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printed May 22, 2015
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Windows Phone is the smartphone platform and OS from Microsoft. Like Google does with Android, Microsoft only makes the software, allowing various hardware manufacturers to make the phones that run Windows Phone. Windows Phone replaced the older Windows Mobile (Professional and Standard editions.) Windows Phone competes directly with iOS and Android, offering most of the same OS features.

by:  Microsoft


Spotify Finesses Auto Playlist Generation, Adds Video

Wednesday, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 10:49 AM

Spotify today introduced new features to its streaming music service on the desktop and on mobile devices. The biggest change involves how people discover music and create playlists. A feature called Spotify Now purports to know what listeners want to hear at different times of the day and can automatically generate playlists for different activities, such as commuting, working, and relaxing. The service is also adding video content, which will come from a variety of sources, such as Comedy Central, Vice, ESPN, NBC, Adult Swim, TED, and others. Much of the video content will focus on music and will be short-form clips rather than long shows or episodes. The company is also targeting runners with new music controls that make it easier to select and control playlists while exercising. Spotify is placing an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify has apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The new apps will reach consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Sweden today, with other regions following over time.

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MixRadio Expands to Android and iOS

Tuesday, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.


Microsoft to Sidestep Carriers for Windows 10 Mobile Updates

Monday, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it plans to take a more active role in making sure the existing base of Windows 10 smartphones has the latest code. The company is taking a page from Apple and will not rely on carriers to deliver operating system updates. Microsoft said, "We take our responsibility to keep Windows secure seriously. We [will] proactively update supported devices with necessary updates to address issues. And today, we're announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones." Microsoft confirmed to ZDNet that it will deliver security, performance, and feature updates to Windows 10 Mobile handsets itself, and the code will be pushed to all users simultaneously. The statement appears to apply to handsets that ship with Windows 10 Mobile, and not older devices. With Windows 8.1 and earlier, Microsoft relied on its carrier partners to approve and distribute system updates and it will continue to do so. As ZDNet points out, however, consumers with older handsets can join the Windows Insider program to maintain early access to new OS versions. Apple uses this same master distribution method for keeping its iOS devices up to date. Google still relies on its handset and carrier partners to update their individual devices to newer versions of Android.


Microsoft Delivers New Preview of Windows 10 for Phones

May 14, 2015, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released build 10080 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. The updated operating system adds a number of features and resolves a wide number of known bugs. To start, the new technical preview introduces the Windows Store beta for phones. Users will be able to browse through the new content store for apps. Thanks to the store's presence in the build, Windows Phone previewers can now download the universal app versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Xbox. The operating system includes the music preview and video preview apps, too, which will let testers look at how Windows 10 Mobile will handle media playback. Microsoft also added the new camera app. Microsoft recommends users read through the "known issues" bullet points before installing the operating system preview on their phone. The technical preview is in pre-beta status and not meant to be used as a daily driver.


Microsoft Debuts Hyperlapse App for Windows Phone and Android

May 14, 2015, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today released an application for Windows Phone and Android handsets called Hyperlapse. The app can be used to stabilize shaky footage or to create fast-moving time-lapse videos. The app supports multiple playback speeds (between 1x and 32x) and can import existing video files from the phone's camera roll. Microsoft says the user interface takes only a few moments to master. The app is available to Windows Phones from the Windows Store, though the Android version is officially being labeled a beta. Microsoft also made Hyperlapse available to Windows PCs. There are a number of competing time-lapse apps in the market, including one from Instagram called Hyperlapse. Instagram's app is limited to the iPhone. Microsoft's Hyperlapse app is free.


