Category Archives: Microsoft

Windows Phone Tango To Touch Down In China March 21

Microsoft is holding a special Windows Phone 7.5 Tango launch event in China to celebrate the introduction of Windows Phone to the country, according to some invites the company sent out throughout the press. Seeing that Tango has paved the way for entry-level devices such as the Lumia 610 — which will likely play a huge role in emerging markets such as China — to exist by lowering the hardware requirements and making some software-side compromises, it is only right that an event be set aside for it.

As we had just reported on earlier today, there’s going to be another event taking place exactly a week from this one; Nokia are hosting a special launch event to celebrate its entry into the Chinese market, during which the Finnish phone manufacturer is expected to announce the specific devices, carriers, and availability dates of its products in the region.

They won’t be the first company to introduce a Windows Phone to China, however; as we know, HTC launched the Triumph — essentially a rebranded Titan — in China earlier this month, beating Nokia, LG, and ZTE to the punch.

Nokia Hosting Lumia Launch Event On March 28

While HTC was the first company to launch a Windows Phone in China, it would appear that Nokia is acting fast to get a device launched in that market as well. Engadget China reports that Nokia is hosting a Lumia launch event in China on the 28th, during which they are expected to announce the devices, carriers, and availability dates; the phones won’t be available immediately. The Verge has received confirmation from a Nokia spokesperson that the company plans to actually launch the devices beginning in April, post-event.

So, which devices can we expect to go on sale in China? We know that Nokia will definitely be launching the Lumia 610, a Tango-era Windows Phone that’s tailored towards emerging markets. Thanks to diminished hardware requirements — along with some software-side limitations as well, which we covered here — Nokia were able to aptly price the 610 for emerging markets like China. Nokia may also launch the Lumia 800 in China as its high-end, flagship device in the region.

With HTC having already launched its Triumph mobile phone, along with LG and ZTE also wanting in on the Chinese mobile market, Nokia will have a fair bit of competition. It should be interesting to see how they — and the Windows Phone platform overall — perform in the region.

Is The Nokia Lumia 900 Launching On April 8?

Thus far, neither AT&T or Nokia have commented on the availability date of the Lumia 900 in the US, but rumors have stated that the phone was initially going to launch on March 18th, but it was delayed until the 22nd. Now, a new rumor has surfaced suggesting that the phone will be available to order online on April 8th (Easter), and will hit store shelves on the 9th. WPCentral spotted a comment on The Verge from someone who claims to be an assistant manager at an AT&T store in California who is stating that they are “gearing up” for the Lumia launch, and “its tentative for April 8″.

He also mentioned in his comment that AT&T will only initially be receiving black and cyan units, with the white one being sold if and when the device performs well. On top of this, a second commentor on the WPCentral post itself who also claimed to be from AT&T mentioned that he’s been told the phone is launching on the 8th as well. Now of course, this rumor, as with the others, should be taken with a grain of salt. I will attempt to ask around and see if I can get more information backing (or smashing) this rumor.

In a related note, WPCentral are hearing from a credible source that the finalized software for the AT&T Lumia 900 will be going out today, meaning that AT&T will have to reflash all of its devices.

Is Microsoft Testing Windows Phone Apps On Windows 8?

With the major Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ update on the horizon, speculation has been abound that its most major software-side change is with a kernel switch from CE to NT. With that in mind, WMPowerUser stumbled upon something interesting: I’m a WP7, an app which lists all of the build numbers of the OSes that users install the app on, has reported that 1% of people who use the app are running it on Windows 8 build 6.2.8283.0; essentially, this shows that someone is running this Windows Phone app on a desktop Windows 8 machine.

WMPowerUser speculate that Microsoft are going to allow Windows Phone apps to run on Windows 8, essentially giving the tablet marketplace a 70,000 (likely unpleasant to use) app boost, and the information we see reported by the I’m a WP7 app is of them doing internal testing of this functionality. Something worth noting is the mention of “Jupiter” in the I’m a WP7 app, which, as we know is essentially the codename for the Metro, “Immersive”-style app ecosystem in Windows 8.

