My 2 cents to Microsoft’s “Metro” disaster

real_metro_icons

It has been very long that I blog from mobile now.

But in the last hours there is something going on that really gets me annoyed.

Due to a similar naming with the big German concern “Metro AG”, Microsoft is avoiding to name the new UI of all operating systems and services “Metro UI”.

Why are they doing this? They had serious conversation with the Metro AG. The Metro AG owns some big consumer electronic retail shops, which are branded “Media Markt” and “Saturn”. Get the point?

No? Then you are thinking like me. The brands have nothing in common with the naming. They have their own brand. Most of their customers even do not know that they belong to the Metro group.

Microsoft was pushing “Metro UI” to us, both customers and developers since the release of Windows Phone 7. The Metro AG didn’t complain about it. All the subways using “Metro” out there did not complain about it.

So why was MS not able to solve that? They are surely in a much stronger position than the Metro group. They are a big, big global player against a small local player… Was MS fearing that Metro group’s brands to block their new products? That is rather unlikely. They could not miss one of their key sources of revenue. So why MS did not played with their mighty muscles? We certainly never will know about that.

Also, not even the Logo of Metro group has something in common with the Metro UI.

I am sure a lot of us have promoted the UI as “Metro UI” to friends and customers.

Now we have to tell them it is the “Windows 8-style UI”. Do me a favor, speak it out loud. Just do it. You will see how this is nothing compared to “Metro UI”.

It was like the description: clear, easy, no junk around it, just the perfect name for their innovation.

I really hate the fact that MS is not using their whole power to serve this up. They do not need the brands of the Metro AG. But those brands need Microsoft to generate markable revenue.

What do you all think about this?

Posted by msicc in Archive, 4 comments

BinaerForceOne´s take on Windows Phone 7.8 vs. Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 7.8 and 8 Start Screen

Windows Phone 8 Developer Summit is finally over and has many early adopters who recently purchased a second generation device left unsatisfied, to say the least. As an early adopter myself who bought a Nokia Lumia 900 about 8 days ago I can fully understand the rage that is going through the community. But I still have some common sense left that tries to find explanations for why Microsoft chose to take the decision the way they did.

First of all Windows Phone hasn’t been the top seller many of us would have liked to see it becoming ever since its release in October 2010. WP’s marketshare is still low enough that Microsoft is willingly taking the risk of pissing people off who already bought into their still new ecosystem. But who are those people who feel let down by Microsoft? Is it the average customer that has just jumped on the smartphone bandwagon? Or is it rather the tech savvy geek who is never really satisfied with what he currently owns and is always longing for newer, better hardware and more features? My assumption is that in at least 7 times out of 10 it’s the latter. And I bet that 3 or 4 of these 7 would have bought a newer device anyways when it hits the marketplace. Even if their current devices would have been upgraded to Apollo.

But why did Microsoft take that risk in the first place anyways? From my understand they didn’t even have a choice to take a different path. When they realised that Windows Mobile was going down big time, it was pretty much too late as Apple and Google already had taken control over the mobile market. What Microsoft needed to do was two things:

  1. Come up with something so different from everything else currently available and unique in many ways, that it would be noticed and gain some traction even though it would lack many features commonly available on competing platforms.
  2. They needed to do it as quickly as humanly possible in order to not let the already existing gap between them and their competitors become even bigger.

Besides the fact that hardware that was available when Microsoft began development of Windows Phone wasn’t by far as good as it is today and thus most definitely not even capable of running an NT based kernel, what was Microsoft supposed to do other than taking an existing and as being reliably proven system (aka Windows CE) and give it an overhaul?

From a business point of view it’s the only way that makes sense to me. From a consumer point of view though I have to admit that I’m of course not actually happy with what was announced yesterday. Even though I have to admit that it was a Summit meant for developers which of course unvealed mainly things relevant to these. It has yet to be announced what features both, WP7.8 and WP8 will bring to the consumers. I still believe that WP7.8 will not be all about the redesigned homescreen. Being a bit speculative here I assume that every single feature that Win CE and our single core Snapdragon CPUs are capable of, will be delivered with this update.

To sum things up: am I pissed off? Do I feel screwed by Microsoft (and Nokia)? Certainly. Does this mean I close my eyes before things that were pretty obvious and most definitely inevitable? Heck no! What Microsoft announced yesterday may feel like a slap in the face for many, but they couldn’t really have done it any other way. And as a matter of fact: I enjoyed Windows Phone 7.x and my Lumia 900 before yesterday. How the hell could that Summit have changed that? It didn’t. I still enjoy the experience of WP on my device. And I will continue to do so for as long as it may take until I can get my hands on a dedicated Windows Phone 8 device.