Verizon Adds LG Lancet to Windows Phone Lineup

May 14, 2015, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lancet, the first Windows Phone handset to support Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 service. Lancet owners will be able to make high-definition voice calls via Verizon's LTE network. The phone runs Windows 8.1, but carries over some features from LG's Android handsets, such as KnockOn for waking the phone and Quick Memo for capturing screen shots. The Lancet features a 4.5-inch screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The Lancet is a budget-friendly phone. The full retail price is $120, though Verizon is offering the phone for $5 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. The LG Lancet is available online starting today, and it will reach Verizon stores May 21.


Cricket Prices Lumia 640 at $129

May 13, 2015, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said the Lumia 640, which goes on sale May 15, will cost $129.99. Early buyers of the phone will be rewarded with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal for use on the phone as well as on a tablet and on a PC. The phone also offers 1TB of OneDrive storage for a period of one year, and 60 minutes of free Skype Unlimited Worldwide calling each month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile later this year. Cricket does not require contracts.


Microsoft Details Windows 10 Versions

May 13, 2015, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said it will offer seven versions of Windows 10, including one tailored specifically for mobile phones. The versions are called Windows 10 Home, Pro, Mobile, Enterprise, Education, Mobile Enterprise, and IoT Core. Each version caters to a specific user-base. The mobile version of Windows 10, says Microsoft, "is designed to deliver the best user experience on smaller, mobile, touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets." Windows 10 Mobile includes all the same universal apps available to other versions of the platform, such as productivity tools, security, and management capabilities. One of the biggest features is Continuum, which will let people use their smartphone as a full PC when connected to peripherals such as a screen, keyboard, and mouse. Microsoft said the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows 10 Pro will be a free upgrade for one year to compatible Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. Some versions of Windows 10 will reach 190 countries this summer. The timing for the mobile version of Windows 10 has not yet been defined.


BBM for Windows Phone Gains Access to Channels

May 7, 2015, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made an update available to its Windows Phone BBM app that adds support for Channels. BBM Channels foster conversations around specific topics, brands, or products. Organizations can use BBM Channels to interface with the public and their users and/or fans. Channels have been available to the BlackBerry, Android, and iOS versions of BBM for some time. BBM for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.


Yahoo Improves Flickr Mobile Apps and Web Experience

May 7, 2015, 11:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Yahoo today announced a significant round of updates to its Flickr online photo service. To start, the online site has a new camera roll and improved search tools to make browsing through albums more enjoyable or locating specific moments much easier. The refreshed web site is joined by new desktop uploaders for finding and automatically uploading photos from Mac and Windows PCs to the service. Last, in order to make Flickr more consistent across platforms and devices, Yahoo updated the Android and iOS Flickr apps. The new mobile apps have improved photo uploaders, as well. Flickr users should enjoy the same experience no matter what device they choose to access the service. Flickr is free to use and offers 1 TB of online storage.


Verizon-Branded Windows Phone Pops Up on FCC Site

May 5, 2015, 6:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents on the FCC website recently revealed an unannounced handset from Microsoft intended for Verizon Wireless. The FCC notes the device supports Verizon's LTE and CDMA networks, but reveals little else. The device appears to be a standard slab handset with a camera and flash visible on the back surface and large screen on the front. The phone has a design similar to previous Lumia devices. Neither Microsoft nor Verizon has announced any such device.


Microsoft Buys Stylus Tech from N-Trig

May 1, 2015, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said it has acquired digital pen technology from N-Trig. Microsoft has worked with the Israeli company for years, as N-Trig created the Surface Pen stylus for Microsoft's Surface tablets. "Digital pens have a ways to go to be as good as pen and paper on some dimensions, and we'll get there. But more importantly, adding the ability to capture and share the work you do with a digital pen opens up possibilities that traditional pen and paper just can't match," said Microsoft in a blog post. In the past, N-Trig created the DuoSense Pen for using with Android and Windows Phone smartphones. Terms of the technology deal with Microsoft were not disclosed.


