Huawei: We’re still going to make devices running Windows Phone

It’s hard to believe it was a little over a week ago that Microsoft announced plans to buy Nokia’s devices and services unit for a cool $7.2 billion. Such a move easily triggered fears that other OEMs might not look so favorably at the deal and their enthusiasm for Windows Phone would wane. Not that many OEMs put anywhere near as much effort as Nokia, but that’s for another day. Either way, don’t worry about Huawei who has gone on record stating their support for Windows Phone.

Microsoft announces company reorganisation with a large shuffle planned

Microsoft today announced plans for reorganisation. We've previously touched on rumours and speculation that CEO Steve Ballmer was looking to restructure the company into one that focuses on devices and services. Ballmer fired out a letter to Microsoft employees, detailing what was happening and what the outlook is for Microsoft once these changes have been applied.

Microsoft looking to restructure; will focus more on devices and services

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is working on restructuring the giant software company, according to a report over on AllThingsD. This shuffling could see several current executives hold more prominent roles. Sources familiar with plans note that the restructuring will focus on solidifying Microsoft into the "devices and services company" that Ballmer previously wrote about in his annual shareholder letter.

We've already witnessed the company slowly move into hardware with its Surface family of Windows 8 tablets, as well as services that include Office 365, and Skype among others. It certainly makes sense for Microsoft to adapt to the demands of today's consumer. Reports note that while plans are being drafted, changes could well change drastically.

Sprint to offer two new Windows Phone 8 devices

While Sprint has announced they would be adding two Windows Phone 8 devices to their lineup this summer, they were rather vague as to which Windows Phones. Sprint did say HTC and Samsung would be the manufacturers but could it be the HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV S?

Today at CES 2013 Sprint tried to shed a little light on the subject but left us with more questions than answers. Ryan Sullivan, Sprint's Director of Device Delivery, said that the wireless provider will introduce "current" Windows Phone 8 devices. Okay, so what does current mean?

Comparison of the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920

HTC have finally put their cards on the table and released details of the HTC 8X, their new flagship Windows Phone 8 device. Gone are the HTC ultra-utilitarian design aesthetics and in its place we see a smooth curvy body design that comes in some cheeky colours.

HTC have been with Windows Phone from the beginning and many have eagerly awaited the pronouncement of their new devices. With a strong design heritage and deep understanding of the platform, HTC have produced some of the finest devices. The 8X is their flagship phone, but how does it compare to the Lumia 920, the hero device from Nokia?

Poll – Which Windows Phone will be your next?

Although we still have HTC on September 19th to woo us with their new devices (we’re hearing two will be revealed—the Accord and Rio), we can still gather an idea of where you folks are leaning towards.

HTC TITAN quietly removed from online UK retailers

It would appear as though some UK retailers and carriers are silently ditching the HTC TITAN (our review) Windows Phone from their online properties. Retail chains include The Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, as well as O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange. Searching the websites for the handset yield no results. We've reached out for possible confirmation of / reasons behind the sudden removal.

Could the TITAN not be selling well enough, or will we be seeing a compatible TITAN II hitting the UK shores? Should you be interested in the TITAN I, you can still pick one up from Amazon UK (eXpansys), Clove UK and BuyMobilePhones to name but a few.

Thanks Sam for the tip!

Latest Microsoft patent suggests interchangable accessories

I'm not really sure what to make of this, it's as though Microsoft plans to not only provide you with a powerful, simplistic handset, but to throw in some Nintendo Wii Remote-type accessories as well if this patent is anything to go by. Should this indeed turn out to be the case, that all future Windows Phone handsets will have a slide-out accessory expansion slot, then it could open up a whole new realm of opportunity.

From the trusty external keyboard that aids typing to a battery extension to a game pad that gives the user an edge in gaming, I'm sure Microsoft has bags of imagination (as anyone would) surrounding this idea. As for me I'm not one to fuss about moving/interchangeable parts as I'm fully aware that hardware wears out. It's one of the reasons why I adore my Samsung Omnia7 - it's just a block with no moving parts (sliding keyboard etc.).

