Editorials

Windows Phone Central recaps the E3 2012 Expo

Mateo Nunez and Paul Acevedo at E3

E3 2012 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo turned out very much like we predicted. During their press conference, Microsoft touted upcoming Xbox 360 sequels: Halo 4, Forza Horizon, and Fable: The Journey; a new Gears of War prequel from Epic; plus several non-exclusive but cool console titles like South Park: The Stick of Truth, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Tomb Raider. They also announced several Xbox Live Arcade games, including Ascend, Lococycle, Matter, and Wreckateer. Oh, and Usher mystified us with a performance in the name of Kinect update Dance Central 3. I fear Harmonix may be in danger of running the dancing genre into the ground with these yearly sequels as once befell the music game genre, but time will tell.

Xbox entertainment library

We also knew to expect the rebranding of the Zune service to Xbox Music and Xbox Movies. Not a particularly exciting announcement, since nothing but the branding changed. The SmartGlass initiative is more noteworthy. Basically an evolution of the Xbox Companion App, it allows users to control Xbox 360 system functions (including the upcoming Kinect-enabled Internet Explorer), plus interact with movies, music, and games in new ways. Specifically, we can expect far more console titles to connect with Windows Phone – definitely a good thing.

Head past the break for our full E3 coverage summary, new videos, and lots more!

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Xbox SmartGlass is Microsoft’s strategic move against Apple’s Airplay system (and preemptively against Google TV); it’s an evolution for your Windows Phone, Windows Desktop and Windows 8 Tablets. Why is it the evolution? Because Microsoft’s ecosystem is growing and they are focusing on inter-connectivity with all of their devices (and even those outside of their branding).  No phone left behind, no tablet ignored, no Desktop chained down. Windows 8 is bringing a fresh look and giving users a better feeling experience while they use these devices. 

Microsoft is effectively making their move to make your involvement a complete one with any of their devices. It’s a smart move because Windows 8 may be challenging for some people to learn and get used to. SmartGlass will give people the confidence in Windows 8, that it will not be another Vista, it is changing for the better. It's a straight up consumer feature.

Here’s the breakdown on how each device will pair with Xbox SmartGlass:

  • If you are using a Windows 8 tablet, and are watching a video, you can pause on your tablet, and continue on your Xbox. The Tablet then becomes a companion device streaming live information about the movie you are watching, giving you access to the behind the scene details
  • When you are playing a game, like the new Madden for Kinect, your Tablet can be used to make plays and actually play the game
  • Your Windows Phone will do the same as the tablet, but there wasn’t any information that you will be able to control games with it, which is a little disappointing but I am sure more information will be released as we get closer to Windows Phone 8
  • Use your phone to scroll web pages when using Internet Explorer for Xbox
  • Your PC will be able to put up content to your Xbox, via video hubs, and also act as a companion device as well (but there was no demo, so we must assume there will be a few limitations when comparing using your windows phone or windows 8 tablet with SmartGlass)

Everyone knows about Apple TV and Airplay, but you need to buy separate devices and even then it is limited on how they interact. Airplay only mirrors your iPhone or iPad device but with SmartGlass your devices are much more than a mirror they become another opportunity for anyone to gain more content and control your Xbox. Everyone has an Xbox, and if you don’t, you’ll be needing one because SmartGlass is giving you what you always wanted; any Windows 8 Device to control and give you more information about what you’re watching on your Xbox.

This is great to see since Microsoft is adding more and more content to the Xbox Live experience, enhancing it to be your only multimedia device in your living room. As our culture gains more momentum in consuming content through the internet people are okay with paying for streaming services instead of traditional cable or satellite. Microsoft is giving the consumer the opportunity to have any kind of connected device they want, and their content will be available on all of it.

It's a smart step by Microsoft for growing their brand, and using it to its fullest potential. Needless to say, we like the future...

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I feel obligated to offer this from the onset: The HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900 are both excellent Windows Phones. There's really not a bad choice between the two. One may suit your tastes better than the other but that doesn't make the one not chosen a bad Windows Phone. Having gotten that out of the way, when the two phones hit the market I found the Titan II more appealing. The larger screen and better camera gave the phone an edge over the Lumia 900. Both screens are high quality but for me, the Titan II appeared more natural and it was easier to view outdoors.