Windows 10 Won't Reach Phones Until the Fall

Apr 30, 2015, 5:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has shied away from saying exactly when Windows 10 will launch other than to say "this summer." Speaking at Microsoft's Build developer conference this week, executive Joe Belfiore said the phone-specific version of Windows 10 won't arrive until after Windows 10 launches for PCs and tablets. "Our phone builds have not been as far as long as our PC builds," said Belfiore. "We're adapting the phone experiences later than we're adding the PC experiences." Belfiore didn't provide specifics, but the implication is that the revised OS for mobile phones won't arrive until the fall months. Microsoft has already released two preview builds of Windows 10 for Phones. The company is expected to seed a new build of the fledgling OS in the next couple of weeks.


Windows 10 On Phones Can Be Extended to PCs

Apr 29, 2015, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today demonstrated how Windows 10 on phones will be able to serve as full PCs thanks to the Continuum user interface idea. Continuum helps keep the UI approximately the same as users move from PC to tablet to phone. Continuum on Windows 10 phones will let users turn their phones into full computers with apps, data, and accessories such as a keyboard and mouse. According to Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, new hardware is required to power this vision. The Windows 10 platform is expected to arrive later this year, but Microsoft has not announced new Windows Phones just yet.

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Windows 10 to Run Android and iOS Apps

Apr 29, 2015, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 29, 2015, 12:40 PM

Microsoft today said Windows 10 devices will be able to run Android applications. According to Microsoft, developers will be able to reuse Java and C++ code to run Android apps in an Android subsystem on Windows 10 devices. Further, Microsoft said Windows 10 will support iOS and Objective C, so developers can port iOS apps to Windows 10 easily thanks to new tools in Visual Studio. Adding support for Android apps and making it possible for developers to port iOS apps to the Windows 10 platform will help Microsoft close the app gap it faces with competing platforms. BlackBerry has a similar idea in place on its BlackBerry 10 devices, which can run Android apps. Windows 10 isn't expected to arrive until later this year.

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Microsoft to Add Carrier Billing to App Store

Apr 29, 2015, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Windows device owners will soon be able to purchase apps using their wireless account rather than a credit card. Carrier billing, as the practice is called, makes it more convenient for people to purchase good and services from mobile devices by removing the credit card barrier. Purchases are simply added to the user's monthly bill. Microsoft said it will launch carrier billing with 90 carriers around the world, but didn't specify which ones. Carrier billing will be possible across all Windows 10 devices, including phones, tablets, and PCs. Windows 10 is expected to arrive later this year.

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Microsoft Fixes Bugs In Windows 10 Technical Preview

Apr 21, 2015, 6:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today pushed out a minor update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. Build 10052 resolves a number of performance issues and makes a few other tweaks. For example, users can now enable flight mode again, as well as disable all data connections if so desired. Microsoft fixed an MMS-related bug that saw some users lose their settings. It also resolved an issue that prevented some from downloading keyboards for additional languages. Last, Microsoft repaired a bug that caused the viewfinder in the camera app to display incorrectly. Build 10052 of Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones is available to Microsoft Insiders.


Microsoft Bringing Maps to Windows 10 Phones, Too

Apr 17, 2015, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said the Universal Maps app for the Windows 10 platform is now available to phones running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Device owners can download the Universal app via the Windows Insider program. As with all Universal apps, Maps works across phone, tablet, and PC form factors. It is responsive to touch input and includes satellite images, local search data via Bing, live traffic, and voice-guided navigation. It also supports downloadable maps, which are accessible even when the device is offline. According to Microsoft, it takes the best from both Bing Maps and HERE Maps and puts them together in a single application. Microsoft has also updated the Maps app for the desktop version of Windows 10, which now includes more 3D city renders and streetside panoramas. Maps for Windows 10 Technical Preview is free for Windows Insiders to download.


