Microsoft

Are lockscreens outdated?

In one of their latest shows, Vernon and Andrew from the awesome Glance and Go Radio discussed whether or not having a lockscreen still makes sense.
Unlike many people may think, lockscreens were not really meant to protect a device from being accessed by other individuals, but derived from the keypad locks cell phones used to have to avoid accidentally performing a phone call while carrying the device in your pocket (butt dialing).

While you may argue about the actual use on touch devices, I find lockscreens a great way to further personalize my device. Especially with the new features Microsoft introduced with Windows Phone 8.
Meanwhile several dozens of all kinds of lockscreen apps can be found in the Windows Phone store. Some of them offering quite unique features. I’m currently going with Lock Buster, which you can find here.

And even though there are certainly more important parts of the OS which need optimization and improvements, I seriously hope Microsoft hasn’t reached their end of the line with the lockscreen options. I personally would like to be able to add more than just 5 apps to it. I don’t see a single reason why a second array of icons couldn’t be added.
And while these icons at least serve the purpose of letting users know about the amount of new items for the configured apps, I don’t see it necessarily stop there. I’d love to be able to tap the icons to have them reveal more detailed information about what’s awaiting me. These could simply be displayed above the clock. Perhaps with a net slide or fade in effect.
That’s just my personal opinion of course.

What do you think? Would you rather get rid of this ancient feature or keep it?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted by dkp1977 in Microsoft, Windows Phone, 1 comment

Who is it that actually complains about WP?

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That’s a question that’s been driving me for some time now. When I first came to Windows Phone – on my HD2 back in the days – I was kind of disappointed too. Coming from Windows Mobile and Android I was used to have access to almost anything in the system. I used to have all these nifty things like a file browser, a task switcher/manager, custom lockscreens, custom alarms, custom ringtones. Well, I spent more time for tinkering with the OS than I actually used the device. Not to mention that I flashed my device at least twice a week. Why? Because every single iteration of the ROMs I used was supposed to bring a little more stability and speed. I can’t even tell if this was actually true, but I always considered it well worth a shot.

So after flashing the first DFT WP ROM onto my HD2 – which was months ahead of the first update aka NoDo – I came to realize that MS obviously took a couple of steps back in terms of features. It almost felt as if they were approaching mobile OSes the same way Apple did. Which I found kind of shocking to say the least. Pre NoDo – and even pre Mango – WP7 lacked a lot of features that I felt were a necessity for each mobile OS. There wasn’t any multitasking, no official Messenger app, no social networks. But unlike many other users I saw the potential this new OS had. Even though it was lacking in so many ways. After spending a couple of weeks with it I started to lose the feeling to actually need file browsers, RAM cleaners, task managers and even the whole lot of customization I had gotten used to. Windows Phone’s strength was the focus on delivering information without the need of digging through a thousand of apps. It was its focus on providing a unique user experience and convenience that only Apple managed to provide with iOS so far. And from my point of view they did it in a much better way.

NoDo, Mango and now Windows Phone 8 all built up on these strengths. They added more features and even more access for devs to the underlying system. Each and every single feature Microsoft added was well thought about and felt right. It didn’t have that Frankenstein like patched together feeling I’ve always had with Android and even Windows Mobile.

I’m not blind though. I know that Windows Phone still lacks a few things and certainly doesn’t do everything right. Backups anyone? Podcasts? Xbox Live video support? Unlike many others I at least don’t have any issues with synchronization. But I can see that this is still considered a construction zone rather than a top notch solution. Zune did a better job there. But these are downsides every single OS has to deal with. There isn’t something like perfection.

I’m going to cut the chatter here now and go to what was supposed to be the original topic:

so who are actually the users who complain so much about Windows Phone and what it does or does not? That’s the point I was making with my personal story. It’s mostly these people who feel limited, because of the lack of customization. Limited because of the lack of access to the system. What these people see as boundaries is in fact the exact opposite. Windows Phone set them free. Free from things they actually don’t need. The issue is, they refuse to give into it. They refuse to take the time it needs to get comfortable with it. If more people would really USE a Windows Phone for more than just a couple of hours, they would see and feel the difference. Just like I – and many others now – did.

