OS

Microsoft has recently discussed internally somewhat unconventional tactics to help drag Windows Phone up to the level of Android, closing the gap at a faster rate. The Information has had the opportunity to look at internal documentation, which covers numerous scenarios as to how Microsoft planned to compete against Google in the industry. Head past the break for the full read.

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Just yesterday it was brought to our attention that T-Mobile had posted details about the upcoming ‘Portico’ OS update for the HTC 8X Windows Phone. The combined over-the-air update was to bring new firmware in addition to the OS update to fix stability issues.

That update was announced to go live today but a few hours ago, T-Mobile and Microsoft pulled the plug on the update, resulting in a temporary delay.

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One of the big new features for Windows Phone 8 is the ability to finally do over-the-air (OTA) updates to the OS—either for big things or little fixes. Previously, we could check for updates but if one were found, you had to head home to your PC and plug in the phone to install (including performing a full backup). Now, things are more streamlined.

In an article over at Mobility Minded, details of the update process were posted, giving a look at what users can expect with these updates.  The updates are listed as manual or automatic, with the latter being downloaded behind the scenes and the former involving tapping in Settings to see if there is an update.

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Getting updates on Windows Phone 7 so far has been a mixed bag for consumers. On the one end, they’re basically simple, universal OS patches in the form of CAB files, allowing even early prototype phones to keep upgrading, years after release.

On the other end, they’ve been just awful due to the lack of carrier support in actually rolling them out to end-users. The process is still much better than whatever Android has to offer but it still pales compared to the iPhone in many ways.

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We gave you a sneak peak a few days ago of the AT&T-Nokia update for the Lumia 900 which features and OS update (‘Tango’ build 8779) and new firmware (build 12223) and now that update is live for all to download (or should be very soon).

Starting today, plugging your AT&T branded Lumia 900 into Zune Desktop should prompt you for an OS update, which will then walk you through the short process. A hard-reset is not required and users will not lose any information.

According to Nokia, this update has many new features...

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71% of developers are optimistic about Windows Phone 8

A new survey today from RW Baird shows some promising news for the Windows Phone platform.  Despite some recent setbacks and still less-than-stellar adoption rates, devs are keeping their eyes on the prize with Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft’s future.

The poll shows that since the June 20thWindows Phone Summit, 71% of respondents had an increased interest in the platform because of the new Windows Phone 8 capabilities.  That’s quite a high number and we believe a smart move as the promise of overlapping development for Windows 8 Desktop, Surface and Windows Phone 8 will offer some tantalizing opportunities for increased revenue.

Regarding developers long term outlook for Windows Phone 7, devs were less enthusiastic with a noticeable decline from 6.3 (out of 10) back in Q2 2011 to just 4.2 in Q2 2012.  Why the drop? It’s actually hard to decipher as it is far from clear just what devs understand as “the future of Windows Phone 7”. From a technical standpoint, the platform is winding down but Nokia and Microsoft have promised long-term support. Microsoft has also ensured that Windows Phone 7 apps will work on 8—so are devs turning from WP7 and looking to WP8 instead? That seems to be the case.

The worst news though is aimed at RIM and their upcoming Blackberry 10 platform. Developer interest for their next gen OS is precipitously declining with only a 3.8 (out of 10) now hopeful for its long term success. RIM has responded to this report noting that they’ve published 15K apps since January and their dev camps have had robust attendance. All of that may be true but image and perception are everything and people's view of RIM’s future looks negative—that is never a good thing and hard to turnaround. (But see Crackberry for an alternative analysis).

Perhaps it’s not surprising that iOS and Android remain strong with 9.3 and 8.7 scores for developers’ faith in their long term potential with Android taking a very slight dip.  The survey data comes from 200 developers culled from a sample set of 4,300 making the numbers seemingly reliable.

The takeaway from this news would be developers clearly see Windows Phone 8 as the third ecosystem for smartphones while webOS, Symbian and RIM’s future OS are clearly either dead or floundering. That's something to be hopeful about.

