phone developers day" at Mobile World Congress, during which an extensive Q&A was held that involved various heads of the Windows Phone development team, including Larry Liberman, Bryan Agnetta, Joe Marini, Rob Cameron and Brandon Watson.

A question that Microsoft is commonly asked involves the TCP-socket layer support and whether or not Windows Phone will make it accessible for developers. Socket-layers are critically needed for such services as VOIP aka Skype, Viber, etc. We now know that multitasking is coming to Windows Phone 7 with 'Mango' but now we have a very strong hint that socket-support, in some way, may be coming as well. Those two features are necessary for VOIP. [For a complete background, see J2i.net for relevant points]

Watson does the talking here but dare we say, if you read between the lines you get the feeling that (1) MIX11 will be huge for developers in terms of new features (that are coming with 'Mango') and that (2) Socket-support is a strong contender for a new feature, allowing developers to finally expand beyond simple web-based software. One thing is clear is that Microsoft does not want to disappoint consumers or developers and they are working hard to roll out new features for both, as quickly as possible.

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Samsunholds strong support for Microsoft & WP7 With Nokia deciding to partner up with Microsoft and jump onto the Windows Phone 7 runaway train with other leading manufacturers, one would consider the possibility that the partnership between Nokia and the software giant could enable them to receive favourable treatment over other manufacturers. At worse, this could cause issues including handset makers pulling support for WP7 or doubting their investment because of favouritism (extremely unlikely but worth the minute consideration). Samsung have reiterated that their support for Microsoft and the platform will continue regardless of what may occur (probably because they are selling well). Chief Strategy Officer at Samsung, Omar Khan, explained in an interview at the Mobile World Congress trade show "You can continue to expect expansion in our Windows Phone portfolio." Moving onto say "Anything that strengthens the Windows Phone ecosystem is good for us," which is ultimately true. As well adding more competition within the WP7 device market, an additional handset manufacturer could well increase developer and carrier interests in the platform itself. For now, Samsung will more than likely sit back and enjoy the sales increase for their devices - particularly the Focus and Omnia 7.

With Nokia deciding to partner up with Microsoft and jump onto the Windows Phone 7 runaway train with other leading manufacturers, one would consider the possibility that the partnership between Nokia and the software giant could enable them to receive favorable treatment over other manufacturers. At worse, this could cause issues including handset makers pulling support for WP7 or doubting their investment because of favoritism (extremely unlikely but worth the minute consideration).

Samsung have reiterated that their support for Microsoft and the platform will continue regardless of what may occur (probably because they are selling well). Chief Strategy Officer at Samsung, Omar Khan, explained in an interview at the Mobile World Congress trade show "You can continue to expect expansion in our Windows Phone portfolio." Moving onto say "Anything that strengthens the Windows Phone ecosystem is good for us," which is ultimately true.

As well adding more competition within the WP7 device market, an additional handset manufacturer could well increase developer and carrier interests in the platform itself. For now, Samsung will more than likely sit back and enjoy the sales increase for their devices - particularly the Focus and Omnia 7.

Source: Forbes

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8

Motorola: No Moto Windows Phones

Motorola left little room for chance that the company would be launching a Windows Phone 7 device. During a press event at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Christy Wyatt, Motorola's VP of Software and Services Product Management, stated,

"I don't envision us using Microsoft. I would never say never but it's not something we're entertaining now."

Not exactly nailing the door completely shut on the possibility but the statement is strong enough that we won't be holding our breaths in anticipation.

Wyatt cited timing issues and concerns about Windows Phone 7 not being open source as the reasons behind the decision.  Motorola felt that a closed platform did not afford them the opportunity to create unique value. Wyatt added that going with Microsoft would create a situation where the only value Motorola could offer was "commoditized hardware".

All of which raises the question; doesn't it make sense to have the software company (Microsoft) focus on the OS and the hardware company (Motorola) focus on...say...the hardware?

