Microsoft Publishes iPad To Windows 8 Tablet App Design Comparison For Developers

Microsoft’s Metro design language comes into its own on Windows 8 tablets more than on the Windows Phone. The new desktop OS has been designed with tablets in mind and since the iPad is the best out there, developers will be replicating/porting their apps from the iPad to Windows 8 (or at least that’s what we all hope). Application design is a significant reason behind an app and platform’s success. And when I say design, I don’t mean the color combination or images but the user experience and user interface.

Earlier today, Michael Gillett retweeted a link to a case study published by Microsoft comparing the interface components in the iPad and Windows 8. The side-by-side comparison is quite helpful in providing developers a quick look at how some of the app functionality provided in iPad can be offered in Windows 8 while sticking to the Metro principles.

The case study takes specific use cases to explain how things are done on the iPad and how Microsoft has in some cases improved them in Windows 8. The case study is quite nicely presented filled with images to assist you understand the text. If you’re into app development or into design, it’s quite a fun look at the two platforms.

Microsoft Cuts Back On TechNet Product Keys (Again)

Once again, within a two year period, Microsoft has diminished the amount of product keys available to subscribers of the service. In the past, TechNet Professional subscribers had access to 10 product keys for every version of Windows and Office. However, in September of 2010, Microsoft lowered the amount of issued keys to five due to piracy concerns.

Now, it would appear that they’ve further lowered the amount of allocated keys to TechNet subs. Ed Bott from ZDNet spotted an announcement on the TechNet Subscriptions website which states that, effective in mid-March of 2012, TechNet Professional subscribers can access a maximum of three keys for Office and Windows Client products with their subscription, while Standard subscribers have access to two keys per product.

On top of this, Microsoft also will impose limitations on how many keys can be claimed in a day. A TechNet Subscriber will be allowed to only claim 44 keys in a 24-hour period. Granted, despite these limitations, TechNet is still an awesome deal for what you gain access to. For $349 a year, you basically have access to most versions of Windows, Office, and some other Microsoft products. The licensing dictates that they can only be used for evaluation purposes, though.

That being said, it’s clear why Microsoft would seek to prevent abuse of the service. While it certainly is still an awesome service, veterans of TechNet probably aren’t too thrilled to see the amount of allocated product keys shrink throughout time.

Microsoft Doesn’t Want Sales And Marketing Employees Purchasing Apple Products With Company Funds

Whenever a Microsoft employee is photographed using Apple products, it usually leads to lighthearted humor. The most recent instance of this that I can recall was when a photo of Bill Flora, a leader on the team that worked on Microsoft’s Metro UI was spotted using exclusively Apple products in his office. Now, it seems like Microsoft may want to decrease this, at least on its Sales, Marketing, Services, IT and Operations Group (SMSG), which encompasses around 46,000 employees worldwide.

According to a leaked internal email sent out from Alain Crozier, CFO of SMSG, that ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley got her hands on, the company plans to revise its policy to prevent employees from purchasing Apple products (Macs and iPads, as specifically mentioned in the email) using company funds. They will be removing Apple products from the internal Zones Catalog, which is the appropriate channel for making these purchases.

When MJF asked a Microsoft Spokesperson about this, they had no comment (neither confirmation or denial). It’s worth noting that this isn’t a ban against using Apple products at all in the workplace — employees can still purchase them with their own cash — it’s simply put in place to prevent them from buying the products from the company’s funds.

It’s an interesting move by Microsoft. Perhaps the company is trying to signal that the teams working on sales and marketing should use the very products that they wish to promote, as one ZDNet commenter points out.

Nokia Windows Phones Outsell Nokia Symbian Devices

In the UK, Nokia devices running Windows Phone have outsold Nokia devices running the older Symbian OS, reports Bloomberg. The difference isn’t by much; according to a research report conducted by Kantar Worldpanel — a research report based on interviews with mobile phone purchasers over three months, ending on Feburary 19th — 2.5% of UK phone buyers purchased a Nokia Windows Phone over the 2.4% who went with a Symbian device.