This of course backs the credible rumors we’ve seen that suggest Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 will share many of the same components, allowing for easy app ports across the two platforms (and apparently the ability to seamlessly run Windows Phone apps on Windows 8 itself.)

With both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 slated to launch later this year, it will be interesting to see how consumers and developers alike react to Sinofsky’s new “one Windows” vision when it hits the shelves.

[Update: Facebook Too] Bing Testing In-line Twitter Trends, Influencing Results?

In September last year Bing and Twitter renewed their relationship with some weird twitter exchanges. Not much was known at that time and we’ve been hoping that Bing will help searching for tweets. As it turns out, Bing has some different plans. Microsoft has tried real-time social updates from Twitter being shown on Bing in the past. I use Bing as my default search engine and when I searched for Pepsi Next, I noticed a small note below the first search result:

Bing not only tells me that a particular story is trending on twitter but also how many shares in the past few hours. This is deep meta data information for a search engine in real-time. My guess is, the number of shares on twitter are also influencing the placement of a link in search result. The Ad Age article most likely has more shares than the rest of the articles.

It makes a lot of sense for a search engine to weigh links based on Twitter interaction since Facebook isn’t exactly known for rapid, real-time link sharing. Facebook’s integration in Bing is more to do with social relevance, while Twitter is more to do with current relevance—a smart approach.

Update: Romit Mehta tells me that this has been around since October 2011. Funny I never noticed it, perhaps I don’t search for topics that trend on Twitter.

Update #2: It looks like the Bing team is now bringing in Facebook share numbers in the mix too. Screenshot:

Patch Tuesday Rolls Around With Six Bulletins

It’s that time of the month again: Today is Patch Tuesday, the one Tuesday of the month where Microsoft releases a set of updates to fix nasty — or mild — security issues with its products, and The Next Web has blogged about the riveting, earth-shattering updates that this month has to offer, along with some shiny charts that Microsoft released to spice up this otherwise boring blog post.

Of the updates — six in all — one is rated as ‘moderate’, four ‘important’, and one ‘critical’. In order of least important to most, at a glance the updates address security issues with DirectWrite, DNS, the Kernel, Visual Studio, Expression Design, and RDP. What’s ‘critical’ about the RDP bug? The Microsoft Security Response Center blog elaborates:

MS12-020 (Windows): This bulletin addresses one Critical-class issue and one Moderate-class issue in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Both issues were cooperatively disclosed to Microsoft and we know of no active exploitation in the wild. The Critical-class issue applies to a fairly specific subset of systems – those running RDP – and is less problematic for those systems with Network Level Authentication (NLA) enabled. That said, we strongly recommend that customers examine and prepare to apply this bulletin as soon as possible. The Critical-class issue could allow a would-be attacker to achieve remote code execution on a machine running RDP (a non-default configuration); if the machine does not have NLA enabled, the attacker would not require authentication for RCE access.

They’ve also included some shiny charts to visually present the fixes in a sleek, attractive manner. Here they are:

Microsoft Hires Former Sony Exec Phil Harrison

Microsoft announced earlier today that it has hired Phil Harrison to be the corporate vice president of its Interactive Entertainment Business team, specifically its European business.

Harrison is no stranger to the gaming industry; beginning his career as the head of development for Mindscape International in 1989, he then went on to join Sony in 1992. Throughout his time at the company from 1992 through 2008, he held various executive positions in both Europe and North America. After departing Sony in 2008, he went on to work for Infogrames Entertainment SA as their “Directeur Général Délégué”. He had also joined the Atari Board of Directors (going on to step down in 2010.) On top of his new job at Microsoft, he is continuing to serve as a special advisor to a venture capital firm that he co-founded, London Venture Partners, LLP.

“I am excited to be joining the senior team at Microsoft at a pivotal time for our industry,” said Harrison. “I am really impressed with the company’s long-term vision for growing the market for interactive entertainment globally and also with the incredible wealth of talent, technology and resources the company has available to succeed.”

