Windows

Editorial: Why the app gap on Windows Phone/10 Mobile is a bigger problem than I thought

Note: as this is an editorial, this blog post reflects my own experience and thoughts. You will agree with some points, but disagree with others. Feel free to leave a comment to start a discussion below.

Recently, I received a Nexus 5x as development device for a project I am about to start. As tech enthusiast, I could not resist to start using it as my daily driver.

As you might guess, I started with an install orgy of all the apps I am using on my Lumia 950 XL and set them up. It may be surprising, but I immediately recognized huge differences between the platform versions.

Take the Facebook app for example. Animations are smooth like butter, almost all settings are in app instead of leading to a mobile page, even loading content and scrolling is a whole lot better than on Windows 10 Mobile.

Another example is the Path app. Never been updated since its launch on Windows Phone, I was truly surprised when I opened It on Android. It is an app that really is fun to use on Android. I bet they would have a lot more users on Windows if they align the app… sadly, they abanonded the platform completely a few month ago.

The last example is the WordPress app. It exists on Windows (Phone) for existing users, but the experience on Android is galaxies away from the one the one in Windows (Phone) has/had. I am even writting this post with it, because it feels just right to do this (I only did that once on Windows Phone).

These were only three examples, but they show pretty much how different official apps can be between platforms (and how they are supported). And they all show, that Windows really has no priority anywhere (sadly).
The quality of apps that are available on Windows is not all, though. Of course, I downloaded also some apps that aren’t available for my Lumia 950 XL as well. And it does make a difference.

On my Lumia, I often use the mobile page for things to do/achieve. On Android, I have a whole lot more apps to choose from, so I never had to open the browser for:

  • my mobile carrier
  • my landline & tv carrier
  • the communal page of Winterthur (where I live)
  • swiss auction page of ricardo.ch
  • swiss page tutti.ch
  • Amazon (Bonus: the apps are connected, needed to log in only on one and all others had my account)
  • eat.ch, a swiss food order service
  • Imgur
  • Giphy
  • and more…

Some say a good mobile page is as good as an app. That’s wrong for most cases. A good written app is always handier than a website. On any platform (at least in my experience).

Android app quality has improved a lot in the last two and a half years (that’s how long it took me to deeply test the OS and the ecosystem again). They are equal to the high level on iOS (which I saw also recently, as my son broke out of the Windows world I created at home).

On Windows, we have a lot of third party apps that are trying to fill the gap. I respect those developers (at least those that use legal, public APIs), but it is just not the same. And even on Android (or iOS), there is room for third party apps besides the official ones.

The Android OS itself feels also grown up, and it is difficult to say if iOS or Android are better. It is more a question of who you prefer – Google or Apple.

Microsoft’s Windows (Phone/10 Mobile) is on a good way to get on par. Lots of the functionality is also there. But… as long as the provider of a service, no matter which kind, do not use them (for whatever reason), Windows will never grow up. The Universal App approach is a good idea, and it may pay off one day – or it may be too late already. The recent switch to focus on enterprise users does not really help. Because also enterprise users tend to have only one device. And also enterprise users tend to use apps on their mobile device.

As a WinPhan, writting this honest post deeply hurts. Even more, as I really am thinking about switching platforms for mobile things. Not as a developer, but as a user (at least until Windows has grown up).

Posted by msicc in Editorials, 3 comments

How to generate a round image button for your Windows Phone 8.1 app (to use everywhere)

Recently, I experimented a bit because I wanted a round button that contains an image that can be used everywhere where I can add a standard button (and not just in the AppBar). I managed to get a simple style out of these experiments (sample at the end of this post).

First, you should check if you have already installed Syncfusion’s free Metro Studio (we will need it later). It is a powerful helper if you need icons, so if you do not have it, go straight ahead and download it here: http://www.syncfusion.com/downloads/metrostudio

Still here/back? Great! Ok, let’s start. In our project, generate a new button:

<Button Width="72" Height="72"></Button>

If you want your round button to have a smaller size, feel free to adjust the 72 pixels mine has to your preferred value.