Just a quick last note before I save this post and have it published. Many WP users are pretty much concerned with the marketplace situation that is ahead of us. Sure, Microsoft promised that all existing apps will run just fine on Windows Phone 8. But what will happen to people who use Windows Phone 7.8 then?
Without diving too deep in technical aspects, Windows Phone 8, regardless of the new kernel, still supports XAML and C# (aka managed code) which was, is and will be absolutely sufficient for most apps. All these apps should run without any issues on WP7.x as well and thus certainly be available on this particular marketplace. Apps that make use of WP8’s newer hardware or are natively coded won’t run though. That again is speculation as there’s no WP8 SDK available right now to play around with. Once it’s available will see if there are differences or not.

That’s it, I’m done. Call me a blind fanboy, but I still believe Microsoft took the right decision. As unpopular and fucked up it may seem. Period.

Posted by dkp1977 in Archive, 3 comments

I learn to tie my shoes – now available on Windows Phone (deal inside)

In January 2011 Internet Security specialist AVG released a study. This study tells us that nowadays children get in touch with technical gadgets much earlier than in the past, while they are not able to manage everyday things like tying their shoes.

The study substantiates this also with figures: around 19% of the 2-5 year old children are able to use smartphone apps, while only 9% know  how to tie their shoes.

As father of two kids, I decided to use the abilities of the little ones, and do something against that alarmingly low now number of kids, who know how to tie shoes.

I hope this app helps you and your children to learn tying of shoes very quick, easy and with fun.

The app provides following features:

  • two methods of tying shoes
  • controllable animation that shows tying
  • step by step guide
  • rhymes
  • theme selection (currently standard, boys, girls)
  • German and English language

The app will be available at the price of 99 cent. Like all my other apps, it has of course a trial version.

Trial version provides:

  • the first five steps both in animation and the guide
  • one of four rhymes
  • standard theme

What is coming next?

  • more languages (coming with the next update: Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian)
  • more themes
  • themed tiles to pin to start screen

To celebrate the launch of this app, I will start a “Marketplace Roulette”.

Currently, the app is available for free only  via this marketplace link.  I will change the pricing at a suitable moment within the next few days  to the above mentioned 99 cents and make it publically available. Until this moment, you can download it for free only via this link.

Finally, here are some screenshots from the app:

step10_ENGthemes_ENG

If you want to learn more about the app, here is a review on 1800PocketPC.com (written by Saijo George).

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments

[WPDev] Add Multiline Text to a Resource File in Windows Phone

Today I had to solve the problem that I needed to add multiline text into my resource file. I did not find a Windows Phone specific solution, but enough hints to solve the problem.

Here is a short guide for you:

First I added a TextBlock control and formatted it in XAML with Linebreaks:

TextBlockLineBreaks

The result is a nicely formatted TextBlock:

TextBlockResultCorrect

Now I tried of course to copy and paste the string in my resource file, and got an ugly result:

ResourceCopyPasteTextBlockResult

As mentioned above, I found out enough hints to solve this problem. There are two ways to solve it:

  • The simple way is to add your text, and for each new line press “Shift+Enter”. The result looks like this in your resource file:

    cleanResource

    Please note that you have to click inside of the value field to display the whole content.

  • The second way is to edit the XML-File directly. To open the resource file in XML-mode, right click your resource file and choose “Open with..”. In the following menu choose XML (Text)-Editor. Locate your resource string. Also if it looks not nice in code, you have to format your entry like this:

    xmlResourceLinebreak

Both methods will result in a nicely formatted multiline TextBlock after building your app again.

I hope this short guide is helpful.

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments

[WPDev] How-to create a tile without app title for Windows Phone

Every App has always a title on its dedicated tile for the Windows Phone start screen. But what if your tile icon contains already the title of your app?

Normally, you are setting the appearance of your app within the properties:

properties

If you have done this, your logo is displayed, but contains the title string. So how can we delete this?

In properties, you are not allowed to delete the name. You will face an error: “Title cannot be empty”.

You need to go to the Application Manifest and edit the XML manually. Go to solution explorer, and open the properties tree. With a double click on “WMAppManifest.xml” you will see the following Window:

wpappmanifest

To edit the title of the start screen, search for the section. Within this section, you will find a Title section, which contains the title of your app (as you have set within the properties). Now simply delete the title string.

TwTTile

If you now debug your application, you will see that your tile no longer displays the title.

I hope this short how-to will be helpful for you.

