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Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, might not be ahead of the pack when it comes to market share, but the company is always innovating and trying to deliver the best experience to their end users. On any given day, we are told that Bing runs hundreds of various experiments that range from small search algorithm tweaks to feature optimization.

Microsoft usually keeps their test on a down low – testing and tweaking them to determine whether they are a worthy addition to Bing. Yesterday though, Microsoft shared their latest experiment, Bing Boards.

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One of the neat features we like with Local Scout, the Bing service that shows you things to do around your location, is the tie in with apps. For instance, when you go under eat + drink and pull up a restaurant you can scroll over to Apps to open up the listing in a third party app like Foodspotting.

The ability to do that is quite useful as it saves you time in having to go to your favorite app and look up the same information. One change that came with Windows Phone 8 though has us scratching our head, and it’s affecting third party apps, including Liquid Daffodil’s popular Add to Contacts app.

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In reaction to Windows 8 going official today and Surface RT tablets coming tomorrow, Microsoft has also made some changes to what Bing shows for results.

The adjustment people will notice on their new Windows 8 devices is that searches for general terms like “travel” will now show Windows 8 Store results too with a convenient download button to the Store. Of course those of you with Windows Phones should already know this behavior when you do searches on your phone. Just another neat example of how Microsoft can leverage Bing for a better Windows experience.

Speaking of Windows Phone, some of those earlier announced changes to the Store for searching are also slowly taking effect of which you can read about here. Thanks, Dustin P., for the tip!

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We recently ran a few polls to help us gauge what you thought of the Lumia 810 v the 820 and what Lumia 920 colour you’d be going for.

We have all had much to digest in the last month or so, new models, specs, colours and even variations on a theme. If these polls are anything to go by it looks like your choices  aren’t easy to predict. Read on to see how it breaks down.

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Our poll results show Nokia still riding high

Windows Phone Central conducted a poll over the weekend about which “hero” Windows Phone 8 device readers were yearning to make their own. And although carrier offerings will ultimately affect user choice, word on the street is that a lot of these flagship phones will be widely available on launch in early November.

With this poll, we had the largest turnout of respondents, resulting in some solid data. The question of which is the most desired Windows Phone 8 device is quite stark and will make for some interesting discussion on Windows Phone 8, OEMs and where the market is headed.

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BYOSE - 'Bing' Your Own Search Engine

Microsoft has kick-started the ‘Bing it on’ challenge, which puts Bing against Google to see which search engine can provide more relevant results. Google has been regarded as the most accurate search engine with Bing still claiming grounds and improving algorithms to catch up to the #1. Has Microsoft really achieved wonders with Bing?

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Windows Phone Central's roundup of Football apps

We've already covered a roundup of apps for your Windows Phone should you desire to follow American Football, but what about 'football' for the rest of the world (also known as soccer)? We've got you covered with this roundup of the football apps available for Windows Phone. Prepare yourself for an eventful 2012/13 season with Windows Phone Central.

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Our online poll suggests Samsung has done well but still has to win over many

Yesterday during the IFA trade show in Berlin, Samsung surprisingly unveiled the first Windows Phone 8 device for 2012—the ATIV S—to mostly cheers and approvals from current and prospective Windows Phone users.

In an online 24-hour poll conducted yesterday here at Windows Phone Central, nearly 4,000 respondents (cookie and IP locked) responded to Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S3 clone for Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS.

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In a poll conducted this past weekend here at Windows Phone Central, 7,640 participants voted on the top-three features (out of an optional nine choices) they wanted most in Windows Phone 8.

Although the full consumer feature list has yet to be revealed by Microsoft, due to the leaked SDK a few weeks ago a lot of the new options have been detailed already. In turn, we asked users what they thought was missing (or we saw no evidence for) in Microsoft’s next-gen mobile operating system.

The results are certainly interesting and by large margins the top three choices by users are clearly discernable...

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A SuperSport (website) app is now available for Windows Phone, which enables users to keep up to date with latest sport headlines, scores, fixtures and more for a number of sports. The website is a portal for those who enjoy sport in general, from football and rugby to cricket and golf, it's all covered. The Windows Phone app is a perfect companion should you visit the website often to read daily content.

With the Olympics currently taking place in London, SuperSport is also covering the headlines and also sports live event footage through DStv (website only), which is handy should you find yourself situated away from the TV. Regarding normal day-to-day sport, SuperSport for Windows Phone features live rugby and football events and commentary with results, logs, fixtures and more being presently available.