Bottom line is, it’s up to Microsoft and the OEMs to convince people that Windows Phone does (almost) everything a smartphone needs to do these days. And it does it in the most beautiful and convenient way possible.

Posted by dkp1977 in Microsoft, Windows Phone, 9 comments

Editorial: 2012 – what a year!

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The year is coming to an end soon, so I wanted to write a short summary of my 2012 with Microsoft and MSicc.net.

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I started the year with a clean install of the Windows 8 preview, and was using it since then as my main PC OS. Everyday I felt more in love with the speed of Windows 8 and the idea of using apps on a PC. Microsoft constantly updated their previews over the year, until the final release.

Also Windows Phone was getting new attraction with the awesome Lumia 900. Nokia and Microsoft started a big ad campaign to support the launch of this device. Surely some of you will remember of “The smartphone beta test is over”.

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Over the year, Microsoft did tease us a few times with Windows Phone Apollo. We all thought in the beginning that our existing devices will be getting the Apollo treatment, until MS unleashes some more details about Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 shares a lot of the OS with Windows 8, so naturally there has to be new hardware. Windows Phone 7 will get 7.8, which will bring at least the look of the start screen to older devices.

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Another beta program was launched for the Xbox Dashboard, which had better voice functionality, and of course another big thing: Internet Explorer on Xbox! That is really awesome as we are now able to surf the web with Kinect support as well as the Smart Glass app on your phone/tablet/PC.

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Which leads me to another fantastic release from Microsoft. The Smart Glass apps, no matter on which platform you will use it, extends the experience of films, games and also your Music experience.

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Talking about Music, Microsoft finally launched their Music Pass in Germany. Personally, I was waiting for this since the initial release of Windows Phone 7, and now they finally launched it. I did not wait a second to cancel my Spotify subscription, and switched to the Music Pass. And I love the experience, be it on WP7, WP8 or Windows 8/ Xbox, my collection is synched across all devices. I can choose which Songs I ‘ll keep in the cloud for streaming and which I download, so there is always a growing collection for me now.

I was also attending several developer days from Microsoft, which helped me in some parts of my own dev story. I updated Fishing Knots SE and plus several times this year and created I learn to tie my shoes, which is getting really good reviews all over the web. If you want to take a look at these apps, they all come with a test version, just type MSiccDev in the search, you will get a list with all of my apps.

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Sadly I have a bit trouble with the updated version of MSicc’s Blog for Windows Phone, I hope I can release it in early 2013, so you all can read and discuss or share articles from your phone.

Of course all of my Windows Phone apps will receive a special Windows Phone 8 update while keeping the work on the WP7 version.

I have also started development of a Windows 8 app for MSicc’s Blog, which I will submit in the early 2013 days to Microsoft to get it approved for the Windows 8 store.

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My personal highlight this year was to attend a keynote of Steve Ballmer himself, which was absolutely motivating as user and even more as developer. He really knows how to keep the crowd attending, and I really have to thank Microsoft Germany for this unique experience.

I want to thank Mark and Sean for joining me here on MSicc.net to entertain and inform you all, I bet we will see some awesome articles of both next year!

A big thanks also to the WPDev & Win8Dev community out there (you all know who you are). Keep up your great work and please keep the community alive!

Now I will come to an end with this post, as I want to further play around with my awesome Lumia 920 which Santa (aka my lovely wife) gifted me this year at Xmas.

What were your highlights this year? Leave a comment below!

As here in Germany is said for the new year wishes in advance: “Have a good slide into the new year”, stay safe and enjoy your time!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, 5 comments

Merry Xmas from Msicc’s Blog

MSicc's Blog Team XMAS

We had an amazing year. Microsoft launched Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, updated the Xbox Dashboard and the Xbox Live services. And there are a lot of things that are worth a mention, but this post is a short salute from our small team here at MSicc’s Blog.

A special thanks goes to Mark and Sean, who have started to support me with their own thoughts and articles, which is a huge enrichment..

