Microsoft and Partners Launch New Ad Campaigns For Holiday Season

With the iPhone 4S set to shatter sales records the competition better have something up their sleeves to compete. For Microsoft the upcoming holiday season is going to be tricky. As Todd Bishop at GeekWire points out, the company has a new range of Windows Phone 7 Mango handsets coming out but besides that they don’t have any other new product for users.

Many enthusiasts have been wondering why Microsoft does not talk about the consumer ecosystem it has created. In the coming days, Microsoft will be changing that. The core premise is Windows enabling families stay connected and have a great time with technology. Microsoft shared two advertisements talking about the concept:

The second ad Dog.ppt is a pretty cool ad but I have my doubts about the first one. (I am not the only one.)

Microsoft is rumored to  be investing several Million Dollars for OEM partners for advertising their Windows Phone 7 handsets and it looks like HTC is making good use of it. Spotted by WinRumors’ Tom Warren, the HTC WP7 ad aired in the UK is nicely done. Wrapping features around what the phone enables you to do is always a better message than telling us specs and features. Here’s the ad:

Microsoft UK has another HTC WP7 ad that is eye catching. Both ads show promise and in fact as Tom Warren says, Microsoft should have more ads done by the creative agency behind the HTC WP7 ads.

Microsoft Australia had probably one of the coolest launch show for a developer software. Long Zheng wrote about Microsoft Australia putting up a light show using office lights of two building to launch LightSwitch for Visual Studio. Here’s the video of a very un-Microsoft launch:

Microsoft fixes NoDo nightmare with super-efficient Mango rollout

Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) is here

On September 27, 2011, Microsoft began its rollout of the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system update. This update, codenamed Mango, is significant for Microsoft for  a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it  brings 500-odd new and updated features to Windows Phone 7, bringing it closer to the competition like iOS and Android.  More importantly,  it is also a litmus test for Microsoft’s update process after the disastrous update experience earlier (with NoDoand SSL certificateupdates). This article focuses on the excellent job Microsoft has been able to do in the update process.


Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 to general markets in October 2010, promising choice and variety over the monotony of iPhone, and a streamlined phone and application experience compared to the wild, wild west with Android. There were some glaring omissions in Windows Phone 7. Copy-paste and multitasking were two big items missing in the original release. Copy-paste functionality was announced as a soon-to-be-coming update at the time of the launch itself.

After a very long period of silence from Microsoft, it seemed like the NoDoupdate was finally being made available in March 2011. Even though Microsoft had not provided a date, this timeframe was thought to be a highly delayed one because it was common knowledge among Microsoft insiders that the update was ready by the end of December, and that carriers and OEMs were delaying the rollout to end users.

Besides being a highly delayed update for seemingly must-have capabilities like copy-paste, it turned out that not everyone was able to get the update at once. Compared to iOS updates, this process seemed extremely haphazard. After some very loud complaints about the lack of communication, Microsoft finally started blogging about the update process, and published a table which showed which carrier was pushing updates for the various phones. This table finally made it abundantly clear that the carriers were in fact holding up the update.


iOS updates are delivered on a specific date to every single device, regardless of carrier or country, as long as the device is eligible to get the update. This process has been in place since the very first software update they delivered. The only caveats are, over the years, certain devices have become ineligible for OS updates, and after Verizon introduced the iPhone, updates for the CDMA device are on a slightly different schedule. However, when an iOS update is made available, it is simply that available.

Android updates on the other hand are more sporadic and unpredictable. Google makes an update available for the OS, and then it is up to the OEMs and the carriers to certify that update. Google does not control the process at all, and lets the partners take care of delivering the update. Of course, Google’s Nexus devices get the updates at the time the OS is updated, but pretty much every device besides the Google Nexus devices will have their own schedule for receiving updates.

The beauty of Mango update

One huge surprise when the Mango update rollout was announced, was that almost all the phones across all the countries and all carriers were being updated. All at once! Globally, too. Granted, there are caveats like certain phones and especially phones with a certain firmware were not yet updating, and that it was a phased (throttled) rollout, but it is still incredible that in a matter of months Microsoft has been able to convince OEMs and carriers to cooperate and make this happen.

Unlike iOS where Apple is the OS maker as well as the OEM, Microsoft has to provide a build of the OS to the OEMs to test with, after which it would go to the carrier to test. Microsoft was able to get all the OEMs to synchronize their testing and then have all the carriers complete the testing by the time the update was announced as rolling out. This is incredible and it becomes immediately obvious when you compare it to Android which is much closer in its model than iOS is, to Windows Phone. The charts and table below show that as of September 2011, Android 2.3 and above are still only about 30% deployed. In about 6 months, Android has only been able to get to 30% deployment.