While the prospect of a Motorola Windows Phone does have a certain appeal to it, the company seems well rooted with Android. Wyatt notes that Motorola is the only vendor who is 100 percent Android. It is entirely possible that diversification isn't for everyone but it doesn't appear to be hurting HTC, LG, Samsung and other multi-platform companies.

Source: PCWorld  Via: Engadget

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Acer has been one of those on again/off again OEMs in regards to Windows Phone 7. They have a very strong  history with Microsoft, having released numerous Windows Mobile devices in the past and are one of their biggest OEMs for laptops and tablets.

We spoke with Acer's Dac Nguyen, Product Marketing Manger, Smart Handheld Business Group about Windows Phone and the prospects of Acer releasing some devices in the future. A few months ago, they spoke positively of the OS and there were even rumors that Acer had already been working on a phone.

From what we're told, Acer is still developing Windows Phone internally (they certainly didn't deny it), but as of yet have nothing to announce and seem still keen on Android (they released 11 Android phones in the last year). So like Asus, they're another OEM who is playing with the hardware and OS on an engineering level, but not officially developing any consumer product just yet.  We suppose once Windows Phone gain more momentum, they'll be ready to commit and bring devices to market quickly, but until then they're sitting on the side lines.

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One of the big concerns expressed when Microsoft and Nokia announced their partnership was if the move would alienate Microsoft’s current stable of OEMs (see LG's reaction); in particular HTC. The biggest reason for concern was the rumor that Nokia would be allowed to alter the Windows Phone 7 UI, something that HTC has traditionally done across all of their devices on Windows Mobile and Android with the Sense UI.

HTC’s CEO Peter Chou answered the question during a keynote appearance at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"They're doing what they have to do. It won't be easy, but they're doing what they have to do. We are very committed to Windows Mobile, and we are one of their lead partners for Windows Phone 7. So we are positive, because this combination will surely make that ecosystem stronger. As a strong player [in this ecosystem], HTC will be a beneficiary from [their decision]."

What this means is that whatever makes the Windows Phone ecosystem stronger is good for HTC in the long term. It’s been said that HTC was a primary reason why Windows Mobile endured as long as it did. Keeping an ally such as HTC on your friends list has got to be one of Microsoft’s bigger priorities.

Do you think this is a true statement from HTC? Or is this simply the only answer they feel comfortable giving?

Source: Engadget

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As we mingle around Mobile World Congress, we're trying to get a feel from the software vendors on Windows Phone 7 and their future plans in offering their services. One company everyone knows is LogMeIn, who make extremely popular (and useful) remote access apps for your PC, Mac and more recently smartphones.

LogMeIn Ignition is on the iOS and just launched on Android, but we were told that Windows Phone 7 is certainly fair game for their next iteration (like most companies, they need to focus their resources). Ignition runs on the device and allows you to remotely access and manipulate your PC/Mac from the phone, over 3G or WiFi--in fact it's one of the most popular apps on the iPad. Likewise LogMeIn Rescue is an app for the reverse: to backup, manage and manipulate your phone from your PC. The app worked flawlessly and quickly over Android and we're excited about something similar coming to Windows Phone.

While it would have been better to hear "in development" or "here's a demo", we'll take positive encouragement over a flat out "nope, no plans".

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SPB is set to release their latest app, SPB TV soon for the Windows Phone Marketplace and we got a chance to get a sneak peak.

SPB TV has been around for ages on Windows Mobile and is the second port by the popular software company to Windows Phone, the other being Brain Evolution 2. Offering free streaming TV from around the globe, SPB TV is quite popular outside the U.S. (US channel selection is limited, but it's still a great app to have on hand) and offers a excellent streaming experience.

The new version works over 3G or WiFi and features their picture-in-picture technology, allowing you to preview other shows while the one you are currently streaming pauses the image--pretty nifty. The software will also give you alerts (when the program is open, not push notifications) when a preferred program is coming up and overall it looks quite nice with streaming quality looking excellent. The program will of course be free and we hear that a v3.0 is coming soon, offering more premium content (SPB is trying to work on deals to secure bigger network names like CNN, MTV, etc, but it's a difficult area to navigate, specifically revenue).

