Posts with tag windows phone 8
Things are getting pretty bad
Honestly, it’s not like things haven’t been bad for Microsoft on the mobile front since around the time Apple launched the iPhone in 2006, but frankly things are looking even worse than ever for the behemoth mobile software developer today. The IDC has reported on this quarter’s smartphone sales, revealing that sales of Windows Phone 8 devices (ie. Nokias) have seen a sharp decline from 11.9% to a measly 2.5% – a drop worse than even Microsoft might have imagined.
As if to prove just how bad things have gotten for the platform, OEM support for Windows Phone has thus far diminished to just about one – Nokia, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year in order to keep the Windows Phone devices coming. Prior to the acquisition, Nokia had been working on a line of new Android devices and was in talks to drop the Windows Phone options entirely, which would have all but diminished Windows Phone’s presence in the marketplace. Though Microsoft managed to stop that disaster from happening, Nokia did release their first line of Android devices before the acquisition was announced, Microsoft recently killed that line in favor of lower priced Windows Phone devices.
Microsoft is preparing to launch a new line of Lumia smartphones earlier September, with initial reports suggesting that there are two models incoming – a midrange Lumia “Selfie” phone with a 5 megapixel front facing camera, and a new Lumia device wrapped in an all aluminum body. The company has already sent out invitations for the event where these phones are rumored to launch.
All that said, it really is just a simple question at this point – have things been too bad for too long for the company? Or, in other terms, is it too late for Windows Phone? It’s nearly been 4 years since the Windows Phone platform launched at this point, replacing the archaic but long lasting Windows Mobile one which was almost instantly obsoleted by iOS and Android. Microsoft hasn’t really had much luck since that point, and there has to be a point where it would make more sense to just give in the towel – maybe this is it?
Unless, of course, you’re Microsoft, and you’ve got a selfie phone coming.
Microsoft now controls the OS and the hardware
If there’s one thing Microsoft has always been good at, its developing software and partnering with hardware manufacturers to get that software out into the world. But starting today, Microsoft has turned into a big player of both the hardware and the software. That’s right, after over half a year of waiting and waiting for the right government approval, Microsoft has officially acquired Nokia’s devices and services unit.
The deal, which was originally announced in September of 2013 and cost Microsoft $7.2 billion, puts the software giant firmly in control of nearly the entire Windows Phone ecosystem, from end to end. Nokia had been Microsoft’s biggest Windows Phone supporter, however the company began to accelerate a deal that would merge the two companies when it became public knowledge that Nokia was heavily considering switching to Android – a consideration that eventually turned somewhat to reality with the announcement of the Nokia X and XL last month.
Under the acquisition, Microsoft will be allowed to use the “Nokia” name on feature phones until December 31st, 2015. However, any new smartphones by the former Nokia team will be released under the Microsoft brand. It remains to be seen on whether or not Microsoft is planning on using the Lumia branding with upcoming Windows Phone devices, however a rumor a while back indicated that Microsoft could be considering switching to the Surface brand for all smartphone models going forwards.
Looks to make Windows more attractive
In one of the most unexpected pieces of news since forever, we’re hearing confirmation today that Microsoft will be participating in an effort to release dual-boot Android/windows Phone hybrid devices starting this calendar year. The root of this confirmation comes from Karbonn, an Indian-based smartphone manufacturer, Chairman Sudhir Hasija, who claims that his company has been in discussion with Microsoft about the project for some time now and that dual-boot smartphones will be coming within the next six months.
But before that will start, Karbonn will begin selling their first line of Windows Phone-exclusive smartphones by June. These phones should ship with Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box and will be the result of an effort by Microsoft to, as Hasija has said, ease “regulations and… open[ing] up its platform for other players.”
Microsoft has seen only limited success with its Windows Phone platform, capturing less than 5% of the smartphone market. This comes in stark contrast to the overall success of the Windows Mobile line prior to the unveiling of the iPhone in 2007, a product that largely dominated the marketplace in its time.
It's almost time
It’s been a while since we’ve heard nary a word regarding Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business, but today we’re hearing an update on how that’s are going at last. According to Nokia, the company hopes to have e division sold off to Microsoft and the deal finalized by the end of March at the absolute latest.