Now that Xmas is knocking on our doors, we want to salute you, our readers, followers and friends, with a short message of every team member.

 

Mark (BinaerForceOne):

Dear readers and visitors,

 

I have to admit that I’m terribly bad at these things, but I want to wish all of you a merry Christmas, happy holidays and just a beautiful time with those who matter most:

 

your loved ones. Be it your family or close friends. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

See you all next year. 🙂

 

Sean (TheWinPhan):

What’s on your Christmas list…Lumia 920? 8X? Ativ S maybe? Have you been naughty or nice?

 

Myself and the rest of my WinPhan Family want to wish all of you Windows Phone owning readers, the happiest and Merriest of Christmas and may all your wishes and hopes come to fruition!

 

Thank you all for taking the time to follow along as we continue to profess our love, discuss the many nuances, and talk about Windows Phone and Microsoft here. Please be safe, love your family, and take time to appreciate all that is in your life!

 

Good Health, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!!!

 

The WinPhan

 

Marco (MSicc):

Dear reader, visitor, follower and friend,

 

we had a year full of action, with ups and downs, troubles, amazing keynotes, waiting for releases from Microsoft and their OEMs.

 

Now it is time to calm down for a few days, and give all attention to our families and our friends – apart from our technical life.

 

I wish you and your families a merry, merry Christmas. May the Xmas star shine for you and your loved ones and keep you safe.

 

We will continue our work between the years, for now enjoy your family time!

 

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, 1 comment

Sean’s Editorial: This Is How I Use “Rooms” For WP


With the release of Windows Phone 8, there are a tremendous number of new features available Many aren’t available for WP7, or are but have inherent limitations. Some are major additions and some are minor changes. The feature that I find myself utilizing more than any other option on my Lumia 920 is the new Rooms feature. If you haven’t had the opportunity to upgrade to WP8 yet, Rooms are similar to Groups for WP7, but with many additional and VERY useful features. My wife and I both have WP8 Lumia 920’s, so I’ve had the chance to use the Rooms feature often and will give you some of my experiences, the positives of Rooms, and some of the needed improvements to this unique feature from Microsoft.

 
Bare with me for a second, this is more of a recap of  Rooms before I better describe how it has become such a vital aspect of my phone and world. First, let’s start off with what the Rooms feature is. Like Groups, Rooms is a collection of contacts from your People Hub that you want to group together for easier and more organized communications with. The 1st big difference between the 2: Groups are people you add into a hub without their permission, making it easier for YOU, the user, to better keep track of up to 25 people and communicate with them via the various integrated services on WP. Unlike a Group though, a Room requires you to be invited to or for you to invite participants in a Room you’ve created. A Room can’t exceed 10 members and you’re limited to participating in no more than 5 Rooms at a time. In addition invites are only sent via SMS, so you need to be in network range to send or accept. Once you’re in a Room, WiFi can then be used as your connection. This was an issue for me personally, as my home is not within my carrier’s network range. I had to wait to get into reception before accepting an invitation and sending an invite for a different Room.
Many of you have read about the features included in Rooms for WP8, so I won’t spend a lot of time detailing what’s already been written. It has a very simple minimalist feel and look to it, but does a great job of capturing the essence of Windows Phone with all the integrated services right at your fingertips and easily accessible. Here’s the short of what a Room consists of:

     

  • Members Screen-live tile of the members of the room/What’s New via social networks/Member Photos/Group email/Settings
  • Messenger-IM with the members in your Room
  • Calendar-Add/View/Edit events
  • Photos-Add/View/Comment on Room members uploaded pics/
  • Notes-Add/View/Edit notes added by Room members

 

So who is this wonderful feature, created by the reinvigorated and innovative team at Microsoft, available to? If you own a WP8, you’re in luck as all the services come stock and work great with your device. What if you own a WP7…or maybe you own a WP8 but know someone with an iPhone that you would like to share this experience with. Well there’s good and bad news. It IS available to  WP7 and iPhone owners, but with limitations. I’m personally in a Room with my wife and in another with other Lumia 920 owners, so I have to be honest…I’m not sure of how well the non WP8’s behave in a Room. This is how Microsoft describes the experience for non WP8 Room members:

If you have a Windows Phone 7 or an iPhone, you can join a room that someone with a Windows Phone 8 creates and invites you to. You’ll be able to set up the room’s shared calendar on your phone and view, create, and edit events on it. Your changes will appear on the other members’ phones and their changes will sync to yours. Other Rooms features work best on Windows Phone 8. Group chat(Messenger) in Rooms is only available on Windows Phone 8. Room members with a Windows Phone 7 or iPhone won’t be able to participate.

