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The official MSN Messenger app is Chinese-only

In what is an unusual surprise for users on Windows Phone, Microsoft (MSN China) has released an official standalone MSN Messenger app for Windows Phone.

The app is now available in the Marketplace and it seems to have world-wide availability although you’ll be hard pressed to read it since there is no language-localization to be found.

The app is actually very well done—it’s fast and fluid and behaves like how you would expect. You can set your away messages, chat with others and login from different accounts. And really, that’s the big deal here—as many users do have multiple Messenger aliases which they want to use.

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The Dark Knight Rises on your Windows Phone

Dark Knight Rises app from Nokia

The Dark Knight Rises leaves its mark on your Windows Phone

In just a few hours, The Dark Knight Rises movie will begin showing at your local theatre. The movie's influence has already been felt with our Windows Phone especially the Nokia Lumia line.

We have the Dark Knight Rises and Batman: Origins apps available in the Nokia Collection on the Windows Phone Marketplace. T-Mobile is offering The Dark Knight Rises press-on covers for new Nokia Lumia 710's and then there's the limited edition The Dark Knight Rises versions of the Lumia 800 and 900.

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WP Central

Today Nokia revealed its interim financial results for Q2 2012.  Nothing too shocking, really.  Keep in mind that this is a company that was once the largest phone manufacturer in the world, driven by Symbian and feature phones. Nokia now has to find its place in the smartphone market, and this position will really depend upon the market success of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. 

With that in mind, Nokia shipped 4 million Lumia phones during Q2.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to iPhone or Samsung (Android) numbers, but when you compare it against RIM’s latest quarter (the shipped 7.8 million BlackBerry phones), it shows some forward momentum. 

Overall, Nokia sold 73 million phones. That’s 69 million non-Lumia phones. The company’s huge challenge is to hang onto the low end of the feature phone market (under attack from Android) while also converting many of its Symbian smartphone users onto Nokia-branded Windows Phone products in the future.  It’s a tall order, but Nokia has a pretty good fighting chance...

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Nokia Lumia Smoked Australia

Nokia Australia is planning to host two "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenges in Australia this coming weekend. The two marketing events will take place in Sydney and Melbourne but will contain a twist to differentiate from the generic Windows Phone challenge, according to the team. With Nokia UK challenging the general public with common smartphone tasks to see if they survive or are dared to engage in fearful activities, we could be in for some exciting ideas in Australia.

A cash prize ($100) is available should you manage to best the Windows Phone challenge, but should you lose... we'll have to wait and see - though we expect to see some dares. If you have an Android or Symbian device, the iPhone, a BlackBerry, or even a Windows Phone yourself, you will be eligible to participate - though we're not entirely sure how a Windows Phone smartphone can enter against an identical handset. Fastest finger first?

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WP Central

SoundGecko is coming to Windows Phone soon

With today's busy world, sometimes finding time to read you favorite article or keep up with the news can be difficult. Luckily, there may be a solution for some of you on the horizon. 

SoundGecko is a new, amazing service where you find any article, email it to them, and they will send you back an MP3 file of that article. The service can connect up with your SkyDrive or DropBox service to automatically deposit audio files of new articles, allowing to you to pull them down on-the-go. The smartphone app is simply a method to flag articles for the service for conversion.

Currently, the app is only available on the iPhone and Chrome browser (via an extension) but fear not, a Windows Phone version is in the works and we'll have some information on that coming soon...

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Deal of the Week - Amzer Skin Case for Nokia Lumia 900

WP CentralWe’re starting a new feature around these parts for you accessory geeks—the Deal of the Week. Every week we’re going to try and bring you the popular and unique deals from our store for your Windows Phone.

We’re in the middle of this week already but you still have plenty of time to pick up the Amzer Skin Case for Nokia Lumia 900. A soft silicone case available in many colors, the Amzer Skin Case is perfect for you 900 users who want to throw a case on for protection—even if just temporary—so that you don’t ding up that polycarbonate shell (we toss one on when we hit the gym or running, but otherwise keep it naked).

The Amzer case is fetching for a low $4.95 (75% off) with our 60-day return policy, fast shipping and friendly support. Grab your case here while you can!

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iplayer radio app exclusive

Igneous Software, not content with making their excellent BBC Podcast Lounge are surely striving for greatness with their upcoming launch of the BBC Radio Player. We had previously reported on their plans but were finally able to get hands on demo of it at last night’s Windows Phone User Group (WPUG).