Source: RW Baird; via Crackberry, All Things D

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File this under: Experienced users only

Warning:  We’re just going to say that Windows Phone 7.5 Tango is not that big of a deal. It’s a tiny update with a few MMS enhancements and some minor tweaks (most of which are undocumented, but see our hands on video to get an idea). So we’re not sure that trying to manually update your Windows Phone with Tango 8773.98 is a high priority. Nor is the risk of damaging your phone and blocking the upcoming 7.8 update.

And let's be honest, a lot of "fixes" and "tweaks" for your Windows Phone will come from the OEM firmware which this does not provide. Finally, this does not provide the new Start screen. That's Windows Phone 7.8 this is still 7.5.

Having said that, user bobzero on the XDA Forums has posted the Tango OS cab files direct from Microsoft and the needed language files to get the update started. It will break inter-op unlock (for the tiny few of you who have that) but you can go through the process again re-enable it.

The big question for many of you will be How do I do this? It’s not Android-custom ROM hard, but it does require a little prep work and some careful reading.

Luckily for you we wrote a nice little tutorial on how to manually update your phone to 8107 to get the much needed “disappearing keyboard fix”. That same process should work here so long as you replace the 8107 CAB with the 8773 one, obviously. Likewise, you’ll need the language packs too which bobzero has given you.

We haven’t done this yet ourselves but we do have our trusty Samsung Focus 2 and a bottle of Wild Turkey that says we’re going to try it soon.

As usual, sound off in comments on your experience and please, don’t blame us if you damage your phone. Remember: read, ask questions and take your time. And if you're on OS 8107 you need to go to 8112 first.

Source: XDA Forums; Thanks, bobzero for this tip and your past ones ;-)

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Continuing that trend of providing the best customer experience on Windows Phone, Nokia has put up a page where regular users can check to see if Windows Phone 8773 aka "Tango" has been released yet, or even just the status of the update.

Located at www.nokia.com/global/support/software-update/lumia/software-update-for-nokia-lumia/ uses can select which region they are in and the drill down to their carrier or Lumia version number.

Interestingly enough, the AT&T Lumia 900 is not even on the list for North America which strongly implies that the carrier is skipping the update and heading right for Windows Phone 7.8 which will include the few Tango features. We're not sure if that's good or bad as Tango doesn't really bring much more than a few MMS enhancements to the 900 but still, it would have been nice to see it as there is no ETA on 7.8.

For T-Mobile, we just posted that the Tango update for the Lumia 710 should go live tomorrow, June 27th, after a delay of a week. We'll be keeping an eye out for that one.

Edit: Some readers correctly point out that Nokia specifically mentions this update is only for the Lumia 710 and 800, so we shouldn't expect the 900 to be listed. This is partially true but only because non-North America (AT&T, Rogers) Lumia 900s shipped with "Tango" pre-installed already, so they don't need the update. Only AT&T and Rogers (as far as we know) and a handful of smaller countries don't have 8773/Tango pre-installed. 

Source: Nokia; Thanks, bilzkh, for the tip

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The Sunday Times, a popular UK Sunday broadsheet newspaper, has featured the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone in its "Supersize Shakers of Apple's Tree" test bench, along with the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, Motorola RAZR MAXX and Sony Xperia P. Each handset was rated 'best' for a number of factors, including value, battery life and operating system.

Which did the Lumia 900 and Windows Phone take? We think you could take a good guess - the operating system. 

Not only did we take the 'best operating system' title, but the Lumia 900 was also given four stars, which was also the case with the Galaxy S III and One X. In the short description, The Sunday Times noted that the Windows Phone system is slicker than Android, though it is well known to have fewer apps.

The 900 has recently launched in the UK, and is available at Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, Clove and Amazon.

Source: WMPU

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There has been speculation previously that Mango apps wont be able to run on Apollo-powered Windows Phones, especially from rumour preacher Eldar Murtazin which were subsequently squashed by Brandon Watson. We've been fairly sure (and hoping) that apps would run on the next version of Windows Phone, and now WPSauce has come across a job posting at Redmond that confirms compatibility.

