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Microsoft details cloud services for the Windows ecosystem

Microsoft has released some more information detailing the Windows Live services for the next upcoming instalment of the software giant's operating system. As the company continues to move away from the Windows Live and Zune brands, Microsoft Account begins to take over with services such as Messenger and Hotmail being rebranded for easier recognition.

The UI hasn't been the only element of Windows to be redesigned, as one can see in the below table the Windows Live services will all be renamed to match the simplistic new approach Microsoft has undertaken.

Those who have actively used Windows Phone will feel right at home with Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging, Photos / Videos and other new branding that will be present in Windows 8. It's interesting to see just how far the services have come. Skype isn't mentioned, but we're sure we'll see more details as to how VoIP will be further integrated into Windows 8 and Windows Phone. We've also yet to hear more surrounding Microsoft's new music service.

"Windows Live reimagined" (check out the video on the official blog post at MSDN for more information) will see the Microsoft Account act as a key to the storage of personal information and settings. Simply connecting the account to a Windows 8 PC will automatically setup and integrate contacts, email, calendar events, photos, SkyDrive and more. The same experience will be present on the big screen (and tablet) as it is on the smartphone.

The future's bright; the future's the cloud.

Source: Building Windows 8 (MSDN Blog)

Wordament now listed prematurely among other Xbox Live titles (but still not LIVE)

Wordament, the free (ad-supported) Windows Phone indie game from You vs. the Internet, is expected to be re-released as an Xbox Live title on the Marketplace. The multiplayer word game puts players against one another to find as many words as possible from the same grid of 16 letters. The announcement detailing this upgrade was published back in February.

The Xbox Live version -once released- will remain free and ad-supported, much like Minesweeper, Sudoku and Breeze. Before it has time to return with achievements and whatnot, it seems someone has got ahead of themselves at Windows Phone HQ. Should you filter the web Marketplace games catalogue to display Live enabled titles, you'll see an odd listing.

We're not entirely sure why Wordament is present on the Xbox Live list of Windows Phone games, but this further confirms an imminent re-release of the word game. it's good to see such a popular title receive Live features, especially after someone proposed using the game concept. We'll update with more information as it's made available.

Thanks Illum1na for the heads up! 

How to set up and use Facebook Chat and Messenger for Windows Phone

Being actively social while on-the-go is Microsoft's main aim with Windows Phone, and both Messenger and Facebook Chat provide the means for owners to communicate with contacts via the social network and popular IM service. What's great about these features is that they are integrated into the operating system. Switching between text, Messenger, and Facebook can be achieved in the conversation itself with zero apps.

The only issue with such integration is actually setting it all up - it's not as simple as one would like to believe (there's no click-and-go here). Messenger is automatically connected and ready to fire up once you'd attached your Live ID in the Windows Phone setup walkthrough, but to activate Facebook Chat, you'll be required to login on your Live account and set up Facebook Connect via the web browser, as well as adding your Facebook account to your phone. Simply connecting your Facebook account to your Windows Phone only kick-starts the social integration for the People hub and Me tile. Too much, too fast?

Read on for our full tutorial on Facebook Chat and Messenger for Windows Phone....

New YouTube Live app for Windows Phone gets the job done

We'll be honest, we had no idea there is a live YouTube section on their site ( but indeed there is, so it only makes sense that some of you would want to watch it on your phones. The app YouTube Live by wsoftvn (devs of the excellent easyTube, easyWallpaper and easyHeartRate) has just been released and it is currently free and ad-free to all. Last we checked, free is a good deal and there's not guarantees that it will last. In other words, you may want to grab it now.

Although the selection of "live" shows on YouTube is a little niche (lots of gaming and Arab channels) when you find something you want to watch, YouTube Live works extremely well. We just streamed a news conference over T-Mobile's "4G" HSPA+ pipes (admittedly a much better network than AT&Ts for raw speed) and it went without a hiccup--in fact it looked great.  Here are some of the live channels:

  • News: CBC Live, MNT, NTV, TOLOnews
  • Fashion: Fashion TV, Fashion One, NY Fashion Week
  • Sport: Sport Tonight (soccer), Davis Cup (Tennis), WSB (boxing), Wrestling
  • Music, Gaming, Chatting, Talk Shows, etc.