The new player will improve on the previous version in a number of ways. The UI has been updated to closely follow that of the official apps on other platforms. Igneous have taken great care to replicate the colours and visual cues from the iPlayer whilst taking advantage of Metro’s inherent slick delivery of typography and graphics.

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WP Central

Nokia has released their Q2 financial report today, which paints a somewhat unexpected picture. According to figures present in the document, Nokia has managed to sell four million Lumia Windows Phones worldwide. This is up from their previous report of Q1 where Nokia CEO Stephen Elop stated the company "exceeded expectations" in the US.

We've been looking at the growth figures for the previous quarters and the situation looks strong for the Lumia line of Windows Phone with exponential growth taking place. Pushing out over a million devices in Q4 2011, followed by further increase in Q1 2012, we're seeing a positive trend with four million Lumias heading to consumers. Carriers in Canada have also previously revealed they are pleased with how Nokia Windows Phones have been received by customers. These numbers are positive, with the "Rolling Thunder" marketing push proving to be successful, not to mention the continuous rollout of both Smoked by Windows Phone and Dare to Live campaigns.

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Windows Phone Official SkyDrive 2.2 Update Rolls out

Skydrive 2.2 Rolls Out

Microsoft is rolling out another update to its SkyDrive Windows Phone client today. Not a huge amount has changed in the latest version but it does bring some welcome graphical changes.

The logo has been updated to now fall in line with that seen on the web and on the desktop version  of the client, gone is the swish and onwards with the ‘flattening’. It is also adhering more to the Metro feel, dropping the rather dull skeuomorphic yellow folder icons and replacing them with their authentically digital counterparts. Yes, that means blue squares to you and me.

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WP Central

Although we cheered at Nokia dropping the price of the AT&T Lumia 900 a few days ago, many detractors in the tech media looked for a negative angle to the story, resulting in some damning headlines this past week.

What was the other tale they were spinning? That the Lumia 900 must not be doing well—after all, why would Nokia (and AT&T) cut the price “so soon” after launch? Forgetting the fact that “so soon” is exactly 3 months or we’ve seen price drops after launches before. That didn’t stop various media outlets like this example which boasts

“Finnish phone maker Nokia has been forced to cut the price of its Lumia 900 by half, just weeks after launching it”.

Forced? Just weeks? That story went over the ANI wire to a lot of news outlets. One problem though: they were wrong.

Read more after the break..

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The Summer of Arcade officially kicks off today, and we’ve got a big batch of Xbox Live Arcade news to share with you.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HDFirst off, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is now available for 1200 Microsoft Points. The HD version takes seven classic stages compiled from the first two Tony Hawks and adds true HD visuals, new physics, and online multiplayer. Opinions are divided on this one, with some lamenting the new physics, stage selection, inability to customize the musical playlist, and lack of split-screen multiplayer.

Personally, I’ve had a great time with it so far. The levels have lots of stuff to collect, providing great incentive to explore. The robust arsenal of moves gives players lots of freedom and variety. And while you can’t fast-forward or customize the songs, the soundtrack still rocks – especially the song from Bad Religion! My only serious complaint is the lack of a tutorial mode or in-game moves list, two modern standards that would make the game much easier to learn for new players. Heck, even those with Tony Hawk experience could probably use a refresher after all these years.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD costs 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). Get it here on the Xbox 360 Marketplace. More Summer of Arcade and XBLA news after the break...

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MiniSquadron Pulled from Marketplace

This week we got a surprise double release on Xbox Live, with not only Contract Killer but also Lode Runner Classic launching simultaneously. Still, the overall number o Xbox Live games only increased by one. Why? MiniSquadron from Supermono and Fat Pebble Games was pulled from the Marketplace.

MiniSquadron looked like a very promising Xbox Live title – we were super excited about it prior to its release last year. Once the game finally came out, things looked a bit different. It suffered from numerous bugs, including a weapon that consistently crashed the game and a broken Achievement worth a whopping 50 GamerScore. The virtual d-pad and buttons were also tiny and awkwardly positioned. We still gave it a positive review overall, but with the assumption that original developer Supermono would do the right thing and commission an update from Fat Pebble, the porting team.

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Splinter Cell: Conviction

It took a bit longer than usual, but we have a new Xbox Live Deal of the Week at last. And I do mean new – Splinter Cell: Conviction is on sale for the first time. It’s just $2.99 this week, down from $4.99.