But that initial preference was based on hardware alone. After a few months on the market, a feature beyond the nuts and bolts of these two Windows Phones began to take shape making things a little more difficult to choose between the two. That feature is manufacture support.

Shortly after the Lumia 900 release Nokia set an example of product-support that should be the model for others to follow. There was a bug that dropped data connectivity on a few devices and instead of white washing things, Nokia recognized the problem and distributed a fix within a week of the Lumia 900's release. On top of quickly responding to the problem, Nokia compensated customers for their trouble with a $100 credit.

From there, Nokia has offered exclusive apps for the Lumia line and undertook a massive media campaign that includes the Smartphone Beta Test commercials and product placement in a bazillion television shows. These efforts don't necessarily make the Lumia 900 a better phone but  it does make the Lumia series a bit more appealing and may create a balance for the Lumia 900's shortcomings.  Consumers may tolerate a marginal camera if they have a handful of exclusive apps to enjoy.

Some people complain about all the attention and coverage the Nokia Lumia line receives. It's not that anyone is playing favorites but rather it's Nokia promoting their Windows Phone lineup to the front of the pack. Our site will gladly report on promotional events from HTC, Samsung or any other Windows Phone manufacturer but other companies aren't putting out the same effort as Nokia. These efforts have placed the Lumia 900 as the unofficial flag bearer for Windows Phone. A position that any other Windows Phone manufacturer could have easily attained or shared had they put forth a similar effort.

I can not think of a single HTC Titan II commercial, product placement or exclusive content from third party developers. HTC Locations had potential but then HTC started charging for the navigation service which took the winds out of its sails. HTC's focus is clearly with Android and that's fine but we can't help but feel HTC has missed a great opportunity with Windows Phones.

How much more appealing would the Titan II have been if it had Beats Audio or an exclusive version of Angry Birds Space (or any other popular game)? How much better would sales be if the Titan II was featured in a commercial or used in a television episode or music video? The Titan II is a quality Windows Phone but in this competitive industry, it can't sell itself.

So which is the better Windows Phone? On hardware alone I still have to give the nod to the HTC Titan II. The camera is better and I like the larger screen. However, taking product support into consideration and the Lumia 900 gets the endorsement. There is plenty of room for improvement on the Lumia 900 (better camera, annoying rattle with the vibrate alert, etc.) but the amount of exposure, exclusive apps, and support Nokia brings to the table makes the Lumia 900 a more attractive option.

HTC may end up surprising us with a fantastic, ground breaking, jaw dropping Windows Phone 8 device that is supported and marketed at the level Nokia has set with the Lumia line. Then again, Samsung may step up and do the same. I still have my reservations on the Lumia 900 hardware but knowing the Microsoft's OS is backed by a company that has taken an "all in" approach to Windows Phone seems to make up for things.

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Do you want to know why Skype is the way it is? We go into detail as to how the network works & why it's not so great on Windows Phone--yet.

Soon after Skype for Windows Phone beta came out (and went gold months thereafter), users were dismayed to discover the app didn’t work, well, like Skype. That is, it couldn’t run in the background to receive phone calls or IMs from friends and family.  Circulating reports suggested that perhaps “push notifications were too slow” or that the problem was a result of “[…] how Skype works and how the Windows Phone OS works.”

The real reason? Well, it’s complicated

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Nokia has made moves to gain some big titles (and leverage) for their hardware. Who does it hurt? Who does it benefit and is it a good thing?

With yesterday’s announcement from Nokia describing a planned set of “exclusive” apps and even more games for their Lumia line of Windows Phones (and presumably anything else they have up their sleeve), Nokia has won both praise and some scorn for their bold move.

The concern, as echoed by some in the tech press, is that Nokia’s move will cause that dreaded “F word” to happen. No, no that one, the other one – fragmentation.