It also has a nice layout, showing what is live now, what is coming up soon and what is coming up in the next 7 days. While we wish YouTube's live selection was better, the app itself works great (we just wish the English Al Jazeera as able to stream). So with that, we have to give it a thumbs up for you to try. Even if you don't use it all that often, it's worth the price.

Pick up YouTube Live here in the Marketplace.

Nokia and T-Mobile bringing 'something exciting' to NYC on Dec. 14

Nokia and T-Mobile are teaming up for an event Dec. 14 in New York City, and it looks like we might well get our first glimpse of some sweet, sweet Nokia Windows Phone love here in the United States.

As you'll recall, we've already seen the Lumia 710 pass the FCC with its AWS bands intact, so that's a strong bet. Hopefully we'll get the Lumia 800 here as well. We've got our invite in hand. Guess we'll see what's what in a week.

More: Lumia 800 hands-on; Lumia 710 hands-on

Twitter images now rendering in People and Picture hubs

It seems Microsoft has worked some magic on backend services for Windows Phone, as users and sites alike are reporting they're now able to view images that are attached to tweets in the People and Picture hubs. Twitter integration is handled via Windows Live, which was introduced in the Mango update, but was limited to displaying text-only tweets. Now when viewing "What's new?" in the People hub (and Pictures hub) images are now displayed along with the tweet.

Have you noticed the change on your handset(s)? Let us know in the comments!

Source: LiveSide; Thanks, thenet, for the heads up!

SkyDrive upgraded adding a handful of features

SkyDrive, the Windows Live file hosting/sharing service, is set to receive a fairly major upgrade today, which will introduce a number of requested features. It's now much easier to manage office documents and other files on an account thanks to the ability to set permissions or share individual files within a folder. Not only that, but the team have now made it possible for files to be shared to social networks and for private links to be generated that can be shared with select personnel.

Multiple selections can be made to move, download or delete more than one folder. Folders can be created (and renamed) inline without having to click in multiple locations. Uploading to SkyDrive has also been improved by taking advantage of the HTML5 File API and now users can simply drag files and photos into the web browser window and onto the file listing. A upload overlay will then be display at the bottom right hand corner of the screen allowing the user to continue using the service.


As well as the above, support has been added for PDF and RAW file types, the photo slide show has been improved, and signing into SkyDrive is now more efficient (up to 50% faster). Check out more information on the SkyDrive blog (link below) with more screenshots. Unfortunately, still no more word on a Windows Phone app or more integration with the OS.

Source: Windows Live Blog

Three Screens, Metro and a Cloud is the future

We lightly touched on the three screens dream of Microsoft back at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles earlier this year. CEO Steve Ballmer wrapped up his speech with a slide that showed the tight integration between products, seen above. For a good example of the "three screens" vision, check out the RC-AirSim demo.

Tim Carmody at Wired has published a superb write up of the integration we are starting to witness between Microsoft's product line. He spoke about the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone that Microsoft’s Derek Snyder demonstrated. Derek created a scenario where you are watching an animated film on the Xbox but can't put a name to one of the voice-actors. The first call would be to get out a smartphone and search on Google or IMDB. With the Xbox Companion app, you can see all the relavant information about that film you're watching right in your hands.

"What’s more, it doesn’t just do this over Wi-Fi, if the Xbox and WinPhone are on the same local network. It can do it completely through the cloud, using the common Windows Live ID on both devices. If the Xbox had 3G/4G cellular data like the Windows Phone does, you wouldn’t even need a local router."

We're getting away from the central workstation with file browsing and one means of input. Metro will enable more intuitive ways to browse files, apps will integrate with each other to pull photos as well as other media, which will make the system appear less layered and more fluid. Why keep visiting Explorer to find files when apps can pull the content for you in one place?

There's no central hub with Microsoft's "three screens" philosophy. Windows 8 (tablet and desktop), Windows Phone, Live and Xbox will be connected, not only by service and information, but by interface. There's nothing different. Someone who's never used a Windows Phone before, but is on a Windows 8 desktop on a daily basis, will feel right at home with the familiarity of Metro. Personal information, contacts, social networking and everything the consumer needs is all synchronised between Live enabled systems.