Microsoft Office for Windows 10 Hits Phones This Month

Apr 17, 2015, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said Office Universal apps will be available to the Windows 10 platform for phones by the end of the month. The Office Universal apps work across desktop, tablet, and handset form factors. Microsoft only recently expanded the number of handsets able to run the Windows 10 Technical Preview. The preview will be required to install the early look at Office Universal. According to Microsoft, the Office Universal apps were built with touch-first usability in mind for phones and tablets. The Universal apps adapt to the smaller screens of phones and move the commands and controls to the bottom of the display for better one-handed editing and creating. The Universal apps produce documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that are fully compatible with the tablet and desktop versions of Office, which now share most features. Microsoft expects the preview of Office Universal for Windows 10 to go live within a few weeks.


Nokia to Buy Alcatel-Lucent, Mulling Options for HERE Maps

Apr 15, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The combined companies would be a giant in the telecom equipment space with more than 100,000 employees. The terms of the deal will see Nokia acquire all of Alcatel-Lucent's stock, as traded in both France and the U.S. The companies' boards of directors have approved the deal, though shareholders have yet to vote on the acquisition. The deal will also require regulatory approval. The companies expect the deal to close during the first half of 2016. Once combined, the companies will streamline redundant operations, but believe the 40,000 research and development at its disposal employees will be able to make the company a world leader in the connected IP space. Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent will specifically target the development of 5G wireless networks. The largest competitors remaining are Ericsson and Huawei, though ZTE, Samsung, and others make telecommunications equipment, too. In addition to announcing the Alcatel-Lucent deal, Nokia said it has begun a review of strategic options for its HERE Maps business. Nokia acquired Navteq's mapping business in 2007 and turned it into a competitive global company. Nokia's HERE Maps are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms, as well as online, and provide robust driving, walking, and transit directions. Nokia said its review of HERE Maps may or may not result in a transaction.


Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Preview to More Phones

Apr 10, 2015, 12:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following up an announcement it made last month, Microsoft today made an updated version of the Windows 10 technical preview available to a much wider range of Lumia smartphones. Microsoft delivered an early build of the technical preview to just a few handsets in February. However, due to the way most handsets' partitions were created, the preview couldn't function properly on the vast majority of devices. Microsoft has completed a process called partition stitching, which allows devices to adjust the partition dynamically. Microsoft has finished testing this new version of the technical preview on a wide variety of Windows handsets. The preview is available through Microsoft's Windows Insiders program. Some of the handsets now able to install the beta operating system include the Lumia 1520, 1320, 1020, 920, 925, 928, and a smattering of handsets from the Lumia 500, 600, 700, and 800 series. According to Microsoft today's build includes an early version of the Project Spartan browser, the new Windows 10 universal Outlook and calendar apps, and new phone and messaging apps. The People Hub has a new visual design, and the Maps app has been updated to the universal windows version. Microsoft also refreshed the app switcher tool, which now supports a new grid for faster selecting. Microsoft said it fixed a number of performance problems compared to earlier builds, but warned that there are still a number of known problems with the technical preview.


Cortana to Start Offering Movie Recommendations

Apr 9, 2015, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said that Cortana on devices running Windows Phone 8.1 will soon be able to recommend movies based on user interests. Windows Phone owners will need to activate the film concierge service by turning the feature on in Cortana's Notebook settings. According to Microsoft, after a few days Cortana will begin to make recommendations. If users are interested in a recommended movie, clicking on it will bring up details such as synopsis, reviews, cast list, and trailers, and even allow users to purchase tickets. Cortana's movie concierge service is free to use.


Vine for Windows Phone Earns Significant Update

Apr 3, 2015, 11:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Vine today released a major update to its application for Windows Phones that brings the app more in line with the versions for Android and iOS. The app now has more ways to import video, including from the camera roll. Users can edit their Vines by moving various clips around, as well as save draft Vines for later editing. The Windows Phone app supports private Vine Messages, which are short video snippets users can send to one another. The app now displays loop counts, showing how many times each video has been viewed, and lets users customize their profile with new background colors. Last, the Vine activity feed has been redesigned with notifications about views, likes, comments, and friend activity on Vine. Vine, which is owned an operated by Twitter, is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.