Nokia has provided a full statement today regarding the news:
Nokia would like to stress that recent developments in India related to ongoing tax proceedings are not expected to affect the timing of the closing nor the material deal terms of the anticipated transaction between Nokia and Microsoft, announced on September 3, 2013.
The transaction is still expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, irrespective of the proceedings in the Indian tax case.
Nokia has just recently announced the Nokia Lumia Icon flagship smartphone for Verizon, bringing a high end Windows Phone smartphone to America’s largest cellular network.
Two birds, one stone
Two stones, one stone – that’s the entire premise of this Xbox Music pass deal. For a limited time, if you buy a $99 one-year subscription for Xbox Music in the Microsoft Store, Microsoft’s willing to throw in a Nokia Lumia 520, totally free of charge. While the Nokia Lumia 520 is a fine, if slightly lackluster smartphone on its own, you might be swayed by the low, low price tag of “free” if you were already in the market for a low end smartphone.
Otherwise? Xbox Music is decent, if slightly underrated, and the Nokia Lumia 520 is undoubtably a low end smartphone meant to appeal to only the most basic of would-be smartphone customers. But if you’re interested, head on over to the Microsoft Store and have at it.
Let's wait for //BUILD/ 2014
From within the halls of Redmond come a couple of Windows Phone 8.1 rumours that we’ve heard of before: the notification center and the Siri-like assistant, codenamed “Cortana” after the assistant in Halo. Microsoft is currently testing Windows Phone 8.1 privately and it sounds as if these features have been integrated into Windows Phone and not just test apps as we’ve seen earlier.
The new notification center will be implemented similar to how it is on Android or iOS – that is, you make a long swipe in from the top of the screen to access it. A short swipe off the top of the screen will trigger a quick settings panel which presumably lets one toggle settings such as screen rotation, airplane mode, volume settings, etc.
Cortana is set to replace the existing Bing Search and can be interacted with speech or text. Acting similarly to Google Now or Siri, it will learn from the things you do with your phone to help better get the information you want, and will also feature conversation interaction which begs the question: What will Cortana say if you ask about the best place to hide a body? Silliness aside, Cortana will also remind you about upcoming appointments ala Google Now.
Other changes coming in Windows Phone 8.1 include multiple volume profiles and Bing Smart Search to bring Windows 8.1-style search to the phone. Enterprise people are also in luck as the update finally brings VPN support. There’s also a bit of separation going on, as the Music+Videos hub will be splitting into two separate apps named — you guessed it — Xbox Music and Xbox Video. The People hub is also getting some extensions with deeper Twitter and Facebook integration.
Microsoft is believed to be talking about Windows Phone 8.1 come //BUILD/ 2014. Will we see a Windows Phone 8.1 release through the Preview for Developers program? We will see in the coming months.
Source: The Verge
The prodigal child arrives
Finally. I think that this is one of the few times in the tech sphere we can say the word with an entirely straight face, because it’s true – finally, at long last, Windows Phone users twill get to experience the photo sharing social network “masterpiece” (well, depending on who you ask) that is… Instagram. Its absence the posterchild for the lacking Windows Phone app ecosystem, the launch of Instagram for Windows Phone culminates an almost three year long wait.
Instagram for Windows Phone is said to include support for everything you’d come to expect from the iOS and Android versions of the app – the same filters, the same hashtag searching functionality, the same social stream, social network sharing – it’s all there… except for one big omission. Unfortunately, Instagram for Windows Phone is launching without video support today, so you won’t be able to record video of the way the clouds move this morning and slap that filter on there. The time for that cloud video is approaching, however, as the Instagram team is promising that a future update will restore video functionality.
So, Windows Phone users – how excited are you? Instagram. It’s a big name. It’s a big app. And it’s finally hitting your smartphone. Excited?
Edit 11/20/2013 @ 1:14 PM EST: Unfortunately, there does appear to be one rather… glaring admission that hasn’t been getting much press; you won’t be able to take a photo from within Instagram, you’ll need to head over to your phone’s camera app, snap it there, and then import that from Instagram to get the job done. Not a deal breaker, but certainly not ideal.