Fragmentation is the boogey word of the year due almost entirely to Google and their Android OS. But as ex-Microsoftie Charlie Kindel astutely pointed out, there isn’t just one type of fragmentation.  Rather, there’s at least six ways you can divide up the terms with some of it being positive and some of it negative, affecting consumers or developers. Point is, they're not the same and what is causing problems for Android is not the same as what Nokia is doing.

The real question is, will Nokia’s strategy to get these apps and games on their hardware hurt Windows Phone?  We say “no” and here’s why.

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With conflicting stories back to back, people want to know if Microsoft will update their current devices to Windows Phone 8. We weigh in on the matter.

Yesterday was quite the rollercoaster ride in the bubble word of tech-media. First there was a Microsoft employee stating on camera that yes, all Windows Phones will get the an update to Windows Phone 8 aka "Apollo" which is expected to drop on the fall. Then came a story on the Verge from our old boss and friend Dieter citing a trusted (but unnamed source) that no phones will be getting the update.

Well, that's certainly a 180 on the issue.

And what does Microsoft have to say? Well, not much of course. From a Microsoft spokesperson we were told the same thing as every other site:

“We have stated publicly that all apps in our Marketplace today will run on the next version of Windows Phone. Beyond that, we have nothing to share about future releases.”

Their contention is that Silva, the Microsoft Evangelist on video claiming all phones will get the update, was possibly mistaken or confused when talking about updates versus app compatibility. (Microsoft recently confirmed app compatibility with Windows Phone 8).

As our own Rafael Rivera said on Twitter: "Come on, we seriously believed a developer evangelist from Portugal had close guarded core information on Windows Phone? ". Indeed.

A few months ago we personally heard from someone with direct contact at Microsoft that jives with what the Verge claimed: no phones will get the update. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has also heard the same thing lending more credence to the claim. However, since none of us share our sources for all we know we're all citing the same person, which doesn't really confirm anything so long as they want to remain anonymous.

So why is there such a discrepancy in these stories?

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There has been a lot of talk today about Angry Birds Space and whether or not it will find it's way to the Windows Phone platform (see our earlier post). First we had reports from Bloomberg that Rovio were not bringing the new fowl-flinging iteration of the game to Microsoft's platform, information received from Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio's chief marketing officer. Analyst Richard Windsor speculated this meant that Rovio may not have confidence in Windows Phone looking into the future, more on that shortly.

However, the story has since been contradicted by Rovio's CEO, Mikael Hed as quoted on Reuters:

"We are working towards getting Angry Birds Space to WP7"

Whilst Mr. Hed's statement is somewhat lacking in detail one would be inclined to believe that the CEO's position on the company's intentions would be the more reliable source. No release date or expected time of arrival has been communicated.

Here at WPCentral we've been discussing this story in some detail, particularly around suggestions from the Bloomberg article that the lack of Angry Birds on Windows Phone would make it difficult for Nokia to "attract gaming-oriented users and persuade developers that [Windows Phone] is growing".

It's an interesting point, can one app make or break Windows Phone alone? The answer of course is no, but it is a very important game which will be seen as important to the average phone owner. Whether you're a fan of Angry Birds or not, the game is huge, successful and a marked influence in the rise of Smartphone popularity. Just look at what Rovio can afford to do for publicity:

Angry Birds Space is the first major innovation the game has seen since the original version found it's way on to mobile screens everywhere. The game is superb, new gravity mechanics genuinely do create a completely different experience to the game, this time it's not just some new textures or types of bird, it's an almost entirely new way to play.

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I like experimenting and tinkering with software. A lot like how a circuit bender tries to get electronics to emit beautiful music, I attempt to coerce software into doing things it wasn’t designed to do. Often, like my recent Windows Phone Hackathon, I fail spectacularly. But rarely, I do make notable progress. Cue Audible.

Audible.com (Audible for short) is a service owned by Amazon that provides digital audio books. They put out software that works across a slew of devices such as the iPod, Kindle Fire, Blackberry, and even PC. Old hats may even recall that Audible supported Windows Mobile 5 devices such as the HP iPAQ Pocket PC. One platform void of support, however, is Windows Phone.

We – along with our readers – have been keeping the pressure on Audible for quite some time now, to no avail. Support technicians would say an app is in the works but has no ETA. Now they're saying this month. Who knows when this is really coming out? More importantly, what’s taking so long?

