Microsoft plans to significantly speed up the update process on Windows Phone with "Project Milkyway"

windows-phone-8_1-update1During the WinHec conference today Microsoft unveiled its plans to make updates delivered to its phones at a much faster pace with “Project Milkyway”.

Currently, updating Windows Phones is a very slow process, and in many cases it can take months for devices to get updated, and with Project Milkyway Microsoft plans to bring the wait down to 4-6 weeks of release.

project milkyway1 project milkyway2In the slide above, Microsoft outlines the procedure on how this is set to happen, and it depicts various steps that would be taken to get new updates rolled out to Windows phones.  Some of these steps include several carrier-related approvals which makes things a little skeptical since they seem to be the ones slowing things down dramatically, but at least Microsoft has a plan which makes things encouraging.

Source: Channel 9 via Windows Central (images by Windows Central)

Windows 10 will be released this summer

windows 10 family1Microsoft is really focused on delivering Windows 10 as early as possible, and in recent blog post, head of Microsoft’s operating system team Terry Myerson revealed that Windows 10 has a planned summer release.

The exact time-frame is not outlined, but Myerson did go on to say that Microsoft’s new flagship OS will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages on release.

Microsoft wants to make a big splash with Windows 10 and intends to get everyone on board as it’s offering the OS for free for those upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and even from pirated copies of Windows 7.

This time-frame aligns with an RTM version of the OS to be complete in June and it should be perfect timing for Microsoft to unveil the Surface Pro 4 and possibly a flagship Windows 10 phone.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft gives us a first look at the Windows 10 Universal app platform

unversal appsThere’s been a lot of emphasis on Universal Apps with Windows 10, and the idea is for these apps to work across a wide array of devices running Microsoft’s latest OS. Today at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft took some time to reveal how this will all work.

It’s all quite simple. It would mean developers can build an app that works on all of Microsoft’s devices using one set of tools, whether it be IOT devices, phones, tablets, PCs Xbox, and even the new Surface Hub.

Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo explains what the software giant is trying to achieve with the following:

“As we built the universal app platform, we set out to ensure that all Windows developers would equally benefit from this one core. The platform enables a new class of Windows universal apps – apps that are truly written once, with one set of business logic and one UI. Apps that are delivered to one Store within one package. Apps that are able to reach every Windows 10 device the developer wants to reach. Apps that feel consistent and familiar to the customer on all devices, while also contextually appropriate to each device’s input model and screen size. The new universal app platform completes our developer platform convergence by providing you with the ability to finally create one app that can run on mobile, desktop, console, holographic, and even IoT devices.”

universal apps spartan browserOne of the really interesting things about Universal Windows 10 Apps is how they can adapt to the type of hardware you’re running. This is an important part in achieving the best possible experience for every device type as the same app will look slightly different as the screen size of different devices typed varies.

“Windows 10 will determine, at runtime, how the customer is interacting with your app and render the appropriate user experience (e.g. on a laptop with a touch-screen, an app fly-out control will provide larger touch-targets if tapped with touch, as opposed to clicked with a mouse).

Microsoft is really leveraging Cortana in Windows 10 and further integrating her capabilities into Windows 10 apps. Some benefits of this integration feature the ability for Windows 10 apps to show up in Cortana search results

As if these features aren’t alone good enough, Microsoft is also making it easy for developers to repackage web apps as Universal apps.

Windows 10 will make it easy for you to create a Windows app that packages your website for publishing to the Store. Once installed, your website can update and call Universal APIs from JavaScript, creating a more engaging user experience.

Microsoft will focus heavily on Windows 10 and its Universal app platform this April at Build conference, and judging by how fast it sold out, there’s definitely a lot of interest from developers in this Windows 10 story.