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As well as Nokia shifting almost 4m Lumia handsets in Q2, it would seem there is yet more good news for our Windows Phone. If true, as a recent survey by Amplified Analytics is showing, and there is a 18% rise in customer satisfaction then things are looking rosy indeed. The survey carried out by aggregating over 104,691 customer reviews suggests that the Windows Phone users are almost 20% more chuffed with their recent purchase than in the previous quarter.

Drilling into the details it seems that the current Windows Phone darling, the Lumia 900 seems to be wiping the floor with the other OS satisfaction results in some areas. Depending on how you read into these bar graphs, the Lumia owners are more than happy with the OS. The same seems to be echoed in the results for the design also.

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$6.9 Billion profit? Not bad, not bad at all

Tonight Microsoft announced its Q4 results for fiscal 2012.  Everywhere you turn, the media is writing about how the Redmond giant just reported its first loss ever.  People writing these headlines are either clueless as to financial reporting, or in search of headline bait.  But since everyone is doing it, it’s pretty crap headline bait.

So here’s the simple truth:  Microsoft reported an extremely profitable quarter with respect to its regular operations.  On top of this it also made the decision to write down the value of assets pertaining to a company it acquired back in 2007.  The acquisition of aQuantive, a digital advertising company, didn’t contribute to Microsoft’s advertising platform as expected.  When stuff like that happens, you write down the value of those assets on the balance sheet.  The write down is a wave of the accounting magic wand.  It does not represent a cash expense. 

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Today Nokia revealed its interim financial results for Q2 2012.  Nothing too shocking, really.  Keep in mind that this is a company that was once the largest phone manufacturer in the world, driven by Symbian and feature phones. Nokia now has to find its place in the smartphone market, and this position will really depend upon the market success of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. 

With that in mind, Nokia shipped 4 million Lumia phones during Q2.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to iPhone or Samsung (Android) numbers, but when you compare it against RIM’s latest quarter (the shipped 7.8 million BlackBerry phones), it shows some forward momentum. 

Overall, Nokia sold 73 million phones. That’s 69 million non-Lumia phones. The company’s huge challenge is to hang onto the low end of the feature phone market (under attack from Android) while also converting many of its Symbian smartphone users onto Nokia-branded Windows Phone products in the future.  It’s a tall order, but Nokia has a pretty good fighting chance...

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The overwhelming majority of Lumia 900 users are loving their phone

We know from personal experience that owners of the Lumia 900 (review) have a lot of pride in their device and that feeling has now been quantified in a new study commissioned by Nokia. Nokia hired Nielsen’s back in April to survey US buyers of their flagship Windows Phone to see how happy they were with their purchase decision. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 96 per cent of owners are extremely satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their Lumia 900
  • 95 per cent of owners are willing to recommend the Lumia 900
  • 83 per cent say that their expectations are better or much better than expected
  • 85 per cent say they would repurchase the Lumia 900
  • 91 per cent think their phone is better than other mobiles out on the market
  • 95 per cent thought downloading an app from the Marketplace was easy to do

The survey was the online one we reported back in May and consisted of 810 people averaging 18 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Of course we wonder now how many of you skewed the results lending a sampling bias to Nielsen by not necessarily representing the average consumer (as opposed to “enthusiasts”). Ahem.

Results from the Nokia-Nielsen study (April 27, 2012 and on May 18, 2012)

Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of the people sampled had purchased their Lumia 900 through AT&T in a store as opposed to an online dealer like Amazon Wireless. We don’t have any numbers for comparison but it’s clear that in-store purchases are still king even when heavy-discounts are offered online (Amazon Wireless is routinely cheaper than AT&T direct).

Having said all of that we don’t doubt that many Lumia 900 users, either average or enthusiast, are very happy with their purchase. Nokia tends to garner brand loyalty and we’ve already seen how “Lumia” trends higher than “Windows Phone” reinforcing that notion. Today’s results are just as impressive.

Source: Nokia Conversations/Nielsen

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Windows Phone Central ran yet another interesting poll this past weekend on the forever controversial topic of “What should Windows Phone be called”?

The proposal was to re-name “Windows Phone 8” to “Windows 8 Phone” due to the benefit of co-branding and the fact that the new iteration of Microsoft’s mobile OS shares the same kernel as the upcoming desktop OS.  The benefit for advertising seems obvious to us as consumers will see the significant overlap between the two systems.

Of course there are some problems with the proposal, including the fact that the Windows Phone group at Microsoft may not want to consider themselves under the umbrella of Steve Sinofosky’s Windows desktop division just yet. There’s also the issue of version updates and whether or not both systems would stay in parallel (though we think that could be easily solved by planning appropriately).