I sat down one day and decided to figure out why this was taking so long, or at least try. I started by downloading the old Windows Mobile 5 software. In the dusty CAB were a number of skins and resources, to support the fragmented Windows Mobile market, along with some key application files. Disassembling the Audible Player executable revealed they all relied on a single dynamic link library (DLL) to perform all the needed functions: AAXSDKWin.dll.

AAXSDKWin.dll is a library compiled for devices containing a StrongARM processor, like the iPAQ mentioned earlier. Without going too deep, it was compiled using an instruction set (ARM4i) that is still used in today’s ARM (e.g. Cortex) processors. At this point, you’re probably thinking “Hey… doesn’t Windows Phone sit on top of ARM too?” Yep, it sure does.

I took the library and started weeks of disassembly, study, and boozing, excruciatingly dissecting bit after bit until I had enough of their APIs worked out to use the damn thing in a proof of concept. I jiggered it into a Silverlight for Windows Phone application project and deployed it onto my Samsung Focus test phone. I was able successfully parse an Audible book and light up my UI with relevant metadata (e.g. title, author, etc.). I remember thinking “Holy crap, it worked.” (The app shot below is not a functional application.)

How Audible for Windows Phone could look like.

I continued my research efforts, with the goal of playing a book in mind, but stopped short for two reasons: One, Audible’s books are protected with a DRM scheme. This meant I needed to reverse engineer their account activation, authentication, and decryption logic – something I wasn’t keen on doing. Two, we reported that Audible was warming up for a late March release. I had no intention of busting hump to later be superseded by a better and official application. But with the success of the concept application, I couldn’t answer the original question – What’s taking Audible so long to put out an app?

I can only surmise as to why. We know getting legitimate native access on Windows Phone is easy and possible. I also know that all the APIs they need are there. So from a technical perspective, an Audible app is possible. But perhaps Amazon, in a move to increase Kindle interest, decided to not continue porting Audible to newer mobile devices. Or maybe there’s some behind-the-scenes political or logistical clashing we’re not privy to. Or more likely, Audible just didn’t have the Windows Phone marketplace numbers to justify paying a team to rework their ancient source code into something usable on Windows Phone.

Regardless, an Audible application official or otherwise is coming.

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Being a developer is tough, and every developer will agree.  If they don't, they're in denial. We have long hours, we get no sleep, we spend hours tweaking things that 90% of users will never notice (much like designers), and often get no recognition for any of this.  You don't just wake up one day and are suddenly a coder, it takes work.

I used to lecture Microsoft technologies at a University and the number one reason students gave as to why they were studying programming was: "I heard there was lots of money in it". Surprisingly, those were the same people that now work at McDonalds (and make amazing burgers I might add!).  And as far as I can work out, it's also these types of people that make 5 minute apps.

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We previously assumed the Windows Phone Marketplace submission review team had a ritual to get unbelievably intoxicated every Friday night, return back to the offices and let through whatever humorous apps they saw, regardless of functionality. We've now had to revise our assumption, as it would appear that the team is simply having some giggles behind the scene throughout the week.

Introducing the app-that-shalln't-be-named (see above photo), no it's not an app dedicated to Lord Voldemort. This is possibly the most interesting submission due to the obscene graphic as the logo (we've actually censored it to keep WPCentral safe for work), which makes us wonder how on earth something this explicit can worm its way through, especially since Microsoft believes Xbox LIVE Avatar toy guns (that don't actually fire rounds or laz0rz) are offensive to the youngsters.

It's perfectly fine to decapitate heads on Skyrim, shoot aliens in Halo, check out some naked women on the Windows Phone Marketplace, but a toy gun on your Avatar is deemed 'unacceptable'.

