Editorials

Remember Microsoft’s Zune line of multimedia players? I haven’t forgotten, and to this day, the Zune 120 GB Black "Brick" remains as one of my favorite pieces of hardware from the past. To help everyone relax, while bringing back some Microsoft nostalgia, below is a short video list of some of the rocking (and mellow) tunes used in the original commercials.

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Since Steve Ballmer declared his retirement from Microsoft as CEO, speculations on who will be the next big boss have been tossed around. One of the top candidates who appears on every list is the former CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop; he supposedly had the heart to run Microsoft, but recent information that we reported on this morning has shown that he may do more damage than good.

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Today Nokia reported its most recent quarterly results. Lumia volumes were up 19% sequentially, hitting a new record of 8.8 million shipments.  As Daniel pointed out earlier, these aren’t anywhere near iPhone volumes.  Apple shipped almost 38 million iPhones, or 4.3x more phone than Nokia Lumia this past quarter.  But that shouldn’t take away from Nokia’s accomplishment. They are single-handedly responsible for making Windows Phone a viable competitor in the marketplace.

Make no mistake, there is still a lot of work to be done, and we can only hope that the integration of the handset business with Microsoft goes smoothly, but Windows Phone stands a chance.  Anytime a platform posts double digit sequential growth in shipments we’re bound to see more developers take it seriously, not less.

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Last month, Microsoft pulled 11 Xbox games from the Windows Phone Store, 10 of which had used Microsoft Points as the payment method for their In-App Purchases. At the time, we speculated that only a few games would return at all, and mostly stripped of their Xbox features.

Today the first of those delisted games has returned: Chickens Can’t Fly. Unfortunately, it has indeed returned as an indie game. But hey, at least Windows Phone gamers can play it again – if they repurchase. We can’t place the blame for this on developer Amused Sloth, though. They’ve just posted a lengthy explanation for change on their blog. As you might expect, stripping the game of its Xbox features came from a higher power...

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Although the Microsoft / Nokia agreement announced early last month caused shockwaves in the industry, many analysts have rightly been cautious about the acquisition of Nokia’s hardware division. That’s because the deal has not been finalized nor approved, by anyone, and the process is not expected to be completed until early 2014.

The question on many minds though, including our own, is what are things like now between the two companies? One stream of thought is that Microsoft and Nokia are going forward, working on devices, and that they have begun to merge divisions, knocking down those barriers that Belfiore referred to in an interview with CNET. Better phones, more exciting software, right?

However, Hal Berenson, a retired Distinguished Engineer and General Manager at Microsoft, says it is just the opposite. In an insightful blog post he notes that Microsoft is having little to no influence on anything Nokia is doing right now—in fact, it probably has less power than before the deal was announced.

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With Mobile You, the final week of Talk Mobile 2013 done, it's time for another survey, because we just love quantifiable data here. These surveys have helped us learn more about you and how you use your devices, as well as giving us the data to build awesome infographics for gaming and keyboards. Bringing together everything we from across all of Talk Mobile, Mobile You week was just full of awesome - from how to pick your device, what's best for you, what they can do for you, and how we truly make these devices our own.

So here is the Mobile You week survey - it's only a few dozen questions so it shouldn't take too long. Plus they're all multiple choice questions, and being a survey there's no "right" answer (so we better not catch you cheating off your neighbor). And because we love you, completing the survey will enter you for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card. Bribery, incentive, cash-for-data, call it what you want, it's potentially gadget money you didn't have before, so that's cool, right?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile - Mobile You Survey!

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It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but PlayStation 4 is beating down the Xbox One in consumer polling. Reuters asked 1,297 people how likely they were to purchase an Xbox One or PS4 – and the results for die hard Microsoft fans – are disappointing.

According to the poll, 26% of individuals reported that they are likely to purchase a PlayStation 4 from Sony; this is in contrast to the 15% of individuals who reported that they are likely to purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft.

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Yesterday, we reported on a collection of special holiday deals for consumers looking to pick up an Xbox 360 in India.

Today, the official Xbox 360 Holiday Value Bundles have been announced by Microsoft and are said to be available “around the world”. In addition purchasers in the United States will receive $50 off their purchase.

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Our interview with Microsoft Behavioral Scientist Matt Wallaert to set the record straight on the Bing versus Google controversy

Yesterday, we published an editorial questioning whether or not Microsoft’s “Bing It On” campaign and its claims are a sham or fair play.

Yale law professor, Ian Ayres, conducted a study with a collection of 1,000 people who were asked to take the “Bing It On” challenge and report their results. The outcome of Ayres’ experiment was nowhere near Microsoft’s claim that people prefer Bing 2 to 1 causing a media storm of accusations and negative press.

We spoke with Bing Behavioral Scientist, Matt Wallaert, to help clear up the situation.

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UPDATE: Please see our interview with Bing scientist, Matt Wallaert, here.

Recently, a law professor from Yale claimed that Microsoft’s famous “Bing It On” campaign is no more than a collection of lies. Ian Ayres, stated in Freakonomics that the company’s Bing ads are misleading and deceptive. To prove his point, Ayres set out on a “Bing It On” challenge using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace.

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Today it seems everywhere you turn in the financial media, there is a story about how Nokia’s chairman screwed up in disclosing information about Stephen Elop’s bonus package to the media. Some of the reporting on it is a bit wonky, so I thought I’d clear things up.

Long story short, Nokia’s chairman was initially quoted as saying Elop’s contract was essentially the same as that of the prior CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. When a Finnish newspaper, “Helsingin Sanomat”, dug into his employment contract, which is published to the SEC website, they discovered one important major difference. Elop stands to have his stock compensation vested in an accelerated manner should he resign following a change of control. The prior Finnish CEO didn’t have this clause. The difference amounts to about $25 million, according to various other folks who did the math (I didn’t, and I’m assuming their math is correct).