"A mobile communication device comprises a first device with a first display and multiple second devices. The second devices are releasably attachable to the first device and are interchangeable with each other. The mobile device can operate as a mobile cell phone with one or more second devices operable as a mobile phone hand set. The second devices can comprise one or more game controllers, batteries, physical keyboards and/or mobile phone handsets with a display. In a detached configuration, the first device is separated from the second devices and can wirelessly communicate with one or more of the detached second devices. In a three device configuration, the first device can send commands, control signals or content to one or more external devices in addition to the second devices."

It's interesting to note that the secondary devices (accessories for the smartphones) will be able to work wirelessly without being connected to a handset. Still, I remain skeptical. Let us not forget the integration with Kinect we could be experiencing in the future.

Source: Patent, via: BGR, Unwired

Zune terms changing Sept 13, reducing the number of sync devices for music [Updated]

Oh this is not something we want to post as this is just bad, bad bad. Evidently, on September 13th Microsoft is reducing the number of devices upon which you can sync with the Zune music service from 6 (3 computers and 3 devices) to just 4 (at least 1 computer and any combo of 3 PCs and devices). You'll also need to download at least one new song to each device to continue using the service.

We're none to pleased with these changes but have a feeling it has something to do with licensing from the music companies, reduction in costs to those licenses and perhaps trying to reduce "sharing" of Zune passes. Regadless, that's just lame. Users are reportedly being sent emails with the following information and you don't have a choice to the change outside of cancelling your subscription.

Update: LiveSide is reporting (via EnConnected) that this is only for Europe and not the US, where as of now, we will still be able to sync to 6 devices. This should ease over tensions between our Euro and US readers /sarcasm.

Thanks, Lee T., for the images and info!; see also My Microsoft Life

Transitioning to Windows Phones: Device Roundup

With the future of webOS still being anyone's guess, transitioning to a Windows Phone might be an attractive alternative for the webOS crowd to consider. We've touched on transitioning from webOS to a Windows Phone and now we thought we would toss together a quick round-up of the Windows Phones that are currently available.

Mango is set to be released later this Fall and will bring a handful of new phones to the market. Understandably some may decide to hold off and wait a few months for the second generation of Windows Phones to become available.  However, without official specifications available, we'll keep this roundup focused on Windows Phones you can get your hands.

We've got them broken down by carrier and to see what's available, slide on past the break.

From webOS to Windows Phone 7 - Welcome to your new home

After yesterday's news that HP is discontinuing all webOS mobile devices, many members of the very passionate and loyal webOS community, including myself, have been shocked into wondering what we are supposed to do next. While I'm not saying that I've already jumped ship to Windows Phone 7 from webOS already (I still love my devices and the community behind them), it's not uncommon to see that many of you are already planning your trip to the store to pick up a new smartphone to replace the soon-to-be-antiquated HP Veer, Pre 2 or even the original Sprint Palm Pre (what we back at PreCentral call the Pre-Minus). Let's get this straight, because I know how loyal you guys are to your platform, switching to a WP7 device is not abandoning the webOS platform - but HP has made it very clear that they're not making phones anymore, so what else are you supposed to do? 

I've been using WP7 on my Dell Venue Pro for a little while now, and even though it's not a shiny new HP Pre 3 running webOS 3.0, it does have a whole lot going for it. If I absolutely had to make the decision tomorrow (which I don't and I'm not... yet), it would be very easy for me to make Windows Phone 7, and, my new home in the smartphone universe. Let me put it to you this way: If you're thinking about switching to another platform from webOS, WP7 is one of the best options, if not the best, out there for you to choose today.

It's easy to say all of that, though without backing it up; but that's why I've come to WPCentral today to help ease the pain and make things a little more comfortable for those of you joining this community. The webOS platform had a whole lot going for it as an operating system built on mobile devices. Synergy, Just Type, Multitasking, Touchstone Charging, Exhibition Mode, non-interrupt notifications system and other great features (just to name a few) made webOS wholly unique and intuitive - but to say that WP7 isn't already pushing forward with many of these concepts (and even jumping ahead in a few) is to be ignorant of the facts.