Skype Overhauls Android, iOS and Qik Apps

Apr 2, 2015, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype today pushed out significant improvements to its Android, iOS, and Qik mobile applications. The Android version of Skype gains new bubble-style conversations similar to the iPhone, as well as access to an expanded range of animated emoji. The Android app will no longer auto-scroll to the latest message as new ones come in; allows users to change and view avatars for group chats; and forces users to re-enter their password if they actively sign out of the app. The iOS version of Skype now supports more languages, including Croatian, Slovak, Catalan, Vietnamese, Thai, Hindi, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Turkish, and Estonian. Skype's Qik app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone now supports multiple effects at once. The Android and iOS Qik apps now let people access these features by touching the magic wand, but the Windows Phone version uses a viewfinder to cycle through the different effects. Skype for Android and iOS, and Qik for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone are free to download from the platforms' respective app stores.


Apple Offering Credit for Some Android, Windows Phones

Mar 30, 2015, 9:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has expanded the scope of its Reuse and Recycling Program to include smartphones, tablets, and PCs not made by Apple. Customers can take their old smartphones directly to Apple Stores and receive credit towards new Apple gear for turning them in. Customers who don't have access to Apple Stores can mail in their devices for credit. Apple will recycle just about any old phone, tablet, or computer for free. Apple says not all devices are eligible for credit and suggests customers check eligibility (online) before heading to Apple Stores. According to Apple's web site, it is accepting handsets from Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and BlackBerry. Apple has partnered with Brightstar and DataServ to handle the actual device recycling processes. The expanded Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is available in the U.S., the U.K., and select European countries.


Windows 10 Preview to Reach Dozens More Phones Soon

Mar 30, 2015, 7:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft said it is preparing to make the technical preview of Windows 10 available to a large batch of phones in the coming weeks. Microsoft delivered an early build of the technical preview to just a few handsets in February. However, due to the way most handsets' partitions were created, the preview couldn't function properly on the vast majority of devices. Microsoft has completed a process called partition stitching, which allows devices to adjust the partition dynamically. Microsoft has since been testing the technical preview on a wide variety of Windows handsets to make sure the build is functional. Microsoft expects to spend about another week engineering the code, and then will likely make the preview available through its Windows Insiders program. Some of the handsets that will be able to test the new operating system include the Lumia 1520, 1320, 1020, 920, 925, 928, Icon, and a smattering of handsets from the Lumia 500, 600, 700, and 800 series. Microsoft will have more details about timing of the release in the days to come.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Mar 25, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


Opera Brings Mini Browser to Windows Phone

Mar 25, 2015, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera today released a beta version of its Opera Mini browser for the Windows platform. Opera Mini for Windows offers many of the app's core features, such as Speed Dial for favorites and easy-to-navigate tabs. Since Opera Mini uses Opera's server-side compression, web sites should load faster of mobile handsets and consume less data. Opera claims its compression can cut web site size down by as much as 90%. The browser offers large buttons, makes it easy to share content to social networks, and maintains users' privacy and security. Opera Mini is ideal for people who have limited data plans. Opera Mini beta for Windows is free to download from the Windows Store.


Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Developer Toolkit

Mar 23, 2015, 3:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a software developer kit available to developers interested in creating apps for the forthcoming Windows 10 platform. The SDK requires users to be a member of the Windows Insider Program and have the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, as well as a handful of other apps. By releasing the SDK, Microsoft is essentially asking developers to start coding Windows 10 applications for Windows PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft expects to release Windows 10 this summer and will want a healthy supply of apps available for the new platform when it arrives. The SDK arrives about a month before Microsoft plans to hold its annual Build developer conference. More details are expected to surface at that time.