Source: Microsoft   

Microsoft is bringing digital assistant Cortana into Office: Photos revealed

cortana

Microsoft is beginning to integrate Cortana into all of its products lately, it started with Windows Phone 8.1 last year in April, and today Cortana is already present in the latest Windows 10 build.  We can expect for Cortana to be integrated into Xbox One later this year when it receives the Windows 10 update, but just recently The Verge reported that Cortana will also be integrated into the Microsoft Office offerings across desktop and mobile via app called Work Assistant.

They report that the software giant is testing the new Work Assistant app that will be designed to open, edit, and share documents using voice commands and Cortana.

This will also mean that Cortana will make its way into other OS’s via Office.  Not surprising for Microsoft to do as it continues its strategy of spreading their services across every OS.  However, we remain doubtful that Cortana in her current form as a personal assistant for Windows Phone will be available on iOS and Android, at least not until Microsoft makes full use of spreading Cortana on the PC, tablet, and Xbox this year with Windows 10 to use as an advantage in bringing more users to Windows 10 on Phones.

Cortana is a powerful tool, and when working seamlessly across every device type, there are some very intriguing scenarios possible.  There is no doubt that if implemented correctly across these new device types which will be used by hundreds of millions of people almost instantly, Cortana can be a powerful catalyst in increasing Windows Phone adoption. However, if that doesn’t work as intended, it wouldn’t be surprising see Microsoft put Cortana on other OS’s rather quickly.

Here are some images from the Work Assistant app which WindowsBlogItalia posted today.  This app is currently in the testing phase internally at Microsoft and it’s a glimpse of what we can expect to get in the Office experience for Windows Phone.

cortana work assistant 3
Photo Credit: Windows Blog Italia
cortana work assistant 2
Photo Credit: Windows Blog Italia
cortana work assistant 1
Photo Credit: Windows Blog Italia

 

 

Windows 10 based HTC Hima (M9) may not make it out of the US

pdp-htconem8windows-4959-081514
HTC One M8 in photo

HTC’s replacement to the stylish One M8 which is set to be named the One M9 will feature a 20.7MP main camera, an UltraPixel front-facing camera and come with  a 5-inch display.  It will certainly be a flagship Windows 10 device with 3GB RAM and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 CPU.

The bad news is that the Windows 10 version will most likely be exclusive to the US, according to UpLeaks. HTC One M8 for Windows was released on Verizon in August, and later became available on AT&T and T-Mobile in November. The One M8 was the only flagship Windows Phone 8.1 of late 2014, but it was never released outside the US.

htc m9 tweetWindows Phone seems to be holding its own in Europe, however the US still remains a weak market for Microsoft’s mobile OS. HTC on the other hand seems to be performing better in the US compared to Europe, and with the company not really in the best financial status, it certainly makes a lot more sense for them to keep this flagship in the US as wider distribution costs more.

htc m9 twet2 This remains a rumor for now, but it’s certainly plausible given the situation and when looking back at what happened with the One M8 with Windows.

Source: UpLeaks via WMPoweruser

New photo reveals large vertical live tiles which could come to Windows 10 for phones

windows phone 10 vertical tileSomething rather interesting was uncovered today regarding the potential design of Windows 10 for phones.  As it turns out, we may see a new tile size that’s vertical and double stacked.

This possibly new tile looks identical to a double-wide tile but in a vertical position and the clue comes from a photo which shows a Windows Phone showcasing using the tile which  belongs to a Microsoft employee by the name of Vesku Paananen who tweeted it and then quickly removed the tweet.

It wouldn’t be surprising for Microsoft to add this feature, being a logical evolution of the Windows Phone design language that would be particularly useful in larger screen devices.

A vertical tile could be very useful if it enabled up and down scrolling of information within an app, which would work great with Twitter.  It certainly doesn’t look like it enables any new features judging by the photo which just shows the people hub tile in the vertical position, but seeing previous footage of Microsoft experimenting on scrolling within live tiles makes us wonder if this is a sign of things to come.  For now it’s just wishful thinking.  We’ll know soon enough with the release of Windows 10 for phones.