The next step is to generate a new Style. Right click on the Button, and select ‘Edit Template’, followed by ‘Edit a Copy’.

Screenshot (407)

 

Set the name of your style in the next window, and save define it as an app-wide Style or on your page:

Screenshot (408)

This should open your App.xaml file and display the button as well as the newly generated style.

We are starting with our custom style modifications right at the top:

image

Set both Doubles to 0 and the Thickness to 0,0.

Next, scroll down to find the Border Element of the Button Template (closing ‘VisualStateManager.VisualStateGroups’ helps a lot).

Click on the Border element and add/adjust the ‘CornerRadius’ property. At a size of 72, the minimum value is 38 for the radius. This should be fine for most cases, but it may be higher/smaller if you are using another size. Don’t worry if your button looks like this at them moment:

image

We are going to fix it right now by setting the Height and Width properties of our Border element:

Height="{Binding Path=Height, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"
Width="{Binding Path=Width, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"

This binds the Width and Height properties of our Button to the Style. Now we just need to define the Height and the Width of our Button to make it actually look really round. Setting both to 72 will result in a nice round button.

Like you can imagine, displaying text does not make a lot of sense in this case. Round Buttons should contain an image. You could add one through adding a background, but this will result in a strange looking button when it gets pressed. Also, it does not reflect changes like a color change. To solve this, we are going to add code that is able to draw a shape for us. This is achieved with the Path Class  in XAML. The Path class draws lines into a FrameworkElement like a Canvas or a Border.

To enable our Style to work with Path Data, we need to add some code before the ‘Template’ property Setter in our Style:

<Setter Property="ContentTemplate">
    <Setter.Value>
        <DataTemplate>
            <Path Stretch="Uniform"
                  RenderTransformOrigin="0.5,0.5"
                  Margin="2,6,2,2"
                  Fill="{Binding Path=Foreground, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"
                  Data="{Binding Path=Content, RelativeSource={RelativeSource Mode=TemplatedParent}}"></Path>
        </DataTemplate>
    </Setter.Value>
</Setter>

What does this code do? The ContentTemplate allows us to add rich content to our UIElement, the Button. To make it resuable, we are setting it up in our custom button style. The RenderTransforOrigin property value of 0.5,0.5 centers our Path drawn shape within the border. However, I found out that some shapes do not look good with that alone. That’s why I adjusted the Margin property together with it. This should fit most icon shapes, but you might adjust this for your own needs.

The most important aspects are the Fill property as well as the Data property. Binding the Fill Brush to the Foreground Brush property is necessary to reflect changes like theme changes as well as changes in the VisualState. Only this way it behaves like a native Button. Binding the Data property allows us to enter the Path string into the Content property of a button that uses our Style without any conversion. This makes it very simple to generate a button with our desired icon.

And this is where Syncfusion’s MetroStudio comes in handy. It allows you not only to generate icons as png, but also as shape in XAML. To get the relevant Data, open MetroStudio, search for your icon. Below the icon, there is an Edit Button. Tap it to open the icon settings page. On that settings page, you set up your button. Play around a little bit to get used to it (it’s pretty easy).

Once you have your desired icon on the screen, click on the </>XAML Button. Copy the highlighted part of the XAML code:

image

Back in Visual Studio, add this copied code to the Content property of our Button:

Content="F1M181.003,-1898.78L207.077,-1902.33 207.089,-1877.18 181.027,-1877.03 181.003,-1898.78z M207.065,-1874.28L207.085,-1849.1 181.023,-1852.69 181.022,-1874.45 207.065,-1874.28z M210.226,-1902.79L244.798,-1907.84 244.798,-1877.5 210.226,-1877.22 210.226,-1902.79z M244.807,-1874.04L244.798,-1843.84 210.226,-1848.72 210.177,-1874.1 244.807,-1874.04z" 
Height="72" 
Width="72"
Style="{StaticResource RoundButtonStyle}" 
VerticalAlignment="Center" 
HorizontalAlignment="Center"/>

Which will result in this nice looking round button with a Windows logo on it:

image

If you run the sample project, you can see that the Button behaves like a native Button with text. Download the sample project here.

