Last June, a mysterious event invite came out of Microsoft’s Washington HQ. Unlike pretty much every other tech launch in the last two years, we hadn’t seen any major leaks beforehand, although rumours of the launch being for a tablet with Windows 8 (or, according to Mat Honan, a #MSFTaaaaaablet). What the company ultimately unveiled was the Surface, its first piece of Windows-based hardware, in both RT and Pro flavours, the latter of which still hasn’t made it to the UK. In a brave experiment, I have spent the last couple of months using the RT model as my primary computer, and it’s definitely been turning heads. Has this been for good reasons, though? Read on to find out. Continue reading →
The Verge’s Tom Warren, a reliable writer with regard to Microsoft news, reported that Nokia will be releasing the first ‘true’ PureView Windows Phone handset late in 2013. The device, codenamed EOS, will feature a sensor closer to that which appeared on the Nokia 808 PureView which was released last year. As well as this, it is reported that the device will signal the start of a new design cycle for the Lumia range. The device will be made of aluminium and will have squared edges, contrasting with the rounded polycarbonate body found in the current Lumia range.
The device is believed to be in the pipeline for AT&T in the US, and is expected to be released alongside another device (codenamed Catwalk) which will also have an aluminium body. It is clear that Nokia is moving away from the polycarbonate which they have used in their previous Windows Phone handsets. This change means that they will be in a much better position to compete with phones such as the iPhone 5 when it comes to size and weight, something that they have been unable to do thus far with the Lumia range, however this is in no way Nokia’s first phone of aluminium construction. The Nokia N8, the precursor to the aforementioned 808 PureView, was constructed out of the lightweight metal and was indeed available in a number of colours. With MWC coming up in a few weeks, we can expect to see more information coming out of Finland with regard to these handsets and Nokia’s upcoming Windows RT tablet.
Source The Verge
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 launch event was headlined by the appearance of Jessica Alba, but otherwise very little unknown information surfaced about the operating system or the devices it would appear upon. One smidgen of news that did emerge, however, was that a Samsung device, depicted by a lonely silhouette and named the Ativ Odyssey, was in the pipeline for a December release on Verizon in the US. Of course December came and went without a release, but CES gave Samsung the opportunity to show the 4″ Windows Phone 8 device to the world. Now, a press release has stated that the phone will be available sooner rather than later, with stores set to receive the Ativ Odyssey and Valentine’s Day editions of the Nokia Lumia 822 and Motorola Droid Razr M tomorrow (January 24th).
The Odyssey joins the Lumia 822 and HTC 8X in Verizon’s lineup of LTE Windows Phones, and its microSD slot and 2100mAh battery should win it some fans, although the 800 x 480 screen resolution and 5MP camera show that it is pitched towards the lower end of the market. As with almost all other Windows Phone 8 devices, the package comes powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip accompanied by 1GB of RAM, and it will be available for $49.99 with a new 2 year contract, while whispers of a European launch remain unconfirmed but not impossible.
The Surface Pro, the big brother to Microsoft’s Surface RT which was released in October last year, won’t go on sale in January as originally planned, but you will be able to have one in your hands by February 9th. On the bright side, Microsoft do seem to have admitted defeat with their Surface RT retail strategy, which was so bad that it was nominated for our biggest failure award – the Seattle-based company says that the Surface Pro will have wide retail availability beyond just Microsoft.com and Microsoft Stores.
We knew that Microsoft were targeting the high-end market with the Surface Pro, but even so the prices they’ve announced do seem extortionate. The minimum you’ll find yourself paying for one is $899, for the 64GB version with no covers included. The 128GB model will add $100 on to that price. The Surface RT 32GB tablet, the cheapest member of the Surface family you’ll find, would set you back $499, so there is obviously a significant difference between the RT and the Pro. Like with the its little brother, if you want to buy a keyboard cover for your Surface Pro it will cost $119 for the Touch Cover or $129 for the Type one. Microsoft will throw in a free pressure-sensitive pen in the box too.
On the same date as the Surface Pro is released, Microsoft have announced that a standalone 64GB will be made available for $599 – previously you could only buy it as a package with the black Touch Cover for $699.
It’s nice to finally get some genuine information on the Surface Pro, but we really feel that the large price tag will put a lot of potential consumers off buying one. Mind you, Microsoft do seem to be aiming here to make something which will completely replace your laptop or desktop PC, whereas previous tablets have only really been able to be used in conjunction with another device, to do all the ‘serious’ stuff on. The Surface Pro will certainly be an interesting one to watch, but personally we can’t see it taking off.
In a blog entry posted today, Windows Phone corporate vice president Terry Myerson confirmed Microsoft’s plans for Windows Phone 7.8, the update that the company has remained quiet about since its announcement at the Windows Phone 8 event in June. Serving to sweeten the blow for existing Windows Phone 7.x device owners that are unable to update their devices to the latest version of the operating system, 7.8 will bring new Start screen options including resizeable tiles and 20 theme colours, and users can also opt to have new password options and the daily Bing picture as their lock screen wallpaper. While developers are unlikely to target 7.x for app releases due to SDK changes for 8, Myerson promises that Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars will soon join Draw Something and Words With Friends in the expanding Windows Phone Store for 7.x. The update is currently said to be in testing with OEM and carrier partners, and Microsoft hope for a smooth rollout of the update in early 2013.
Source Windows Phone Blog
At an event back in June, Microsoft offered a ‘sneak peek’ at some new features of Windows Phone 8, with the new start screen being the star of the show. While we weren’t told about devices, the past couple of months have given us announcement events from Samsung, Nokia and Microsoft’s new best friend HTC, but all parties have remained pretty silent when it comes to the full extent of Windows Phone 8’s new features. That’s all set to change today, as Microsoft is hosting an event in San Francisco to show off their new mobile operating system to the world – and we might even hear about Windows Phone 7.8 for existing customers too. We will be liveblogging the whole thing right here, so stick with us to find out what’s up Microsoft’s sleeve.
