My review of a year with Microsoft and a to-do-list for 2012

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With the end of the year just around the corner, I want to take a look back to an amazing year for me as a Microsoft fan. There were certainly ups and downs, but over all it was a great year – as user and also as developer.

I do not want to take any numbers – there are already dozens of post where the numbers were discussed, so I guess we don´t need to get another post about this. I will tell you how the year felt for me.

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First we got a look into the future at the CES. With the CES we received a first view on Microsoft´s new strategy: Metro over all devices. We saw a first preview of Windows 8 with a Metro design part, but still have to wait for more information until Build in September, which was a specific event for Windows 8 (codename for now). The most appreciated news was the SoC-technology (System on a Chip), which will be supported by Windows 8. Also there were some Kinect improvements, as well as an updated version on Microsoft Surface. And finally Microsoft announced the NoDo-features like Copy&Paste.

The NoDo-Update came for Windows Phone. Well, as I got an unlocked HTC HD7 at this time, this was no real problem for me. I forced the update (thanks to the guys who found out this little trick), and that was it. This changed only little things. The carrier locked phones had to wait a bit longer, as the carriers were still in testing. The update seems also to do not well with some Samsung Phones, so there was always bad critics for the update process.

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Ok, Back to February and to the Mobile World Congress. MS gave us a first preview on the Internet Explorer 9, and compared it to the iOS-Safari. It was clearly the better one. But as always Microsoft also made us sad, as we had to wait until Windows Phone Mango. Finally we got also the first note that Windows Phone will receive Multitasking capabilities. And then there was the big bang of Nokia joining the Windows Phone game.

At the same time I made my fishing license. After I got approved for it, I wanted to download some fishing apps. But there wasn´t even one at this time. I thought by myself, ok, give them some time, they will come.  The first time I was on the water I needed a special knot, luckily I was on a place where I got an internet connection. But it was annoying to not have an app for it. So I decided to learn the Windows Phone development.

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Back at home, downloaded the tools, and found out that at Channel 9 is a Beginner series for Windows Phone Development. I stepped through to all the videos, and after 2 month or so (due to my primary work it took that long) I started to develop my fishing knots application. I learned a lot more while I was coding this application, but the basics I learned helped me a lot to get started.

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While I started with my own WPDev-Story, in April Microsoft held his annual MIX-conference. This was the first time for me, that it was not only from a user part from interest, but also from a developer part. We received an updated SDK, which was an huge step towards Windows Phone Mango. Microsoft announced 1500 new features which we developers can take advantage from with the new Windows Phone Mango release. User will get over 500 new features. The Kinect SDK expanded to Windows, with some really cool projects to use with. And last but not least Microsoft released the final Beta of Silverlight.

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The rumours were also going wild for Microsoft to buy Skype. Well, finally in may Microsoft and Skype announced that the rumours were true.

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Until now, a awesome first half of the year. Then in June, the annual E3-Games convention started. Microsoft introduced a bunch of new games, like Fruit Ninja Kinect, Forza Motorsport 4 as well as Family Titles like Disneyland Adventures for Kinect or Once upon a Monster for Kinect. My kids where as excited as I was, there was only one big error: We had a Xbox, but no Kinect. This was one reason I wanted a Kinect like never before. Well, Santa (aka my wife, 1000 kisses for her) solved this little problem for me a few days ago. Also some titles for Windows Phone were announced, sadly not all of them where released until now. We also were introduced to the new Xbox Dashboard and the new bunch of features like Voice commands. Microsoft released also Kinect fun labs, which is a portal to some awesome Apps for Kinect like Build a Buddy or Kinect Me!.

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In July Windows Phone Mango got RTM-status, followed by a special developer beta. I enjoyed the beta, and all on my primary work were jealous about the fact I had mango before them.

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After a calm summer, in September Microsoft revealed Windows 8 and released to Windows Phone Mango Update. Together with the new Xbox Dashboard, Microsoft revealed its “3-Screens”-Strategy.

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With new Windows Phone Hardware it steps forward, Nokia launched also finally their first Windows Phones. More and More must-have Smartphone-apps came to Windows Phone, such as Navigon or Whatsapp. Microsoft´s own advertising system launched in other countries like Germany and some other European countries.

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Well, also my Blog made a change. With all that Metro-stuff around me, I am now addicted to this design. A hosted blog on WordPress was no longer good for me, so I registered msicc.net and host it on my own. I found a good designer who has experience with themes for WordPress, and he made this fantastic metro design for me. It is currently still a work in progress, as there will be a mobile metro theme as well as some other features.

Microsoft released also some of their services on the other smartphone platforms iOS and Android. MS is a software company, and this step is more than logical for me. Some features are also after exclusive to Windows Phone, so it does not really hurt.

It was an amazing year, but there were also some disappointing things: Microsoft stated that Skype will launch on Windows Phone this fall, then by the month of December. Sadly it is still missing. We tried to force Microsoft to release it via twitter or Facebook, but there was and is not statement when we will get it on our Phones. Also Photosynth, launched on iPhone and promised for a launch with Mango, is still not here – without comment from Microsoft.

I really hope Microsoft will really work with the feedback we provide trough their programs on userchoice.com to improve the overall experience on Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows.

Still there are a lot to-dos for Microsoft for 2012:

  • release Skype as an app
  • built in Skype into Windows Phone
  • Make all Bing features available outside the US
  • improve the Xbox-Live-Game-Submission on Marketplace
  • continue to get more devs on their side to provide Windows Phone apps
  • more marketing for Windows Phone and the experience
  • improve Windows Phone with the newest technologies like NFC, dual core CPU´s
  • open even more APIs to us developers
  • make TellMe simply better than Siri on iOS, including opening to developers
  • shorten the time between announcement and release btw. increase betas to more customers
  • release Zune-Pass in more countries. This is still a huge advantage over the other platforms as it is built in!
  • gain more partnerships for content on Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone
  • release more features in small updates to the Windows Phone platform to compete with the others, instead of releasing only one major update

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