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For those in the US whom also have Windows Phone 8.1 installed, Cortana is probably one of your most frequented new features on your phone. If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait a little longer for Microsoft to localize your language (unless you follow our simple tutorial).

When sharing images of my 8.1 screen, a lot of people have asked me why I pin Cortana as a wide Tile. After all, I could just hit the dedicated Search key (Tip: you can long press the Search key on the Lock screen to call up Cortana). On the surface, it’s seems like a simple question, but I’ll explain why if you have Cortana, making her a permanent Tile on your screen may be a good idea.

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Windows Phone 8.1, released yesterday through the Preview for Developer program, sure has a lot of new features. We tried to document most, if not all, of those in our colossal review/overview of the OS, but as suspected some items will fall through the cracks.

Reader of the site Nicholas M. brought to our attention that 8.1 not only has independent volume levels for Ringer + Notifications versus Media + Apps, but also a separate volume slider for headphones. We looked into the finding and also discovered that there’s a fourth volume slider, one for Bluetooth.

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Last fall, I had the pleasure of traveling to Casual Connect USA and interviewing Polish game developer Artifex Mundi. They announced three upcoming games to us during the event: Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren’s Call, Deadlings, and Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood. Siren’s Call came out in November, followed by Deadlings in February, leaving only Mists of Ravenwood unreleased.

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Cortana is full of personality (maybe not as much as Arsenio might like you to think), and the developers that built out the assistant's library of responses were sure to build in some good doses of self referential humor. A lot of times what a tool really needs to do to connect with users is put a smile on the user's face. And what's not to love about Clippy?

Wait, Clippy?

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Halo: Spartan Assault has gone universal: you can buy it once on one Windows-powered device and download it on your others. As we noted yesterday, Microsoft started accepting submissions for universal apps, and combined with the new unified pricing tiers and [universal app development] and automated certification we're starting to see the first universal apps appear. A notable entrant: Halo: Spartan Assault.

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One of the many features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to add a third row of tiles to your Windows Phone Start Screen. We’ve already gotten used to seeing the third row in action on the larger screened Nokia Lumia 1520 but how is it performing on the smaller screened devices?

WPCentral member nexialbinding has started this discussion in the forums asking just that. Nexialbinding updated a Lumia 920 and is a little put off on how terrible things look with the extra row added.

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Microsoft has today unveiled a cheaper subscription option for Office 365 – Personal. Previously, consumers had to fork out $10 a month for the Home package, allowing up to 5 installations of Office. With the new iPad suite now available, the company has launched a package that limits installations, but opens up support for iPads and comes with a more affordable price tag.

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The Xbox team have announced the roll out of the latest update to hit Microsoft's next-gen video game console. We've previously looked at the update, which was tested by consumers to make sure everything is working as it should. There are numerous enhancements included so pop past the break to see what's new.

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Back in late February Microsoft announced that nine new OEMs would be joining the Windows Phone ecosystem. It also announced a new site, oem.windowsphone.com, for OEMs to get information and learn how to bring Windows Phone devices to market quickly. Companies like HTC and Samsung won’t really need this portal. That site is now live and potential OEMs can get the help they need to build and ship a new Windows Phone.

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While I totally love the messaging app on Windows Phone, sometimes long, meandering conversations can be annoying with their constant alerts. I’d rather text passively when I choose to, rather then get distracted by a ping every second.

Apart from the plethora of big feature additions that you’ve been reading about at Windows Phone Central, Windows Phone 8.1 has also introduced a nifty feature that allows you to mute text message threads. As far as we know, no other smartphone platforms has this useful feature, making it quite interesting for Windows Phone users.

Let's take a look at how it works!

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Did you upgrade to Windows Phone 8.1?

Today was a very busy day when at 7 am EST the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers went live. That allowed those with developer accounts (pro tip: anyone can become one) to download and install Windows Phone 8.1 on their device. Take a moment to let us know if you upgraded your smartphone from Windows Phone 8 to Windows Phone 8.1 if you’re not busy playing with Cortana.

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Microsoft has confirmed that support for the original Windows 8.1 software will be discontinued in favor of the more recently released Windows 8.1 Update. They will be treating the Update version as it's own service and support baseline, and users who wish to continue to receive security patches will have to migrate to Windows 8.1 Update.

If you opted to manually download and install updates in the original Windows 8.1 software, you'll have 30 days in which to install the Update version. After those 30 days are over, any newly-downloaded updates will be marked as not applicable for your device.

The source link has a full list of related tech bulletins and articles for those who want to dig a little deeper into the "why this was done" question. For the rest of us, just know that it's time to install Windows 8.1 Update if we want to continue to participate in Patch Tuesday.

Source: TechNet Blog; Via: Infoworld

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It appears that Microsoft is finished with the "Scroogled" ad campaign. Over the weekend, Derrick Connell — a Microsoft corporate VP, and head of the Bing Experiences team — answered a small Q&A at Yabbly and and had the following to say:

We are always evaluating and evolving our marketing campaigns. There are times when we use our marketing to highlight differences in how we see the world compared to competitors, and the Scroogled campaign is an example of this. Moving forward, we will continue to use all the right approaches and tactics when and where they make sense.

While that doesn't necessarily say the Scroogled campaign is ending, it does sound as if they are drifting away from it. What say you? Was it an effective campaign, or one that should be abandoned to make room for fresh ideas?

Via: ZDNet

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Poll: Will you talk to Cortana in public?

With the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers out in the open and available for download, we're sure many of you are thoroughly enjoying the highly requested features included in the release. A major new feature is Cortana and we'd like to know how you plan to utilize the new personal assistant.

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The next time I’ll meet evangelism folks from Nokia or Microsoft, I’ll give them a tight hug. Forget the market share discussions and fanboy arguments, the Windows Phone ecosystem is thriving in India. It’s a great time to follow the ecosystem, and makes my job easier (I hope Daniel is not reading this!).

Yet another key example of how Windows Phone continues to do well in India is the release of Airtel Money for Windows Phone 8.

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It was just this weekend that Microsoft unified pricing tiers to help make universal apps easier, and today they've opened the floodgates to developers and are now accepting Windows Phone 8.1 and universal apps for review. As a refresher, universal apps take advantage of new frameworks in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 to allow developers to build apps once and deploy them across both platforms.

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Those who grabbed Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers have been greeted with a collection of new features and updates to drool over, but one of our past beloved features has also seemed to disappear. After downloading the Developer Preview, you will notice that Bing search has been replaced by the very capable Cortana, but the ability to scan QR codes has seemed to disappear along with her arrival.

The well-loved Bing Vision featured has not been removed, but simply placed elsewhere. We are going to show you how to access Bing Vision on your device running Windows 8.1, along with three alternative third party apps that can get the job done!

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Offline Map data updated for Windows Phone

Along with all the excited in the air today about the release of the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers, many will also see an update to Nokia’s Offline Maps.

Our tipster is seeing updates for the entire U.S. map collection and we’ve been able to confirm updates for New York. It does appear that the updates are for devices running Windows Phone 8.1. My Lumia 1020 is still running Windows Phone 8 and no updates are in sight.

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Our top five features of Windows Phone 8.1

There has definitely been a build-up of excitement surrounding the release of the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers. The update will bring a wide assortment of new features to our Windows Phones ranging from Cortana to a new Start Screen design.

But what are the top five new features coming to the table with Windows Phone 8.1? This question has been hashed out in the WPCentral Forums, in our comments, around the water cooler at work and probably over raw fish at the local sushi bar.

After the break, we’ll tap five of the new features that we think are the best with Windows Phone 8.1.

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