Microsoft Enables Music Playback from OneDrive

Mar 19, 2015, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has made it possible for people to access their personal music collections from OneDrive across their Windows devices with the Xbox Music app. A new "music" folder has been added to OneDrive. Any music stored in that folder will be available in users' Xbox Music apps for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, the Xbox 360/One, and via the web. The OneDrive music service doesn't require Microsoft's Xbox Music Pass, but customers who do have the pass will gain 100GB of OneDrive storage for their music.


Lumia 430 Most Affordable Windows Phone Yet

Mar 19, 2015, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 430, an entry-level smartphone that will be among those updated to Windows 10. The Lumia 430 features a 4-inch WVGA screen; 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; 2-megapixel main camera and VGA user-facing camera; and 1,500mAh battery. The Lumia 430 runs Windows 8.1 with the Denim update installed and will be updated to Windows 10 later this year. The Lumia 430 supports dual SIM cards and costs approximately $70.


Microsoft Says Windows 10 Arriving This Summer

Mar 18, 2015, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made a number of announcements regarding Windows 10, including details about its arrival. Microsoft will make Windows 10 available to smartphones, tablets, and PCs "this summer." Previously, Microsoft had only committed to "later this year." In addition to the timetable, Microsoft announced a commitment from Lenovo that will the see the company bring Windows 10 phones to market (in China) by the middle of the year. Further, Microsoft is helping Xiaomi create a downloadable technical preview of Windows 10 that owners of the Xiaomi Mi Note 4 will be able to install on their Android phones and test. Microsoft and Qualcomm today introduced the DragonBoard 410C. It is a developer board for Windows 10 with integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and Snapdragon 410 chipset. (Qualcomm recently released an Android version of the developer board, too.) At launch, Windows 10 will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages. More details will emerge at Microsoft's Build conference, scheduled for late April.


Microsoft Adding Biometric Security Support to Windows 10

Mar 17, 2015, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 17, 2015, 12:26 PM

Microsoft today said Windows 10 will natively support biometric security measures, such as fingerprints, retina scans, or facial recognition. Microsoft's biometric authentication service is called Windows Hello and it will be available to PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Microsoft believes these measures can be more secure than passwords, as they are truly unique to individual users. Windows Hello can be used to authenticate devices, network access, and app access. Moreover, Microsoft is offering a tool called Passport to developers and IT admins, who will be able to add biometric support to their own apps, sites, and services so users will never have to use a password to log in. Windows 10 is set to debut later this year. Biometric support has been available to Windows devices for a decade or more, but only through third-party hardware and software support. Microsoft's competitors, including Apple, HTC, and Samsung, have added fingerprint scanners to their smartphones in recent years.


Microsoft Working On Version of Cortana for Android and iOS

Mar 13, 2015, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft is preparing to make its Cortana personal assistant software available as a stand-alone application to the Android and iOS platforms later this year, reports Reuters. Microsoft is already developing an improved version of Cortana for its forthcoming Windows 10 desktop, tablet, and phone operating system, expected this fall. Microsoft is culling research from an artificial intelligence project called Einstein to improve Cortana's predictive and conversational abilities. "This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame," said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, in an interview with Reuters. Microsoft believes Cortana's abilities can surpass those of its rivals, Google Now on Android phones and Siri on iPhones. "We're defining the competitive landscape of who can provide the most supportive services that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that helps us get things done," said Horvitz. Microsoft envisions Cortana becoming more capable with respect to helping users by anticipating their needs. Google and Apple have taken similar steps with Google Now and Siri, respectively. Google Now is adept at providing just-in-time reminders and details in the form of cards, but Siri is more limited to responding to direct requests. Horvitz did not confirm Microsoft's intent to bring Cortana to Android and iOS, but Reuters says people familiar with Microsoft's plans are certain it will appear after Windows 10's debut later this year. Microsoft has made an aggressive push over the last year to port key applications to the Android and iOS platforms, such as Microsoft Office. Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS would fit in with the pattern of Microsoft's behavior.