 

  

Rather than focusing on the specs, I’m going to spend my time in this piece talking about how I personally use these features on a daily basis, quite perhaps, more than any other aspect of my Lumia 920. As I mentioned before, I’m involved in 2 rooms currently. The Lumia 920 Room is a group of 10 owners of the 920 where we discuss many things 920 related and some other things too. It’s a great way for me to stay connected with other Winphans and feel the WP love! The second Room I’m involved in is one my wife and I made to stay connected in our busy world. I’m going to talk about that first as it garners most of my time and well…I’m using it as I’m writing on my laptop this very second.

 

I’m sure many of you can relate to this description: I am married, we have children, we both work, our kids have busy schedules, somebody wants this, somebody wants that, etc. Well the same holds true for my wife and I. We both have busy schedules and we have children, but don’t want to lose out on what matters most, each other. Our Room has really helped to make us more communicative throughout the day and easier to share the day’s doing even though we’re apart. It’s why we fell in love in the first place, we enjoyed sharing experiences and thoughts together. We are in an era however, where finding time with your loved one or people you care about becomes harder due busier schedules, finances, and other various factors. A Room is really the 1st of its kind. It offers a bit of a social network feel, but in a much more intimate setting and brings some easy ways to connect the important and not so important part of your day to the person or people who are important in your day.

 

Obviously, the most used feature of a Room is the Messenger, or chat. This is a downfall of WP7, the lack of integrated Messenger just doesn’t make sense. Aside from FB chat, KIK, and a couple of others, there is slim pickins’ when it comes to IM and Window Phone. Having Messenger integrated gives another very stable IM choice to people considering a switch and with something as important as messaging, more is better. I spend most of my time near my home and as I mentioned above, my carrier’s network does not reach to it. A simple SMS is out of the question and most SMS apps have unreliable servers making texting a challenge often. My wife however, works in town and is in network range so SMS is fine. However, if my apps server is down then she can’t reach me then we’re back at square one. That has been our experience until having a Room. There are times were are carrier’s network is bad, but Messenger is always reliable. What is great for my wife is that the message shows up in her Messaging Hub just like a SMS or FB chat does. This gives you the option to have a live tile for your Room or not, either way, you’re going to get a notification.

 

An interesting feature to a Room’s Messenger chat is the storage of conversations in your Windows Live email. It’s not always consistent as to what will or won’t show up in your inbox, but some items do appear there. In the long run, if Microsoft straightens that out and has a Room consistently feeding through your email, that’s just one more example of 3 Microsoft’s 3 screens concept. If your WP isn’t near you, you don’t have to miss out on a conversation. Your Messenger also comes with voice to text dictation, which is a great little feature. In addition to the above features, Messenger allows you to check-in with your location and with the tap of the map, other members can look at their Local Scout for where you are.

 

So my wife and I both love to take pics and save pics we see on the internet and then share them with each other. Instead of having to send emails back and forth or sit and wait for the other person to scroll through their various photo albums looking for that one pic they saved, it’s much easier to use the SkyDrive integration and share it directly to our Room’s photo album. You can comment on a pic while viewing it as well, which can lead to long threads of their own aside from Messenger. Because of the SkyDrive integration it’s super easy to upload any image directly to the Room’s album, whenever you share an image you’ll see the Rooms you participate in as an option. You’ll also be notified via your live tile when a member uploads a new image. On a recent trip to L.A., my wife was able to almost stream her day in pics posted to our album. It was wonderful being able to experience things almost in live time as she showed me the world from her eyes. More than that, it was fairly easy for her to keep me up to the moment with how simple and NOT time-consuming it is to share. In addition to viewing pics while in your Room, your shared Room album is stored to SkyDrive allowing you to access those same pics from your laptop, tablet, Xbox, as well as your phone’s Photo hub. Ahem…3 screen concept yet again!