As far as other apps, from our chat, SPB certainly seems committed to Windows Phone 7 and there are plans to bring over their other apps from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone, but we'll have to wait a bit as that process goes forward.

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We had a chance to talk with Skype last night here at Mobile World Congress and as of now, no news and nothing revealed regarding Windows Phone 7 and an official client for WP7.

Of course, we were chatting with PR people who only know what they are told, so for all we know deep in Skype's labs they could be finally cooking something up (never underestimate corporate secrecy). But on their front lines, they're still taking the position of "it's something we have to look into" with nothing significant to report and there was no hope or hint of anything in the works.

Sigh.

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We talked extensively about the upcoming multitasking feature in Windows Phone 7 both in this post and in the podcast, but see it for yourself in this demo video from the Ballmer keynote speech here in Barcelona.

For us, we're quite happy with the implementation as it offers both speed, convenience and preservers battery life. We look forward to see how the code evolves as the update nears completion.

via: 1800PocketPC

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It's well known now that Asus has had an odd relationship with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. The OEM was committed early on to make a Windows Phone and to be one of the first to market, yet they seemed to have pulled out, nearly disappearing form the scene. Forbes has a recent interview Benson Lin, Asus' corporate vice president and the general manager of its mobile devices unit, where details are finally shared as to what happened with Asus, Microsoft and the E600.

In short, Asus was constrained by their Garmin partnership (which eventually soured), limited production ability, little access to the U.S. market and essentially being hesitant on whether or not WP7 would be supported by carriers and more importantly, consumers. So they did get cold feet. The reason why the Asus E600 even exists is because Asus went to production and made 5,000 of them before pulling the plug. Now those phones serve as developer devices by circumstance, but not by design.

Regarding their future, Asus is using Mobile World Congress to evaluate whether or not to jump back onto the Windows Phone bandwagon. That's actually not uncommon as we've heard in back channels that MWC is where next year's deals are all made--where people place their bets on new technology. That's why the Nokia deal is so important as we're hearing carriers are ecstatic over the partnership. That gives WP7 a lot more momentum going forward and while Asus says that match up won't have an effect on their decision, we can't but think that it will.

Source: Forbes

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Besides showing off the new hubs, multitasking, IE9 and Skydrive support coming later in 2011 (and those were only the announced features, there's evidently a lot more), there was one surprise app that we saw: Groupon (see their site)

For those who haven't been following, Groupon is the biggest "deal" website on the 'net, helping consumers find the best offers and lowest prices for a variety of items and services. They're also known for turning down a $6 billion offer from Google to buy them out. Yes, we said billion.

Anyways, this super service is coming to Windows Phone in an official capacity sometime soon--and it even features a Live Tile with updated deals (similar to that just-as-awesome Slick Deals app available now). All we know is this is great news for WP7 to land yet another major brand.

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Following up the Ballmer keynote, Andy Lees, President, Mobile Communications Business was available for a few questions regarding the recent announcements and more importantly, things that weren't mentioned.

First off, Windows Phone 7 will be getting greater language support by year's end--specifically they'll have 88% of all languages covered, which is large jump from the current 45% (give or take a percent or two). That should be welcomed news for those who have been struggling with not having their native tongue supported. In addition, we're told that keyboard character issues related to specific languages e.g. Polish, will also be fixed this year.

Next up we asked about the Chassis 2 aka the Blackberry/Treo style of Windows Phones with a smaller landscape screen but dedicated front keyboard--what's the progress on that?

We haven't announced any details on when that form factor is coming out. We are seeing is more interest in larger screens as opposed to smaller screens...but that doesn't mean we're not going to do it but we haven't announced anything yet

So in short, the Chassis 2 spec is still planned but as of now, the focus and consumer demand seems to be on larger screen devices so that is evidently where their resources are being concentrated. C'est la vie.