Source: BestMobileBlog via Windows Central

Rumour: Windows 10 on phones to feature PC media streaming & file access, phone calls from Windows 10 PCs

Windows Family

With Microsoft’s recent transformation under Satya Nadella’s leadership, we have seen the company embrace competing platforms in this cloud first mobile first era.  Microsoft has started to deploy many of its first class services on competing platforms, giving less and less reason why one would choose a Windows Phone over iOS or Android.

If we put UIs and hardware aside,  concentrating on apps and services only, a major advantage of owning a Windows Phone is probably Cortana – now that pretty much everything else Microsoft offers is on iOS and Android. With her future presence in Windows 10 and Xbox One combined with  Microsoft’s machine learning intelligence engine, the possibilities are very intriguing as she collects data across all of these devices and possibly even more data points.

Cortana could possibly provide with a glimpse of an AI experience that we’ve seen in Sci-Fi movies in the not so distant future, especially if your house is surrounded with Microsoft devices.  However, many users still don’t care for such things and these possibilities are still yet to be realized.  So what else is so good about being in the Windows ecosystem? Why else would one care about buying a Windows Phone if they can run pretty much all of Microsoft’s services on their iOS or Android device?

Well, it seems that Microsoft is planning on adding some additional benefits to its ecosystem with Windows 10.  According to a rumour which came to Design & Trend from Softpedia, Windows Phone 10 may be ready to preview as early as next month and will feature wireless transfers, media steaming capabilities and the ability to make and receive phone calls from Windows PCs.

Microsoft is striving in providing deeper integration with Windows 10 PCs and phones.  The ability to send and receive files between phones and PCs, or even accessing and editing a Word document on  your phone which is stored on your PCs hard drive will be a seamless experience.  Streaming media from a Windows 10 phone will also be made easy from a Windows 10 based PC.

Perhaps the most interesting feature would be the ability to send and receive phone calls on your PC from Windows 10 phone devices.  This function would be similar to Apple’s new Handoff feature currently between iPad’s, iPhones and MacBook computers.

These new features are only rumours so far, but given what Microsoft has been doing with their new OS so far and the fact that it can run across a staggering array of different device types, these features do not seem far fetched at all.  In fact, we still expect surprises with rich features in this January’s Windows 10 event.

Source: Design&Trend

Microsoft doesn't care which boat you use, as long as your boat is in their ocean

Windows Family

Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 is set to be the most comprehensive platform ever as it will run across an incredibly broad range of devices and provide seamless interaction across the different devices types.  In addition, it may also be the last ever big bang release of Windows, so there will have to be changes made in the way the software giant licences their flagship OS in order to make money.

Windows 10 will not only run on phones, PCs and Tablets, it will also run on embedded devices (internet of things), to ATMs, servers in enterprise data centres worldwide and large screen displays.  There are also rumors that Microsoft will give away its upcoming OS to Windows 8.1 users and providing a cheap way to Windows 7 users who plan to upgrade.

This certainly sounds pretty incredible as it will entice a significant amount of users to make the leap over to Windows 10, but how does Microsoft make money with these giveaways? And how will they price Windows 10 going forward? It seems like the days of high cost Windows licensing are coming to an end.

We have seen Microsoft already make some significant changes in the recent Free Windows with Bing SKU it offers to OEMs building low cost PCs.  This move has brought an influx of new low-end PCs that are hitting price points of $199 and tablets going as low as $59.99.  This race to the bottom is a way to cut off the Chromebooks legs before they become strong and to expand to a whole new market.

On Thursday at the Suisse Technology Investment Conference in Phoenix Arizona, Microsoft’s chief operating officer Kevin Turner had something to say about the way the software giant plans to change its business model with Windows licensing going forward.