 

When you have busy schedules, that means you have filled up calendars and keeping them all in order can be a mind-boggling and time-consuming task! Your Room comes equipped with its own calendar that has also been integrated with SkyDrive thus adding itself to your existing Windows Live Calendar without you having to do anything. You might think “I’ve already linked my Windows Live Calendar with someone, how is this any different?”. The answer is this: When you add a new appointment/event with your phone’s calendar, you must enter an attendee to share it with and an email is sent with a request to accept or decline…too many steps, too much time, and things that can go wrong. With your Room, when a new item is added, it automatically includes all members and then places it in their calendar. No emails to accidentally end up in bulk or junk and get missed, just set it and that is that! Events from your Room will show up on your Calendar tile on your WP, laptop, or tablet. Yes, I know, 3 screens…I cannot say enough about SkyDrive and the way Windows Phone has integrated it into our devices!

 

The last main feature I’ll talk about is Note. Your Room’s Notes is a shared folder using your WP’s One Note, which has been integrated with SkyDrive allowing for you guessed it, a 3 screen concept! Start a Note or add to it. Christmas is right around the corner and my wife and I haven’t done a lick of shopping for gifts yet! We both are quite busy so it can be hard to both end up at a store looking for Christmas goodies at the same time. No worries, we’re going to sit together and using our Room make a gift Note. We can add or eliminate items later whether we are in the same room or in different areas with SkyDrive. If I buy a gift, just notate it on the Note and my wife can see not to get it. She doesn’t have to stand waiting for me to reply to a text or email if she’s at a store and isn’t sure if I already got it. We’ve all waited for that damn text or message at one point or another, be honest. NO MORE! If she thinks of something for me to pick up while I’m shopping for groceries, BAM…add it to the Note and it’s just that simple! Like Messenger, Note also comes with voice to text dictation.

 

In addition to the features I described above, the members of the Room all appear in one spot as live tiles. The members live tile in a Room are the same as in your People hub, so each member’s live tile shows their social network updates dancing about on their tile and all contact info can be accessed there as well. One of the features that appealed to many of us early adopters of Windows Phone was the Hub concept. It still does to newcomers, not needing so many apps to do simple tasks unlike the device they recently left behind whether it be Android or iPhone. Well Windows Phone has done it again! I’ve seen many apps that attempted to emulate each one of these tasks individually but Microsoft has done a great job at building each service into WP8 and then offering a way to use them all at once without the need of an app.

So I’ve given you all the upsides to a Room. What are the things that could be improved upon? This is a much shorter list. I actually only have 1 legitimate complaint, the rest are things that need just a little tweaking. My major complaint is this: there is no way to mute a Room. If you have an active room, your phone could be alerting you for hours on end as your Room’s Messenger gets lit up by members. Keep in mind, members of a Room can be from all over the world so it’s always Windows Phone time somewhere in the world in my 920 Room. The ability to turn off a Room’s alerts would be great! At this point the only way to turn off chat alerts is by leaving the Room in entirety. Not a good solution.

Aside from that, I would like to see the ability for a Room to do a better job at linking its members social networks together. Because it’s Windows Live, we all share each other Windows Live contact info. What if I want to know someone’s Twitter, their other social networks, or other contact info. There isn’t a quick way to do it in a Room yet. Yes you can share contact info via email, but that’s an added step that usually won’t be taken.

My last thing I can see a bit of an issue with is less to do with a Room and more to do with a carrier’s network. If you have poor network coverage the Room definitely doesn’t function as well. Just because you have enough reception to text doesn’t mean you have a strong enough signal for a Room to operate in “Real Time”, you may notice delays in Messenger and troubles syncing with SkyDrive. When I’m on WiFi I have yet to face any issues however.

