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There really is no better place to buy a new ultrabook, tablet or PC than from the Microsoft Store. Sure you can buy products online, but having access to a physical store is great for that instant gratification of picking up your new gadget. You’ll only find those brick-and-mortar stores in select malls across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Those in the United States are also set to get 11 new Microsoft Specialty Stores throughout the month of May. Locations and details below.

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How to open websites by voice with Cortana

You seem to keep finding new things while playing with the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers! Did you know that you could open websites by voice with Cortana? WPCentral forum member, jrdatrackstar1223, has recently discovered this feature. It requires a few steps to get it working, so head past the break to watch our how-to video.

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Nokia Oyj, the Finnish manufacturer's devices and services division will become Microsoft Mobile Oy, Redmond's new mobile devices and services division, once the Microsoft-Nokia deal goes through. Microsoft already has its own, larger devices and services organization, of course, but with Nokia's phone business getting merged in, the components that support that business will have to be merged in as well. Nokia has reportedly sent a letter to their suppliers to address just that matter. According to Nokia Power User:

Under the terms of the sale, Microsoft will assume all rights, benefits and obligations of the Nokia Devices and Services business, including Nokia’s agreements with suppliers, customers and partners which pertain to the Devices and Services business. Therefore, the purpose of this letter is to update you that the current terms and conditions that you have with the Devices and Services business will not change.

Please note that upon the close of the transaction between Microsoft and Nokia, the name of Nokia Corporation/Nokia Oyj will change to Microsoft Mobile Oy. Microsoft Mobile Oy is the legal entity name that should be used for VAT IDs and for the issuance of invoices.

Just one more step on the long and winding road to Microsoft/Nokia post-merger bliss. If you're all up in the mobile devices and services business, let me know how this affects you!

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When Windows Phone 8 reared its shiny head back in late 2012, there was much cause for celebration. Although the new OS switched kernels from the one used by Windows Phone 7, it retained the ability to run most pre-Windows Phone 8 apps and games. That said, some very important games did not run on the new OS: more than 20 mobile Xbox Games! Considering how many gamers came to Windows Phone specifically for Xbox Games, those compatibility issues among came as quite a blow.

Microsoft and some of the creators of the affected games worked to restore compatibility where they could. One year after the Windows Phone 8 launch, 12 games gained compatibility or received new compatible versions. 20 games remained incompatible however, including some important titles like Fable Coin Golf and Tentacles. Well, it’s been a long time coming but one more Xbox Game just became available again on Windows Phone 8: The Harvest from Luma Arcade.

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Earlier today we updated our official Windows Phone app to version 4.4.18.8. You’ll find a lot of things in there that you’ll like if you’re on Windows Phone 8.1. We’ve fixed our app to look great on your Start screen with its very own transparent Live tile. You’ll also be able to pick up our notifications in the new Notification center. Bonus, all features in available to paid users is now available to those in the free version of the app. Before you get on with your weekend we just wanted to make sure you all had the transparent Live tile and Notification center working for our app. Here’s how if you’re not sure.

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Did anything happen this week? Duh, Windows Phone 8.1 came out through the Preview for Developer program on Monday morning. Since then we’ve all been spending so much time with Cortana, Notification Center, Data Sense and much more. You can catch up on everything by checking out our Windows Phone 8.1 review. In the meantime, the Windows Phone Store was still busy with new apps and games. Let’s take a moment to go back and check out the app highlights of the week!

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Measure light with Lux-o-Meter for Windows Phone

You can now use your Windows Phone device as a lux meter thanks to a new app that has just released called Lux-o-Meter. It measures brightness or illuminance using the built-in light sensor. The sensor is usually next to the front-facing camera on your device. Go ahead and check where it is on your phone.

Head past the break to watch our hands-on video and walkthrough with Lux-o-Meter.

