MIX10

We were hoping to have all our questions answered about Windows Phone Marketplace today - especially since it's clearer than ever that Marketplace is really going to be the only way for consumers to get apps on their device. We know a bit more than we did before, but "We'll tell you at MIX" has been replaced with "We'll release more details in May" for many of the essentials.

We do have a few more details - we'll drop those and some images from the presentation after the break!

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LAS VEGAS -- I want to noodle a bit about the Start Experience in Windows Phone 7 series, but before that happens I need to get something off my chest as a way of opening the conversation: I have an unhealthy obsession with notifications in Windows Phone 7 Series. There are two reasons for this.

The first and most important reason is that Microsoft is following Apple's cue by suggesting push notifications can replace functionality normally handled by third-party multitasking. If you remove the ability to multitask, you better make damn sure that your push notification replacement system works well.

The second is that we already have two mobile operating systems that do an excellent job handling notifications -- Android and webOS. Both allow notifications to appear without interrupting you, both let notifications "stack," and both offer a unified place to view and manage your notifications. Knowing that there are two systems out there for handling notifications well makes me want to see a similarly elegant system from Microsoft. Despite what I wrote in a recent tweet, WP7S does have a way to manage (some) notifications -- but it's going to require a shift in how users think about their messages.

Read on for more on notifications and how they relate to Start.

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Just got the bad news from another session at MIX10 in Las Vegas: There won't be any copy-paste action going on, at least at first, as apps are going to be pretty well sandboxed.

That's the long and short of it. Whether you really need copy and paste is one of those things that'll be debating until the end of time -- or at least until it actually comes to WP7S. So strap in, everybody. It's gonna be a long ride.

Also gleaned from this afternoon's sessions is that despite Silverlight crawling all over the operating system, it won't actually be baked into Internet Explorer. That means you won't be able to take advantage of the usual Silverlight fodder you find online.

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WME @ MIX10: Day One Recap

When Microsoft said we would learn more about Windows Phone 7 Series at this weeks MIX10 Conference, they weren't kidding. Phil wore out two keyboards yesterday doing a fantastic job of delivering all this info to you.

A lot of information on Windows Phone 7 Series was offered to the developer community and in the process, the non-developer community learned more about the new operating system as well.  There was enough material and information being thrown at us we felt a recap of the highlights was in order.

After the break you can catch the highlights from the day plus a walk down memory lane with what we learned from this year's Mobile World Congress as it relates to WP7S.

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We've confirmed what Sascha Segan reported earlier: Windows Phone 7 Series is leaving a lot of power-user functionality by the wayside in the name of stability and battery life, to wit:

  • "True" multitasking. 3rd party apps simply can't run in the background - the only crack in this policy is that some apps will be able to take advantage of the built-in hub services to run - the touchstone case is Pandora in the Music Hub but Microsoft also mentioned photo sync a few times.
  • Sideloading. The only way for consumers to get apps on wp7s is to get them through marketplace. The only exceptions: developers, developers releasing beta versions to a limited number of testers, and enterprise apps distributed within a corporation.
  • Removable storage

Microsoft maintains that they're just balancing user demands and there's no doubt that nixing the above simplifies and improves the overall experience for many - if not most - users.

To make up for the lack of multitasking, Microsoft is following in Apple's shoes by offering push notification as a substitute for the vast majority of apps. One problem: although they're not interruptive like on the iPhone, they just appear and go away and there's no unified place to view all notifications.

To make up for the lack of sideloading, Microsoft has promised radical transparency for the app submission process to their marketplace. Good news: Microsoft has no problem with competing web browsers, email clients, map clients, and the like. They're all welcome. The bummer is that it doesn't appear right now that you'll be able to change your 'default' apps - for example, tapping on an address in email wouldn't be able to be set to open Google Maps. 

To make up for the lack of removable storage, well, we have the excellent Zune client. However it looks like there won't be a common file area that all apps can access - each app will have access to its own file storage area and be able to use high level APIs to access stuff like music, photos, and the like. So in addition to there not being removable storage, it doesn't look like you'll even be able to access the on-board storage directly as a USB disk. It all goes through the Zune client.

That's a lot of doom and gloom above, so we'll back off a bit and say that the apps really do look great and nobody can accuse Microsoft of only going halfway towards their vision of rethinking what a mobile platform and mobile apps should be. Until the phones are out there we won't really know how much the above limitations will chafe.

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Now that Windows Phone users will have to get used to having capacitive touchscreens (see what we just did there?), let's take a look at exactly what's supported, including multitouch. We'll start with the most basic gesture -- the tap. A single touch on the screen. Or, as Microsoft describes it in the Windows Phone Design and UI Interaction Guide, "Finger down on a single point within a bundled area and back up within a short period of time."

That whet your appetite? Of course it did. Join us after the break for more.

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It's not all software at MIX10, as Samsung has slipped a slate Windows Phone into the mix. It's the second actual device we've seen Windows Phone 7 Series on (we're not counting the ASUS prototype device), following the LG slider.

We don't really know what's inside this Sammy phone -- it's said to have a great camera and screen. But the exact specs of either (is it a Super AMOLED screen, perhaps?) aren't known. Check out the video after the break. [via Neowin]

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I've gone on record several times as saying that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which debuted last fall alongside Windows Mobile 6.5, felt rushed at best, and half-baked at worst, at least as far as the user experience goes.