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16:37 Google’s just dumped a whole load of Nexus news. Bear with us as we filter through it.
16:45 If you want to watch along with us, Microsoft has a stream for you.
16:48 A little over 10 minutes to go now.
16:56 It’s almost time!
16:57 The pre-stream music is actually horrible.
17:01 The announcer kindly asks everyone to turn their devices to off or silent. Not very blogger-friendly.
17:02 Here’s a table of phones.
17:04 And we’re off! Joe Belfiore is talking about why he loves his Windows Phone.
17:05 Big cheers from the Windows Phone fans in the room.
17:05 He’s talking about the successes of Windows 8, Surface and the San Francisco Giants.
17:06 Before he talks about the product, he’s going to talk about what’s happened in the last few months.
17:07 191 countries can now access the WP Store.
17:08 120,000 apps already available for 7.x devices.
17:09 Belfiore’s taking jabs at the iPhone 5’s ‘revolutionary’ fifth row of icons.
17:10 After recapping the core inspirations of WP, a video has come on soundtracked by Jonsi’s wonderful Go Do, showing off the individuality and stuff.
17:13 Let’s talk about live tiles.
17:14 Apps ‘light up the phone’. Live apps can integrate into the wallet and other hubs in WP8.
17:15 There is a new lock screen powered by ‘live apps’.
17:15 Photos, notifications and other stuff can appear.
17:16 Microsoft have partnered with Facebook to make an app that supports the lockscreen, showing various photos from your past.
17:17 Text on the lockscreen can also be customised.
17:18 New apps include Twitter, Draw Something, ESPN, Angry Birds Space and Groupon.
17:18 A new version of Skype is the highlight, based on the fantastic Windows 8 app.
17:18 It is integrated naturally into the phone experience and will run in the background.
17:19 Soon Windows Phone will have 92% of the top mobile apps, including Temple Run and Urbanspoon.
17:20 Lots of Unity games will be arriving with the new native code support.
17:21 Pandora is coming with a year of complimentary ad-free music.
17:22 SDK stuff coming tomorrow at /build.
17:23 The Data Sense feature keeps you under your data limits.
17:24 IE10 compresses sites to use less data.
17:25 Data Sense can track down WiFi hotspots on a map.
17:26 As you approach your limits, it changes how the phone behaves with data.
17:27 45% more web browsing on the same data plan with Data Sense.
17:28 The first carrier to support Data Sense will be Verizon with the Lumia 822 and HTC 8X.
17:29 Belfiore’s moving onto ‘child mode’.
17:29 We have a video of children pleading to play on a phone.
17:30 “Kid’s Corner essentially creates a separate place on your phone that’s for kids…All things that you pick is for them.”
17:30 Here are Joe’s children to demonsterate.
17:31 Alexander, 9, is going to play Battleships.
17:32 One of his children just called him ‘mommy’. Awkward.
17:33 This demo isn’t going too well.
17:34 If you don’t have kids, you can just disable the feature.
17:35 Now there’s an advert for it featuring Jessica Alba.
17:36 And here is Jessica Alba. Rapturous applause for her.
17:37 Twitter has just erupted with techies talking about Jessica Alba. This is unusual.
17:38 Apparently her daughter once tweeted to 4 million people. Kid’s Corner stops that.
17:39 She’s now talking about what she loves about Windows Phone. It’s the same-old personal stuff.
17:41 Now Jessica’s talking about her new company – The Honest Company.
17:43 The people hub now has a feature called Rooms.
17:44 They seem similar to groups.
"This is like the best tech crowd I've ever been in front of." - deep thoughts from Jessica Alba at Microsoft's WP8 event.—
Joseph (@jrvolpe) October 29, 2012
17:46 You can share Rooms with iPhone users, including calendars and such.
17:47 On a related note, the Lumia 920 will be in UK stores on November 2nd, with the 820 coming 5 days later.
17:48 Now Joe is talking about SkyDrive stuff.
17:52 Xbox Music will also be available on Windows Phone 8.
17:52 Playlists and song choices sync across the cloud.
17:53 All of your content is with you wherever you are.
17:54 Joe’s walking off now, but Ballmer is in a new advert.
17:55 He’s talking about the successes of the weekend again.
17:56 “We’re bringing phones into the family with Windows Phone 8.”
17:56 “We set out to reinvent the smartphone…that could be personal for each of us.”
17:58 Steve is talking about personalisation and the connection to Windows 8.
18:00 He said developers. Get ready
18:00 Now he’s talking about the killer hardware, starting with the Nokia Lumia 920.
18:01 Next is the Samsung Ativ S.
18:02 And now the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, Microsoft’s flagship.
18:03 All three and more will go on sale in Europe this weekend, while in the US phones will follow soon after.
18:04 Verizon will carry the 8X ($199), Lumia 822 ($49) and Ativ Odyssey (exclusive in December).
18:05 T-Mobile will have the Lumia 810 ($99) and 8X ($149).
18:06 AT&T will have the 8X, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 exclusively. Pricing is to be confirmed.
18:07 Microsoft stores will sell all US phones in November.
18:07 “You won’t be able to turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing a Windows ad.”
18:08 “Windows Phone is the best phone for Windows.”
18:10 Jessica, Joe and Steve are out to wrap things up. Also the stream has died.
18:10 And that’s all folks. We’ll be off to get some hands-on time this weekend, and (hopefully) bring you some news on how Microsoft plans to treat its existing customers.
18:11 See you next time! Thanks for joining us.