I am pretty sure this can be improved. I will continue to play around with this, and if I have found enough optimizations, I will write another post about them. Until then, this should help you to get started with your own round button – and the best thing: you can use it like any standard button wherever you want in your Windows (Phone) 8.1 app!

Happy coding, everyone!

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, win8dev, wpdev, 1 comment

A year in the like of MSicc – my review of 2013

dev smurf

2013 was a year with a lot of surprises. It was a year full of community work for me as well as a huge learning year in development. But my year had also dark clouds on heaven. This post is my personal review of 2013 – you can like my impressions or not.

I started the year with releasing my first Windows 8 app ever, along with an huge update to my blog reader app for Windows Phone. I wrote several blog posts and started also development of my NFC Toolkit app for Windows Phone (Archive: January). I also ran a beta test for my NFC Toolkit, and finished my series about the parts that should help other developers  to write a blog reader app for both Windows and Windows Phone (Archive February & Archive March).

Then in April, the first time I had dark clouds hanging deeply in my life, affecting all parts – family, community work and also my 9to5 job. My wife had once again problems with her back, caused by slipped discs. It went as far as she needed to rest in hospital for a pain therapy. Luckily this therapy was helping her and our life went back to normality (knocking on wood).

I also started a new series on the WinPhanDev blog – Why we started developing (WWSDEV). We are collecting stories from developers, and posting them over there to motivate other developers and keep the community spirit alive. Just have a look, we have really great stories over there.

In the last days of April/beginning of May, Iljia engaged me to start using Windows Azure Mobile Services to make an app idea reality: TweeCoMinder was born. It is a very special and unique app, interesting for those that don’t want to miss their special counts on Twitter, supported by real push notifications via WAMS for both Live Tiles and Toast Notifications. I learned a lot during setting up my WAMS for the app, and I did also write some blog posts about that (AzureDev posts).

Because of TweeCoMinder, I stopped developing my NFC app for that time, and did only bug fixing updates to my other apps.

In August (at least in the spare time I had), I moved my blog completely to run in a Windows Azure VM. I did it to get more control over the whole system and to learn more about running a web service. I still need to write my blog posts about setting the VM with LAMP on Azure, but I just didn’t have time for that until now. In August/September I also had again very very dark clouds hanging around, with my wife was very ill (you can’t even imagine how happy I am about the fact she has this part behind her). But our daily live is still affected by this – we just learned to arrange us with the new situation.

In October, I got back to my NFC Toolkit to finish it finally. The app has some cool and unique features utilizing NFC tags, and I am quite satisfied with my download numbers. NFC Toolkit is my main project for the moment.

But also on my 9to5 job I came to write code. I was asked to write an internal app for Windows Phone (Telefónica has a partnership with Microsoft, and so the company is flooded with Windows Phones). I used this to learn more about speech recognition on Windows Phone, as this is part of the application (Make your app listening to the user’s voice).

And finally, I also started with my very first Android app using Xamarin while porting the Windows Phone app I wrote before. I recently started to blog about my experiences with Xamarin (read more here).

In between all those projects, I made a basic reader app for the fan blog “This is Nokia”, using a PCL project for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. I also wrote a simple car dashboard app to integrate it in my NFC Toolkit app as well as Mix, Play & Share, which was written on a lonely Saturday night while my kids where sleeping an my wife was at her best friend.

Through the year, I learned a lot of coding, but also a lot about people. I made some very positive experiences – but also bad ones. I am always willing to help (if my still growing knowledge enables me to do so) – but sharing a feature rich app to another person isn’t helping – if you want to learn about development, there are plenty ways to do so. We have really great developers that blog about their experiences in our community, and by understanding how to code, you truly learn. Just using an already working app and restyling it, is the wrong way.

Well, that is what my year was about – a lot of coding, learning and again coding.

Dear followers, friends, WinPhans & WinPhanDevs – thank you for being with me this year. Let’s make 2014 an even more exciting year.

I wish you all “a good slide into the new year”, as we say here in Germany. May god bless you and your families also in the new year.