The plan is to “monetize the lifetime of that customer through services and different add-ons that we’re (going) to be able to incorporate with that solution.”  Turner didn’t elaborate further on this statement but it appears to be somewhat of a subscription-based structure.  It could very well work in a way where certain functions of the OS would require an extra fee and the basic level OS may be free.

“The first 39 years of our company, we had one of the greatest business models of all time built around certainly the Windows client operating system, and the PC operating system, and catching that wave of innovation certainly was very good to the company.”

However, Turner added, “This was our past. If you look at our future, it’s really about becoming a Cloud OS, a devices operating system, having first party hardware to light up those experiences, and really being the company that can uniquely provide for dual-users this idea of digital work and digital life experiences.”

Microsoft is a different company nowadays and has brought all of its services to competing platforms, enabling users to fully live in the Microsoft ecosystem even if they are not using a Windows device.  In addition, they are racing full-steam ahead with the development of Azure and making sure they stay a step ahead of the competition to in order to secure the cloud space and become a dominant force.

Satya Nadella’s Microsoft is beginning to unfold, and with Turner’s statement we see that Microsoft is looking far ahead into the future and wants to become the cloud OS for all platforms.  Microsoft is after the ocean and doesn’t care which boat you use, as long as your boat is in their ocean.

Windows Phone marketshare dips slightly in wake of iPhone launch & no flagship

Windows_Phone

Kantar has just recently published their latest smartphone sales share report by operating system, and it shows that Windows Phone experienced a slight decline.

The impact of the iPhone 6 and the absence of new mid-high range Lumia devices have cause for a slight decline in almost every market except Italy.

windows phone market-share Sep2014

Europe

Windows Phone has been climbing steadily in Europe for quite some time now, but with no new mid-tier or flagship devices its market share slid to 9.2% in the big five European countries, which is down from 9.4% from the same time last year.  The Lumia 530 and Lumia 630 was able to keep the numbers relatively steady as the change in the European market was minor.

The Lumia 730 and Lumia 830’s numbers will not come into effect until the next Kantar report, but we expect these devices to have a positive impact on overall Windows Phone sales, especially due to their price points being well suited.

United States

In the US, sales were also slightly down to 4.3% compared to 4.6% last year, the lack of a flagship Lumia device is starting to take its toll in the US.  AT&T only has the Lumia 1520 as a flagship Windows Phone, and it’s not a good fit for everyone considering its massive size, and the fact that it was released around the same time last year.

However, the HTC One M8 will make its way to AT&T on November 7th alongside the Lumia 830.  HTC’s flagship Windows Phone is also expected to make its way to T-Mobile on Nov 9th .

This could help change the situation in the fourth quarter where the full impact of the iPhone 6 will have a much stronger effect.  We don’t expect any major changes until Microsoft releases a true flagship Microsoft Lumia that could create a positive buzz around the platform.

Microsoft’s next flagship

We’re not sure when this new rumored McLaren device will launch, whether it’ll be timed with a big bang release of Windows 10 under the same branding, or whether it still runs Windows Phone 8.1 and gets a much earlier release date.

It must be a hard call to make for Microsoft to make at the moment, as not having anything worthy between now and by the time Windows 10 is released is much too long of a wait as it’ll negatively affect market share numbers.

It’s important for Microsoft to bring a flagship phone to the market as soon as possible, and there may be another option.  We have no information on anything but it would be great if Microsoft could release a successor to the Lumia 1020 before Windows 10, and then release an all around flagship device alongside Windows 10.  But that may be just wishful thinking.

The Windows 10 impact

2015 is a big year for Microsoft as the launch of Windows 10 will take place and create a strong unification across their device portfolio with universal apps and new branding.  Microsoft’s first Lumia device with their own branding will surely receive a strong marketing push as this new chapter is set to unfold.

We expect app availability to be much stronger as more developers are embracing the universal app model.  Windows 10 will surely help boost app development as Windows Store apps will be able to run in  desktop mode just as traditional desktop applications do.  This new ability is expected to bring millions of new users in the Windows Store – any benefit Windows 10 brings to the PC world will benefit Windows Phone.