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Remember all those years back on Windows Phone 8 when you had to dive into the operating system settings and pass into the ringtones area just to silence your phone? Those times are long gone as Microsoft has introduced a brand new volume area, which enables you to not only control the levels for the system, apps and media, but this center also provides convenient access to effectively mute and silence your Windows Phone.

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Windows Phone 8.1 has brought a lot of new features, most of which we detailed in our massive review and overview. Now, we’re picking up the crumbs with all the little improvements.

Word Flow is what Microsoft calls their keyboard technology, which also now includes Shape writing. Word Flow has the best auto-complete and text prediction engines around, but how do you capitalize a word when using Shape writing?

Shape writing is the new swipe keyboard feature that allows you ‘draw’ the word instead of touch-typing. Simply drag your finger across the display to each letter and let the Word Flow keyboard do the rest. But it may not be clear how to capitalize a word that is not in the dictionary for auto-complete. Swiping to the shift key doesn’t work. Luckily, Microsoft has you covered. You don't want to miss this tip!

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If you're in the market for a Windows Phone device on AT&T, there are plenty of options, but it's really hard to ignore a metal-framed Nokia Lumia 925 for just $79.99 off contract (or free with a contract, if you don't feel like doing the math on how much you'll save). Granted, that's for a refurbished Lumia 925, but generally they're in like-new condition and sold with a full warranty. $79.99 off contract is a fantastic deal for nearly any phone, let alone one like the Lumia 925 where it retails normally for $399.99.

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So far, the Preview for Developers program with Windows Phone 8.1 is going very well for Microsoft and those interested in getting an early look at the next OS. The preview, however, is not completely optimized for individual devices, and they still need new firmware to be complete. Once “official” updates rollout with OEM firmware, we expect things to be even better for consumers.

Still, Microsoft is in a ‘pay attention to the customer’ mode, reacting very quickly to user feedback. That’s why we’re excited to hear, at least via Microsoft’s Community forums, that an update to the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview will be forthcoming.

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We're excited to announce another patch to our official Windows Phone app today, which you can download right now here in the marketplace (Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7). Whilst this version 4.4.18 is not the biggest update we've ever announced we suspect a fair few people will be quite happy.

Following a flood of e-mails and messages complaining about our live tile's compatibility with the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 we've made sure that tile transparency now works correctly for both of our live tiles. The other headline change is that we've now made all features of the app available to all users.

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In Windows Phone 8.1, the Xbox Games Hub is now a separate app that can be updated independently from the OS itself. It can’t be uninstalled, but the freedom to update separately should allow Microsoft to make changes to the app much more quickly than before. In fact, the app received an update earlier today.

Like many aspects of the Windows Phone 8.1 update, the Xbox Games app builds on the established pre-8.1 design and makes a few changes as well. Not all of these changes are for the better, and in some ways the app is a clear step back. Luckily there will surely be more updates to follow. Read on to learn about the major changes in the Windows Phone 8.1 Xbox Games app and the new way the OS lists the games you’ve installed.

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For today only, purchase the Trident Aegis Case for Nokia Lumia 822 and save 46% off the list price!

The Trident Aegis Cases offer complete protection with creative design to keep the Lumia 822 safe and unharmed without compromising its advanced functionality. A durable silicone layer is on the inside - in direct contact with the device, with a hard polycarbonate shell on outside.

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Earlier today we told you guys and gals about Microsoft’s Project My Screen app for your PC. This is the app you’ll need installed and running on your PC in order to share what’s on your Windows Phone 8.1 screen to your PC. We haven’t had time to play around with it yet, but Microsoft’s Cliff Simpkins (@cliffsimpkins) has a great guide on how to use it and troubleshoot any potential problems.

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Windows Phone 8.1 introduces a handful of new features like Cortana, Notification Center and Wi-Fi Sense, but also improves on older features like Data Sense. We’ll be going into detail over the next few days about all the various features. We figured we’d make ‘sense’ of Windows Phone 8.1 by spending quality time with Data Sense, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense. Here’s the page you bookmark to know everything you want about Data Sense.

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