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, 0 comments
Dev Story Series (Part 1 of many): Creating a data class for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone app

Dev Story Series (Part 1 of many): Creating a data class for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone app

As I promised earlier on my application for the Intel App Innovation Contest on codeproject.com, I will do a series of blog posts for my application MSicc´s Blog for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

This is the first article in my new Dev Story Series, where I describe the development process of the app. I am starting with the very first steps that you have to do if you plan such an application. To make the application useful, we first have to decide how we want to get the data from our blog/website into our application.

One hint that will make some of you crying out loud: At the moment I am not using the MVVM pattern. I am aware of the fact that most devs for Silverlight/C# swear on it, but I still decided to go without it – as well on Windows Phone as on Windows 8. I will continue to learn it in one of my future project, but for the moment I just want to get things done – also if that means that I have to create some – well, let us call it “compromises”.

Which way to choose?

If you consider to create a “blog reader”, you have to think about how you want to get the data from your blog into your app. There are different ways:

  • via a RSS/Atom feed (that was in the old version of my Windows Phone app for msicc.net)
  • via XMLRPC (if your blog supports that)
  • via JSON

I decided to go with JSON for the new version. There were several reasons to do so:

  • there is an app err… an plugin for that on WordPress
  • JSON is fast
  • JSON is set to be the new standard for data consumption
  • With JSON.NET you can deserialize your data with only one line(!) of code

How do we get the data in our app?

Of course, we will download it. But if you only download your JSON data, the only thing you will get is a very weird looking string that looks like this:

json_string_unserialized

That´s pretty ugly, right? Of course we could work us through all arrays and objects there. That would take hours and hours until we would have covered all data we need for our apps. Luckily, there are two tools that make the whole thing a lot easier.

Two handy tools to make a dev´s life easier

The first tool I want to show you is “Beautify JSON”. It is a web based tool that makes strings like the one above readable for a human. Find it here.

Just paste the string of your JSON API in there, and you will get a readable version of your JSON string:

beautify_json

If you want to use only some of the data that your API provides, you can now easily search the string for the objects and arrays that you need.

If you quickly want to create a data class for all data that is provided, you can do this by using json2charp.  It provides a ready-to-use code that can easily be copied and pasted into your class file in Visual Studio:

json2charp

Now let´s have a look to the class itself:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Runtime.Serialization;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

namespace WordPressDataClass
{
 public class Posts
    {
        [DataMember]
        public string status { get; set; }
        [DataMember]
        public int count { get; set; }
        [DataMember]
        public int count_total { get; set; }
        [DataMember]
        public int pages { get; set; }
        [DataMember]
        public List<Post> posts { get; set; }
    }
}

As you can see, I created a DataContract and DataMember based class by using System.Runtime.Serialization. If you want to know more about DataContracts and DataMembers I recommend you to read MSDN: using Data Contracts.

I am not posting the whole class, only the key DataContract Posts, which will get us our List of posts. You can download the whole class at the end of the post. It will be very helpful if you want to create an app for your WordPress based blog.

I use the class in both my Windows 8 and my Windows Phone app without any differences. As you can see, If you are familiar with Windows Phone Development, there is only a small step to Windows 8 development.

I hope this article is helpful for some of you. In my next post I will show you how easily you can use the provided JSON Data in your app/s.

source code: JsonDataClass

Posted by msicc in Dev Stories, win8dev, Windows, Windows Phone, wpdev, 4 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
Roundup of Xbox 360 E3 Event – a huge ecosystem to come by Microsoft

Roundup of Xbox 360 E3 Event – a huge ecosystem to come by Microsoft

Today Microsoft hosted a 90 minute event at this year´s E3. They talked about several things to come to our Xbox and even to our smart devices.

First I want to show off a list of all games that were presented by Microsoft and their partners:

•    Halo 4

•    Forza Horizon

•    NHL Gamecenter Live

•    NBA GameTime with NBA League Pass

•    ESPN will tur into live on your Xbox (if you are in the US)

•    Gears Of War Judgement

•    FIFA 13

•    Madden 13

•    Splinter Cell Blacklist

•    South Park

•    Dance Central 3

•    LocoCycle

•    Ascend: New Gods (only on Xbox 360)

•    Matter

•    Nike+ Training for Kinect

•    Resident Evil 6

•    Call Of Duty Black Ops 2

There is even more TV and Entertainment coming around the world, and today 35 of them where announced:

•    Absolute Radio – U.K.