This version of Splinter Cell tells the story of series lead Sam Fisher’s investigation into the death of his daughter. To do that, he'll need to sneak around in the shadows, killing hundreds of guards when they’re not looking. That's what they get! A number of voiced cinematic sequences drive home the console-like feeling.

That makes sense because Conviction is actually a port of the excellent Xbox 360 game, though the level designs are different. Despite the rudimentary 3D graphics (darn XNA) and a few difficulty spikes, Splinter Cell is a fun and easy 200 GamerScore overall. Check out our review for more details.

Splinter Cell: Conviction is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Get it here on the Marketplace. QR code after the break...

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WP Central

October 26th, 2012. That’s the date folks and it’s a Friday, in case you were wondering.

Microsoft today (via Steven Sinofsky) just revealed at Microsoft’s annual sales meeting that Windows 8 for customers will be available for download and on new PCs too starting at the end of October. With a $40 upgrade fee in place, purchasing a license for the much hyped OS should be easy and painless. 

So where does that leave Windows Phone 8? We’re betting we’ll see a similar release pattern and time-frame for their next mobile OS. We have a feeling Microsoft is going for a big launch, dominating tech headlines for weeks to come. While it will be hard to coordinate with carriers, we’re hoping their strategy is aiming for a universal release.

For the last two years, Microsoft has released new Windows Phones in October/November so we’re hoping for a repeat this time around too.

At least that’s our expectation.

Source: Microsoft

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Rebtel adds VoIP app to the Windows Phone Marketplace

Rebtel Windows Phone app

Rebtel is an international VoIP company (think Skype... well kinda) that has released tier mobile app, Rebtel, over on the Windows Phone Marketplace. Rebtel's Windows Phone app joins other mobile solutions that are available for the iPhone and iPad as well as Android phones and tablets.

The Rebtel app features address book integration and offers to provide rates up to 98% lower than average operator calls and up to 60% saving on international text messaging to more than 196 countries. You do need to register to use the services and if you're a Facebook fan, you can sign in through your Facebook account.  The Rebtel service even has Paypal support as a billing option.

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WP Central

Yet another day, yet another roundup of somewhat exciting news involving Microsoft.  We’ll summarize the stories for you to keep you abreast of what’s going on in the world of Redmond. Today’s stories we found interesting:

  • Intel CEO remarks that 20 Windows 8 Tablets are coming this fall
  • Microsoft is back with a new keyboard dubbed ‘the Wedge’ (and mouse)
  • Windows Phone will grab 4% market share in the US in 2012?

Head on past the break to get all the info…

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HBO Go comes to Windows Phone Romania

HBO Go, the service that let's HBO subscribers stream movies and TV shows to various devices, is one of the greatest blessings to the world of apps in recent times. And now it has finally come to Windows Phone...but only in Romania. You may ask yourself, "Why Romania?" Well, the answer may be that HBO Go depends heavily on regional cable providers and those carriers in Romania were the first to get agreements in place with television giant. At any rate, customers of Romanian providers HBO Go VIP/Club Romania, INES, NextGen Communications, or Romtelecom can now watch their favorite shows on their Windows Phone devices.

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WP Central

You can run, but you can't hide on Xbox LIVE

Although Contract Killer was known to be coming to Xbox LIVE today (and sure enough, it’s out) it looks like Microsoft slipped in a 2nd title—Lode Runner Classic.

The game fetches for $2.99 and is a throwback to the old school arcade games from the 1980s. In fact, many of you will have childhood flashbacks with this one as it was quite popular with home PC systems which include the Apple II series, the Atari 8-bit family, the VIC-20, the Commodore 64 and the IBM PC and it’s known to be the first game with a level editor.

Gameplay is straightforward—run through mazes and do things. Okay, we’re way oversimplifying as this game actually has a lot going on for it (just see the tutorials). There are an included 150 levels which should keep people busy for a long time and it seems like a fair amount of gameplay versus what you’re paying for it.

Check our video hands on and more details after the break...

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WP Central

The main Nokia store in Helsinki, Finland has temporarily closed for renovations and is now emblazoned with big signs noting that “Something Amazing is Coming…7.9.2012” (that’s September 7th, for our American friends). 

What makes that date interesting of course is it is directly after Nokia World—Nokia’s annual event where they announce all of their big products (well, most—the Lumia 900 wasn’t announced until CES).  This year, the big expectation is that Nokia will of course show off their new Windows Phone 8 devices including a much speculated PureView camera phone with WP8. In addition, there are rumors of a Nokia tablet in the works too running Windows 8.

