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Microsoft purchased its first email service, Hotmail, almost seventeen years ago from founders Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith. After a $400 million, exchange and effort to move the service from a Linux based operating system to Windows 2000 – MSN Hotmail, as we knew it was born.

Now in the year 2014, a year after Outlook.com took over the reins and stepped down from its “preview” state to replace MSN Hotmail – Microsoft is ready to celebrate and look back at what the product has brought to consumers around the globe. Moreover, do not have any doubts, Microsoft considers Outlook.com as “the best email choice for people around the world” and the service’s 420 million active users helps to support that claim.

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When it comes to running a small business, any help is good help. Spending time on trivial matters like getting your email up and running or making sure you can access the documents you need whenever and from wherever you need them, are time wasters.

To help out small business owners on their track to success, Microsoft has partnered with one of the web’s top platforms, GoDaddy. The partnership promises to integrate the easy to use and reliable Office 365 service without making web owners get down and dirty with technical details.

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For those of you who are fans of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, there continues to be a long wait as we anticipate a Windows 8 version of the application. The company had planned to launch their Windows 8 browser almost two years ago in quarter one of 2012 – that never happened. According to a new revised schedule on the Mozilla’s development Wiki, the release is now slated for March 18 of this year.

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Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Consumer Preview introduced their latest version of the Trident based web browser, Internet Explorer 11. Today the company has released the developer preview of IE11 for those still on Windows 7.

Internet Explorer 11 promises to bring improved performance, faster page load times, new standards support for next generation sites, and a completely redesigned “F12” developer toolkit.

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Say hello to semi-Live Tiles

Yesterday we covered new changes being applied to the Windows Phone web Marketplace Store, which started rolling out in Australia and New Zealand. Microsoft has dived right in and the end result is fairly impressive with the use of tiles that show details on hover as a useful example of what improvements are being implemented.

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The metrification of Microsoft’s web properties continues. Yesterday we reported that the Accounts page update was rolling out. This time Liveside are reporting a leak of the new, flatter SkyDrive. Word is, that we will see these changes appear around August time. Amongst the changes deduced from the screenshots looks like we can expect to see:-

  • Thumbnails of Office document types
  • Ability to select files from the thumbnail view
  • Improved access to storage management, tagging and changing language type
  • Groups accessible from the left hand column
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28

Windows Phone App Review: Next Browser

If you're looking for an alternative to Internet Explorer you may want to take a look at Next Browser. It is a fast, feature rich alternative that makes a nice first impression. But does that first impression fade any?  For the most part, no.  But there is one thing that holds a very nice browser back.

Oh... if Next Browser is something that looks appealing, it's on sale through the end of the day for $.99 (regular price is two bucks). 

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UC Browser is an alternative to Internet Explorer on Windows Phone, one of the first of its kind. It's been around for some time (it was on Windows Mobile) but only supported Chinese for the Windows Phone build which under went beta testing a few months ago. The browser was recently updated and now has language support for English.

UC Browser is a well designed web browser and pages loaded with a little zip. There's still some work to be done to complete the transition to English and a few features we've yet to discover. But all in all, if you're looking for a change of pace from IE9, UC Browser is worth a try.

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We're getting reports that the much anticipated web version of the Marketplace, which will allow you to try and buy apps and have them sent directly to your Mango phone, is going live.

The site can be accessed through the newly redesign portal both in Germany and here in the US. Going to the Marketplace, you can browser, search and try out any of the 30,000+ apps that are available, however if you try to buy an app or use the trial, an error will come back--meaning that Microsoft is still loading up this thing as we speak.

The Windows Phone Web Marketplace, first announced months ago, is an extension of the Zune Desktop and Marketplace on the phone and will give consumers even more flexibility for finding and purchasing new apps. From our earlier coverage:

"There will be more placements for featured apps that will bring more noticeability and reach, ensuring developers receive more potential conversions while their app is in the spotlight. Users who browse the web version will be able to share apps and games via social media and email to contacts and friends."

"Bing visual search will be re-configured too. Any end-user searching for apps and games will now be linked straight to the web Marketplace on their PC, ready to download and install. Your Live ID will be integrated so you wont have to activate a separate payment gateway in order to make a purchase. Simply click and go using card details on your account.