"Hours of fun await your fingers"

Unfortunately, should you be looking forward to checking this app out via this article, you'll be slightly disappointed. While hours of fun for our fingers is certainly intriguing to say the least, the reviews of this 'crap app' provide an insight into the app's usefulness:

  • "While quite deceiving, the actual use for this app changed my life! Now I drink champaign and flirt with movie stars all day every day!"
  • "This is by far the *** app I have ever. Downloaded even worse is the fact they use a *** chick to try to reel you in. Watching grass grow is more entertaining than this"

What's with this post, and why are we providing attention without firing out the Marketplace link left, right and centre? It's frustration. Pure and simple frustration. We have apps such as this making their way through while solid submissions such as the Carbon Twitter client and even our own WPCentral app had difficulties for various reasons. Not to mention Ffffound experiencing issues due to adult content policies. It makes one consider if all apps should have naked women as app logos to ensure a 100% chance of approval?

We've certainly been here before, and Microsoft has even responded to our cries out for tighter control with revisions being made to the limit of apps being submitted within 24 hours, but this is starting to get slightly silly now. Either the automated system needs working on, or we need some more human verification. 

Thanks goes out to everyone who tipped us on this!

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The name Jesse Dudley should be no stranger to the Windows Phone community by now. I mean, WPCentral has been writing about this Marketplace scammer since September. But rest assured you won’t be seeing another post on this subject; I’ve pulled all of his illegal NES games off the Marketplace. Game over, Dudley.

Read what went down, after the break.

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Google is watching every step you take

With the recent news of Google "streamlining" their privacy policies (Translation: data collected from their various Google services will now be pooled together for better advertising), there has been a bit of a backlash. Scratch that, outside of the bubble that is AndroidCentral, many are calling it the "end of do no evil". Why, just check this Bing News search for "Google" and "Privacy" to see what we mean.

So with that as a background, hearing this song parody from Tampa Bay's Q105 radio made us certainly chuckle. Maybe now is a good time to switch from Google to Live Mail? Speaking of, anyone remember Microsoft's 'Gmail Man' satire?

Source: Q105; via FX Shaw; Google image credit: World Under Watch Blogspot

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So you got a Windows Phone for Christmas? Sweet. If you're a developer, you're probably itching to start writing code for the device. If an advanced hobbyist, homebrew software may be more of your interest. While the emulator -- a part of the Windows Phone SDK -- rocks for testing locally, you'll eventually want to try the real deal by loading up XAPs on your phone. We'll cover the pros and cons of each approach to do so.
 

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Most people like starting things off on a positive note, but I’m of the belief that you should get the horrid stuff out of the way first, and go uphill from there.

Since I got my Windows Phone 7 I have taken it upon myself to bring as many people as I can over to our side. You can think of me as one of the Microsoft WP7 Evangelists – but without the, you know, money. So I was rather pleased when I found out a family member was getting the Nokia Lumia 800. Nokia took their sweet time to finally get a phone to market so it could only be assumed that it would be a really rockin’ device, right?

After playing with the phone I immediately realized that was only half true.  As a developer I pride myself in knowing that I have developed great stuff. It isn’t perfect (else I would be Popcap),  but I avoid the obvious pitfalls as much as I can, and for the most part, do lots of QA before publishing.  Sadly, it looks like Nokia (and Microsoft), who must have approved it all, didn’t focus too much on the software side. Here’s why…

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Hey everyone, we're adding a new feature here at WPCentral--WPDoodle. from Jason Harrison, founder of BrowCo.com, whose work you may have seen before in the form of PreDoodles on PreCentral.net and BBDoodles on Crackberry.com (see this week's for a laugh). Look for more Doodles on all of our Mobile Nations sites soon too! Have a great idea for a WPDoodle? Send an email to doodles@mobilenations.com and Jason'll take a gander.

A lot can be said about the HTC TITAN (yes, technically all caps), but most of all, it commands awe. With a 4.7" Super LCD screen, remarkably thin metal body that's cool to the touch and a blazing 1.5 GHz CPU on board, the Titan in our opinion is the stand-out-phone for WP7 right now. It's the one phone that's truly wow-worthy and just as importantly, available nearly world-wide.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is a close second, but with a 1.3MP front-facing camera, gyroscope and even slightly better rear 8MP camera, we think the Titan just edges it out. Plus that massive screen makes this a web-browsing juggernaut.

