Australia

Cortana heads to UK, China in beta, while India, Canada and Australia get opt-in alpha program

Tonight in Beijing, China, corporate vice president at Microsoft Joe Belfiore announced new Cortana rollout plans for Windows Phone 8.1 users, including a new 'alpha' program to speed up the deployment process. Furthermore, full details about Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1 were also released, including early access starting next week.

As expected, China and the UK are now getting access to Cortana on a beta status, with substantial customization done for both countries, especially in China where some significant changes to the UI of Cortana have taken place. Additionally, India, Australia, and Canada are now part of an "early adopter program" where users can "opt-in and…try Cortana using English language models from the US and the UK."

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Microsoft's flagship Windows Phone, the Lumia 930, is making its way to multiple regions. We're sure you're sick and tired of reading about which countries will be able to purchase the Windows Phone soon, but we have just one more for you, targeting those Down Under. If you simply cannot wait to get one for yourself, Optus will be the first Australian carrier to stock and offer the Lumia 930 on July 11, while both Telstra and Vodafone will follow on the 15th and 16th respectively.

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Both the Nokia Lumia 930 and Lumia 630 have been priced for the Australian market and will be available sometime this month. Pricing for the Lumia 930 will set consumers back by AU$729 as an outright purchase, but can be picked up on all major carriers in the region. The more affordable Lumia 635 will be priced at AU$279 and will be stocked by Telstra and Optus.

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According to a local Windows Phone blogger, those who reside in Australia won't have long to wait for Windows Phone 8.1. In fact, should everything be accurate, Vodafone AU is set to roll out the update later this month with the Nokia Lumia 630 available from this week.

It's worth noting that we expect the Windows Phone 8.1 roll out to start soon enough.

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Microsoft and the government of Queensland, Australia have signed a deal to deploy Office 365 to 149,000 employees. It's a move set to enable the government to remain up-to-date with the latest versions of Office, making it much easier for administrators and employees to manage installations. We've previously looked at Microsoft comparing features in Office Apps to the likes of Google Docs.

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Australia's Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) has released a brand new official app for Windows Phone. The bank hasn't paid much attention to the platform with its sub-par app, but this update is certainly a notable upgrade -  version 2 is essentially a complete rewrite. If you've held off previously, you may wish to slide on past the break to see what's new.

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Although the Nokia Lumia 1520 just launched here in the US, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world can’t have it. This morning, the new massive device has been announced officially for Australia and Malaysia, arriving in the next few weeks. That's on top of general UK availability announced too.

First up is Australia. We first reported over the weekend that the device was headed to retail outlet Harvey Norman and sure enough they’re the exclusive launch partner. Expected to be available in early December, the Lumia 1520 with a 1080P 6-inch display will fetch for AUD$899 and includes a free $20 app voucher for the Windows Phone Store with every purchase until 15 January 2014. That’s a similar promo to what is offered here in the US for the same phone.

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Dell has launched the refreshed XPS 15 Windows 8 laptop in Australia. The laptop may look relatively similar, and so it should as it shares its looks with the Dell M3800. The new XPS 15 starts at $1,799 (AUD) and comes with a 1080p display and 8GB RAM. However, if you wish to go all out with the 3200x1800 QHD+ models, be prepared to part with at least $2,499. It's not a cheap investment.

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The world cried together when Nokia announced the Lumia 1020 as an exclusive on AT&T the world. Why limit the smartphone with the best camera to one carrier in one country? Thankfully that exclusivity was only timed and slowly the device began appearing around the globe. The device was recently delayed on Telstra in Australia, but is now back on track. It’s also now available to the people of Taiwan. Details below.

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Today was supposed to be a joyous day for Telstra customers, a day that they could pre-order the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows phone. Sadly, however, Telstra has run into a software issue on their Lumia 1020s that is bad enough to postpone the release indefinitely, forcing Telstra to cancel all pre-orders for the Nokia flagship phone. Thankfully, the news isn't all bad. As a result of the cancelations, Telstra has generously shipped out free Nokia Lumia 520 smartphones to those who pre-ordered the Lumia 1020.

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While Telstra is due to launch the Nokia Lumia 1020 in Australia any day now (still not showing up on their website), Expansys-Australia is offering the 41MP Windows Phone now.

Expansys-Australia is offering the unlocked version of the Lumia 1020 for $878.38 Australian (about $821 US). Expansys is offering the unlocked Lumia 1020 in white, black and yellow with all three showing "in stock now".

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The HTC 8X is going through some bad times it would seem. The Windows Phone isn’t faring well with the latest GDR2 update from Microsoft. Vodafone AU has already skipped the update and is instead heading straight for GDR3, and it seems Telstra is also following suit. The mobile operator has revealed on its website that consumers will be able to look forward to a future rollout.

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The Nokia Lumia 625, featuring a nicely sized 4.7-inch display and a 1.2GHz dual core CPU is certainly an interesting phone. Its budget priced and lacks a lot of the high end features of its Lumia brethren and yet it’s still in a category all its own due to that screen size, large battery, microSD expansion and premium Nokia feel.

Telstra began selling the Nokia Lumia 625 at the end of August, while some third-party retailers had it a few weeks earlier.

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Vodafone Australia has released some details surrounding the mysterious GDR2 Windows Phone software update for the HTC 8X, which has been in the news recently. It turns out the manufacturer is skipping the operating system update from Microsoft. This is due to HTC 8X customers getting in touch with some issues since updating their smartphones. 

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