controversy | Windows Central


The Neverwinter 'Underdark' expansion stirs up a controversy on Xbox One

Neverwinter is a huge multiplayer RPG that offers tons of content. But the recent Underdark expansion included a few last-minute changes and event cancellations that have proven controversial among fans. Read on for a detailed look at the challenges currently facing Neverwinter on Xbox One.

Microsoft scientist says 'Bing It On' is no lie; Ayres experiment “wildly uncontrolled”

Our interview with Microsoft Behavioral Scientist Matt Wallaert to set the record straight on the Bing versus Google controversy

Yesterday, we published an editorial questioning whether or not Microsoft’s “Bing It On” campaign and its claims are a sham or fair play.

Yale law professor, Ian Ayres, conducted a study with a collection of 1,000 people who were asked to take the “Bing It On” challenge and report their results. The outcome of Ayres’ experiment was nowhere near Microsoft’s claim that people prefer Bing 2 to 1 causing a media storm of accusations and negative press.

We spoke with Bing Behavioral Scientist, Matt Wallaert, to help clear up the situation.

Microsoft, Direct Action and Windows Phone: How Redmond is defying the industry

A few weeks ago I wrote an editorial piece on how 2013 was finally turning into the year of Windows Phone (after numerous false starts).

There turns out to be another facet though that I missed in my analysis, which I'd like to address here. Besides increased advertising, impressive hardware, a maturing ecosystem and a reinvigorated Nokia who has hit their stride, Microsoft is using another tactic: direct action.

It’s a fascinating change in strategy from previous years where Microsoft took on a more “hands off” approach, often leaving marketing up to their OEM and carrier partners. Now, in 2013, Microsoft is asserting themselves a lot more directly (and it’s not isolated to just Windows Phone as the recent Surface rumor suggests).

Huawei CEO: potential absence from Windows Phone 8 launch due to US political factors

Huawei CEO Yu Chengdong

It looks like the other shoe has dropped with OEM manufacturer Huawei and US relations. We reported a few weeks ago that the US Congress took a strong stance against Huawei and ZTE due to their closeness to the Chinese government, accusations of IP theft and other irregularities with the company.

Now the CEO, Yu Chengdong, has taken to the social network Sina Weibo to announce that Huawei will be absent from the Windows Phone 8 launch at the end of the month and the reason is due to (translated) “Sino-US political and economic storm”.

That sounds like Microsoft may be distancing themselves a bit from Huawei until this controversy blows over or in the worst case scenario, Huawei is dropped from Windows Phone 8. Indeed, through personal communication with people in the know at Microsoft the impression we were given is they do not want to talk about Huawei.

The story that wasn't. Microsoft is not banning apps with Metro in their name.

One of the bigger stories to catch fire today was the idea that Microsoft were to start denying Windows 8 app certification to developers who use ‘Metro’ in their app's name. 

The story originated from documentation found on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) that was quite crystal clear on the matter stating such apps will “…fail certification and won't be listed in the Windows Store”.

That wording has now been removed.

We are now getting confirmation through various channels that the wording found today in that documentation had not been added recently, meaning there has been no change in policy. Instead what we are looking at is documentation that had not been updated to reflect the official Windows 8 app certification requirements.

Yup, it was in error.

Poll results - Majority of Windows Phone users happy with proposed 7.8 update

Certainly the most controversial issue for Microsoft and Windows Phone users right now is the 7.8 update which will bring the new Start screen to current devices. This update is in lieu of getting Windows Phone 8 proper which is reliant on advanced hardware for most of its new features.

Some in the tech media are portraying this as a fiasco though the majority see the light at the end of the tunnel, recognizing that Microsoft had to switch the kernel from CE to NT if it wanted the platform to move forward. Combined with the difficulty in providing direct-upgrades to Windows Phone 8 (it's not a simple "update" but rather requires wiping the device, backing update data and re-writing aspects for current hardware) we can sympathize with Microsoft in not spending invaluable time and resources on making WP8 backwards compatible. 

We put the question to you though to get your feedback. On the original article, you folks left an astounding 500+ comments. On the poll, a massive 6,500+ of you left a response. While the data may not be perfect we do get a rough idea of how you are feeling.

Certainly we can say the results are mixed but a majority of you (54%) are okay with Microsoft choosing this path for current Windows Phone users. The clear "no" category had 19.61%  thinking Microsoft could and should do more while another 20% were on the fence, perhaps waiting to see how it actually looks and feel. A tiny percentage (6%) claimed they are finished with Microsoft and are leaving the platform.

For those 20% who are unsure they may want to see exactly what the update entails. Microsoft has strongly hinted that as of now, it is just the new Start screen. The reason for that is many of the additional new features, like Wallet or voice, requires access to the core of the OS since they use new APIs not available in Windows Phone 7. In other words, if you code an app that uses the WP8 SDK with new WP8 APIs for WinRT/NT it is not clear how that can be back-ported to a CE device.

Of course we have to remember that what Microsoft showed this week technically was not for consumers. The Windows Phone team team will be having more events this summer where they show off new, not-previously mentioned features including some UI changes. In other words, there may yet still be more to Windows Phone 7.8 but Microsoft is waiting to reveal those in tandem with the consumer preview of Apollo.