And with Skype on board, this really is Skynet. Check out the full article at Wired, it's worth the read.

Source: Wired

Windows Phone Web Marketplace starts to go live around the world

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!

Mix11 Day 1 Keynote livestream

We are live on the ground at MIX11 in Las Vegas. Check out the live stream after the break below for all the action at the day one keynote over in Las Vegas, remember to head over to our forums for discussion on topics brought up, and keep an eye out for the main site here at WPCentral for articles based on topics.

Livestream fully in effect starting at noon Eastern / 9 Pacific - for the first keynote we're expecting them to discuss IE9 and HTML5 today - watch it here or after the break!

Xbox LIVE Extras gets an update to add features, support more countries

If you use Xbox LIVE Extras on Windows Phone 7, you may have noticed an update pushed to you today, specifically v1.50012.0 (up from v1.3). And if you're like us, you're wondering what changed? Don't worry, we got you covered:

New countries, new languages! We’re making Xbox LIVE Extras available in new languages including French, Italian, German, and Spanish. This also means that Xbox LIVE Extras will now be available in all the official countries where Windows Phone and Xbox LIVE are available!

Manage friend requests inside Xbox LIVE Extras! You’ll now be able to accept, or reject friend requests inside of Xbox LIVE Extras. Additionally you’ll be able to manage your friends’ lists as well as requests to others.

Even more additional features! We’ve also added a bunch of additional features such as new Avatar animations and configuration options, and displaying your motto on your profile. We’ve also worked to improve overall stability of the application!

We also can't help but notice it's finally faster to load, which is a welcomed change as well. We're going to bet that some of our Euro friends will be happy with the additional language support, allowing them to join in the party.

Go here on your phone or desktop to grab the app.

Source: Michael Klucher's Blog

How to: Xbox Live Gold Family Pack

Mentioned briefly in the introductory video for the latest Dashboard Update (which hit Xbox 360 consoles this past Monday and was officially announced right before the US Launch of Kinect in NYC on Wednesday) the Xbox Live Gold Family Pack is really finally truly here. Not so surprisingly, some confusion and many questions were raised among the users that don't know what to do with multiple Xbox Live Gold accounts and multiple consoles. 

How it will affect their Zune accounts and alter their interactions with each of the services was also a dodgy subject. I recommend reading on if you find any aspect of the new plan confusing, confounding, befuddling, frustrating, or any other disorienting verb. We'll do our best to leave you enlightened and ready to set up an Xbox Live Gold Family Pack.

You may find it's worth it even if you don't have a full family!

Followup: Microsoft's Answer to Combining Multiple Accounts (and Master Accounts?)

A few days ago we had covered how to create and combine an Xbox Live account and Zune account by using one powerful all-encompassing Windows Live ID - the ringleader that ties all of these services together. We've noted that if you don't currently use any of these services, or use just one of them, that you should create a Windows Live ID first. Yes, the term Windows Live ID is synonymous with Hotmail account so if you've got a Hotmail account, you've in tern, got a Windows Live ID. Many people are already using either an Xbox live account or Zune account without them being linked to a Windows Live ID. This is easily remedied if you have only one Windows Live ID you'd like to use for each service but gets pretty complicated if you want to combine multiple open accounts.

I got on the phone with Microsoft's Technical Support staff and went through their chain of command to get some definitive answers and to see what these users should do when they get a Windows Phone 7 device.

Read on after the break for our discussion with Microsoft and multiple accounts!

Web gaming coming to & Windows Phone 7 tomorrow

All things much change and according to Major Nelson, the website gets a big overhaul tomorrow (here are a few screen shots) .

While there are many changes, the biggest one is the ability to play web games over LIVE will be available. And if you or associate happens to have a Windows Phone 7 device, you can play them over the web. Boy does that sound like a time-killer at work.

