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Are lockscreens outdated?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

Tap+Send: The Love Story of 2 NFC Devices

NFC1

Innovation in technology is hit and miss for a number of reasons. To prognosticate what advances in technology will be accepted by the general public is by no means, an exact science. There’s a constant barrage of new expensive toys with exclusive features that are “sure” to turn the world upside down, only to hit the market and fade into oblivion as a “niche market” concept. There are more than a handful of these types of advancements in the devices we all use on a day-to-day basis now, regardless of preferred OS. Yet for all intent and purpose, most don’t get utilized because of a lack of end users with similar features. NFC is one of those exclusive features and having 2 devices with it, I’ll explain why I see this being a feature that is here to stay.

nokia-speakers

I won’t spend much time explaining NFC as most of you know about it. Quickly, NFC(near field communication) is a set of standards for devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity. Up to this point, most of the NFC ado has been made about NFC tags and the Qi wireless charging capabilities with our Windows Phone 8’s: Charging plates, charging stands, phone covers with Qi, the JBL PowerUp speaker that can charge your device while playing. Being such a new innovation in smartphones, there are limited accessories to aid in this new technology, even HTC used JBL’s speaker for Nokia to advertise its most recent Android device. In addition to the lack of accessories currently available for NFC enabled devices, there are a lack of end users who actually own a NFC enabled device. NFC is about sharing and if you have no one to share with, it becomes one of those “niche market” features fading into the past, full potential never being realized.

tap-send-wp8

My wife and I both have Nokia Lumia 920’s which has led to a unique experience among smartphone users, being able to utilize many aspects of the NFC’s features and that is what I’ll focus on now. One of the drawbacks to WP7 was the inability to share via Bluetooth. This was remedied in Windows Phone 8 allowing for the next evolutionary stage is sharing photos, videos, songs, documents, contacts, or websites…via NFC. No more waiting while you tried to get your Bluetooth to find the other incompatible device right next to you, no more waiting for the other person to email you with that important file or pic even though they’re standing next to you, no more waiting for file to download when opening your email, no…things have changed. Tap your phone and give or get that info now in a fun and engaging manner! I am beginning to see the Tap and Share feature as perhaps the most innovative feature with the largest amount of potential to the end-user. Of course like most new technologies this is assuming it can make it onto enough devices and into enough hands, driving the hardware cost down and finding its way onto lower cost devices for the masses to use. Without “the masses”, NFC, aside from wireless charging, losses its luster. In some sense, I’m actually rooting for HTC and Samsung to have some success with their Android devices utilizing NFC, the better they do, the better results all OS’s with this feature will do. Again, NFC’s success really does rely upon the masses.

Share1

My wife and I use the Tap+Send feature frequently. We’re constantly sharing pictures and with Tap+Send, it’s always much faster and a sure bet the recipient gets the file! I’ve found that we’re both more likely to share pics when it’s as simple as Tap+Send. Send 1 or send multiple, it doesn’t matter. Honestly, I’m finding myself impatient now when I know someone is sending me a file and I have to wait for it to arrive in my inbox and still have to download it! Another added benefit to sharing your pics or videos via NFC is the data aspect. I avoid having to use up my allotted data both with my carrier and at home on WiFi, for those of you with shared family plans or have data limits because of satellite internet, you understand.

App

A close 2nd in utilization when it comes to Tap+Send: App Sharing, we do this at least once a day! As many of you know sharing apps via your WP8 was made easier by Microsoft when they gave us the ability to share it directly from the app side of your device. By pressing and holding an app, “Share” is now listed as on option and even better…you can do it via Tap+Send! Lightning fast access to the app’s direct link in the Windows Phone Store! Again, no waiting for it to show up in your inbox, it’s just there! I actually transferred all my apps this way when switching over from my old 920 to my new 920 to see how arduous it was. I’ve used App Reinstaller and it can take quite a long time to auto-populate your entire app history. I was blown away at how fast I was able to get my new 920 up and running with all my old apps!

sharing

We also share music via Tap+Send. I’m going to start by saying that neither of us has a music pass of any sort. When we see something we like we purchase it, so I’m not sure how sharing music on a pass will work. My experience with music and Tap+Share has been sending and receiving music from my computer or music purchased from Zune and Xbox Music, all which has transferred and played without a hitch! It’s a relatively quick process, taking about 30 seconds from share to play!

Contacts1

My wife and I have busy schedules between our marriage, kids, friends, activities, and work. We have many people who are friends in common and some aren’t for one reason or another, thus our people hubs are similar but not an exact match. There are many apps that help share contacts and WP does a pretty good job at giving you ways to share contacts as well, however none come close to the efficiency and speed with which you can do it when shared using Tap+Share! 2 taps and a phone “high-five” and the info is waiting to be saved.