Something more alarming from this statistic is how small the numbers are in the scheme of things. In a place like the UK, where Nokia’s Lumia handsets are being marketed quite aggressively (at least compared to the US right now), 2.5% isn’t exactly a thrilling figure. Nokia’s lineup is hardly biting into the market share of the established Android and iOS platforms.

Interestingly enough, Kantar also notes that the Lumia 800 is responsible for 87% of Windows Phone sales in Europe altogether. While it’s nice to see people choosing a real OS over Symbian, it’s still disappointing to barely see Windows Phone in the rearview mirror of iOS and Android.

Back here in the US, we have the Nokia Lumia 900 to look forward to. But I’m even more excited about Apollo-based handsets; perhaps once it launches, Microsoft, along with manufacturers would greatly up their efforts to both develop quality devices and market the platform as a whole.

Microsoft Appoints New Corporate VP of Windows Phone Marketing

Microsoft announced on Monday that it has appointed Thom Gruhler as the corporate vice president of Windows Phone Marketing. He formerly worked for McCann Worldgroup as global managing partner of Telecom & Technology.

Throughout his time at McCann, he worked on well-known ad campaigns, leading the various agencies that produced Verizon’s infamous “Can you hear me now?” campaign for eight years. Verizon is the largest U.S. client of the agency, with a $1.9 billion account. He also had the opportunity to work with various other major companies such as Mastercard, Kohl’s, and, while working for other agencies within the Interpublic Group — holding company parent of McCann — Barclays, DaimlerChrysler, HP, Hilton, and Salomon Smith Barney.

“Thom brings deep experience in the telecommunications industry, exceptional creativity and a proven track record of creating campaigns that connect with consumers,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division at Microsoft. “Windows Phone is a uniquely compelling product, and Thom will help us bring that to life for our customers.”

With both the launch of Nokia Windows Phones on the horizon along with the colossal Windows 8 ‘Apollo’ update, it would appear that Microsoft is getting their marketing ducks in a row to really push the platform once its own ducks are aligned.

Microsoft Fires Two Bing Guys Who Misappropriated Company Assets

According to a statement issued to GeekWire, Microsoft has terminated the employment of Bing marketing executives Eric Hadley and Sean Carver following an internal investigation. Hadley was the general manager of consumer marketing at Bing, while Carver was the director of consumer marketing in Microsoft’s Online Services Division. Here’s what a Microsoft Spokesperson had to say on the matter:

“We can confirm that as the result of an investigation, Eric Hadley and Sean Carver’s employment with Microsoft has been terminated for violation of company policies related to mismanagement of company assets and vendor procurement.”

While we don’t know exactly what they did — the description of their offenses are quite vague, it could have either been a minor or major misappropriation with any possible Microsoft partner(s) — it certainly sounds like a serious offense in either event. AdAge notes that Hadley worked to orchestrate the sponsorship of Jay-Z’s book launch party, along with Lebron James’ “The Decision.”

Business Insider reports that Bing General Manager Mike Nichols will fill the role of the two men in the interim. Microsoft is yet to share additional details on this, nor have they announced whether or not they plan to press criminal charges on the duo.

Microsoft Provides Software To Law Enforcement To Fight Child Pornography

With child pornography rampant on the Internet — so rampant, in fact, that innocent image searches can turn up the illegal content (mostly with SafeSearch off) —  law enforcement agencies have a pretty massive job of keeping the content at bay. To help out with this, Microsoft has donated its PhotoDNA image matching technology to law enforcement at no cost to better seek out CP, remove it from the Internet, and potentially locate the people producing and passing it around.

Developed by Microsoft Research in collaboration with Dartmouth College, PhotoDNA is essentially image matching software that creates a unique signature for a digital image — like a fingerprint — which can be compared to signatures of other images on the web to find copies of the image.

The technology will be distributed to law enforcement through integration with NetClean Analyze, a technology in use by law enforcement internationally, the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS), another internationally used technology by law enforcement that’s supported by Microsoft, and direct licensing to agencies with the technical resources to accommodate a “self-hosted” version of the PhotoDNA software.