Intel Shows Off New Atom Processors and LTE Modem

Mar 2, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Intel today revealed its roadmap for 2015, which includes three new Atom mobile processors called the x3, x5, and x7, in addition to a new LTE modem. The Atom x3 is a system-on-a-chip complete with a modem and is meant for volume devices. There will be versions supporting 3G and LTE 4G. The 64-bit processor is ideal for smartphones, phablets, and tablets, says Intel. It can support Android and Windows, and camera configurations as large as 13 megapixels / 5 megapixels. The x3 will be available in dual- and quad-core variants with Mali graphics chips. The Atom x5 and x7 are meant for more powerful machines and are capable of running both Android and the full desktop version of Windows. These SoCs use Intel's 14nm processes and support 64-bit computing. They can handle up to Cat 6 LTE and Intel Gen 8 graphics. The x7 offers improved 3D performance for gaming, too. Intel expects to see the Atom x3, x5, and x7 reach consumer devices during the first half of the year. Last, Intel announced the XMM 7360 LTE modem. It supports carrier aggregation and LTE downlink speeds up to 450Mbps. It supports 29 different cellular bands, LTE Broadcast, VoLTE, and dual-SIM devices. It uses envelope tracking to improve power efficiency. The XMM 7360 can be prepackaged with Intel's WiFi, GPS/GLONASS, and NFC connectivity options. Intel expects to see devices with the XMM 7360 reach consumers during the second half of the year.


Hands-On: Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL

Mar 2, 2015, 4:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft debuted another pair of mid-range handsets in the long buildup to Windows 10. The Lumia 640 and 640 XL are worthy update to the 635 and 1320, but they leaving us aching for a new flagship from Microsoft.

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Lumia 640 XL Offers More for Phablet Lovers

Mar 2, 2015, 2:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:05 AM

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640 XL, a larger version of the Lumia 640. The screen is stretched to 5.7 inches, the camera is improved to 13 megapixels, and the battery is slightly bigger, as well. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 XL will be available in April from AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS in the U.S. Microsoft said it will include a one-year subscription to Office 365, 1TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 Skype world minutes. The price will be approximately $245.


Microsoft Demonstrates More Windows 10 Features

Mar 2, 2015, 2:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 2:58 AM

Microsoft today revealed more features specific to the smartphone version of Windows 10. For example, Skype integration will return to the native messaging application. The device will expand the number of tools available in the action center from four to 12, and newly-installed apps will appear at the top of the app menu listing. The company talked up the Project Spartan browser, which Microsoft says will adapt to whichever type of device on which it is running. One new feature is a Reading List view, which simplifies the layout of web articles to make them easier to read. Project Spartan is a universal app, meaning it runs similarly across all Windows devices. The company also demonstrated how HERE Maps works on the Surface and can easily transition to other form factors, such as PCs and smartphones. Reminders set in Cortana will sync across all Windows 10 devices, no matter which device was used to create the Cortana reminder. Further, Cortana's Notebook feature will be better at making suggestions based on the user's interests. Microsoft also spent some time showing off the email application, which makes it easy to flag or archive messages, set calendar appointments, highlight and select text, as well as loop in colleagues for threaded conversations. Windows 10 is available as a technical preview to select Lumia devices, but isn't expected to reach all phones until later this year.

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Microsoft Commits to Windows 10 Flagship Later This Year

Mar 2, 2015, 2:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said it has a range of new Windows 10 handsets prepared for debut later this year, including a new flagship device scheduled for mid-year. Microsoft hasn't released a flagship Lumia phone in over a year.

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Microsoft Announces the Lumia 640

Mar 2, 2015, 2:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:08 AM

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640, a new Windows Phone. It has colorful and interchangeable rear shells. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. The 2,500mAh will last all day, says Microsoft. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen and supports single- and dual-sim configurations. The camera captures 8-megapixle image. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 will be available in April. The price will be approximately $178.


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