Ready-for-enterprise

The last way I’ll look at is actually tied into the “Gold Mine” Microsoft sees in enterprise, sharing your documents via Tap+Send. The ways I’ve talked about using Tap+Send have been for the average user, but we all know that Microsoft is targeting businesses globally with WP8. The ability to share documents as simply as touching phones can be a game changer. Running late and can’t wait for that file to get to your inbox…need it now…phone “high five” and off you go! Not a gimmick, time is money and that makes dollars and sense!

I hope in time that we’ll see more and more devices showing up on the market NFC enabled at every level of phone: high, mid, and low range. This will take time but it’s time well worth it. When I stop and think back 2 years ago, I think about my Windows Mobile HTC Touch Pro 2, it could share via Bluetooth but it was a disaster of a process to get it to pair or be paired with not to mention the inability to retrieve most of the files types being sent! Our beloved Windows Phone has come a million miles from its predecessor, not without bumps in the road. Without those bumps though, many would forget all the amazing feats accomplished and adversity Microsoft/Windows Phone has managed to overcome!

Posted by TheWinPhan in App Reviews, Windows Phone, 1 comment
(Update) Join the WinPhan movement, now with local country groups!

(Update) Join the WinPhan movement, now with local country groups!

WinPhan Global

 [German version below]

(Update: added Facebook pages for local groups in East Africa and Australia)

Do you know the WinPhan movement? No? No worries, I am going to tell you something about it.

Sean (The WinPhan) started the movement sometimes last year. The idea behind the movement is simple. Apple-Fans have their “iFan” movement, Android-Fans have their “DroidFan” movement. There was no similar movement for Windows Phone. Sean initiated the WinPhan movement, which is put together from Windows+Phone+Fan.

Around the globe there are already people that have joined this movement, primarily by adding the hashtag #WinPhan to their tweets.

In the meantime, Mark and I were talking about to create local groups. Sean and some other WinPhans were really  amazed about this idea, so we started over.

Currently there are WinPhan user groups in following countries:

Our goal is to get WinPhans all over the globe connected to each other as well as in their local countries.

Are you a WinPhan? Then join your local group as well as the global WinPhan group!

Spoiler for Germany:

We are curently planning a WinPhan Germany Meetup for early 2013! Be prepared to meet other WinPhans and Windows Phone Developers! We will inform you via our German page/Twitter account  as soon as we have more information to share.

 

[German:]

Schließt euch der WinPhan-Bewegung an!

(Update: Facebook Pages für lokale Gruppen in Afrika und Australien hinzugefügt)

Kennt Ihr die WinPhan-Bewegung? Nein? Kein Grund zur Sorge, nachdem Ihr diesen Post gelesen habt, wisst Ihr mehr!

Sean (The WinPhan) hat die Bewegung im letzten Jahr gestartet. Die Idee dahinter ist relativ einfach. Apple-Fans haben Ihre “iFan”-Bewegung, Android-Fans haben Ihre “DroidFan”-Bewegung. Es gab allerdings nichts vergleichbares für Windows Phone. Und so erfand Sean “WinPhan”, das sich aus Windows+Phone+Fan zusammensetzt.

Rund um den Globus haben sich bereits User der Bewegung angeschlossen, vorranging durch das Hinzufügen des Hashtags #WinPhan zu Ihren Tweets.

In der Zwischenzeit haben Mark und ich uns entschlossen, eine lokale Gruppe zu gründen. Sean und einige andere WinPhans waren begeistert von dieser Idee, und so legten wir los.

Derzeit haben wir WinPhan Gruppen in folgenden Ländern:

Unser Ziel ist es WinPhans auf der ganzen Welt als auch in den einzelnen Ländern miteinander zu vernetzen.

Bist du auch ein WinPhan? Dann schließ Dich Deiner lokalen Gruppe und der globalen WinPhan Gruppe an!

Hinweis für Deutschland:

Wir planen ein WinPhan Germany Treffen für Anfang 2013! Trefft andere WinPhans und Windows Phone Entwickler! Wir werden euch auf unserer deutschen Facebook Page und unserem Twitter Account informieren, sobald wir mehr Informationen für euch haben.

Posted by msicc in Windows Phone, 4 comments

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
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.

 

Screenshot (29)

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
(Rumor) Microsoft Surface coming to Europe?

(Rumor) Microsoft Surface coming to Europe?

surface_05

Today Hellshock (follow him!),  one of my Italian tweeps made an awesome discovery. The Italian Microsoft site has a link to Surface within the “Products” section.

Of course I checked that for Germany as well, and in fact it is there, too:

Screenshot (14)

Well, I know that this means nothing at the moment, but it is a sign that Microsoft will bring the Surface all over the World. Maybe Microsoft this time learned from their Zune HD, which was announced for the rest of the world, but never made it to Europe.