The job description for the position of contains the following:

"Automated testing of marketplace applications written for Mango, but running on Apollo. Write code, file bugs."

While this is further confirmation, we'll have to see what resources Microsoft provide to the developers in the coming months. With the Apollo update (Windows Phone 8) looking set to be a massive overhaul, it'll be interesting to see how the software giant plays this out. Perhaps we'll learn more at MWC.

Source: MyVisaJobs, via: WPSauce

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We've previously covered the odd slip-up from retailers when they refer the platform as Windows Mobile or state that one of the Windows Phone handsets run a version of Android, but we believe it's wise to name and shame said retailers should an error pop up. It doesn't take much effort (or concentration) to slap a Windows logo on a HTC Radar product image, so is it pure negligence or lack of knowledge when it comes to what OS smartphones actually run (we're praying it's not the latter)?

The above image comes from Irish mobile phone retailer Meteor. Head on over to the website and check out the Android logo on the HTC Radar. You'll find the handset in the "Over €200" section. It's irritating when Windows Phones receive such treatment as anyone looking for an alternate to Android could potentially overlook devices due to being incorrectly labeled.

Source: Meteor, thanks senbi for the tip!

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We've been waiting on our unlocked, international HTC TITAN to get the notification for the 8107 OS update which fixes the disappearing keyboard (and a half dozen other items) and today is that day. Reader Israel I. alerted us to his TITAN getting the update so we just plugged ours in and bam, 8107 is ready to be installed.

While this means little for AT&T users (no, this does not mean you're getting 8107. as that's AT&T's decision) it's a good sign for many of us who use HTC's flagship phone in its pristine and unlocked state. The 8107 patch seems like the final refinement of the Mango update from this summer and we look forward to other Windows Phones joining the crowd.

Still no word on any US carriers deploying 8107, but we'll keep an eye out.

Update: And no, no new firmware was loaded. Same builds as from the December update.

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Another day, another odd OS update. This time we're getting word from reader Justin A. that the Focus S and Focus Flash were seen in an AT&T store sporting OS build 7739.25. We guess AT&T could not afford the 0.75 to get 7740? Oh, we jest.

No word on an OS changes or fixes here, though seeing as how close it is to 7740, we surmise that this could be a US version of that update which features the Exchange 2003 email fix. That's cold comfort though for all of us who have the "disappearing keyboard" bug which is addressed, along with other security fixes, in OS build 8107. That build of the OS, which features LTE support and will be found on the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC TITAN II, began rolling out last week. No word on any US carriers getting that update.

We just checked our Focus S to see if there was an update pending and alas, nothing. Hopefully we'll find out more soon.

Update: We should also note that the Firmware has a slight change (11.11.1), as does the Radio Hardware (0.0.0.6 versus our 0.0.0.0) and a slightly newer Bootloader (5.11.3 versus our 5.10.2.0) meaning this seems like a genuine pending OS update.

Thanks, Justin, for the pic!

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O2 believes HTC Mozart runs Android

We're not sure who at O2 created the image for the HTC Mozart listing on product pages, but they must be an Android fan. According to the image above (and if you check out the link at the bottom of this article) O2 has the Mozart running Android, or so it seems. Clicking on the product to view more information reveals that in fact the device is running Windows Phone, but it may still cause confusion for those who aren't familiar with the device and what OS it sports.

On the other hand this could be positive in a misleading way. Should someone purchase the handset believing they'll be receiving an Android smartphone, they could be impressed with the refreshing change of to the Metro UI. Still, it should be fixed.

Source: O2, via: WMPU

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We just posted about the app 'Dude, Where is my Update?' which focuses on the NoDo OS upgrade (and presumably future ones). In version 1.1 a statistics collecting feature was added which anonymously garnered your OS version and device model numbers--something we thought would be useful.