10 percent of the images reviewed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) of the over 65 million images and videos of child exploitation since 2002 are of infants and toddlers, and they note that photos are increasingly violent and victims are getting even younger.

Microsoft actively works to fight crimes committed over the Internet through their Digital Crimes Unit, which you can check out here.

Windows 8 Rumored To Debut By October

While we have already known that Windows 8 will be completed and subsequently released later this year, we didn’t know exactly (at least in terms of months) how late — or early — it would happen. A report from Bloomberg suggests that Windows 8 will be finalized sometime this summer, and will reach the GA (general availability) stage in October.

On top of this, Bloomberg is also hearing that over 40 Intel devices will hit the shelves (though they aren’t being clear about whether these are specifically Intel tablets), along with less than 5 WOA tablets. This small amount of ARM devices reportedly has to do with strict quality-control on Microsoft’s part, which is definitely good to hear. Microsoft cannot afford their big debut in the tablet space to be botched by OEMs trying to make a quick buck off of crapware and outdated drivers.

This timeframe is realistic; if Microsoft are gunning for a holiday season release in late 2012, Windows 8 has to be finalized at around this time in order to get its foot in the door of store shelves. And, as Sinofsky is not one to forego prudent shipping, it is unlikely that they would miss such a target.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg concurs:

“If they miss the September-October time frame, they’re going to be stuck without being able to ship anything in 2012. The last thing Microsoft wants to have is a situation where there are no compelling Windows tablets at a time when the new iPad looks like it’s going to be a good seller for the holidays.”

Apple Copies Zune Tagline For iTunes

This is too good to not be reproduced. Looks like the photocopiers at Cupertino are working overtime. Perhaps, the artists at Cupertino are out of innovation. Use any of the many smart retorts by the loud Apple fans over the years against Microsoft and reverse the company names. As first spotted by CoryRS at Zunited.com, here’s what you get:

The tag line on iTunes.com, today, is exactly the same as the one Microsoft has been using for a while on zune.com.

Go figure.

Bing Revamps Pushpin, Popup, And Transit Designs

The Bing team has been hard at work lately rolling out improvements to its service, such as their recent collaboration with the Nokia Maps team to produce a unified map design, their recent lovemaking with Twitter, or the release of the Bing Maps SDK for Metro-style apps. And earlier this morning, Bing announced a set of design and usability improvements made to two of the most common map elements — pushpins and popups — along with an improved transit experience.

As you can see in the photo above, pushpins have been redesigned. The orange pushpins of the past have been replaced with a cleaner, blue design. What’s the reason behind the change? Bing Senior Program Manager Dan Polivy elaborated: “our goals were simple: enable you to find the information you want, more quickly and efficiently, while at the same time minimizing obstruction of the map”. Pushpins that are generated as a result of a search query will be blue, while pins representing user-generated content will be orange (with the new design, of course.)

A small popup was also added when you hover over a pin, which provides an “at-a-glance” name of the place. This allows you to easily skim through pins throughout the map. And by clicking, this popup can be expanded into a “full” popup, that shows all of the data and interactions you can perform with that place.

Speaking of popups, as you can see above, they too have received quite a substantial redesign. They now have a cleaner, Metro-inspired look that displays the content in a much cleaner fashion than the former design.

A nice touch that was implemented is that the pushpin and popup designs will adjust, should the map call for it so that data isn’t hard to read against the map background.

Moving on to the transit improvements, the colors and signage of the transit lines have been largely refined to better represent their respective real-life counterparts for both US and UK public transport systems. You can also now send transit directions to your mobile phone through SMS. A link to m.bing.com will be sent to you, which will load the transit directions on all platforms that would allow you to navigate to that website (shockingly, Windows Phone is exempt here; it currently does not support transit.)

You will also now be able to easily modify directions routes by clicking and dragging on start, end, or on waypoints.

Pretty exciting changes.