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Xbox is bringing games, panels and more to Comic-Con

Are you lucky enough to be at Comic-Con this year in San Diego? Then you're about to get even more stoked now that Xbox will be there. Microsoft is sending team Xbox down to San Diego to set up an Xbox lounge and booth. Games will be playable, you'll get your first look at the television series Halo: Nightfall and celebrities will be around all weekend.

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During the Microsoft Build 2014 conference in May, one of the hidden features of Windows Phone 8.1 announced is the Lock screen app, made in partnership with developer Rudy Huyn. The secret project was kept at the highest levels as many on the Windows Phone team were even unaware of its existence. The question though for many is When can we have it?

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore took to Twitter today to alleviate concerns. The Lock screen app (yes, it is a separate download, not built into the OS) is evidently nearing completion, at least far enough along to earn beta status.

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Microsoft layoffs slash into European Xbox division

The massive Microsoft layoffs announced yesterday are cutting deep across the company, with the latest word of hits coming at Xbox EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Asia). While 2/3 of the cuts are hitting job redundancies with Microsoft Mobile division (formerly Nokia), substantial layoffs are expected across the organization. According to MCV, Xbox EMEA could see up to 75% of its staff cut, and the staff will have to duke it out for the remaining 25%.

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Fitness Log updated with fix for calendar bug

Fitness Log, a very handy app for tracking your exercise progress, has been updated to version 2.0.0.3. The update is a small one, but fixes a bug in the calendar function. This is the latest in a series of recent updates, which range from bug fixes to adding new features.

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Finland's Minister of Finance Antti Rinne has said Microsoft has "betrayed" his country. Rinne is angry with the layoffs announced yesterday, 12,500 of are due to Nokia's Devices and Services division, which Microsoft acquired in April. Rinne feels that Microsoft hasn't lived up to the commitment it made when the acquisition was originally announced, according to Finnish business paper Kauppalehti:

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True to their word, Microsoft has pushed out two new updates for their Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps for Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft is on a tight schedule, delivering updates to those apps every two weeks in an effort to bring them to par.

Heading to the Store and version 2.6.155.0 for Xbox Music and 2.6.154.0 for Xbox Video are now live for downloading and updating.

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For today only, buy the Incipio Feather Hard Case for Nokia Lumia 920 and save 40% off the list price!

Measuring less than 1mm thin, the Feather Case is ideal for the Nokia Lumia 920 user seeking inconspicuous, first-class protection. It's made of an ultra light, ultra strong polymer that's form-fitting and doesn't add any unnecessary bulk. Colors include black, pink and gray.

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The Nokia Lumia 930 by Microsoft (the naming for these Windows Phones will become simpler, we promise) is now available in Ireland through Meteor. The carrier has the new Windows Phone flagship listed for €429.99 on prepay or for free on contracted plans (depending on how much you wish to save on monthly costs).

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The Xbox One 1408 (08 meaning the month of August) update preview is set to roll out in the coming days, but it's not known what this next release will bring to those rocking the preview app. According to an image sent in by a reader, it appears as though the update is actually rolling out early, or at least the first stage has kicked off. As one can see from the above photo, it's update 1408 on the Xbox One.

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Starting this fall, Microsoft was poised to release a new high-end Windows Phone featuring their new gesture technology dubbed 3D Touch. The project originally went by the name 'Goldfinger' but later moved to the prototype device stage under the moniker 'McLaren'. It was to be released on at least three US carriers simultaneously in addition to wider availability.

Windows Phone Central has confirmed with multiple sources familiar with the matter that Microsoft is completely canceling McLaren. In effect, this leaves Microsoft in a potentially vulnerable position this fall as the hardware and services company does not have any flagship Windows Phones, to our knowledge, in the pipeline.

Although the timing of this report coincides with the recent layoffs and reorganization plans at Microsoft, the decision to cancel McLaren was made within the last few weeks, prior to yesterday's news. The reasons for canceling McLaren range from cost to Microsoft being unable to move beyond the proposal stage for interactive usages with the technology. The news of the cancellation is so recent that current GDR2 roadmaps still show McLaren and 3D Touch slated for later this year.

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Google has announced that a serious flaw in the web browser, reportedly affecting Windows machines since 2010, will finally be addressed. The issue is Chrome fails to return to an idle state when not being used, requiring more juice from the power supply, a serious problem for laptop and tablet owners. The company has pushed the flaw to the top of the to-do list for the Chrome team so we're hoping it won't be too long before a fix is released to allow the viewing of more cat GIFs between charges.

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Microsoft has published a new video on its Windows Phone YouTube channel. This latest video is dedicated to helping consumers get comfortable with Cortana and using commands to obtain different pieces of information. The new virtual assistant is part of the Windows Phone 8.1 update, but is not yet available outside the US (unless you switch up your region and language settings).

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Following the announcement that Microsoft will let go 18,000 employees, it looks as though the MixRadio business will also be another casualty of the streamlining. Speaking to Music Ally, head of MixRadio Jyrki Rosenberg said that the company is planning a spin-off of the music service — which was brought into Microsoft with the Nokia acquisition — into a separate company.

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We're halfway through 2014 and still lack an official (and likeable) YouTube app from Google on Windows Phone. No worries, we've got exceptional third-party YouTube apps on Windows Phone thanks to enterprising developers. One community favorite, myTube, is due for a major update shortly. Here's a hands-on look at some of the new features and design coming to myTube on Windows Phone.

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Update 7/18/14 - Lenovo has issued a statement regarding the original comments and have since clarified their position, which can be found below:

"We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday. Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media. In short, we will continue to sell both 8 and 10 inch Windows tablets in both the U.S. and non-U.S markets." – Ray Gorman, Executive Director, External Communications, Lenovo


Microsoft and Lenovo evidently cannot catch a break as the PC manufacturer is reportedly halting sales of its small-screen Windows tablets. ITWorld has confirmed that Lenovo is pulling their 8-inch tablet line, including the high-end ThinkPad 8 and Miix2 here in the States, redirecting the stock to other countries.

According to a Lenovo spokesperson "In North America, we're seeing stronger interest in the larger screen sizes for Windows tablets and are pleased with initial customer demand for the ThinkPad 10…In other markets, particularly Brazil, China, and Japan, the demand for ThinkPad 8 has been much stronger, so we are adjusting our ThinkPad 8 inventories to meet increasing demand in those markets. If market demand for ThinkPad 8 changes, we will re-evaluate our strategy."

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What's on your Start screen, Seth Brodeur?

Since March, we here at Windows Phone Central have been showcasing our Windows Phone Start screen layouts to give you a glimpse of how we use our devices. Since Daniel's initial post, we have heard from writers Rich, George, Abby, and most recently, Sam.

Following in the footsteps of those who came before me, I decided to share mine as well.

Update:

There have been several requests for a link to my background image. I knew I wanted gears, so I just did a quick image search on Bing, which pointed me to this DeviantArt page. Thanks to the original artist, Eli Bailey (AKA, manoluv).

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