With 25 years of experience in the industry under his belt, Harrison certainly is a great addition to Microsoft’s already highly successful IEB division. What will he be doing at the company? He has quite a fair bit of responsibility; the announcement notes that he will be in charge of the Microsoft Studios European organization, along with growing the IEB European business through “strategic partnerships” and by “bringing culturally relevant entertainment experiences to Microsoft platforms, now and in the future.”

Apollo Might Come To Older WP7 Devices… In An Alternate Universe

I hypothesize that there is a timeline where Nanam—me in an alternate universe—has a Samsung Focus from AT&T that sports the latest Windows Phone update known as 8107. In our timeline, I don’t since, well, AT&T won’t release it. If there ever was an award for the worst premiere partner, AT&T is the hands-down winner. Microsoft removed their Where’s My Update page clearly due to pressure from carriers as the page made them look bad and Microsoft could easily wash their hands off the delayed updates problem. For those unaware, Apollo is the codename given to Windows Phone 8, the next major update to Microsoft’s phone OS.

In a conversation with some representatives at Microsoft’s booth at CeBit, Thomas from WP7app.de was told that second and first generation Windows Phone devices will get Apollo. (Some Apollo features won’t work due to hardware limitations.) This confirmation, to me, means little. Even if according to Microsoft, current and older Windows Phone devices support Apollo, there is no guarantee that users will get it. In fact, Microsoft seems to have given up on harassing carriers to push out updates.

via Neowin.net and WMPowerUser

Implications Of No Disc Drive In The Next Xbox

Earlier today news of Microsoft dropping the disc drive in their next version of Xbox started spreading. The news first reported by UK publication—MCVUK—is intriguing. Microsoft backed HD DVD over Bluray (supported by Sony PlayStation) and the move in many ways bombed since Bluray won the format wars. The DVD drive in the Xbox 360 makes the console a complete living room TV accessory, and that is why Microsoft’s decision is interesting. In quote to MCVUK, the source says Microsoft is replacing the optical drive with games on solid state cards.

Here’s what I believe will happen:

  • Bluray drive as an accessory for the Xbox, whenever announced, will support older Xbox consoles
  • Games offered to be downloaded, a process like Steam (if this happens, the 4GB Xbox makes no sense, @keithdsouza agrees)
  • An industry shift within the gaming industry from disc drives to memory cards (like the PlayStation Vita card, as @fishfacemcgee says on twitter, we might be going back to the “cartridge”era.)

The current Xbox supports both USB hard drives and pen drives, at the same time the system offers cloud based game state backup. I wrote recently that the post-PC PC is the TV and the Xbox is of prime importance to Microsoft in this consumer market shift. If Microsoft drops the optical drive, my 4GB console becomes obsolete since, well, it will be interesting to see game publishers offer games on disc drives and Microsoft’s newly supported solid-state cards. It’ll be fun to watch Microsoft in this space, the company has sold more Xbox devices than Apple TVs and has strong Xbox integration in Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Bing Maps SDK For Metro Style Apps Released

So, now that the shiny new Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for some time now, surely you’re eager to develop for it. If any of your preliminary, tinker-with-WinRT apps involves mapping, here’s something to take a look at: On Tuesday, Microsoft released the Bing Maps SDK for Metro-style apps, which packs a set of controls that will let you integrate mapping into your Windows 8 apps quite easily.

For those of you who wish to code your WinRT Metro app using Javascript, you may have run into some issues pertaining to “sandboxing of the web context” when embedding the current AJAX Bing control (during my recent Metro app hackathon with Rafael Rivera and David Golden, I ran into this issue with my app that pulls data down from Reddit.) Not to worry however, the new SDK offers a Javascript control that you can use in your JavaScript WinRT apps without issue. The control is heavily based on the existing AJAX v7 control, but it’s tailored for the “app context” instead of the “web context”. It would be interesting to see what the differences between these controls are.

Unfortunately, some other modules such as directions, traffic, and overlays are currently unavailable, but data can still be rendered through their REST APIs. Head on over here to learn more about developing with the new JavaScript control.

If JavaScript doesn’t tickle your fancy, a control written in C++ was also released for those of you who would prefer to use C#, C++, and Visual Basic along with some XAML. This control offers client vector rendering and full hardware acceleration. And head on over here to learn more about developing with this control.