Source: The Verge
Windows Phone 8 devices have thus far been pretty conservatively sized, but that stereotype is going out the window this morning as Nokia has officially announced the Nokia Lumia 1520, a 6-inch beheamoth with a 1080p display running Windows Phone 8 GDR3, Microsoft’s latest and greatest version of their mobile operating system and the precursor to their much larger, more impressive Windows Phone 8.1 platform.
The Lumia 1520 stylistically doesn’t do that great of a job differentiating itself from its older brothers stylistically speaking – you would be hard pressed to pick one out of a lineup next to the company’s older Lumias, sans its larger screen. It comes in the usual array of colorful bodies, has a weight of 7.37 ounces, runs (ironically) on the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC as the Nokia Lumia 2520 Windows RT tablet, which was also just announced today, and – perhaps disappointedly – comes with a 20 megapixel PureView camera, significantly lower than that found on the lesser Nokia Lumia 1020 that launched earlier this year.
Nokia has yet to confirm pricing or availability, but we’d imagine we’ll be seeing this bad boy show up stateside on at AT&T at the very least sooner rather than later. Expect it to compete heavily against the Android powered Samsung Galaxy Note III, including on the pricing category – $299 would not be an unreasonable (if not slightly high) estimate.
Source: The Verge
Yeah, it's nice
We’ve seen Windows Phone 8 GDR3 already through low-res pictures or highly JPEG compressed pictures. Since Microsoft is letting third parties in on GDR3, here’s a proper first look at what’s coming to the table. One thing to note is that this is an incomplete first look. The Lumia 1520 with its 1080p screen isn’t out yet, so I can’t judge how well the new three-column Start Screen works and there are no Windows Phones out there with Qualcomm’s quad-core CPU at this time so I can’t judge performance. Not even Nokia’s Bittersweet Shimmer update is out yet so I can’t even take a look at that. What I can look at is what’s been given to me from the halls of Redmond. So let’s get started after the break.
Through the previously mentioned developer preview program
As mentioned before, Microsoft is opening the gates on Windows Phone to let third party developers and enthusiasts gain access to the next version of Windows Phone before everyone else gets it, similar to how their current Windows beta programs work. The app you need to install to gain access to future versions of Windows Phone has just gone live on the Windows Store and again, you must have a Windows Phone Store developer subscription or a developer unlock on your phone to use it. The app simply changes a few flags and it lets you download and install GDR3 through the regular phone update control panel as seen above.
GDR3 brings along a rotation lock and some multitasking improvements among other things. I’m currently installing GDR3 on my Lumia and will report back any findings if they’re significant enough. One thing to note is that if you do install this on your own phone, you’ll probably void your warranty and there is no downgrade path back to GDR2.
Beautifully, unapologetically shameless
If you’re Microsoft and you’ve been seeing extraordinarily limited success with your Windows Phone platform, what do you do? Well, you’re Microsoft, so you spend as much money on advertising as you really need to in order to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately Microsoft appears to have taken a wrong turn with this strategy however, as the company has just published not one, not two, but seven anti-Apple advertisements mocking not only Apple, the iPhone 5s, and the iPhone 5c – but Apple’s design and engineering teams, Jony Ive, as well as the late Steve Jobs.
The new ads are almost so bad that they’re almost unwatchable. One such ad features two members of Apple’s iPhone team try to “sell” the concept behind the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c to characters that are qutie obviously meant to represent Steve Jobs and Jony Ive. At one point, an overzealous iPhone engineer says that they’re going to give their customers “the finger” with the new iPhone before it’s “clarified that he meant a fingerprint reader.
Though the ad mocks Apple and what some see as stagnant innovation with their iPhone lineup in recent years well enough, what it doesn’t do is sell Windows Phone devices in any real way. Instead of talking about the benefits of the Windows Phone platform – the beautifully designed Nokia devices, increasing developer support, a more than “good enough” Windows Phone 8 operating system, the ad merely takes poor potshots at Apple and hopes that the viewer will get the message. And at the end of the day, though it may be funny for Microsoft’s core audience to watch, it won’t sell any new Windows Phones – and that’s just sad.
You can checkout one of the advertisements embedded after the break, if you’re so inclined. Do you think this was the right marketing move for Microsoft? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Microsoft (YouTube)