What do you think? Are we reading to much into it? Will you be excited?

Just leave a comment below.

source

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows, 0 comments
Post #200 or what exiting times we have with Microsoft

Post #200 or what exiting times we have with Microsoft

microsoft_logoI struggled with myself very long on what topic I dedicate this post with the anniversary number 200 and ended up with this article.

We all had already a very exiting year with Microsoft. Microsoft is fully in his “reimagine” phase, and the winners of this are we – as users, and as developers.

Windows 8

The year was starting for me with a key milestone: Windows 8 CP. A more fluid and fast alternative to the DP Microsoft released last year. And we finally had a good amount of apps (for a beta build). I felt really in Love with Windows 8 after using it only a few hours. Windows 8 is totally different. The Metro start screen will change the way how users will interact with their PC – also if it is non touchable.

I am currently running the final version of Windows  (RTM), and I love it to use more and more apps instead of visiting websites. It is way more fun to use a twitter app than to use their website, for example.

It is a change in the daily use of your PC, but most of the users that I personally know are exited about how easy it is to use a PC with apps. Sure, there are some people who will not be satisfied. That is not a bad thing. We all like different kind of things. But I am convinced that the majority of people will accept the Metro screen as part of their PC. Period.

For Developers it is amazing: no matter what language you are using right now, almost everyone can do Windows 8 apps. No matter if you are a Web Designer, used to Java, C# or C++, your app can be there on Windows 8! And you can even use more than one programming languages in one app.

In March this year I visited the CeBit, a trade fair that is for technology news here in Germany. I was amazed about the things I saw from Microsoft, but Germany is not a big target for the mobile/IT-industry- at least not shortly after the MWC. You can read my report about the CeBit here.

Windows Phone

Windows Phone is also an important point on our list. Microsoft´s mobile OS may not be blown up as iOS or Android – but we are satisfied with what we have! The OS is fast, does Average Joe´s daily doings way faster than the other two OS – without Multicore-CPUs!!! Microsoft demonstrated this with their “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign, which was happening in several countries around the globe.

The best thing is: The OS will be getting even better! The existing devices will get an update with new functions, that will further enhance the user experience. And there will be the next generation: Windows Phone 8!  Windows Phone 8 will get a whole new core compared to 7, that will bring a lot more features, and for all that spec-driven users out there also multi-core support. Soon we will know more about it (I guess in September).

Xbox 360 and Xbox Live/Zune

Microsoft is also evolving the Xbox/Zune services as well as the Xbox OS itself. If you were one of the lucky one´s like me to enter the Fall 2012 beta update program, you know that it is getting better and better.  I am not allowed to go to deep into detail, but a few things have been announced, like IE for Xbox.

Xbox Live and Zune services will be merged together to further enhance our experience. Hopefully Microsoft will be providing more features to all countries, not only US. Best example is Zune Pass, which is still not available here in Germany. I don´t know what issues Microsoft has with the Germany system, but others like Deezer and Spotify were also able to solve those problems. Let us hope all the best for this.

And then there will be SmartGlass. Your Xbox companion – regardless which device you use. SmartGlass will be used to extend the experience you with your Xbox. Additional info for Movies, extensions for Games, and many many more.

Office 2013

I am also exited about the free-to-test-for-everybody Office 2013 Preview. Microsoft changed the programs into streamed applications. And they are performing very well (even with my slow 2 MBit/s connection). On top Microsoft released One Note MX, a Metro app for Windows 8 for those who use a WinRT tablet only. Get it today via the official Office 2013 website (for up to 5 PCs!). Skype integration is coming later this year via an “Office app”.  There are also further apps in the Office Beta Store.

Microsoft Account and connected Websites

Microsoft changed the formerly known “Live-ID” into “Microsoft Account”. You still have all service like before, with a new name. But there is more. Hotmail will be replaced with outlook.com (in Metro Style). outlook.com has also a “People” app, “Calendar” and of course your “Mail”. On top we now have a Metro “Messenger”. SkyDrive is the last one in this round. Also SkyDrive has been Metro overhauled an got new functions, like a url-shortening service, using skdrv.ms.

MSiccDev goes BizSpark

As some of you know, I am also developing for Windows Phone and will start with Windows 8 soon. I started to learn creating apps because there was no app for fishermen, and I needed a fishing knots app in the marketplace. I am currently planning on a big service for fishermen that targets Windows, Windows Phone and the Web. To get things done with a little help from Microsoft, I applied for Microsoft´s BizSpark program – an got approved last week! Stay tuned, soon I will reveal more information about the project. But it is great that Microsoft support startups. A special thanks goes to @AWSOMEDEVSIGNER (follow him!).