When I first heard of Rooms in June, I thought it was cool sounding but had no idea how useful and in the theme of Windows Phone Rooms would really be. In terms of normal non gimmick function and by that I mean function but not a selling ploy like Siri for example, I really think this is the clear choice for top addition to Windows Phone 8. I think it will take a second, but you will hear more and more about Rooms in time to come. There are so many ways to make a Room work for each person, the question is simple…how will you make your Room or Rooms work for you?

To learn more about Rooms for Windows Phone 8 just click here.

 

 

 

 

Posted by TheWinPhan in Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, 2 comments

The WinPhan is joining msicc.net!


Well, I’m back. Some of you know me from Twitter, Facebook, and various WP news blog sites as WinPhan7. For those that don’t know me, nice to meet you. I’ve evolved slightly, I now go by a more encompassing title: The WinPhan, but you can also call me Sean. I’m not a developer, although I am interested in learning the trade. In all honesty, I use a chainsaw in the woods for a living…but MAN, do I love technology! More than that, I admire what Microsoft is doing to innovate technology!

I’m not going to make my first post too long, as you read more of my articles you’ll see I can be long winded on my soapbox. So here’s a little about myself and my love for Microsoft. I’ve never been a fan of Apple, their proprietary malarkey, the way they take advantage of their faithful consumer base, or their iPoop products! I have even more disdain for Google, their horrid mess of a mobile OS, their antics, and their dishonest ways! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Microsoft can walk on water. They’ve made some not so popular decisions, but speaking in terms of the past few years it’s my honest opinion that you would be hard pressed to find ANY company in ANY industry that has matched the innovation and positive movement that Microsoft has. With the release of Windows 8 and all that it encompasses, it’s a work of absolute beauty to me.

I’m married and have 2 out of our 4 kids still living at home so we have many Microsoft products. Currently we have the Xbox360, 9 Windows Phones(2 HTC 7 Pros, 2 HTC Titans, 1 Samsung Focus S, 2 Nokia Lumia 900’s, and 2 Nokia Lumia 920), 3 laptops(Acer Aspire with Windows 7, HP G72 with Windows 7, and my little HP Pavilion g6 is now running Windows 8), and a Zune HD. We even have a couple desktops and a couple Windows Mobile Phones sitting around, suffice to say, we are a Microsoft home.

The Windows Phone experience is what turned it all into a real passion for me though, yes even pre-Mango was a beautiful experience for me. It all just made sense, what it was, what was soon coming, and what needed to be done in the future. Here I sit now able to enjoy my Lumia 920 running WP8 and think a couple years back to the moment when the sales person tried to talk me into an Android as opposed to the little giant HTC 7 Pro. Best tech decision I ever made was right then! I’m blown away by the support Windows Phone offers, I’m blown away at how dedicated our dev community is, and I’m blow away by how unified and interactive our WinPhan community is! Like many of the readers here, I’m proud to have been part of Microsoft’s ground movement from the beginning, I’m a proud WinPhan!

I ‘ve got lots to say but I’ll save that for future posts. I’ll be writing more consistently now that winter nears and I find myself indoors a lot more. Thanks for reading and you can catch me on Twitter: @TheWinPhan

 

 

Posted by TheWinPhan in Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, 7 comments
(Update 3) Fixed: Windows Phone Store is charging again for already paid apps

(Update 3) Fixed: Windows Phone Store is charging again for already paid apps

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Yesterday I had a very strange problem on my Windows Phone. I uninstalled an app, and wanted to reinstall it as I had problems after the last update with it. The Windows Phone Store did not recognize that I already paid that app.

So I contacted the Windows Phone support team via twitter. As they did not have a solution for me, the referred me to the chat team (click here to get there).

While the chat itself could not resolve my issue, they offered a way to escalate the issue. They ask me to create a list with all apps that are missing from the purchase history on windowsphone.com.

That is the bad part of it. I downloaded more than 1000 apps for testing etc., and my list will be very long because of this.