Indeed you can now Tweet and Facebook "Like" any app you find, which should go a long way to spreading apps and helping devs out.

Source: Windows Phone Web Marketplace; Thanks, Jan, for the tip!

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Terra Explorer - Review

We mentioned Terra Explorer some time ago when the app first hit the Marketplace and liked what we saw. To refresh everyone's memory, Terra Explorer is a browser for your Windows Phone that is driven by the search.

The developer saw the need to base Terra Explorer on how many people explore the web, by searching. Instead of entering a URL, with Terra Explorer you enter your subject matter.  You essentially surf the web by searching the web.  Terra Explorer taps into Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines and segregates the results across a multi-page hub making things easier to identify.

To read more on Terra Explorer, surf on past the break.

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The last time there was a 'browser war' with Internet Explorer/WP7 (vs the iPhone 3Gs), WP7 didn't fair too well. Of course, the comparison was not as ideal as one would have liked, but when given lemons...

Luckily, the fine folks over at Pocketnow have done a more proper comparison between the iPhone, LG GW910 (unfinished build of WP7) and Android 2.2 ('Froyo'), loading a few different websites in the process.

Conclusion? Well, for being "unfinished" and a near v1.0, Mobile Internet Explorer actually holds it own. One could only imagine it will get better with the final release and then hopefully some occasional updates. But overall, it looks quite usable and even smoother than Android.

Watch the full 10-minute video after the break!

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Eck. It was bound to happen. Someone put up an iPhone 3GS up against the prototype Samsung 'Taylor" Windows Phone 7 device in a mini-browser war.

Although a lot of press have been giving Mobile IE a 'not bad as we thought' review, it still pales in comparison to Apple's HTML5 based browser.

Now in fairness, Mobile IE may not be finished yet and in fact, is probably not, so we should expect it to perform better by release. On top of that, we know Mobile IE can be updated independently of the whole OS, allowing, in theory, frequent updates to improve the browsing experience.

Having said all of that, who here would not have liked to see WP7 beat the iPhone 3GS out? It sure would have been a nice ego boost and headline grabber. And without 3rd party browsers being available, at least for awhile (Microsoft has said they may be willing to work with companies to offer browser alternatives, if demand is high enough), we won't have much choice. Come on Mobile IE team!

Watch the full, somewhat painful video, after the break!

[NewsGeek via 1800PocketPC; Thanks Saijo]

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It has been quite a few weeks since Opera graced us with a new beta of Opera Mobile 10 and we've been wondering just what have they been up to in the mean time.

The answer is they've been busy adding Flash Lite support to the browser in addition to improving speed by 50% (according to them).  Not bad, not bad. Then again, they were rumored to be adding Flash lite one year ago.

To refresh, Flash Lite is what Mobile Internet Explorer has been using for at least a year already (Microsoft really doesn't get enough credit for that fact). It's not full Flash, but it will allow you to watch YouTube and some other embedded videos within the browser, which is a start. In fact, due to the aging OS and standard hardware, doing full Flash would really drag the device down.

Other fixes/changes include:

  • keypad/smartphone support
  • Flash Lite 3.1 support (disabled by default)
  • Complete bookmark sync in Opera Link
  • BIDI support also for language extensions
  • phone numbers in plain text are converted to links
  • support for background sound
  • general bug fixing (stability, UI)

That's right Standard users, you finally get keypad support!  Looks like Opera didn't forget you exist.  To turn on Flash Lite, since it is off by default, go to Tools --> Settings --> Advanced and set Plug-ins to “On”.

Grab the browser here: www.opera.com/mobile/download

[via RedmondPie]

 

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Remember NetFront?  Made by Access, they were the original must-have browser on Windows Mobile, going back years ago when Mobile Internet Explorer was even worse (and called PIE).  (See the v3.5 review as a refresher).

While Opera Mobile and Skyfire have mainly taken the lead, it seems Access is making an attempt to woo us back, releasing NetFront 4.0 "Concept Version".  We imagine the concept part makes this a beta, so not everything will be peachy.

