Mozilla Shows Firefox For Windows 8 Tablets But Don’t Look Now

Mozilla announcing plans to do a Metro version of Firefox for Windows 8 tablets was received with optimism. The browser has a steady community despite Google’s Chrome replacing it in the hearts of most techies. Yesterday, Ed Bott at ZDNet shared Mozilla’s progress on Firefox Metro. As it turns out, what Mozilla showed wasn’t the final design so I’m being told not to judge them. In his status update blog post, Mozilla engineer Brian Bondy elaborates on where Firefox Metro is:

  • Integration with Share Charm to share a page with any application (What are Charms?)
  • Support for Metro Snap
  • Search Charm integration: if Firefox Metro is your default browser and you enter a URL in the Search Charm, the page will be loaded

Bondy says work on the UI and experience has not started. For Mozilla, supporting Metro in Windows 8 is important since:

If a browser is default on Metro, it will also be default on the Desktop.

If a browser does not support Metro, it is seriously at risk of losing the default browser status, and therefore significant market share.

Here’s what was shown:

When I saw the screenshots I was reminded of Windows 3.0. Here’s why:

Metro is a design language and there are only two ways a company can differentiate their browser from Intern Explorer 10:

  1. Features
  2. Design
It will be interesting to see how Mozilla achieves differentiation.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/taouu/html/ch02s08.html

Microsoft Shuts Down German Distribution Center Due To Patent Spat With Motorola

According to a report on Monday, Microsoft will be moving its European distribution center to the Netherlands, effectively shutting down its current center in Germany. This is due to a patent dispute with Motorola Mobility Inc. in Germany.

“We would have preferred to keep our European distribution centre in Germany, where it has been for many years. But unfortunately the risk from disruptions from Motorola’s patent litigation is simply too high,” said Thomas Baumgaertner, a Microsoft spokesperson.

The dispute between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility has to do with patents surrounding the H.234 video standard and 802.11 WiFi. Basically, Microsoft is complaining that Motorola are charging exorbitant royalties — reportedly over $22.50 per $1,000 laptop — for use of technologies pertaining to their patents. Apple share the same sentiment, as they have to pay Motorola 2.25% of every iPhone or iPad produced due to a 3G patent held by Motorola. That being said, Microsoft and Apple are both complaining to the EU that these high royalties are not in compliance with FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.)

Motorola claims that they have made Microsoft a “fair offer”, however a compromise is yet to be reached.

In Germany, the patent wars have been raging on for quite some time. Their courts have served as a battlefield for patent disputes in recent times, forcing Samsung to stop selling the Galaxy 10.1 in Germany while also having Apple disable push notification functionality for some users.

Next-Gen Xbox Rumored To Feature Blu-Ray Player

Contrary to a rumor which surfaced last month stating that the next Xbox will not have a disc drive at all, VG247 is hearing that the next-generation Xbox will have a Blu-ray drive. People have commonly assumed that, due to Sony’s involvement with the Blu-ray technology, Microsoft would never implement it in their console. However, this rumor certainly suggests otherwise.

VG247 is also reporting that they heard the following from various sources:

  • The next Xbox has been ‘detailed’ to select Microsoft partners.
  • Microsoft hopes to release the console by Christmas 2013.
  • An always-on connection will be required to fight piracy, similar to Steam on the PC.
  • On the hardware front, we can expect a four or six core CPU, with one core reserved for Kinect use and another for the OS. The console is also rumored to feature two GPUs, similar to the AMD 7000 series. However, the dual-GPU implementation is unlike Crossfire or SLI on the PC; the units will be able to independently function and draw separate items simultaneously, unlike on the PC where the GPUs work together to draw lines of the same object.
  • Kinect will be built into the device itself.

Now, don’t get your panties in a twist just yet; we’ll have to wait until 2013 to see if any of these rumors come to fruition (or if Microsoft will even release it that year; 2015 has also been rumored to be the release date of the next Xbox.) In conclusion, VG247 also reports that Microsoft will likely not announce anything related to the next Xbox until next year.

Giveaway: 10 MetroTwit Plus Licenses

Last week, the MetroTwit guys released MetroTwit 1.0, a massive update to their Twitter client with a novel-worthy changelog to boot. Introducing features such as multi-account support, list management functionality, and filtering — on top of multiple bug fixes and more minute features/refinements. We also had the opportunity to interview MetroTwit developer David Golden, which should make for some interesting reading.

Nevertheless, we have 10 MetroTwit Plus codes to give away! People of all ages, everywhere are eligible to enter in the contest. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post stating why you’d like to have a copy of MetroTwit Plus, and 10 commenters will be chosen at random. You have until 12PM EDT on Friday, April 6th to enter.