Android version distribution

Android version distribution

Android versions historical

Android versions – historical

In  the update announcement post, Microsoft is promising that in a few weeks, after throttling is disabled, every single existing device will have Mango available to them, across geographies, manufacturers and carriers. So in a matter of a few weeks, presumably, most Windows Phones will be on the latest version of the OS.

After its previous disasters in updates, Microsoft needed to prove that it had the muscle and the organizational setup to get an update rolled out smoothly. This announcement and subsequent reports of ease of applying the updates have proven that the ghastly memories of NoDo update can now be put away. Not only is Windows Phone the prettiest, most efficient and usable mobile operating   system with a range of carriers and OEMs to choose from, it is also an OS which updates like it should at once, uniformly, and quickly.

There’s a lot to be excited about Windows Phone coming up in the near (with Nokia) and distant future (with Windows 8 and possible merge of Windows Phone and Windows). As a Windows Phone user, I am glad that this update nightmare is over and cannot wait for what’s next!

Update: Just as I pushed “publish” on this post, I saw this update from Eric Hautala at the Windows Phone Blog, saying that the update is going so well, they are accelerating the rollout. Kudos, once again to everyone who’s behind this amazing turnaround. Remember Microsoft, this is now the new bar! :-)

Update 2: As of October 19, 2011, Microsoft has opened up the updates to generally everybody. This move is ahead of schedule and says a lot about the flawless nature of this update.

T-Mobile Unveils The HTC Radar 4G Smartphone

htc radar 4gHTC recently announced the company’s newest smartphone – the HTC Radar 4G. The leaked pics of this device was already spotted in the wild. This handset runs on the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Operating System. This device will be exclusively available for the T-Mobile customers in the US. HTC Radar 4G is the carriers first smartphone, which runs on the Windows Phone 7.5 OS.

HTC Radar 4G features a 3.8 inch LCD display, 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, front-facing camera for video calls, 8 GB internal memory, dedicated camera buttons, fully integrated Microsoft Exchange, Internet Explorer 9, 4G Connectivity, etc. HTC has not yet released the complete fact sheet of this device.

HTC Radar 4G is crafted from a single piece of aluminum. The price and release date of this handset is still a mystery. HTC Radar 4G is expected to be available at T-Mobile in time for the holidays. Are you planning to buy this device? Or you will go for the upcoming 5th generation iPhone? Let us know your views in the comments below. On a side note, stay tuned for the complete specs of this device.

Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” Update Rolling Out Now

Microsoft has finally started rolling out its much-anticipated WP7.5 Mango update, for the first generation WP7 based phones.


Majority of the WP7 (98%) will be getting the update in the next 4 weeks. Owners of HTC Surround, LG Quantum and Samsung Focus v1.3 will get the update within a month. However, owners of HD7S will need to wait a bit more since the WP7.5 Mango update for their handset is still under scheduling, while the update for the Focus (v1.4) is under testing.

Sadly, there is no confirmation whether the Dell Venue Pro will get the update or not. Microsoft also does not mention anything about the European version of the Focus, the Omnia 7.  Right now, the Mango update for the handset is still under planning. WP7 owners can check out the global Mango roll-out schedule from here.

The Wp7.5 Mango update brings many new and much-needed features to the Windows Phone Platform including Multi-tasking, front-facing camera support, Xbox Live Integration, better Social networking integration, Music search and much more. Overall, the Mango update brings more than 500 new features to existing WP7 handsets!

Once the Mango update hits a user’s phone, they need to connect their handset to a PC and fire up Zune Software for PC app, and head to the Update Central section to update the phone. Mac owners need to use Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac for the same purpose.

[Video] Web-based Windows Phone Marketplace Goes Live As Mango Rollout Begins

The build-up to Windows Phone’s major update—Mango—has been exciting. With developers having early access to beta builds, Microsoft warned enthusiasts that they will have to roll back to stable NoDo installs before updating to the final Mango release. Surprisingly, the brilliant engineers at Microsoft realized how problematic that will be for them as users. They decided to figure out ways to avoid this and anyone with Mango developer builds will be able to roll forward to the final version of Mango.

Mango introduces several new features and fills most of the holes in the platform. Microsoft had a tough time when their previous update (NoDo) was being pushed to users. For Microsoft, the upgrade involves several hardware manufacturers, carriers and Microsoft which obviously leads to complications. Microsoft promised that they learnt from the experience and it looks like they did. What seemed like eternity for AT&T Samsung Focus users (and others), all carriers except Sprint will be pushing Windows Phone 7.5 soon.