Because of that, we think Android users (and that Lloyd guy) may act a bit like the man-apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey if they saw the Titan--a modern day Monolith/TMA-0 for unknowing eyes.  Perhaps the Titan too will spurn them on to better, greater things? ;-)

See our review of the AT&T HTC TITAN right here.

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Funny how different things can be in two yearsr on the mobile front.

Early last year, Palm was still Palm, teetering under competition, but then got a life-saver by being purchased by HP. Of course that turned out to be a disaster and now Palm, webOS and that company's legacy seems to be sentenced to irrelevance. Symbian was still controlling large swaths of the market as was RIM, makers of the enterprise-friendly BlackBerry.  In fact, just two years ago, RIM was sitting in first place with a whopping 42% of the device market. Now in late 2011 in the US? Just 9% according to the latest numbers from Canalys.

Things are so bad for RIM right now that its stocks, valued at US $18.91 a share, just dropped below their book value of $18.92. Book value roughly translates to "cash, inventories, real estate and intellectual property minus its liabilities" (according to the Sydney Morning Herald). Yup, the stock is worth less than what the actual company is valued at. And even that valuation, especially in patents, may be over-stated according to some, due to their age.  RIM does supposedly have a trick up its sleeve: BBX, its new mobile platform. But all signs point to it not only being delayed but underwhelming as well, much like the PlayBook.

Microsoft was and some would say still is, in a precarious situation analogous to RIM. But Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 just over a year ago and by all accounts, it's a critical success (that has yet to materialize into solid market share). But it also has a successful ecosystem with Windows, Office, Exchange, Xbox, Kinect  and its myriad of cloud-services. In other words, Microsoft can literally afford to lose money until the world wakes up and their mobile OS takes off. RIM? Not so much as they have no other source of income.

So in that sense, it's no surprise to hear calls for RIM to be chopped up and sold off, like a foreclosed home to the highest bidder (see CNet) There is no faith that RIM can pull itself out of this hole, catch up and over pass Microsoft, who now have spiritually become the third major mobile OS. The tone has shifted in the last few months, can you hear it? It's due mostly due to the successful launch of Windows Phone 7.5 aka "Mango"--people now mention Windows Phone in the same breath as Android and the iPhone. BlackBerry or webOS? Not at all. A year ago, we had to wave our hands to get attention from the big developers, but no longer. Remember the blitz this summer? And with Nokia and Skype on board, things are only looking better.

Sure, two years from now we could see another massive restructuring of the players involved. But we're betting Apple, Google and Microsoft will be the only three names mentioned in mobile, with RIM retired along with webOS and Symbian. From RIM's failure to successfully compete comes Microsoft's entry as the third-way. What's more, Microsoft is poised to go even further in the next few years as its "three screens and a cloud" vision becomes a reality. Here's looking at you, 2015. We can't wait.

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Apple announced the iPhone 4S today, which millions of hipsters and fruit fanatics will be lining up to purchase on October 14. Does the new iPhone threaten to stall Windows Phone’s rise to the smartphone big leagues? In some ways, yes. Whenever the competition rolls out a new product line, that’s always cause for concern. In the following editorial I’ll spell out the different areas that Apple has me worried. Just don’t forget that I absolutely love Windows Phone and I’d sooner give up one of Rich Edmond's kidneys than live without it.

Head past the break to find out in which areas the iPhone 4S may have current Windows Phones beaten.

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Sudoku and Minesweeper seems to be causing a bit of a stir. The two Windows Phone Xbox Live titles are now available over at the Marketplace (for free) but for some reason Microsoft limited the release to the U.S. Market only.

We received a small sampling of the ill feelings from our International readers the other day about this restriction but over at the Windows Blog, Microsoft seems to be taking it on the chin.  Here are a few of the comments that basically sum up the feeling of those readers.

"At some point the WP team is going to need to realize there are places outside the USA. So many missing features / USA only apps." -Freypal

"This just confirmed the fact that to the rest of the world Microsoft is just showing us a "big middle finger"."-K.Rawlins

"With all due respect, this "US Only" thing is getting old real fast. I am a US citizen, but I'm not sure why Microsoft loves screwing over the rest of the world."-Cylon Centurion

Michael Stroh penned the post over at the Windows Phone Blog and appeared to be as surprised as we were to learn these titles were "U.S. Only". Stroh would later learn that there are no plans to introduce these two games elsewhere and promised to make sure the Xbox Live team was aware of the ill feelings.

