What´s up for Microsoft in 2012?

What´s up for Microsoft in 2012?

MSlogoBlog

Today I want to give a sneak preview of what we can expect from Microsoft this year.

Several dates are just fixed:

January 10-13: CES

This will be Microsoft´s last appearance on the Consumer Electronic Show. While this decision started a controversial discussion last year, we will sure see some new features for our Xbox, Windows Phone and probably on Windows 8. Also Nokia is located with a big stand, so I guess there will sure be some Windows Phone news. Maybe we developers will get again some beta of the next Windows Phone version? Or a Windows Phone by Sony (Ericsson)?

February 27 –  March 1: Mobile World Congress

Well, this will be an interesting thing for me from two parts: first as an employee of Telefonicá, which has always something big to tell about their on-going projects like BlueVia, the API-program of them. The world central is also located in Spain, so it is only natural that there will be a huge presence of Telefonicá.  Second part is from my part as Microsoft fan. I expect further details about the next version of Windows Phone, and also some news about the tablet capabilities of Windows 8.

March 9-18: SWSX Interactive

Last year, we all received our fantastic IE9. What happens this year? IE10? Windows 8? Xbox? Well, actually there is nothing concrete, so I have to update this when there will be news.

April: MIX

Well, if you click on that site, there are no news about a conference this year. Maybe it will be mashed up in this years Build. MS itself has no information to share at the moment.

June 5-7: E3 Expo

This is Microsoft´s primary Xbox Stage, and so we will normally see a lot of new Games both for Windows Phone and Xbox (like in 2011). I think there will be also some new apps around there, as the Xbox is now our multimedia centre in our living rooms.

June 11-14: TechEd 2012 

This is for pros and devs and is normally about already announced products. This is primarily for North America.

June 25-29: TechEd Europe 2012

After cancelling last year’s TechEd Europe, Microsoft is set to hold this year´s event.

July 9-13 Worldwide Partner Conference 2012

Microsoft is annually holding this event to thank their partners, show their roadmaps. As the trend for cloud computing continues, I guess there will be a large time of talking about the cloud, the cloud and the cloud.

November 12-15 SharePoint Conference 2012

As until now there is nothing about Office, Office 365 and SharePoint around, I guess this will be the scheduled launch conference for the updated 2012 product line.

So now you have a smart oversight about this years Microsoft events. Surely this list will be updated from time to time, as there are missing some events:

Build 2012

As it seems without a doubt the year of Windows 8 and the next version of Windows Phone, I am sure there will be an event. At this moment there is no information about it, but the missing MIX-conference is another indicator for this event to happen.

As I mentioned above, I will steadily update this post to keep the list up to date.

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

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

iluvallMS

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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Microsoft wants your Feedback on WindowsPhone – Developer and User!

Microsoft wants your Feedback on WindowsPhone – Developer and User!

WPLogoBlog

With the release of Windows Phone Mango Microsoft issued also two new Feedback programs.

First I want to have al look on the developer-part:

Microsoft created a userchoice.com-site for developers, which can be found here. Recently they extended the page with an dedicated app for Windows Phone.

Here are some shots:

Screen Capture (13)  Screen Capture (14)  Screen Capture (16)  Screen Capture (20)  Screen Capture (24)  Screen Capture (22)

You can vote for an existing topic or create a new one. For every topic you can give up to 3 votes, with a summary maximum of 10. There is a description which can be added to a topic. Also you can add your own comment on the topic. Check the shots below:

Screen Capture (26)  Screen Capture (28)  Screen Capture (30)

So if you are a developer, head over to the marketplace and download this app to give feedback to Microsoft.

Let´s have a look at the consumer part of the feedback program:

Here you can have a look on the page for the consumer feedback. The App for consumer looks very similar to the developer feedback app, as you can see on this shots:

Screen Capture (15)  Screen Capture (19)  Screen Capture (23)Screen Capture (25)  Screen Capture (27)  Screen Capture (34)

Of course there is the same functionality for a topic as in the developer version: Give up to 3 votes for a topic, read or add a description as well as leave a comment:

Screen Capture (10)  Screen Capture (11)  Screen Capture (12)

So if you want to tell Microsoft what you want to have on your OS, head over to the marketplace an download the app right now.

There are some topics which are flagged with “started” on both the developer as well as the consumer feedback program. It seems really Microsoft hears to its customers.

Please provide feedback, only with this Microsoft will deliver those features we are waiting for!

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Merry Christmas!

First I want to excuse for not posting in the last few days. I have catched an ugly otitis media, which tears me really down. Now over to the reason for this post:

I want to wish all of you a Merry, Merry Christmas.

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I wish that all your gadget wishes will come true and hope you will be enjoying a couple of time with your families over the next view days.

Stay tuned for next week, when I will write some news and thoughts about this ending year and what comes up next year.