Still, you folks spoke up. Once again we had a large turnout with 5,773 of you voicing your opinion. Surprisingly 54% of you agreed that Windows 8 Phone would be the better choice (something we actually agree with ourselves) while 37.5% thought that Windows Phone 8 was just fine. Meanwhile, a small but significant portion thought that “something else” would be better.

That “something else” of course is always hard to nail down. Many of you thought that Microsoft should capitalize on the “Surface” name and make a “Surface Phone”. While it certainly has a nice ring to it, the name “Surface” seems more appropriate for a tablet device than a phone due to its structure and shape. There's also the (slight) possibility that Surface tablets could bomb and then Microsoft would have two bad names floating around.

The other popular name is not surprisingly related to Xbox—either XPhone or something similar. Though the Xbox brand is certainly successful, Microsoft is clearly courting enterprise with Windows Phone 8 and we’re not sure the more button-up types would opt for a gaming-centric themed phone. Heck, we hear that even the new white phones are a little too flamboyant for some business types—no joke.

The take away message though we think is clear: If Microsoft is serious about aligning their various operating systems, then perhaps doing the same for their names--for practical usage as well as branding—may not be a bad idea at all.

Thanks for all who voted and your thoughts on the matter!

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Some mixed news coming out today from a survey of 2, 173 developers taken in late January by IDC and app tools maker Appcelerator. Developer interest in making apps for Windows Phone is at 37% which is just a 1% less than the previous report back in November--in other words, statistically it's the same.

That's good and bad. The good news is that RIM is continuing to plunge from 20% to less than 16% leaving Windows Phone to be the clear "number three" in the mobile OS space (when factoring out tablets). The bad news is even with the Lumia 800, developers are still not jumping on the Windows Phone bandwagon as expected (or needed). Despite this, Appcelerator says "interest remains high" for the freshman OS even in the face of unimpressive device sales to date.

The survey was conducted just days after the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 was announced, so developer interest in that device had barely had anytime to register for this survey (not to mention it has not gone on sale yet). Only 18% of those surveyed were interested in developing for the Lumia devices, meaning Nokia still has some word to do to sway devs that Windows Phone is worth it.

Interest in Android, however, did slip from previous quarters which lead the researchers to conclude that there's a “small but steady erosion” in developing for that platform, perhaps a result of fragmentation and issues with getting devices on par with ICS. Meanwhile, iOS is holding steady from previous quarters.

In the end, this latest survey reinforces what we already know: iOS is number one and steady, Android is a strong number two but slowly eroding and Windows Phone is in a steady-state with under 40% of developer interest. What is needed is a game-changer and at this stage, Windows Phone 7 may not be it. But to quote Yoda, "there is another"...it's Windows Phone 8.

Source: Appcelerator; via: GigaOm, ZDNet, Reuters

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Two weeks back Mobile Nations ran a survey asking all of you to tell us a few things about your computing and mobile device ownership and buying plans.  I’ve been digging into the data which is especially pertinent given today's iPad announcement.

Admittedly, those of us who fill out these surveys in the first 48 hours are often the most enthusiastic tech people of the bunch.  So we can’t go too crazy drawing conclusions.  But still, the data is interesting.

We had just over 1100 Windows Phone users fill out the survey.  The percentage of those people who use a Mac versus a PC is quite small, at only 5.1%

Across the entire survey population (over 7500 results), Mac has 17.7% market share. Without doing the math, this sure looks like a statistically significant result to me.

This may not be too shocking of a result to many of you, but I think we can safely say that Windows Phone users dislike Macs more than the average person.  A lot more.

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Though we love our Windows Phone, there are certain areas that need work. Certain areas that we know Microsoft will fix, given enough time and feedback, of course.  Such is this scenario: You do a Bing search for a local business, restaurant, etc. Upon glancing over the results, you decide you would like to save this company's information to your People Hub which is when you realize you can't do it.

As it turns out, if you want to save a Bing search result to your People Hub, you'll have to do it the old fashion way: by hand. Very frustrating, to say the least.

Now, a new app landing next week in the Marketplace promises to fix that problem. The app is called BizSaver and is made by BC3 Technologies and we got an early look at the app which you can see in the above video. In short, once you install this app you really don't run it anymore. It simply adds itself to the related-apps under your search results, allowing you to directly save the contact's information to your People Hub with a couple of taps.

It's easy, elegant and just works. The best part? As usual it will be completely free with one-nary ad. Look for the app next week in the Marketplace and we'll of course let you know when it is available.

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