Now here's a question (actually two) for our readers. Is the irritation from not being able to play Minesweeper or Sudoku? Or is more over the principle of things? If it's the latter, I never knew Minesweeper had such a following.

Personally, I think unless an app has regional content that wouldn't make sense anywhere else, every Marketplace app should be available system wide. I can understand Bing Get Me There being only useful in London because I don't have any Tube Stations in Alabama.

But games? Come on, make them available world wide. Obviously you've got some language issues to tackle but the rewards will surely out weigh the cost.  Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. Maybe the Xbox Live team visits our blog as well.

Source: Windowsteamblog

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In an arithmetic-filled tweet yesterday, Asymco analyst Horace Dediu claimed that Microsoft made more money from sales of HTC Android phones in Q2 than it did from total WP7 sales.  While the numbers he used were not exactly "official," His rough estimate goes like this: MS would have received $15 for each of the 1.4 million WP7 devices sold, for a toal of $21 million.  HTC sold an estimated 12 million phones, the bulk of them running Android.  And according to Citi, HTC would be required to pay Microsoft $5 for each of those 12 million, totalling $60 million.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to dispute the exact numbers, but this raises some interesting ideas.  Firstly, despite recent reports of WP7's "abysmal" revenue, we know that Microsoft is committed to it.  So by collecting money from companies like HTC and, possibly, other OEMs who use Android, they can funnel money back into floating WP7 until it presumably takes off in the near future.  That allows them to cut losses until it makes a profit, much like what happened for the first five years of Xbox. 

Even more interestingly, revenue generated by Android sales could actually drive OEMs away from Android and more toward WP7.  One of Android's biggest draws for manufacturers is that it that Google offers it up for free.  However, as we see from HTC's situation, Microsoft does not.  This, coupled with absolute power over WP7 licensing, gives MS the potential power to make it cheaper for device manufacturers to license WP7 from Microsoft than to get it "free" from Google.  Quietly brilliant.

Source: Asymco, Business Insider; Via: WPSauce

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A few weeks ago, Google was involved in bidding for 6,000 patents being offered by Nortel, which many thought if Google should win, would beef up their defense against patent litigation. Instead, they lost to a consortium of Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson for $4.5 billion. Basically everyone won except Google. At the time this story was spun two ways:

  1. Nortel's patent were old, outdated and not worth the money for Google
  2. Google wasn't taking it seriously, with Reuters calling their behavior "mystifying" because their bids reflected famous mathematical constants (Brun's, Meissel-Mertens and Pi). Yes, Google actually bid Pi ($3.14159 billion). So in an attempt to be cute and witty, they lost.

After all the gnashing of teeth by tech analysts, who kept pounding Google on their lack of patent strategy, Google has come out with some name calling and accusations of their own:

"But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

That's David Drummond, Senior VP and CLO of Google, who can't even get that's its called Windows Phone, not Mobile. Further, he notes the reported Justice Department's probe into whether or not that Nortel consortium was fair. Of course, such a probe is a far way off from meaning those companies are guilty of anything. In fact, nothing has been settled in regards to whether or not Android violates patents, uses lifted code, etc.

In the case of Microsoft, who's leaned on HTC and now Samsung for patent fees, both companies are willing to play ball either because they feel those patent claims are indefensible or, more likely, that's it's cheaper to license to Microsoft than defend in court. But hey, it's not like Google/YouTube don't screw with Microsoft either.

In the end, we don't have anything new here except that Google is really starting to feel the pain from other companies, hence the 'boo hoo, tech is hard!' post from Drummond. Is Microsoft's, Apple's and others behavior legal, moral and right? That's for the courts to decide, not missives from company blogs.

Edit: Recommended reading: FossPatent's "Google's new anti-patent stance has four credibility issues -- but not the one many people think"

Source: The Official Google Blog

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