Looks like some folks at Microsoft or partnering OEMs saw the app too and were curious. One of our readers, larryb, noticed a few hitherto unknown builds of Windows Phone 7, presumably early builds of 'Mango' or at least branches leading to that goal:

  • 7.0.7003 (old)
  • 7.0.7008 (old)
  • 7.0.7355 (old)
  • 7.10.7608 (1 user)
  • 7.10.7613 (2 users)
  • 7.10.7614 (2 users)

The builds which are in bold may signify a new milestone with the 7.1.xxxx denotation versus the earlier 7.0.xxxx. Currently, the latest confirmed build is 7.0.7390 and the most frequent for NoDo is 7.0.7389. Interestingly, we don't see any '7.0.7753' builds, leading one to believe that the Windows Phone Italy post may be hoax/faked.

The app, 'Dude, Where is my Update' has a "local" setting which seems to be pick up all US based users of the app who have run it, giving us a unique insight into the ongoing development of the OS. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft employees will continue to experiment with the program (the app generates an anonymized, non-reversible ID, making it impossible to trace back). You can grab the app here in the Marketplace.

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5

Review: Windows Phone 7

About 24 months ago, Microsoft began to re-build it's mobile operating system and while there may be signs of Windows Mobile under the hood, you can barely see any resemblance from the working end of Windows Phone 7. With Windows Phone 7, you need to forget everything you know about Windows Phones.

After using Windows Phones based on Windows Mobile for years, it's tough to let go of the old while learning the new. For those familiar with Windows Mobile, I'm inclined to describe Windows Phone 7 as a peppier, streamlined version of Windows Mobile Standard. The OS is straight forward with minimal settings to tweak. It's a very fast OS and while there is a lot to Windows Phone 7, it doesn't take long to learn your way around it.

I've spent several days using the new mobile OS and ease on past the break to read my observations on Windows Phone 7.

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Breaking down smartphone OS usage

 

The marketing research company Comscore has released the numbers from a July 2010 survey that breaks down smartphone OS usage in the U.S. and European markets.  The numbers have Windows Mobile holding it's own and in some cases, well ahead of Android, iPhone and Blackberry devices.

Nokia still dominates the European market representing more than half of the smartphones in use. However, Nokia share of the European market has slid 14.4% since last year likely due to the increase shares of Android and iPhone.

Windows Phones did the best in Spain and Italy, taking second place behind Nokia with 11.9% and 11.4% of those markets respectively.  The worst came with the U.K. market with Windows Phones coming in last at 7.1%.

Comparatively, in the U.S., Blackberry remains on top with 39.3% of the market with Windows Mobile coming in behind the iPhone (23.8%) and Android (17%) at 11.8% of the market.

It will be interesting to see how Windows Phone 7 will impact this survey when it is conducted next year. Will Microsoft see market gains with the new Windows Phones? Shortening the gaps between competing Operating Systems or increasing the lead?

via: wmpoweruser.com

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MobileTechWorld has done some digging and found a recent job posting for Microsoft, specifically for their 'Windows Mobile 7 Communications group' which is seeking to "... bring social networks to life by integrating them into the core experience of the phone".

Now none of this should come as a surprise per se — social networks are the current and next big thing on smartphones.  Combined with what I refer to as "personal GPS" (i.e. not just for driving) and you have a method for near universal awareness of location (i.e. Google Latitude), status (Facebook), thoughts (Twitter) of all you friends, family and colleagues.

What of course is missing currently from Windows Mobile is a way to integrate all that information into "...a single hub on the phone" as his job ad rightly points out. (See this mockup video for what Microsoft probably intends).

It would seem natural for this "social hub" to be combined with Microsoft's future cloud-location-service called "Orion" (you heard it here first), which will provide aGPS services for all future Windows Mobile 7 devices, including extremely fast signal locks via various methods (trilateration, WiFi networks, GPS) in ...the storage platform (Unified Store)" a possible reference to Mesh.  Finally, the team seems to be interested in defining API's for 3rd party services to build off of for seamless fusion with the core Microsoft is providing.

The somewhat bad news is that this seems to be a recent job posting, meaning WM7, at least in this regard, is still behind a bit from being anywhere near finalized. On the other hand, Microsoft seems serious (if not late) in attempting to redefine social interaction on smartphones.  We can't wait.

Read the full job description after the break. 

[MobileTechWolrd via Twitter/UX Evangelist]

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