This will be of great help in closing the app gap that Windows Phone has with other platforms, although most of the major apps are in the Windows Store, many of them haven’t seen updates in quite some time.

2015 will be an interesting year for Microsoft as not only are they removing the Nokia branding from Windows Phone, but completely getting rid of the Windows Phone name and tying it together with Windows 10. Windows 10 will be the most important all-time release of Windows and the future of the PC and Microsoft in mobile is tied to its success.

Source: Kantar

Windows Phone marketshare dips slightly in wake of iPhone launch & no flagship

Windows_Phone

Kantar has just recently published their latest smartphone sales share report by operating system, and it shows that Windows Phone experienced a slight decline.

The impact of the iPhone 6 and the absence of new mid-high range Lumia devices have cause for a slight decline in almost every market except Italy.

windows phone market-share Sep2014

Europe

Windows Phone has been climbing steadily in Europe for quite some time now, but with no new mid-tier or flagship devices its market share slid to 9.2% in the big five European countries, which is down from 9.4% from the same time last year.  The Lumia 530 and Lumia 630 was able to keep the numbers relatively steady as the change in the European market was minor.

The Lumia 730 and Lumia 830’s numbers will not come into effect until the next Kantar report, but we expect these devices to have a positive impact on overall Windows Phone sales, especially due to their price points being well suited.

United States

In the US, sales were also slightly down to 4.3% compared to 4.6% last year, the lack of a flagship Lumia device is starting to take its toll in the US.  AT&T only has the Lumia 1520 as a flagship Windows Phone, and it’s not a good fit for everyone considering its massive size, and the fact that it was released around the same time last year.

However, the HTC One M8 will make its way to AT&T on November 7th alongside the Lumia 830.  HTC’s flagship Windows Phone is also expected to make its way to T-Mobile on Nov 9th .

This could help change the situation in the fourth quarter where the full impact of the iPhone 6 will have a much stronger effect.  We don’t expect any major changes until Microsoft releases a true flagship Microsoft Lumia that could create a positive buzz around the platform.

Microsoft’s next flagship

We’re not sure when this new rumored McLaren device will launch, whether it’ll be timed with a big bang release of Windows 10 under the same branding, or whether it still runs Windows Phone 8.1 and gets a much earlier release date.

It must be a hard call to make for Microsoft to make at the moment, as not having anything worthy between now and by the time Windows 10 is released is much too long of a wait as it’ll negatively affect market share numbers.

It’s important for Microsoft to bring a flagship phone to the market as soon as possible, and there may be another option.  We have no information on anything but it would be great if Microsoft could release a successor to the Lumia 1020 before Windows 10, and then release an all around flagship device alongside Windows 10.  But that may be just wishful thinking.

The Windows 10 impact

2015 is a big year for Microsoft as the launch of Windows 10 will take place and create a strong unification across their device portfolio with universal apps and new branding.  Microsoft’s first Lumia device with their own branding will surely receive a strong marketing push as this new chapter is set to unfold.

We expect app availability to be much stronger as more developers are embracing the universal app model.  Windows 10 will surely help boost app development as Windows Store apps will be able to run in  desktop mode just as traditional desktop applications do.  This new ability is expected to bring millions of new users in the Windows Store – any benefit Windows 10 brings to the PC world will benefit Windows Phone.

This will be of great help in closing the app gap that Windows Phone has with other platforms, although most of the major apps are in the Windows Store, many of them haven’t seen updates in quite some time.

2015 will be an interesting year for Microsoft as not only are they removing the Nokia branding from Windows Phone, but completely getting rid of the Windows Phone name and tying it together with Windows 10. Windows 10 will be the most important all-time release of Windows and the future of the PC and Microsoft in mobile is tied to its success.

Source: Kantar