Android and iOS have web versions of their marketplaces for some time. And they are handy. With Mango coming, Microsoft has unveiled their web version of the marketplace. Part of the Windows Phone website, the interface is clean and simple. The apps can be bought and are instantly sent to the phone if it is connected to the Internet. Else, a download link is emailed for you to get the app via the Zune desktop software. Here’s a quick demo of how real-time the marketplace is:

Lastly, the holiday season will see new Windows Phone 7.5 handsets from Samsung, Nokia, HTC, ZTE and other partners. The marketplace is seeing a flood of apps updated for Mango.  Samsung released handy apps for their users (video calling, diary) and Nokia is making their presence felt in the marketplace too.

Samsung Unveils The Windows Phone Mango Powered Omnia W

Samsung recently announced the newest member of its Omnia family, the Samsung Omnia W. This handset is the successor of the not-so-popular Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone. It is the company’s first device, which runs on the new Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Operating System. The Samsung Omnia 7 had a 4 inch display, but Samsung Omnia W comes with a smaller 3.7 inch Super AMOLED display. Check out the complete specs after the break.

samsung omnia w

Samsung Omnia W features a 3.7 inch Super AMOLED display, sporting a resolution of 800 × 480 pixels, 1.4GHz processor, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango OS, 5 megapixel auto-focus camera with HD (720p) video recording and playback, VGA front facing camera and much more.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, Stereo FM Radio with RDS, Zune player, Marketplace Hub, Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 3G Connectivity, 512MB of RAM, 8GB internal memory, A-GPS, People Hub, Picture Hub, Games Hub, Music and Video Hub, Office Hub, 25 GB of Windows Live Skydrive storage and a 1500mAh battery.

Samsung Omnia W will be available from next month in Italy, followed by other European and Asian countries. The price of this handset has not been announced yet.

Samsung Focus S Announced; Sports a 4.3-inch Super-AMOLED+ Display

Samsung and AT&T have just announced the Focus S, the successor to one of their first Windows Phone 7 based phone, the Focus.


The Focus S continues the trend of manufacturers releasing a mildly updated version of a handset, and naming it xxx S. HTC started this trend with the Desire S and Incredible S, and Sony Ericsson continued the trend with the Xperia Arc S, and now Samsung is following on their footsteps.

The Focus S is among the slimmest WP7/WP7.5 Mango based phone around, with a slim waistline of 8.55mm.

The Focus S is powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (MSM8255T) processor and an Adreno 205 GPU, and packs 512MB of RAM. The original Super-AMOLED screen on the Focus has also been upgraded to a 4.3-inch Super-AMOLED Plus screen. The resolution of the camera at the back of the phone has been bumped to 8MP, and there is a 1.3MP camera in the front as well.

The press release from AT&T also states that the Focus S will be capable of 4G speeds, but does not mention anything whether it’s the so-called 4G (HSDPA+) network, or the real’ upcoming 4G LTE network from AT&T.

The Focus S will hit the States under the AT&T’s network, sometime in fall.

Zune Update Paves Way for Mango

Microsoft has released the next version of the Zune software to pave the way for the next release of Windows Phone, codenamed Mango. Zune software is a key companion for a Windows Phone device allowing you to update your phone software, sync photos and videos, shop for apps, and more.


You can download the v4.8 of Zune software here or update the current installed version on your computer. To update your current version, click Settings > Software > General, and then click Check For Updates. The latest release does not introduce any visual changes but there are a few apparent additions.

    • 48-hour movie rentals
    • Parental Controls now support M-rated (Mature) content
    • Option to hide purchase confirmation dialog for faster app checkout
    • See what apps are compatible with the Windows Phone you own


Apart from the the under-the-hood refinements and fixes, the update sets up things for the Mango update. It streamlines the process to update your Windows Phone software. Zune 4.8 introduces progressive updates and the ability to skip phone backup. Since, Mango will expand the number of locations and languages where Windows Phone is available around the world, Zune 4.8 improves on the same.

Zune 4.8 now supports 22 display languages and is available in these countries or regions: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.

As I wrote in my post on I Love Windows Phone, this update and Microsoft’s other announcement allowing developers to submit Mango apps to AppHub indicates that time is ripe for Mango. Although no specific dates have been shared by Microsoft as yet, Mango update for Windows Phone looks likely to come in September.

Windows Phone Mango RTM: What is still missing?



Today came the exciting and unexpected news of Windows Phone Mango’s Release To Manufacturing (RTM). The Windows Phone team has completed the release and handed it to mobile operators and handset makers to start testing the latest update to Microsoft’s mobile operating system reboot.