I told them that I will blog about it, they appreciated it and are begging for the following steps:

– check the purchase history on https://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/my/purchase-history

– create a list of all missing apps (sigh!), include also the price of the apps and please include also apps that you have installed but that are missing from your purchase history!

– contact the chat team and tell them about your problem (it’s 24 hours)

They told me it is a known issue, and that this is the only way to get around it. I am sure if enough of us are sending the list, Microsoft will investigate what is going on over there.

A huge help will be your buying confirmation mails, which is sent to you after every purchase.

I will update this post as soon as I get new information, but for now we all can only create our list and send it to them. I am really sorry for this bad news.

Update: of course I do not want to force you to that steps above. I wanted to describe what is going on there. Stay tuned, as I got confirmation that this is escalated also from another part within Microsoft. So hopefully there will be a solution soon.

Update 2: Microsoft is aware of the issue with our purchased app history.  I had a short discussion with the twitter support team yesterday about how serious Microsoft is about the above written steps.  There is a topic at Microsoft answers forum now, where you can subscribe and click that you are also having this problem. The more people click on the “I had this too” button, the more attention it will get.

Update 3: It seems Microsoft just fixed the issue. Mark tipped me that it should work again and I can confirm. According to wpcentral, the problem was that upcoming updates exploited a bug in the billing system. Microsoft decided it would be better to temporarily switch the history that causes the bug off than let our devices crash. The sad thing about it is the bad communication to us users in this case. Anyway, problem is fixed now.

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows Phone, 2 comments
Meet Steve at Berlin

Meet Steve at Berlin

 

As some of you know, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself visited Berlin a few days ago. First I want to apologize for the delay this post has, but sometimes there are things that can push things back. I am still amazed about the fact that I was able to attend this event.

The evening started with a short introduction of the recent Milestones Microsoft achieved, presented by Microsoft Germany CEO Peter Jaeger.  The second part was about to show the integration of cloud services, presented my MS Germany Developer Evangelist Gunter Logemann. He reminds us developers to use the advantages of this integrated services.

At some point Steve Ballmer entered the room, and we all got a bit more nervous (yes, I was only two meters away from him!)

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He was introduced with his own Windows Phone screen ad video, and started with a little joke that he was wondering who was talking while he enters the stage. Great start for his exclusive keynote.

 

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He then switched to do what he is very good at: talking about Microsoft products and the possibilities they offer. He started with some numbers and feedback about Windows 8. In only 14 days, there were more than 4 million upgrades to Windows 8, and the press and blogosphere was positive about Windows 8. He was absolutely charmed about J. Topolsky`s comment: “Who have thought that in 2012 Microsoft would be the company with the boldest phone and software design?”. And of course we all were charmed about that, too.

 

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Then he introduced the ecosystem “Windows” to us. No matter which device, Windows will be the core experience. And this experience is alive with activity – the user’s (our) activity. No matter if you are on your PC, tablet or on your phone or Xbox.

 

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He continues that Microsoft is “All In” with the new Metro design language (well, he called it Windows 8 style, but we all know he wanted to say Metro). All main products where updated to the new design language to make a unique UX across all devices.

 

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Steve is still amazed about how fast and fluid content is synchronized across devices via the Microsoft cloud – even though Microsoft created this whole experience. And every developer is invited to use it to create amazing apps!

 

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Nearly at the end of his speech some developers where honored for Windows 8. Their apps  were created in the Darkside Bakery project and are already available on the Windows Store.

Sadly I did not have to opportunity to talk to himself or at least shake his hand. But it was amazing enough to see and hear him live and in person. Thank you, Microsoft, for this very unique experience I do not want to miss! Steve’s speech was really motivating, and I will go  “All In” with Microsoft. How about you?

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, Microsoft, win8dev, Windows, Windows Phone, wpdev, 4 comments
Windows Phone 8 – the next generation

Windows Phone 8 – the next generation

Today I will write about my impressions on Windows Phone 8, the next generation of Windows Phone. First thing I can tell you: I am really impressed what Microsoft has done here.

This Post will be about my favorite features on Windows Phone 8, if anyone prefers other features, feel free to leave a comment below.