In fact, Nokia US on Twitter yesterday noted that besides the new Start screen "Other elements aren't being disclosed at this time" which leads us to believe there may be yet more to come for Windows Phone 7.8.

Looks like we'll just have to wait and see but so far, Microsoft may have done enough to ameliorate the issue with users.

Microsoft evangelist retracts claims of Windows Phone 8 updates

And just like that what seemed to be borderline credible evidence that Windows Phone 7 users would get an update to Windows Phone 8 have vanished again.

Nuno Silva, who stated fairly unequivocally during a video interview that all phones will get Apollo has now retracted his claim. In a post on his MSDN blog, Silva clarified his comments:

"I recently participated in an interview with the Portuguese website Zwame, where I made some comments on the future of Windows Phone that created confusion. Rumors are swirling, so I feel the need to clarify my statements.

The point I was attempting to make was simply that existing Windows Phone applications will run on the next version of Windows Phone. This is the same guidance that Microsoft shared late last year.

I mistakenly confused app compatibility with phone updateability, which caused the rumors we saw yesterday.  I did not intend to give the impression I was offering new guidance on any products under development or their upgradeability.

While we have given Windows Phone developers this preliminary guidance on app compatibility to help them with long term project planning, Microsoft does not have any further news to share on future products at this time. "

Interestingly, his response aligns perfectly with Microsoft's PR statement to all tech blogs the other day which took the stance that Silva must be confusing device updates with software compatibility for apps

We're not claiming conspiracy but there must be little doubt that Redmond probably had a phone call or two with Silva and had him prepare a statement to undo the damage (or redo if you believed him).

Does that mean that no current phones will get Windows Phone 8? Not exactly. Until Microsoft gives us the official roadmap and plans, we're not ready to call this the end.

With low-end Tango devices just about to launch, we're really having a difficult time believing that they won't have any OS updates during their run -- that just seems, odd.  We're still leaning towards the two-pronged route (an Apollo-like update for current devices but "true" Windows Phone 8 phones will have technically a new OS) as a possibility. Or just wishful thinking.

And if you believe supposed insider MS_Nerd, the Lumia 610 is already testing with Apollo.

Only time will tell and that time is getting shorter every day. For more speculation, debate and explanations, read yesterday's summary.

Source: MSDN Blog; via WMPU

AT&T accused of deleting complaint posts from their Windows Phone support forum

While we don't want to fan the flames much more of the whole "AT&T won't support the 8107 OS update" fiasco, we are getting quite a few tips (and complaints) that the mods over at the AT&T support community are aggressively deleting posts for seemingly no reason.

The support forums at AT&T is where the news broke that the company wouldn't not be supporting the Microsoft approved 8107 OS update which fixes the disappearing keyboard problem and other security fixes. Since the time of reporting, anger has substantially grown with many taking to Twitter, the Better Business Bureau and AT&T's own forums (we had 175 comments just to our post on the matter).

Starting last night, however, it seems the moderators are in "damage control" as some have put it and are deleting complaint posts without warning. Many users are noticing this because they get email notifications of responses to their posts, but when they check back a few hours later, those posts were "disappeared". Indeed, if you go to the message board, you'll see a few messages like this from Jamon723:

Windows Phone 7 enters the location-data collection controversy

Earlier yesterday, PC Magazine managed to get Microsoft on record about the whole "location-data storage" controversy (see related coverage on the iPhone here and on Android here via our sister sites). Strictly speaking, in regards to storing location data on the phone, Microsoft is in the clear, at least comparatively:

Microsoft told PCMag unequivocally that phones running Windows Phone 7 do not store location history. Like most other phones, the platform offers plenty of location-based apps, and those apps require user consent before they begin tracking. Windows Phones also offer the common feature of a "global switch" that lets the user disable all location services, and Microsoft says its "Find My Phone" service keeps only the phone's most recent location.

But it's a little more complicated than that--strictly speaking, Windows Phone doesn't store it locally on the phone where it can be "hacked" by 3rd parties and it sure doesn't sync it back to Zune either where it can also be compromised. But Microsoft does collect the data themselves and store it--after all, how else would Microsoft's location based system i.e. 'Orion' get such speed location data? It's no different than aGPS vs GPS: the more data you have available at the moment, the faster the acquisition.

According to Cnet, this is the case with Microsoft and their system:

Microsoft says its operating system transmits the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point (but not the name), signal strength, a randomly generated unique device ID retained for an unspecified limited period of time, and, if GPS is turned on, the precise location and direction and speed of travel. That happens when the "application or user makes a request for location information," the company says.

Once again--this is not in the same league as the iPhone issue (which may be a bug, not a nefarious plan by Apple) but that data of course could be used by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA), often without a warrant as determined by the courts (GPS doesn't count as "search and seizure" and if you're on Sprint, that could be quite scary). We also don't know how much and for how long data is collected--actually there are tons of questions we don't have answers for yet. The obvious thing to do if you do not want to be tracked is to use the global switch and just turn it all off--of course that would still leave your cell signal available i.e. AFLT-Advanced Forward Link Triangulation to find your whereabouts. So basically just unplug if you don't want to be tracked, 'kay?

And we look forward to Microsoft answering CNet's questions on the matters. We'll check back.

Source: CNet 1, CNet 2; PCMag, TPM