•    Ameba TV – Canada, U.S.

•    BreakMedia – Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, U.K., U.S.

•    Comedy Central Stand Up – U.S.

•    Comoyo – Denmark, Norway, Sweden

•    Corus Entertainment’s Franklin the Turtle – Canada

•    GameSpot TV – Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S.

•    Headweb – Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden

•    Indie Flix – U.S.

•    Machinima – All Xbox LIVE markets

•    Napster – Germany, U.K.

•    Nickelodeon – U.S.

•    Paramount Movies – U.S.

•    Picturebox – U.K

•    Quickflix – Australia, New Zealand

•    Rakuten ShowTime – Japan

•    Revision3 – Canada, U.K., U.S.

•    Rhapsody – U.S.

•    RTL XL – Netherlands

•    Slacker Radio – Canada, U.S.

•    SnagFilms – U.S.

•    Terra (Sunday TV) – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico

•    The AOL On Network – Australia, Canada, Netherlands, U.K., U.S.

•    The Weather Channel – U.S.

•    The Whistle – U.S.

•    TOU.TV – Canada

•    TV3 – Spain

•    Twitch TV – U.S.

•    Univision – U.S.

•    Wuaki – Spain

•    Youzee – Spain

Until here, this is an announcement like we have expected. New Games, Apps and new Entertainment partners. What´s more you ask? Ok, here we go:

Xbox Music

Microsoft announced a Music service for Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8. They will call it simply Xbox Music. The service will include about 30 million tracks. Some of you might have been using Zune Pass, you will find similar features like Smart DJ there. No details were announced, so I expect there will be more to come.

Xbox SmartGlass

Xbox SmartGlass is an application for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and other portable devices that connects phones, PCs and tablets with your Xbox 360 console to make your entertainment smarter, more interactive and more fun.

During the keynote Microsoft announced the Xbox SmartGlass app. It will be just an app you download on your Windows Phone, your Android or iOS device and of course to your Windows 8 PC or tablet. It provides you airplaying features for apps, films, music and games.

Internet Explorer on Xbox

Other consoles have webbrowsers, yes. But no one has a browser that can be controlled by voice and SmartGlass.

Through the power of Xbox, the magic of Kinect and the intelligence of Xbox SmartGlass, you will be able to surf the Internet using your voice on your Xbox 360 and navigate using your mobile devices for an incredibly easy Web browsing experience on the television.

Xbox on Windows 8

Finally, Xbox will make its way also to Windows 8. The premium entertainment experiences that Microsoft will launch on Xbox will come to more than 180 countries. You will have a huge experience with the Metro apps for Video, Music, Games and Xbox SmartGlass. And of course Xbox Live will come to Windows 8.

Summary of this year´s event is that Microsoft is about to create a more huge ecosystem that Apple, Sony or Google are have created. With the unique Metro design language, the power of the Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and Windows 8 Microsoft will gain marketshare.

I bet we will hear some more about the upcoming Windows Phone version Apollo at 20th of June, when Microsoft is about to hold a developer summit to close the circle for this epic ecosystem we will live in.

You can read and view more here.

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

Microsoft is going to let die Zune

RIP-zune

This week there were several rumors about Zune and the Marketplace. We had also changes on Zune and Marketplace that more or less confirming the upcoming death of Zune as we know.

First, Microsoft removed the Windows Phone app section from Zune. Now we cannot look into the Marketplace for apps anymore (read more at 1800PocketPC).

The second news is regarding the music marketplace, which is realized via Zune. Microsoft is rumored to deactivate it, too. Instead of this, Microsoft will launch a new music service, codenamed “Woodstock”. The Woodstock festival was part of a revolution back in time, and the codename suggests there are big changes.

This is what we know right now, regarding to the verge:

  • the service will not require any browser plugins
  • deep Facebook integration with sharing and group playlists.
  • scan and match function, based on your existing music collection.