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WP Central

Customer feedback is always an important part of running a business and Nokia seems at the forefront of such practices—we routinely see them engage the audience for opinions, complaints and things they like via polls, direct interaction and more.

Nokia Conversations has just posted a massive survey for all Lumia owners with the overarching question of 'What do you do with your phone?' If you think that’s a broad question, you would be right which is why there are quite a few bubbles to fill in. In fact, this reminds us a bit of AT&T’s product surveys which they often send to people after a new phone purchase.

Seeing as we’re the largest Windows Phone site out there, Nokia has reached out to us (and by extension you) to help them collect some data—after all, the more info they get, the more accurate trends can be discerned for future product development.

So take the 5 minutes to head over to Nokia Conversations and  help fill out that survey—in the end, you’re just helping yourself. (And don’t forget to take our poll on front-facing cameras!).

Nokia Conversations - What do YOU do with your phone? [poll]

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Contract Killer now available

Ready to shoot some thugs, Windows Phone gamers? As we promised yesterday, Contract Killer from Glu Mobile is now on the Marketplace.

Contract Killer allows players to take on the ruthless world of corporate business, making deals with unsuspecting investors only to leave them high and dry at the last minute. Wait, wrong kind of contract! Actually, you play as a hitman in this game. Missions involve sniping one or more targets from a first-person perspective. But watch out – they shoot back.

Assassin's Guild

Contract KillerLike Glu’s recently-released Gun Bros, Contract Killer boasts some compelling social features. The folks on your Xbox Live friends list who play Contract Killer are automatically added to your Assassin’s Guild. The more members of your guild complete optional objectives (like getting 10 headshots in a row without missing), the more rewards everyone gets. Rounding out the co-op options, players can send gifts of Medkits, Sodas, and Reactix to each other.

On the competitive side, the Target Friend mode allows you and your friends to shoot each other (asynchronously). I wasn’t able to eliminate any of my friends as they haven’t downloaded the game yet, but it sounds like a cool feature. What will the rewards for Target Friends missions be?

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WP Central

UK newspaper The Guardian has taken five Windows Phone to the side to query them as to how they view the development process on Windows Phone and why they view the platform worthy of both time and effort. The results were extremely positive.

The five developers included 7digital (music service), Addison Lee (private taxi hire firm), IndieSkies (Kaleidobooth), Escapist Games (Star Chart), and Distinction (Weather Flow). The short conclusion drawn from the results was praise for the OS itself and how apps can be quickly prototyped and subsequently released. The only downside was the developers' restraint over download and sales figures.

We've previously looked at how the developer interest in Windows Phone has continues to remain at a high level, while the likes of RIM falls rapidly. So this shouldn't be too much of a surprise that established developers are singing praise for Microsoft. Head on past the break for more juicy details.

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AT&T announces shared data plans

AT&T Announces Shared Data Plans

Today, AT&T has announced the company will offer shared data plans for those customers who have multiple Windows Phones or other smartphones. Available in late August the plans range from 1gb to 20gb with monthly fees as high as $200 plus $30 per smartphone. The shared data plans will also allow customers to add devices, other than smartphones, for an additional monthly fee.  Go over your monthly data allotment and it'll cost you an extra $15 per gigabyte.

There will be no changes to AT&T's current device upgrade policy that allows eligible customers to upgrade phones without being required to switch plans.  Existing individual and family plans will still remain available for AT&T customers as well.

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Caught - Tango Update Lumia 800

Seems as though we are finally seeing the rollout of the Tango update for Lumia devices. This morning my carrier unlocked Lumia 800 received the notification that an update was available. On plugging in device the update is listed as OSVersion 7.10.8112.7, which has been reported to be the first of three updates for the device (second is Tango 8773, and third is firmware). Whilst Tango has been seen going out elsewhere and onto other devices. Looks like the Lumia 800 is finally get to have a go with Tango.

**Update** 1st Stage updates 8112 - 2nd Stage Shows Update to Version 7.10 8773.98 3rd Stage NOKIA Update for Windows Phone

Results of fully updated phone as follows

OS Version          7.10.8773.98

Firmware            1750.0805.8773.12220

Radio S/W          1.7.50.08

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WP Central

[+] Lock Screen is a stellar app and a must-have

Looks like it’s a good week in the Windows Phone Marketplace for deals as we just got tipped that Snack Studios have made their pay-apps free for an undisclosed time.

The developers have numerous apps in the Marketplace and in our opinion, all are top notch with an elegant design and useful functionality.  Those are apps are the following:

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