People love to complain about these things. A Forbes article even went so far as to say that Elop gets paid specifically because he managed to get the stock to go down, and then sharply up again on a takeover bid from Microsoft. The Forbes piece made it seem like this roller coaster action was a requirement to trigger the bonus.

That’s not true. Here’s what is true:

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We've closed out mobile creativity week of Talk Mobile, so it's survey time! Yep, another Talk Mobile week, another Talk Mobile survey, and another chance to win some money in exchange for giving us some quantifiable data! Mobile creativity week touched on photography, videography, mobile business, and more, and it was just great.

So, without further ado, here's the mobile creativity week survey - it's not too long, tackling photos and video and business and the like. And it's multiple choice, so don't feel like you have to study or cheat or anything. And as a bit of incentive, completing the survey enters you for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Best Buy. Sounds like a good deal, eh?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile State of Mobile Creativity Survey!

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When it comes to reviews or opinion pieces, especially for gadgets, there’s some "science" involved but a lot of it comes down to the critic's biases. The notion that a journalist is impartial is derisory, though many still feign the notion that it exists. Just like how history can’t be objective since what the historian deems important (and not important) drives the narrative, the same applies to tech articles explaining devices and giving opinions.

At Windows Phone Central, we write from the perspective of people who are already on board with the Microsoft’s mobile OS—it’s more about the hardware and how it compares to other Windows Phones. That’s our audience. Are we biased? Of course, but at least you know where we’re coming from—we’re not pretending otherwise.  

That’s what makes CNET’s latest video so frustrating. We don’t have a problem with people finding faults with the Lumia 1020, or even not preferring it. This is the predisposition thing rearing its head and if you like Android or iOS more than Windows Phone, then it will drive your opinion. But distorting facts or just getting things plain wrong is inexcusable.

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With carrier week of Talk Mobile done, it's time for another survey, because darnit, we love numbers here. The survey will let us pull together the numbers to put together more awesome infographics like the ones we've done for gaming and keyboards. Carriers week was full of awesome, including lots of sage and common sense advice on how to make the carriers into organizations that don't come across as so consumer-hostile.

So here is the carriers week survey - it's a few dozen questions so it shouldn't take too long. They're all multiple choice, and there's no right answer to any of them, so we don't want you to feel like you should be stressing out on whether or not you're going to pass. To sweeten the pot a bit, we're also throwing in a $100 Best Buy gift card to one lucky survey-taker. We've got your attention now, eh?

Click here to take the Talk Mobile State of Mobile Carriers Survey!

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As if 2013 could not have been a more pivotal year for Microsoft and Windows Phone, news tonight coming from Bloomberg claims that Redmond is still considering buying out BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has publicly revealed that they are seeking “strategic alternatives” for the company, including a merger or selling off the entire company (or pieces of it). In and of itself, that is big news although BlackBerry did do the same in 2012 and nothing came of it. Could this round be any different? Perhaps, as their new operating system, BB10, is not exactly setting the mobile world afire.

Microsoft has always been rumored to be interested in BlackBerry, but they are perhaps waiting for the right time. That may include waiting for Waterloo to shed some of its 17,000 employees and become a leaner purchase, or for BlackBerry to become cheaper and more desperate.  

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Despite the weakness in Microsoft’s stock price today (it’s down about 5%), I think their decision to buy Nokia’s hardware and services business is absolutely the right move. And it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. When Stephen Elop made the gutsy decision to kill Symbian and bet entirely on Windows Phone, most people correctly had a strong sense that this would eventually happen. 

But Wall Street isn’t too excited at the notion of Microsoft spending over $7 billion in cash to double down on its smartphone bet. And that’s understandable. It’s a lot of money for a potential failed deal. I think it probably will end up being successful for Microsoft. They’ve already climbed up to the #3 position in the smartphone market, having overtaken BlackBerry. If they can achieve this while having to balance the growth objectives of two separate companies, then I think it should only get easier for them as a combined entity.

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Heading into the last quarter in 2013, it is becoming increasingly clear that Windows Phone is now solidifying itself as the third alternative for smartphones (see the latest IDC report). While sales are still miles behind iOS and Android, Windows Phone as a platform is finally being treated more equally by retailers and consumers.

Part of that apparent victory, in typical Microsoft fashion, is due to missteps by Redmond’s competitors. Years ago, BlackBerry (then called RIM) basically owned the enterprise market. Fast forward to 2013 and with BlackBerry 10 on the market with a handful of new devices, it’s becoming clear that it’s just not enough to regain that momentum.

The site IT Wire has performed some store-checks for the new BlackBerry Q10 and Z10—two devices we actually own and occasionally use ourselves. The site tried to get a statement from Australia’s telco’s Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone but received no comment about those BlackBerry sales. Not hindered, IT Wire then spoke with Harvey Norman, Optus and Telstra franchises for their opinions on BlackBerry’s prospects.

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Last week we revealed that Gameloft, one of the largest mobile game publishers in the world would be bringing 15 new games to both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Since then, a scrappy little site has reported that “future [Gameloft] Windows Phone titles will be released day and date with iOS and Android ones.” Release date parity is something that Windows Phone gamers have long clamored for.

Well, I hate to take the wind out of anyone’s sails, but Gameloft has informed us that the “day and date” story is definitely incorrect. Read Gameloft’s official quote and our detailed analysis after the break!

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Microsoft has been facing a slew of battles with the announcement of its latest Xbox One console. The launch event was riddled with DRM woes, a required Kinect accessory and a higher price tag that Sony’s PlayStation 4. The company has backtracked on its original DRM mission, making players more comfortable with the idea of purchasing games for the unit, but questions about the Kinect sensor still remain.

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