Microsoft is said to give us a preview at this year´s E3. Microsoft will launch this service on all of their upcoming platforms, including Xbox, Windows Phone (Apollo) and Windows 8. The verge states also that the service will be extended to the rivaling platforms.

woodstock-spotify-ms-nerd

Yesterday, just one day after the news were showing up, MS_nerd told us via twitter that Microsoft and Spotify are “sitting in a tree”. This makes me believe that the upcoming service will use Spotify as content provider (Spotify lets third party apps easily use their service via an API). I guess there will be a special announcement regarding this.

As we still do not know more details, I can´t tell you whether Zune Pass subscribers will be able to use their service any longer as well whether current Spotify can profit from this.

Only one thing is for sure: Zune Pass will definitely not come to us German users.

source: the verge

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

Windows 8 Release Preview will be released in first week of June – W8CP used twice as much as Windows 7 beta

japan-announcement-w8-june

We all are excited about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Microsoft gave us a really fast and stable OS preview at the end of February.

Only a few minutes ago Microsoft announced via twitter that the next version, a Release Preview, will be available in early June. They announced it while they are on Japan Dev Days. Earlier this week Microsoft announced also that the Consumer Preview is now already used twice as much as the Windows 7 beta at the same point in time.

Personally I do not wonder about this. W8CP is a preview you can use as a daily driver already, and many of us are doing so. And it seems that there are a lot of people are beginning to like the Metro part of Windows 8.

Posted by msicc in Windows, 0 comments

Microsoft improves SkyDrive

SkyDrive-exchange

Microsoft is giving Windows Live/Microsoft account users free cloud storage. Today Microsoft released the SkyDrive for Windows app alongside some changes of SkyDrive.

First: Finally there is an official SkyDrive app for Windows desktop.

Unbenannt

You can download it here. The app lets you manage your SkyDrive from your PC. After installing the app, the whole content will be downloaded to your PC, so you can keep your SkyDrive always synced. The SkyDrive folder integrates natively into the Windows Explorer, and supports drag&drop of files.

Second: Fetch you file through SkyDrive.com

fetch-through-skydrive

As I reported in an earlier post, Microsoft gives us the ability to access our files from a remote PC. Only thing is that the target PC has to be on. I will test this feature in the coming days and will give you a tutorial on how to use it.

Third: SkyDrive storage updates

storage plans

Every SkyDrive user gets 7GB for free from now on. You can purchase additional storage space:

  • SkyDrive +20 GB, 8 Euro/year
  • SkyDrive +50 GB, 19 Euro/year
  • SkyDrive +100 GB, 37 Euro/year

But that´s not all. Click here to secure your 25 GB storage. All users that have been using SkyDrive before April 22nd can opt in to keep their 25 GB of free storage.

Fourth: SkyDrive for Windows Phone/other devices

Yesterday I posted about an update to version 2.0 of SkyDrive at 1800PocketPC.com. Microsoft applied this update also to their iOS and their OS X Lion version. You can download the apps at the source below.

Update 1:

Microsoft also posted a comparison of all services:

Comparison-of-all-services

source: Building Windows 8 Blog

Posted by msicc in Microsoft, 0 comments

(List Updated) W8CP: Windows Store will have a browser frontend (and a list of all available apps)

image

Today we found out, that the Windows Store for Windows Apps will also get a browser frontend. The domain registered for this is http://apps.microsoft.com.

Right now, you will get an 403 error, if you navigate to that address in your browser. But there is also good news: the sitemap is accessible.

Updating the list

If there are new apps, I will update the following  list. You can see updates on the list on the date I add behind the Name.

List of all available apps and games

Trough the Sitemap we are able to detect that there are more apps than expected. The Vimeo app for example is not listed in any category (almost here in Germany), but you can download it right now. Here is the full list for German store:

apps:

games:

Microsoft apps:

For Germany this means there are nearly as many apps available as in the US, but not all are displayed. For the US and France are also several region-only apps available.

If you search for apps which are not displayed (if you know the name), you will find them.

You can check the list at the Sitemap of app.microsoft.com.

Posted by msicc in Windows, 0 comments