We did ask a few people, including Any Lees and even Sandisk about that microSD compatibility list and there seems to still be some confusion (the Sandisk rep was unaware) but both parties are going to get back to us on details on how that "certified" system is coming along, stay tuned...

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One of the handful of new features heading to Windows Phone 7 is Xbox Live Kinect interface. The interface turns your Windows Phone into a companion for the Kinect gaming system. The above video demos the potential this integration has. No time frame on when such integration will be available was mentioned during Microsoft's Keynote Address at the 2011 Mobile World Congress.

The new feature will definitely expand the Windows Phone 7 role with Xbox Live and make Kinect gaming a lot more interesting.

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While many didn't expect much from Microsoft's Keynote Address at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer and company did find a way to surprise us. While the first part of the presentation was a re-cap of the progress Windows Phone 7 has made, the Microsoft CEO also touched on how well the new phones are being recieved by consumers. Nine out of ten Windows Phone users would recommend the phones to other and many feel that Windows Phone 7 is the easiest and most delightful to use.

Building phones that people love and that are operator friendly is the top priority at Microsoft. Ballmer also mentioned that the first update for Windows Phone 7 is only a few weeks away, being release in March and will include the copy/paste feature and overall performance enhancements. No surprises there.

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The Microsoft keynote at Mobile World Congress definitely didn’t disappoint those of us that have been hungry for more details on the direction of our platform of choice.

One of the main things that Windows Phone 7 has gotten knocked for is the lack of multitasking for third party applications. The big news of the day is that Microsoft has committed to deliver multitasking support for Windows Phone 7 during the 2011 calendar year.

During the keynote, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore demonstrated how multitasking would work. Part of the multitasking interface is seamless. If you navigate away from an application and come back, the application will not only pick up where it left off, but it will do it quickly and efficiently. Belfiore also demonstrated an early view of the task switcher for Windows Phone. Pressing and holding the back button launches the UI (which looks like a poor man’s version of the WebOS card-based interface). We did not see a demo of killing apps.

One of the best things about multitasking for a lot of people is what this means for third-party music apps like Last.fm or Slacker Radio. During the demo we saw Slacker Radio playing in the background while reading email and otherwise using the phone in a normal manner. Additionally, it appears that third-party music apps can be controlled using the playback controls which appear at the top of the screen when the volume buttons are pressed.

All-in-all, this looks to be a big year for Windows Phone 7. Any thoughts on multitasking for Windows Phone? Is this a key feature for you? Talk it up in the comments section!

Update: Hi all, Dieter Bohn here. Tim has broken it down pretty darn well above based on what Microsoft presented today. On top that that, we have a few more details on how multitasking will work on Windows Phone 7 - join us after the break!

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We are live at Mobile World Congress, but you knew that. Steve Ballmer is set to give his keynote at 4pm local time, which equates to 10am Eastern in the US. We hope we're going to hear details on the next version of Windows Phone, but with Steve, anything is possible. We're at the Keynote viewing party at Microsoft's digs at the Catalonia hotel, where we will not only watch the Keynote stream but also hit up Microsoft folk for questions after the event. Join us after the break!

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Unlike LG, who seem to have hidden their Windows Phone from the world in turn for Android, Samsung did have their Omnia 7 on display.

Samsung is in the same position as LG too: New high-end Android phone (Galaxy S II) and a new Tablet (Tab 10.1) both of which they are really pushing here in Barcelona (the airport is plastered with advertising). Still, Samsung at least managed to get six of their Euro-Windows Phones on display for others to interact with.

Here's a short video of us playing with it, only because it's (a) a really nice phone and (b) not available here in the U.S., so this may be our only chance (unless we want to drop $500 to import). Of note, we checked the OS version and it's 7.07.7004, meaning this is pre-NoDO and does not have copy-paste (We're hoping maybe someone had loaded it up, but alas, it's no where to be seen).

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