Good luck!

Update: We have our winners:

  1. Malcom
  2. myimmortalize
  3. sumit goswami
  4. Josué Márquez
  5. Asriel Rusdyawan
  6. Paf Borg
  7. Kalpik Nigam
  8. Nitin
  9. Sharad
  10. Jake Andreøli

Nokia Hosting Lumia 900 Launch Party In NYC

Considering the fact that AT&T plans to heavily promote the Lumia 900 — which is internally referred to as a “hero” device by the carrier; a term given only to other highly-touted devices including the iPhone — it should come as no surprise that Nokia will be hosting a special event to celebrate the launch of the device, according to a tweet.

Taking place in Times Square at 7PM “sharp” on Friday, April 6th, the event will feature a live performance from a yet-to-be-revealed special guest. WPCentral points out that the countdown on the Nokia Smartphone Beta Test website counts down to this date exactly. Looks fun!

To elaborate on the “hero” label internally assigned to the Lumia 900, it essentially means that it will be AT&T’s touted flagship device; Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T will be spending up to $200 million on getting the device marketed to consumers.And, on top of “conventional” advertising, Nokia have also struck a deal with AT&T where they will be paying the company to provide the Lumia 900 to employees at no cost.

This is pretty much the first time that a US carrier has taken Windows Phone this seriously, and it should be interesting to see how it impacts the Windows Phone platform (and the Lumia 900 itself, of course.)

[Video] A Look Inside Microsoft’s Mustang

Back in September 2011 at Microsoft’s BUILD conference, Ryan Friedlinghaus of West Coast Customs joined Microsoft’s Jeff Sandquist to talk about a collaboration. Not a lot was said and many had forgotten about it till a few days ago. The secret project Microsoft and West Coast Customs were working on was packing Microsoft’s consumer products into a Ford Mustang.

The car was called Project Detroit and has 10 functions working on Microsoft technologies:

  • Windows Phone locate, unlock and start the car with an app on the phone. Also, watch live streams from the Kinect cameras fitted in the car to view the surroundings
  • Xbox 360 for gaming using the rear wind shield as a screen
  • Kinect to see what’s happening around
  • Windows 8 tablets to be used as a tablet and another to offer customized HUDs
  • Customizable car horns
  • Windows Azure to store real-time telemetry data such as speed

On the MSDN page, Microsoft has an interactive image to explain what’s inside the car. The information so far did not show us a lot about what’s inside the car unless you were able to watch the WWC episode on Discovery. Fortunately for those who couldn’t, Los Angeles Channel 5 (KTLA) caught up with Jeff Sandquist to show them what’s inside the car. Here’s the video showing the MicroStang’s features:

MSFT’s April Fool’s Pranks: A New .NET Lang, Windows Pager & CMD SkyDrive

The tech world is filled with rumors but if there is one day that no one buys into rumors (not even the Apple echo chamber) then it is April 1st. The day has turned into when the techies have some fun. Engineers at Google have come up with a bunch of April Fool’s pranks, my favorite being the 8bit Google Maps. The folks at Microsoft have shown their funny side and here are three that I’ve come across so far.

The Next Language

An alleged new .NET programming language from Microsoft called Db aka Dflat. This was quite an elaborate prank by the folks behind it. Australian Softie Andrew Coatsy seems to be the guy behind it. A top level domain at thenextlanguage.com, a Metro inspired website with most links you’d expect on a dev tool website; including blog posts.

Here’s a screenshot:

The prank in itself is quite nerdy. Db or Dflat (D-Flat) is a musical note that can be “replaced” by C Sharp which is, well, the popular C# language. Well done.

The Fastest Way To Access SkyDrive

Old school? The team at SkyDrive came up with a Command Prompt interface for SkyDrive. Housed at SkyCMD, the website is the familiar Command Prompt window using the good old cd, dir, mkdir commands. Here’s a screenshot:

The prank is real. The “April Fool’s” project SkyCMD is made using SkyDrive’s APIs and is proof of concept application about what can be done using the APIs. Cool indeed.

The Windows Pager

SkyDrive wasn’t the only team that went down memory lane. The Windows Phone group did too. For those who remember calling an operator to push a message to your father about what vegetables to bring, you’re fun. Others, that’s what a Pager was used for. Today, of course, the device is still used in hospitals (or at least House uses it). The Windows Phone team unveiled a Windows Pager with metro inspired interface. The Pager has nothing but the Email hub. Image:

Just a prank but… not a bad concept if Microsoft comes up with a iPod Nano competitor.