Final thoughts

I don’t know how you feel, but that was a pretty awesome year until now. Windows 8 is around the corner, and will bring new device factors like Microsoft´s surface. All big vendors announced at least one Tablet/PC-convertible. Windows Phone 8 will be the booster rocket for the phone OS version, the codename “Apollo” fits really nice in here.  Microsoft´s vision of “three screens, once experience” is getting closer and closer. And the best thing: we all can participate right now!

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

Microsoft is preparing the real take-off of Windows Phone

wp8

Today at the SF Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft showed us a sneak peek how they are preparing the take-off of Windows Phone. First of all, according to Joe Belfiore, the following features are only a part. There will be more to come, as they did not show all consumer features.

A shared core to break into new Galaxies

Microsoft is porting over the whole Windows 8 core to Windows Phone. This leads to fantastic new possibilities, including new hardware specs:

  • Multi-core CPU support (dualcore and more!)
  • New screen resolutions: added 1280×768 (WXGA or 720p+) and 1280*720 (720p)
  • MicroSD card support
  • Internet Explorer 10
  • Wallet: enables your phone to be a wallet where you can store credit cards, coupons etc as well as carrier based billing for secure SIM capable endpoints. It enables also in-app purchases, so we will see more apps with premium content
  • Nokia Maps and Drive built in on all Windows Phones!
  • NFC wireless sharing between devices
  • Over the Air (OTA) updates for Windows Phone OS
  • 50 languages, Marketplace will be available in over 180 countries

A new cockpit

Microsoft improved the whole Start screen. What we know for now is that we will get more colors, and even more important, more tile sizes. You can watch the video below to get a feeling for what is coming:

Developers are taking seat in first row

Also for developers there is much more to come:

  • Finally Native code support (C, C++) which will lead to more powerful apps and games
  • In-app payments
  • Integration of VoIP and Video chat for all developers
  • Multitasking enhancements
  • Speech API´s
  • Cloud based compilation by Microsoft
  • Current apps will be recompiled by Microsoft for Windows Phone 8

Joe Belfiore announced already that the developer tools and coding sessions will be available later this summer.

Enterprise will be on board

  • Device encryption
  • United Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)
  • Remote management
  • Company Hub and apps

Existing Windows Phones

Sadly existing Windows Phones are not able to work with Windows Phone 8. But there will be a 7.8 update for existing devices.

What we know until now: the Start screen will be ported. Still we do not know any more about the other features that will come, so please try to calm down. The update will bypass all carriers, so ALL Windows Phones will be updated to this OS version.

You can read the official announcement here.

I am excited. Really excited. How about you?

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows Phone, 0 comments

Windows 8 and Family Safety

Win8FamSafety

Today my 10 year old son asked me when I will let him play around Windows 8. So I decided to set up an account for him. (This post will be a how-to mixed with my personal opinion.)

First, I created an account for my son by going to control panel in the WinRT part of Windows 8. With a click on “Add a user” you can create a new account. To create an online synced account, use the Microsoft account (Windows Live ID) you created for your child.

addauser

After looking if it is an existing account, you will be asked if this is a child´s account. Check the option and click on “Finish”.

Finishadduser

After that, go to Desktop and open Control Panel, and choose “User Accounts”, where you click on “Family Safety” at the bottom left.

Now you can choose if you want to manage settings online or local. I recommend online, so you can change settings at any time easily via the web interface. My experience until now was that if you need to change settings, you are not there on your local machine.

FamilySafety

You will be redirected to the Family Safety page, where you will be able to “edit settings”.

You can set up a bunch of things there:

  • Web filtering
  • Web filtering lists
  • Activity reporting
  • Requests
  • Time limits
  • Game restrictions
  • App restrictions

First, in Web filtering, you can set up different options. As I want my son to be relatively free on the web, but protected, I use “Online communication”. So he is able to write E-Mails from Windows 8 Mail app or chat via the Messaging app. You can add additional options to the “Web filtering lists” option.

webfiltering

Activity reporting shows you an overview what you child is doing on the web and the PC.

“Time limits” is a handy tool to control how much your child is on the PC. This is available on Windows 7 as well as on Windows 8 RP.

timelimits

You can restrict the games to a matching age setting based on the USK recommendations with “Game restrictions”.

gamerestrictions

Finally, with” App restrictions” you can choose which apps your child is allowed to use. This counts for Metro apps as well as for Desktop apps.

apprestrictions

My conclusion:

Until now, there is nothing that has changed to the former Windows Live Family Safety, which you had to install with the Windows Live Essentials on your PC. The integration into the Windows 8 RP is done very well. Also if you are not familiar with this feature, the web interface is pretty self explaining. The options are pretty broad, from allowing nearly nothing (this will be for my 5yo daughter) to allow a lot for bigger kids. Microsoft has done a good job here, and there is clearly no need for any third party app.

I can only recommend all parents out there to use this feature – be it on Windows 7 or be it on Windows 8.

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, Windows, 0 comments