Once again, Merry Christmas everyone!

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(Update) GEMA and BITKOM reached an agreement for online music services

gemabitkom

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about how the GEMA cuts the user experience in Germany.

Today, the GEMA and BITKOM announced that they finally reached an agreement for internet music services. The Federal Association for information technology, telecommunications and new media e.V. (BITKOM) is the Trade Association of the German information and telecommunications industry.

The agreement covers the amount of copyright remuneration which must be dissipated by the operators of Internet music portals. License fees are per piece of music now usually between 6 and 9 cent net.

Because of this agreement, music stores are now able to offer previews with a length up to 90 seconds.

The agreement also includes licensing of copyright for streaming services over the Internet. “Individual services that are successful abroad, find that similar licensing conditions in Germany,.” “We go therefore the assumption that there will be even more music services in Germany, in which users for a monthly flat fee entirely online can listen all tracks”, as BITKOM Vice-President Smid. “This online business models in the music business for suppliers and users are much more attractive than ever before.”

Ad-funded music services and music videos are not covered until now from the contract. To do this, BITKOM and GEMA will further continue their negotiations, as well as for online video services.

Update: Yesterday the GEMA announced also a tariff for ad-funded music services. The prices are set only from the GEMA – means there is no agreement with BITKOM. BITCOM said it was a locigal consequence, that the GEMA was raising up a tarif. They will prove how they can work with the new tariff.

Let´s hope that in near future all content provider like Spotify and Microsoft with Zune Pass will let us receive the same user experience as in the rest of Europe/the World.

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Fishing Knots 1.4 is available & on Christmas Sale!

Fishing Knots 1.4 is available & on Christmas Sale!

My Fishing Knots app has been updated to version 1.4

What´s new?

I added completely reworked graphics to the app. The images are now also following your background color (black or white).

Of course you have still the former features like:

  • controllable animations
  • read aloud the instructions for a knot
  • 3-step instructions with image and text

Of course the German an the Italian version have this update, too.

Check here some screenshots:

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X-Mas sale:

From now until December, 31st you can buy my app for a reduced price!

Check out the marketplace:

English:       Download-EN-Med

German:    

Italian:       

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HTC Titan vs. Nokia Lumia 800

HTC Titan vs. Nokia Lumia 800

htcvsnokia

Today I am going to compare the HTC Titan to the Nokia Lumia 800.

Display:

The HTC Titan spots a 4,7 inch display, while the Nokia Lumia has a one inch smaller display. The Titan has a clear SLCD display, while the Lumia has an AMOLED display. Here you can see the difference (brightness on both devices is set to automatic):

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The Lumia´s color are more powerful due to the AMOLED technology. Personally, I think the calibration has too much of red in it. This makes me feel the HTC display is more natural in color.

Typing:

Well, let´s go ahead. Typing on Titan is really easy and fast, with nearly no wrong taps on the keyboard. Typing on Lumia is also easy, I was impressed that I was able to use it nearly as fast as the Titan.

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Camera:

Both devices have an 8 MP camera. I know that MP is not all, but in a comparison it still has to tell something. Also both devices come with a F2.2 lens. Nokia has the clear advantage of a Carl Zeiss lens on the hardware side. Carl Zeiss is a German manufacturer which is specialized on optical hardware.

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If you compare the two images, you will recognize that the Lumia´s color are not as powerful as the Titan ones. In my opinion the Titan´s Image looks a little better than the Lumia´s. Both Images are taken with flash. The quality of both cameras is really good for smartphone cameras. So here I will stop with a draw for both devices.

Performance:

Both the Titan as well as the Lumia are fast devices. In daily use, I did not recognize any problems or difference between them. In this case, let us have a look on the numbers (WP Bench):

WPBench20111127072011WPBench20111127071923

As you can see, the Titan has a little better result than the Lumia. The difference is so small, you won´t even check this in daily use.

Sound:

The Titans speaker is on the back, while the Lumia´s is on the bottom of the device. Both speakers have a good sound, while the Lumia´s has a bit weak loudness. The Titan has also a sound optimizer, while the Lumia does not have this. I am sure Nokia will bring any sound optimization in future. For now, plus goes to the Titan.

Differences:

Until now, both devices seem to be a good decision. But as OEM´s, both Nokia and HTC are trying to differentiate from others.

Nokia has its own Navigation System, Nokia Drive and Nokia Music as well as Nokia Maps (last one will be a paid app on other OEM devices). It has no front camera and no gyroscope. We were told that there is also a Nokia section in the marketplace. Well, at least in Germany with o2-sold devices there is no Nokia section. You have to search the Marketplace manually.

HTC has a own Marketplace section, with tools and gadgets you will find useful (for example a torch-app). The Titan also has a front camera for video calls as well as a gyroscope.

Conclusion:

Both devices are really good smartphones. If you want to have a good, well priced device, I recommend for sure the Nokia Lumia 800.