You can cast any such feelings aside, it appears, with Windows Phone 7 Series. The Windows Phone Marketplace ties right in with the Metro interface and finally -- at least in appearance -- seems to be worthy of the operating system on which it resides.

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One of the things that's new (and long overdue) in the new Windows Phone is better control over how apps look and feel. By now we have a pretty good look at the whole "panoramic" theme going on, as content flows easily from east to west and back again.

How's that all being done? Microsoft spells it out in its Windows Phone Design and UI Interaction Guide. Think of it as a "how-to" for application developers. [pdf link]

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We've gathered a bit more information on how push notifications on Windows Phone 7 series work. The notifications will come from Microsoft via a service offered free to developers. Our big question, though, was what the user experience will be like. From what we can tell, it will be "mixed' (pardon the pun).

Microsoft tell us that there won't be a "notification management app," which is to say that how notifications will surface is apparently going to differ app-by-app and user by user. Microsoft focused on the fact that many (or most) of the hubs will have a 'What's New' section where you'll be able to see new alerts. Hubs/apps that you've promoted to the Start screen will naturally display notifications in live tiles. Beyond that, though, it doesn't sound like we'll have an similar to Android or webOS, where you'll be able to see all your missed notifications and alerts in one place. We'll see if we're misinterpreting that when we speak with Microsoft one-on-one later.

On the bright side, from the demo we watched during the keynote today, it doesn't appear that notifications are 'interruptive,' so they won't force you to act on them before you get back to the work you're currently doing on the phone.

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We're live at MIX10 and liveblogging it starting at 9am Pacific / 12 Eastern. Let's see what Windows Phone 7 Series details drop! We're hoping one of those details will be an official short name for the OS because, well, it's getting to be a bit of a hassle for us to type.

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LAS VEGAS--You wanted push notifications in Windows Phone 7 Series, and you're getting 'em. Above you see a little blue bar at the top of the phone's screen that popped down, alerting you to something happening in another app. Click the bar, and you're taken to it from whatever app you're in.

We'll have to see what ends up in the shipped version of the Windows Phone OS -- we wouldn't be surprised to see the look of the notifications change a bit -- but the principle is sound. That's also in line with how we think multitasking will work -- not so much a number of apps running in parallel, but in sequence, hopping from one to another.

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LAS VEGAS--Silverlight was born as a alternative to Adobe Flash, but it's grown beyond the desktop browser and now (finally) finds a home on Windows Phone.

For developers, it's a new way to create fluid (and very attractive) mobile apps. In conjunction with Microsoft's new "panoramic" paradigm for Windows Phone, what you get is an extremely fluid way to move within an app. Swiping left and right is seamless and very fast. The bullet points:

  • Hardware-accelerated video with multicodec digital rights management (DRM) and Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming support
  • Vector and bitmap graphics with perspective 3-D
  • Multitouch support with Accelerometer, an intuitive control that responds to motion
  • Deep Zoom support for rich reading experiences
  • Camera and microphone support
  • Notification Service for pushing information to the phone, regardless of whether or not an application is running
  • Integration with the core Windows Phone 7 Series experience features such as hubs

For end users, it means an immersive experience that's long been missing from Windows Mobile. Examples shown today at MIX10 included the new AP Mobile app, the stock Windows Phone photo gallery, and -- believe it or not -- an honest-to-goodness 3D Xbox Live game, running right on the Windows Phone.

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LAS VEGAS -- Immersive apps and gaming is a main focus for Microsoft with Windows Phone 7 Series. Today at MIX10, Microsoft announced details of the services developers have at their disposal:

  • Accelerometer, an intuitive control that responds to motion
  • A Microsoft Location Service to provide developers with a single point of reference to acquire location information
  • Microsoft Notification Service for pushing information to the phone, regardless of whether or not an application is running
  • Hardware-accelerated video with digital rights management (DRM)
  • Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming for the industry’s highest quality content viewing experience
  • Multitouch
  • Camera and microphone support

Two things that stand out there: Multitouch -- obviously a hot topic these days -- and push notifications, which will work regardless of whether the application is running.

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WMExperts live at MIX10


That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we're back in Las Vegas for MIX10, where Microsoft will serve up more details about Windows Phone 7 Series.

We're expecting a whole lot of inside baseball -- this is a developers conference, after all. But we're also expecting to see some answers for questions that were left lingering after Mobile World Congress.

We'll have live coverage from this morning's keynote (9 a.m. PDT), and more today and throughout the week. Stay with us.

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In terms of Windows Phone 7 Series news, this week’s Game Developer Conference (GDC) has been a warm up for the main event at MIX next week. We’ve seen Microsoft release XNA Game Studio 4, which can be used to develop games for 7 Series devices. We also got a chance to talk with Loke Uei of Microsoft about development for 7. (By the way, if you haven’t seen them yet, Engadget got their hands on some screen shots from a couple of prototype games that the Windows Phone team has been showing off.)

The latest bit of news from Shawn Hargreaves of the Windows Phone 7 Series development team comes from a post on his blog about XNA Game Studio and Windows Phone. Much of the post is talking about capabilities that developers can expect to be able to utilize. Shawn does mention that 7 Series devices will ship with WVGA (800x480) displays at launch, but a future update will add support for HVGA (320x480) displays. Hopefully this will lead to a lower starting price point for Windows Phones without compromising too much on quality.

[via Engadget]

 

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