Posted by msicc in Archive, 1 comment

Windows Phone panorama comparison: Nokia vs. HTC

panorama-nokia-htc

Both Nokia and HTC are providing a Panorama picture function with their Windows Phone devices. Nokia released its “creativity suite”, while HTC integrated this feature in the camera app.

Both devices help you to create your panorama picture. HTC takes three photos, while Nokia takes four photos to create your panorama. I tested the function on a HTC Titan and a Nokia Lumia 800.

Let´s have a look at the HTC-helper:

HTC-Panorama-Helper

As you can see on the picture above, HTC uses a line for horizontal adjustment and on this line a dot to find the best point of shooting the next picture.

HTC-Panorama-Helper-taking-picture

Once you have reached the circle, the camera shots automatically the next picture.

Let´s have a look at the Nokia-helper:

Nokia-Panorama-Helper

As you can see on this picture, Nokia uses a different way to create panorama pictures. As mentioned above, Nokia takes four pictures for the panorama. Nokia uses a rectangle to give you help while positioning the device. It takes some time to figure this out, but once you are used to it, it is as easy as with the HTC panorama function.

Nokia-Panorama-Helper-taking-pic

Also Nokia´s app is taking pictures automatically once the best position is reached.

Now let´s compare the panoramas

First I want to show you two panoramas that I have taken outside (first is HTC, second Nokia):

HTC-Panorama-outside

Nokia-Panorama-outside

The HTC panorama is not as wide as the Nokia panorama. Of course this is due to the difference of taking three vs. four pictures. The HTC camera has made the sun flair too lightening, which disturbs a little bit in my eyes. The Nokia panorama looks more natural, even with this difficult painting. Both panoramas are acceptable, but there is room for improvements on both sides.

Let me show you two panoramas from my living room (first is HTC, second Nokia):

HTC-Panorama-inside

Nokia-Panorama-inside

Here you can see even more difference between the panoramas caused by the different numbers of pictures that are taken for stitching the panorama. The Nokia one is again wider than the one from HTC. The HTC camera once again has a problem with the lightening (see the windows), while the Nokia camera takes it easy and made a good photo at this part. But on the first photo the Nokia camera had a problem with the focus.

Conclusion:

Both devices have a good camera, and both cameras did their work over all good. HTC gets a bonus point as the panorama shot is integrated into the camera software, while Nokia´s bonus is a wider range for the panorama. As I do not take panoramas all the time, I am fine with using an app. In my eyes the Nokia one is a little better, because lightening is not such a strong problem as on the HTC Titan.

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments
Does Windows Phone really need Google to take off?

Does Windows Phone really need Google to take off?

windows-phone-google

Windows Phone has a problem, at least in the eyes of Eric Zemam of informationweek.com. According to a recent article, Google is ignoring the Windows Phone OS.

Google’s lack of support for the Windows Platform is a real problem–one that Microsoft should be tackling head on.

Nearly all of us have been using a Google Service already. Almost everyone has watched a video at YouTube.

Read my full post at 1800PocketPC.com

Posted by msicc in Archive
How to install the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 on W8CP (WPDev)

How to install the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 on W8CP (WPDev)

Screenshot (86)

This week Microsoft released the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 to us developers. If you are on Windows 7, you can hit the download  button and install the SDK, everything will go fine.

If you have used my tutorial on how to install the SDK on W8CP, things are a little different. You might face the following error message:

Screenshot (74)

The error says that the update is not applicable or is blocked by another condition on your computer (you can read more about that here). The Link to the KB-site does not offer anything helpful, so I played around to find a workaround.

Here is a my tutorial for installing the SDK in this case:

  • perform a “repair install” of the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1
  • download the update
  • install the update, if no error shows up, everything will go fine
  • if you face the message again, abort the installation
  • download the update again
  • after second download, everything should go fine

I know this is a little bit confusing. In fact it was the only way for me to get the update installed. I tried several ways, and if a way did not work I restored the point before the repair install to get this tutorial done.

After the installation I also tried to open up my blog app on the 256 MB emulator. Of course I was curios whether my will start or not, luckily it did:

Screenshot (85)

So I hope with my little tutorial I was able to help you to get developing started with Windows 8 again. For my part I am happy, as I often code while I am at train, and in battery mode debugging on device does not work on W8CP.

Happy coding everyone!

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments
Microsoft lures developers with million deal

Microsoft lures developers with million deal

nokia-microsoft-app-campus

Microsoft and Nokia are teaming up again to push the Windows Phone OS. This time it is all about developers.

Over the next three years, both companies are investing the amount of 18 million euros into a newly founded developer program.

Read my full post at 1800PocketPC.com.

Posted by msicc in Archive, 0 comments