Other notable changes are:

  • Browser based Avatar editor: Edit your avatar and preview avatar items before purchase
  • Combined views for messages, friend and game requests
  • Improved notification of your account subscription
  • Leverage Family Reports to understand what your family is doing and how they are using LIVE
  • Marketplace: More powerful search and more intuitive ways to browse and filter


Xbox LIVE games show up in Marketplace for Windows Phone 7

While none of us hip kids get to play with them just yet, Microsoft has gone ahead and flipped the switch on for those Xbox games for Windows Phone 7. Well, for two of them at least: 'Flowerz' and 'Hexic Rush'

It's basically a milestone for the company since this is the first time, as Michael Klucher tweets above, that achievements are being counted towards your Xbox gamer-tag.

Klucher also notes on his blog that this is still a test-phase:

I did want to let everyone know who might have access to these games through pre-release hardware that they should be considered test games and not early launch titles. You can and should expect that everything about the game is subject to change or be disabled at any time.

Finally, Paul Thurrott has also has a write up on this happening with some screenshots of the games in the Zune software and his achievements. Cool stuff and it means we're inching closer and closer to that big day.

Xbox LIVE games get priority over non-LIVE games

On Windows Phone 7 there are two types of games: Xbox LIVE supported and non-LIVE supported. The former requires more time, money and skills for getting approval and is typical reserved for the "bigger" game studios who can get access to Microsoft's LIVE network (higher standard); the latter anyone can write games for and sell/distribute through the Marketplace.

Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Xbox LIVE games, the ones that will be of high quality and leverage the full feature-set of WP7, will get listing priority on your device. 

This is according Michel Klucher (Lead Program Manger XNA Development Platform at Microsoft), who on his blog gave some details on this issue noting:

Games that do not use Xbox LIVE will be listed right below the Xbox LIVE enabled titles in your collection. All games can be pinned to the start menu just like any other content in Windows Phone 7.

While not a big deal, it seems this would push developers to go for the LIVE option if possible though it may make a few developers feel a little lower on the totem poll if they don't have the deep pockets, like the studios.

Xbox LIVE price goes up November 1st

There are three types of people who visit this site:

  1. Those with Xbox, LIVE & want Windows Phone 7
  2. Those who are planning to get an Xbox + LIVE for Windows Phone 7
  3. Those who never plan on getting an Xbox because you "don't game"

This post is for #1 and #2--we're cool. As for you number three'ers, you're dead to me, feel free to scroll down and read another blog entry.

Anyways, it costs something like $49.99 for the Gold membership, which allows access to all the cool online stuff, gaming, online multiplayer, Netflix, Last.FM, etc. (For those who don't have one, the Xbox is just as much a media center as a gaming machine--my usage for instance is probably 70% media e.g. Netflix/TV torrents, 30% actual gaming, usually Star Wars related.)

While not a bad deal, it's going up on November 1st to $59.99, which seems to be a curious time right when a certain mobile OS launches and Microsoft will see an influx of new customers. Oh and that Kinect thing is launching too.

The good news is that you can renew now for $39.99 to tap in that extra year and save 30%, which we suppose is a good deal (unless you membership just auto-renewed like 2 weeks ago, grrr).

Read up on the details and renew here.

[via WinSuperSite]

Microsoft announces Xbox LIVE titles coming to Windows Phone 7!

As we mentioned just a few days ago, we were expecting Microsoft to have a few announcements at Gamescom conference in Germany this week and sure enough, they delivered. And in our opinion, big time.

In an exciting move, Microsoft has announced a whole hodge podge of game titles that will be released during the launch phase of Windows Phone 7 and there are some biggies.  The are so many in fact, you'll have click the link to see the whole list, but we'll tease you with a few:

  • Halo: Waypoint
  • Bejeweled LIVE
  • Castlevania
  • Guitar Hero 5
  • Max and the Magic Marker
  • Star Wars: Battle for Hoth
  • Assassins Creed
  • Asphalt 5

In all, there will be 50 titles launching this year (all listed after the break), from studios such as Gameloft, Konami, Namco Bandai, PopCap, THQ and of course, the newly formed Mobile Gaming Studios from Microsoft.

Sound exciting? Read on for some screen shots, videos, the official commercial, a poll and much more details!