As I am an enthusiastic user and also developer, my decision is the HTC Titan. You will get an future secure device, which has all possibilities a modern smartphone needs.

Thanks for your attention and feel free to leave a comment below.

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(Update) How the GEMA cuts the user experience in Germany

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I struggled with myself to write about this for a while. But now I can´t hold back any longer.

The society for musical performance and mechanical reproduction rights (GEMA) is a collecting society which represents the rights of the copyright of those composers, musical, and publishers of musical works in Germany. It is similar to the Harry Fox Agency. Until here there is still no problem.

So why I am writing this article? Well, as I am a Windows Phone User, I normally would love the Zune Pass. The Zune Pass was announced back in 2010 also for Germany.

But it turned out that it will not be released due to the GEMA. So what does the GEMA?

Due to the Fact that the Zune Pass has nearly unlimited streaming, the want to get paid for every streamed song. Microsoft and others are offering a fixed sum per user to the GEMA. The GEMA does not accept.  As a result we still do not have Zune Pass here in Germany. And honestly, I do not think we will get it at one day.

So we have to be glad  the Zune Marketplace, were we can buy songs, albums and videos.

Another example are videos on YouTube with content from Sony Music. YouTube and the GEMA currently do not have an agreement for displaying videos with Sony Music content.  The GEMA wants to be paid per click/per view. Before the got an agreement with a flat amount (until 2009). Now on every video with Sony Music content we get the error: “Sorry, this video has content which is not available in your country”.

Update: Also Apple and Google customers are facing those problems. Apples iTunes Match as well as Google Music will be available, but not or only restricted in Germany.

The GEMA works with the principle of turnaround the burden of proof. If you are a content provider (like Microsoft´s Zune), you have to show the GEMA that your content is not reliable to them. Else you have to pay. Sadly this practice has been confirmed by justice.

I agree that the GEMA is in general a society to help the artists. But they do not work together with the content provider.

Other European countries like Italy, the UK and France also have their agencies similar to the GEMA. They are working together with the content provider.

As often, in the end we customers are punished here in Germany.

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HTC HD7 vs. Radar vs. Titan (in the sun comparison)

HTC HD7 vs. Radar vs. Titan (in the sun comparison)

This week we saw how amazing the Nokia Lumia 800 Display survives under the sun. (if you missed it, click here.

As I don´t have a Nokia Lumia 800 yet, I decided to compare an HD7 with a Radar and a Titan.

First I made screenshots from HD7´s and Titan´s start screen to check if there is a difference. I hardly see a difference.

Screen Capture (16)Screen Capture

So, my second step was to take two different photos on each Device. One from the sun with some veil of clouds in front, and one of a garden.

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RadarWP_000006

TitanWP_000126 (7)

Ok, it is no surprise that the Titan´s picture is the best as it has the best camera of the three devices. The Titan took also the most original colors on both motives. The Radar takes better picture than the HD7, but not as good as the Titan.

At least I compared the screen within the sun light. The screen brightness is set to automatic on all devices.

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As you can see, the Radar display is still readable, while the HD7´s display is near to not visible. The Titan´s display most readable. I used two different angles to see how the HD7´s display will respond to the others, but this makes no difference in reading.

So we have a clear winner here: the HTC Titan. The Radar is only little behind, while the HD7 is far from the two Mango phones.

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Fishing Knots updated to 1.2 and free version added

Fishing Knots updated to 1.2 and free version added

Today I received the notification, that my update to version 1.2 for Fishing Knots and also my free version were certified to the marketplace.

Here is what has changed:

I reworked the layout to fit more to the Windows Phone OS. I removed the background Image, instead it will continue to use your Phone Background (light or dark). The main menu contains now animated Tiles. The color will be your phone´s accent color. This looks like this:

screen2Screen Capture (13)

Now, if you click on a guide for a knot, you will first see the animation. Finally, I made the animation controllable. You can skip forward and backward, pause and resume the animation of the knots. This looks like this:

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Have you noticed that “read instructions aloud”-button on top of that page? You´re right, the app now can read the instructions for each knot aloud. Only thing I have to mention is, that this will only work if you have an active internet connection. At the moment we developers cannot use Windows Phone´s Text to speech service, so I generated a workaround. That is the reason why the internet connection is needed to work for this function.

The formerly known step by step-guide is also still there. You can switch to them by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page. They are looking still familiar to before:

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As the title of this post mentions, I also created a free version of my fishing knots app. This free version has the same layout, but less functions. The free app has the step by step-guide, but without the read aloud-feature and also without the animation. If you´re ok with that, you can download this version from the marketplace.

In my next version I will include improved images for the animation to also fit the design of the operating system (for both the free and paid version). Of course the same update will be applied to the German and the Italian version of my app.

English:         Download-EN-Med

German:      

Italian:          

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