Individual start screen

Of course, the first feature I absolutely love is the new start screen. Every user can now individually change the tile sizes from small to middle to big. This way every device will have another look:

 

Windows Phone 8 start screen

None of the hopefully exploding numbers will look like any other. Best thing: this is one of the features that will come also to existing Windows Phones. I can´t wait to make my start screen look even more individual.

The new lock screen

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The Windows Phone 8 lock screen can be taken over by Windows Phone apps. There are several ways they can do it.

  • show images as wallpaper
  • show information from within the app as lock screen (partly/full takeover)
  • show number of new notifications

The photo above shows how the completely rewritten Facebook app for Windows Phone takes over the look screen by showing randomly changed Facebook photos.

I can’t wait to see what my fellow dev colleagues are doing to give us an awesome user experience. For my apps, I am currently investigating what possibilities I have to give you some awesomeness. With my app MSicc´s Blog it will be for sure something related to new posts, so you won’t miss any news from it. For my other apps I am currently searching a helpful way.

 

Benefits for the little one´s and parents: Kids corner

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Joe Belfiore demonstrated kids corner in an really awesome way. He let show his kids this awesome feature. Our kids are often asking us to let them play with our phones. We are of course afraid they could do something that they shouldn’t like sending messages or other things like this. Microsoft has done a fantastic job in adding a separated section for our kids, where we can add apps and games that are safe to use for our little stars. Can´t wait to introduce this to my 6 year old daughter (my son wants his own Windows Phone, so let’s see if he was brave enough in Santa´s eyes).

Xbox Music – finally also in Germany with pass

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As I wrote earlier, Microsoft finally unleashed Xbox Music for Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Xbox. Here are some additional features that are available in Windows Phone 8:

  • seamless syncing of Playlists and Albums
  • Xbox Music streaming via the cloud
  • apps can interact with Xbox Music
  • streaming to Xbox via SmartGlass

I am really happy that Microsoft finally added more countries to the Music Pass. If you haven´t activated your pass, you really should do it right now.

 

There are more awesome features:

  • SkyDrive syncing of photos, office documents
  • DataSmart
  • Voice Commanding of the phone and apps
  • Wallet
  • restructured Windows Phone Store
  • in app purchases
  • Rooms in people hub
  • many ways devs can improve their apps (I will do separate posts about them)
  • and more

I will cover them from my point of view as soon as I get my hands on a Windows Phone 8 device. Which leads me to the launch line up of Windows Phone devices:

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From left to the right we have the Lumia 920, Lumia 820 by Nokia, the Ativ S by Samsung and the 8S as well as the 8X by HTC.

What are your favorite features? Which device are you looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows Phone, 6 comments
Zune/Xbox Music Pass available in Germany (includes a short how-to)

Zune/Xbox Music Pass available in Germany (includes a short how-to)

Yesterday some users reported to wparea.de that the Zune/Xbox Music Pass is available. However, yesterday I was able to activate it, but no usage was possible.

This changed this morning.

Here are is a short view on how to use the Zune/ Xbox Music Pass:

On your Windows Phone:

Just go to the marketplace, search the album you want. You will see the word “Herunterladen” ( German for download) on the album, if it is available to use with the subscription:

 

Screen Capture (41)

Once you clicked that, you only have to wait until the download of the album has finished. If you do not want to download, you can stream the music by clicking on the small “play”-symbol in front of a song, which will start streaming.

On your PC

You will need to use the Zune software. Crazy, isn´t it – it works only with a program that is set to die soon.

Here it is pretty much the same like on your phone, just click on download to listen to an album offline.

 

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If you don´t want to download, just double-click on a song in the album you want to hear, that will stream the whole album.

I wasn’t able to use it on the Windows 8 Music app as well as on my Xbox. I will update this article as soon as I got this working.

If you want to activate a 30 day trial of this awesome features, here is the site to activate it.

Of course, it is still an unofficial thing, as Microsoft stated it will become available at Oct, 26th. It works for now, so enjoy everybody of my fellow readers in Germany!

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, 0 comments