Windows Phone Mango has several hundred new features which have been covered at various places across the web, including some of the v1 annoyances it has resolved for me personally. Here I want to make a few comments on what still remains to be added. Granted, these are smaller in some ways than the gap that Mango closed, it is still worth talking about what Windows Phone lacks in terms of features and functionality already available in (or announced for) iOS and/or Android.

  1. VPN functionality: Windows Phone still does not support connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), typically used to connect devices to corporate networks from outside the company. iOS offers native VPN support as well as support for VPN client apps.
  2. At-rest encryption: Encryption of the storage on the device is a huge issue for corporate IT departments in being able to support a mobile device. As smartphones get more and more capable of performing computer-like tasks, and as they start storing more and more company data, they also become a huge liability in case the phones get lost or stolen. At-rest encryption protects the data on the device in such cases. Microsoft has said that the isolated storage on the device is only available to the specific app and that is how they quasi-protect the data, but I don’t think IT departments think that is enough. iOS for example, has encryption built into newer devices since iOS4.
  3. Complete backup/restore: As part of the recent NoDo update, Windows Phone introduced phone backup, but it is crippled in that only Zune desktop can execute it, and it cannot really be triggered manually (on demand). iOS (iTunes) on the other hand, does provide a way to backup and restore on demand.
  4. Multiple Windows Live ID’s per phone: Windows Phone links the device to a Windows Live ID which you enter during setup. This is the ID used to connect to the Marketplace for purchasing apps and other content, but more importantly, it is also the ID used to access other in-built platform services like Zune Pass music subscription and Windows Live-connected services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and obviously, Windows Live Messenger and Facebook chat. What if I want to share my purchased apps with my wife but we want to have our own Windows Live-connected services on our phones? It is impossible today without sharing a Live ID, but SkyDrive, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are services which don’t translate well with a shared Live ID. On the other hand, iOS/iTunes allows you to use a different ID to purchase apps/content from the store, than from the one you associate with the device. So I envision that in Windows Phone you still enter a Windows Live ID at setup, which will tie the ID to all your platform services like SkyDrive, IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but when it comes time to purchase apps or content, you can choose which ID to use. 
  5. DLNA, Play To: When Windows Phone launched, DLNA capability was used by LG as a differentiator for their phones. Now that the initial launch dust has settled, it is about time Windows Phone included DLNA/Play To feature across the OS. This will be a good response to AirPlay which is one of the few really magical technologies that have come out of Apple. If I could beam my recently captured photos/videos from my Windows Phone to the TV via the XBOX or a TV-connected Windows 7 PC, it would be awesome. 
  6. [Updated 7/29/2011] Voice commands for Music/Zune: How could I miss this one? One feature that seems to be missing from Mango is the ability to use the excellent voice commands for Music playback (including of course podcasts), including controls like pause, play, stop and skip. I hope at least this one is a surprise feature in RTM which we have not seen in the beta builds.

Do you have anything else you would add to this list? Let me know!

Windows Phone Mango Beta Refreshed; Twitter Integration Debuts

Yesterday, Microsoft announced Windows Phone Mango RTM. The RTM implies that the code is finished, and handed over to carriers and device manufacturers for testing and distribution to the customers. Today, Microsoft surprised developers by releasing Beta 2 Refresh of the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.

Also, Microsoft is pushing an OS update for developer-unlocked phones allowing developers to refresh the Mango update to Build 7712 corresponding to the SDK release. The RTM build is 7720. The Beta 2 of Windows Phone SDK 7.1 was released last month and developer-unlocked phones were updated to Mango (Build 7661). Although, the update has a RC moniker in the name when the tools are installed, this is an early version. The final Release Candidate would be released next month. The final Mango update would not be available to developers early, and would be pushed through the usual official channels.

Today’s update is available through the Mango Connect site. You would need to download and install the updated Zune software (4.8.2134.0) and an UpdateWP.exe file. Also download the Windows Phone SDK tools. Before you install any of these, first uninstall the previous versions of all three from your computer.

The latest update showcases Twitter integration in Windows Phone for the first time. Although the Twitter integration was announced and demoed earlier, the feature wasn’t included in the last update. I did a post on all points of Windows Phone experience where Twitter integrates.

The comprehensive integration touches all bases in Windows Phone. The integration is present in the Me tile, People Hub, Pictures hub, and Internet Explorer 9. The Twitter integration is very solid, and for infrequent Twitter users, this might just do away with the need for a Twitter client.

The tools update also adds a nifty screenshot capability built-in into Windows Phone Emulator allowing you to quickly take screenshots of your apps without using a separate app.