WP7 Root Tools Released, Homebrew Backup App In The Works

If you’re a homebrew Windows Phone developer with a thirst for the ability to utilize root-level features of the OS in building your apps, then you’re in luck. Windows Phone hacker Heathcliff74 released the WP7 Root Tools 0.9 last week, which is essentially a set of tools that includes a full blown registry editor, file system browser, and certificate injection capabilities.

The bigger news, however, is the accompanying APIs, which will allow you to access the very root-level features that the tool utilizes. One example of an app that’s able to exist thanks to these APIs is the Complete Backup app, developed by Rafael Rivera and David Golden. The root tools released by Heathcliff74 has allowed Rivera to finally create a functioning backup app, following a previous failed hackathon attempt to do so.

If you’ve been eager to get your Windows Phone data properly backed up, then you won’t have to wait for too much longer. They just have to work on a few other things (such as a restoration app), but it’s coming soon. And on top of this, it will be open-source and available on GitHub.

Something cool about the WP7 Root Tools is that homebrew apps utilizing these root-level features will require explicit authorization from users to function; they will have to independently mark the app as “Trusted”. This is put in place to at least help alleviate the quality concerns in using homebrew software.

In conclusion, this is pretty good news for the homebrew/Windows Phone enthusiasts out there. It would be nice if Windows Phone had a proper backup and restore implementation to boot, though.

‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ Contestant Plans To Take Legal Action Against Microsoft

Earlier this week, a huge fiasco unfolded surrounding Microsoft’s promotional ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ competition, in which tech blogger Sahas Katta participated in the contest, and was told that he lost even though according to his account, he beat the Windows Phone at the challenge.

Now, yet another participant who feels that he was unfairly declared the loser in the competition has taken a less passive approach. Instead of taking to the keyboard to deal with the situation as Katta did, Vivek Viswanathan took to a lawyer. Visiting his local store in Atlanta to participate in the challenge, Viswanathan claims to have beat the Windows Phone twice, while being denied the laptop.

Here’s what happened, according to his own account of the events that he provided to CNET: Viswanathan’s iPhone has an issue. All of the physical buttons apart from the home key did not work. So, he disclosed this information to the Microsoft employee, and he shut down all of the background apps. The challenge that he had to perform was to open up a Facebook page on the phone. “I unlocked the phone and pressed the Facebook icon I had on my screen, placed the phone back on the table and as soon as a page loaded I said done, moments before the associate.” However, despite this, the associate claimed that he had won.

There was a crowd, and, when offered to perform a second challenge, Viswathan begrudgingly agreed.

With all the due diligence completed, the associate challenged me to find a restaurant near the store. Again, I unlocked the phone opened Maps and pressed R and restaurants showed up as a suggestion (I may have added that to auto correct in the dictionary a while ago) and then hit search. I place the phone on the table and as soon as I got a hit, I screamed done well ahead of the associate.

The asociate, Lee Johnson, then admitted defeat. He did, however, state that Viswathan did not qualify to win the prize due to the defective iPhone bower button. A manager showed up, wanting to see a third challenge. Viswanthan did not go ahead with it, and the manager backed his associate in saying that Viswathan is ineligible.

Interesting. Viswathan has now hired a lawyer, who has contacted Microsoft to attempt restitution. So, is this yet another legitimate complaint from a participant unhappy with Microsoft’s handling of the matter, or is this someone else trying to take advantage of the immense (negative) media coverage that Katta brought to the competition only days ago? On an unrelated note, the egg display picture on Vivek’s recently registered Twitter account is quite bothersome.

Bing And Skype Come Together

If you happen to both participate in Bing’s Rewards program and use Skype, then you’re in luck. Microsoft announced on Wednesday that Skype Credit will be added to the Bing Rewards redemption center; so for only 100 credits, you will be able to receive Skype credit worth 60 minutes of calling on Skype.

Sure, Skype-to-Skype is free, but having the ability to call landlines and mobiles, and send SMS messages through Skype is quite nice. You will also be able to set up a Skype to Go number and access Skype Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. If you aren’t already signed up for the Bing Rewards program — which can be used for plenty of other rewards beyond Skype credit as well — then you should sign up here.

Recently, Bing and Skype came together in another way: The Bing Bar is offered to users during Skype installation. This is a far worse promotion to come out of the collaboration of both teams in contrast to the awesome Bing Rewards for Skype credit promo.I mean, seriously, a web toolbar… that’s offered during the installation of software.

Nevertheless, Liz Tassey Gerber, the Director of Bing and MSN Engagement Marketing concluded her blog post telling us to keep our eyes peeled for more exciting new stuff to come out of the Bing + Skype relationship.