The big thang that Access is pushing is their new JavaScript engine, which is suppose to be way faster than....the one in version 3.5.  So how this racks up to Opera Mobile and Skyfire is anyone's guess at this point, though we'll take a look soon enough.

Our initial opinion of 4.0?  Meh.

Read their full press release and info here.  Go through the download process here.

And look for a full review from George, coming up next week.  In the meantime, why not comment on your experience with 4.0?

If you're hip and cool, you'll use your MS Tag app to just download directly to your phone, see below.

[thanks John Kreuzer!]

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Microsoft is certainly challenging Google in many areas recently, and services like Bing, MyPhone and Mesh show they can do it, too.

One big push for them in 2010 will be the new version of Microsoft Office.  The mobile version of course is a free beta download in the Marketplace but the less-talked about Web version is now in closed-beta testing as well.

This web version will also be viewable for many types of smartphones, not just Windows Mobile.  However, only Windows Mobile (and Symbian?),officially, will have editing capabilities, whereas the web-based version is view-only.  The phones/browsers that will work with the web version are the following:

  • IE on Windows Mobile 5/6/6.1/6.5
  • Safari4 on iPhone 3G/S
  • BlackBerry 4.x and newer versions
  • Nokia S60
  • NetFront 3.4, 3.5 and newer versions
  • Opera Mobile 8.65 and newer versions
  • Openwave 6.2, 7.0 and newer versions

This is certainly an interesting  play by Microsoft to greatly expand their Office suite, which is one of the few areas that most agree upon is actually a really good product. The challenge to Google should be obvious, though we suppose they too could beef up and selectively favor Android devices.  There are other exceptions too.  For instance, this is primarily for enterprise right now, not consumers and SharePoint is required on the back end for this to work.

Finally, the bigger picture needs to be looked at here: make no mistake, Microsoft sees cloud computing as the future. Windows Mobile 7 will play a major role in this change and today's apps e.g. MyPhone, Mesh, Marketplace, Office, Skydrive and even web-based Recite are all the tips of this iceberg.

[via ZDNet]

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Along with the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, the other major release we're expecting this fall is the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. We've gotten teasers of what the Marketplace may look like on a phone. We learned that Marketplace will be available to Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 phones, too. Now here's a look at the Web interface, courtesy of pocketnow.

Squint with us after the break as we try to glean every last drop of info from this shot, and more.

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Woo boy, another browser has entered the fray. This one is called Mach5 and hails from Hong Kong and is currently available as a trial. It seems NetAcceler has eventual plans to charge for the browser sometime after May (when this demo expires).

Anyways, Mach5 is like a combo of Opera Mobile 9.5 and Skyfire in that it can render full sites and even do YouTube/media, all proxied through a remote server to compress the data.

From my experience, it's pretty darn good. Graphics are nice, options are plentiful (but not overwhelming) and speed is pretty fast. Watching a YouTube video opens a unique media player (see above) that goes full screen — very nice touch. Downsides? Like Skyfire, this thing will zap your battery, and reports from users say that it makes their devices hot as a microwaved burrito. On the plus side, it looks fantastic on VGA screens.

But don't count Skyfire out just yet. For one, Skyfire plans to remain free indefinitely, and two, look for v1.x coming soon with a slew of new features and improvements — so don't count it out just yet. Still, it's good to have some competition to keep the Skyfire team on its toes. Download/Register here and after the jump, check out a video demonstration.

[via PocketNow]

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Yes folks, yet another web browser has slowly crept out from some other company.  This one is called UCWEB. Never heard of it? Neither had we but according to its Wiki it claims it is "...now ranked #1 in the Chinese mobile web browser market, with over 60 million accumulated users and over 10 billion page views per month by November 2008". Gotta be worth a spin!

Lets cut to the chase: UCWEB is in the vein of Opera Mini: it uses servers to compress and reformat full websites to dramatically improve speed and appearance. But UCWEB has waaay more functionality than Opera Mini which is what makes it a fine alternative (plus you don't need finicky Java installed).

Wanna see it in action with a brief tour of its features?  Click the link to get the full scoop with some pics.

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