To be quite frank - WP7 over any other platform is probably the most similar to webOS as being intuitive and market-changing, and even though many of you might choose this platform simply because it isn't iOS, Android of Blackberry, you should also be choosing it simply because it's a great operating system to use.

Here, by popular request, is a guide to help your transition from whatever webOS smartphone you might be using over to a Windows Phone 7 device. Written by someone who has loved webOS since the day it was announced and will stick with it until the day that it is finally put to rest. 

WP7 manufacturer marketshare estimation

This is more eye candy than anything else. The chart above states the obvious with HTC owning the WP7 marketshare (along with everything else) by releasing a horde of products. Samsung closely follows behind, surprising since they only offer a single device in America and Europe (Focus and Omnia 7 respectively) - albeit both devices are popular. ASUS is shown to have the smallest chunk of strawberry pie with their limited deployment along with Dell (although is Dell's position down to the hardware/software blunders?).

The chart below shows a device breakdown of popularity, HD7 being the most commonly owned product, followed by the Omnia 7, whey Europe! interesting to see how the hype of each product introduction correlates to the popularity post-deployment. Please note that these charts are estimates only and are by no means accurate.

Source: AdGAC, via: MobileTechWorld

Hacked HD2 runs WP7 faster than HD7

The title says it all, folks.  According to a video posted by YouTube user kendimcefg, a HTC HD2, hacked to run WP7, runs many basic functions faster than a HD7 which natively runs it.  We knew that the HD2 was a versatile device, but this is pretty amazing, if accurate.  If seeing is believing, then color us impressed.  Check out the video for yourself, but try not to rock too hard to the soundtrack.

Source: Kendimcefg (YouTube); via: Ali Waqas

Analyst insists Nokia must build a WP7 future

While Microsoft and their platform are slowly expanding grounds, Nokia is continuing to travel down a negative path with sales plummeting and revenue decreasing. Compared to the glory days when the company’s brand was used to describe mobile phones as much as the term mobile, at present a radical change is required for them to continue within this competitive market. Analysts know this, consumers know this, and more importantly so does Nokia.

Along with countless reports and articles covering a potential join of the hands between Nokia and Microsoft, an investment analyst, who has sent a memo to the CEO of both companies urging them to work together and create Windows Phone 7 handsets, has provided a huge push in a positive direction.

The analyst, Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg Bank, doesn’t hold back in his note with covering WP7’s (and – to an extent - Nokia’s) competitors and pointing out that he knows both Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop must be “both sick and tired of hearing how great and innovative Apple and Android (Google) ecosystems are”. Moving onto say that “they have hundreds of thousands of applications, growing revenue at 50%+ per annum and gaining market share globally,” and he is absolutely correct in his referencing – but Microsoft already know this, they are in it for the long haul.

Directing at Nokia, Adnaan continues, “I remember the days when Nokia (with Jorma Olilla at the helm) ruled the roost, European market share was above 50% and US market share was in the 35% range.” While quoting what Stephen said in his recent Q4 earnings release, “Nokia faces some significant challenges in our competitiveness and our execution. In short, the industry changed, and now it’s time for Nokia to change faster,” he agrees that now is the right time for Nokia to change (perhaps from Symbian altogether?) and with WP7 readily available in it’s infant stage, now could prove to be the only time for action.

Windows Phone 7 devices to be on sale October 21st?

We're pretty solid on the October 11th date for Microsoft to unveil their new mobile OS in New York City (we'll be there of course). But while we expect the usual market push, keynote speeches and the ability to play with new hardware, we don't think AT&T (and maybe T-Mobile) will make those phones available that day either.

So the big question is: When can you actually buy a Windows Phone 7 device?

At least for Europe, that date appears to be October 21st.

Numerous sources, including a Microsoft raffle for a WP7 device (winner announced after the 21st) and an article in a German magazine ("Euro am Sonntag") have colluded to back-up that very day as the first for commercially available devices.  This also jives with the HD7 release in "week 42" info that came out a few days ago.

Now the flip side is what about the U.S.? While we have not had such specific dates mentioned, it's not too hard to imagine that the U.S. will have a similar time-frame, at least within the same week we hope.

[via the::unwired]