windows 8

Nothing puts a smile on our faces like an update and today’s winner is Skype… for Windows 8. Yeah we’d like to see a little more effort from the Skype team with the Windows Phone version, but it’s great to see Windows 8 get some love too. What’s new you ask? Read on and find out.

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AdDuplex, the advertising publisher for developers on both Windows and Windows Phone, has released data for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices in the month of February 2013. Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet has only been available for a short while and already the product has sold out (but has since been made available once again). So how does this translate to usage?

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Microsoft has again made its Surface Pro tablet running Windows 8 Pro available for purchase on its online store. The product has experienced stock issues since it was released. With the cheapest option starting at $899, Microsoft is certainly pinning the product as a premium experience with a rather expensive price tag. The original Surface tablet is already available with Windows RT, so what will consumers be getting with this new Surface Pro?

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There are only a few Windows 8 laptops in production that we can consider to be the ‘high end’, machines with exacting build quality and specifications to match. While many PC makers are content to push out hum drum machines with middling specs and so so performance the same cannot be said for Lenovo and their ThinkPad range. Over the years their quality and reliability have become legend amongst the most demanding of laptop buyers.

The ThinkPad X1 comes in a body woven from Carbon fibre in a style similar to that of the current crop of Ultrabooks. Lenovo seems keen on finally shunting the look of their machines forwards and have recently adopted Chicklet keyboards and of course the wedge shape body design we have all come to recognize of late.  I’ll be kicking the tires on the X1 to see how well Lenovo have melded the heritage of ThinkPad with the modern styling of an Ultrabook.

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Nokia is set to focus on Lumia smartphones at the soon approaching Mobile World Congress 2013. We're likely to see more advances in the same product line, or not depending on whether we see a new family of devices announced. But what about tablets? Nokia was rumoured to be heading into the tablet market, right? Correct. But slow down, ol' chap.

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Nearly one third of tech workers in the enterprise sector say they would prefer their next tablet to run on the Windows platform, according to a Forrester Research survey. The survey revealed that 32 percent of information workers surveyed prefer Microsoft Surface, while only 26 percent favour the iPad and 12 percent would choose Android hardware. 

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We haven’t been following the Mozilla Foundation’s progress too much on a Windows 8 browser—we just know that they were working on one.

So either we missed it or this is hot off the presses but they have released a “nightly build” of their Windows 8 App (Modern Style) Firefox browser for x86 devices. That means you Surface RT (ARM CPU) folk will have to wait a bit, but if you’re on full-fledged Windows 8, you may want to take a look.

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Microsoft has never released a portable console like the Playstation Vita or 3DS, instead opting to publish Xbox-branded games for Windows Phone and Windows 8… A wise choice given the modern trend towards smartphone and tablet gaming over handheld game systems. With the Xbox 360’s excellent lineup of downloadable games, Windows Phone users rightfully expected the chance to play many of their XBLA favorites on their mobile phones.

Unfortunately, the number of robust, XBLA-quality titles released for Xbox Windows Phone to date is incredibly small. I count only Final Fantasy, Puzzle Quest 2, Castlevania Puzzle, ilomilo, Plants vs. Zombies, Sonic 4: Episode I, and Sonic CD as games with full console-level production values and quantity of content. Crimson Dragon Side Story, Hydro Thunder GO, and Civilization Revolution would be on there too if not for their Playstation One-era graphics. Maybe 11 games out of Xbox Windows Phone’s over 150 titles feel like full XBLA games and not just smartphone/casual titles.

Well, add another game to the top-tier pile because Skulls of the Shogun from 17-BIT and Microsoft Studios fits right alongside the XBLA and Windows 8 versions that released alongside it.

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Remember that huge five week long game drought we just went through? We didn’t get official word from Microsoft until the fourth straight week without a release, after the drought had almost passed (and not for lack of trying on our part). As every week went by, your humble author and most avid Windows Phone gamers became increasingly distressed. The whole situation brought to light the ever-worsening handling of Xbox games for Windows Phone by the platform holder.

It also led to the creation of this very series of editorials about how Xbox games for Windows Phone can be turned around. Microsoft has a wonderful gaming synergy on its hands with Xbox Live and Windows Phone, if only they will make proper use of it. We’ve already explored several ways to do so: overhaul the certification system that’s completely inappropriate for mobile games, get internal forces within Microsoft on the same page about the value of Xbox Live, and then promote Windows Phone directly alongside Xbox consoles.

Today we follow up on that last point by looking at the lack of public relations management that affects mobile Xbox games and makes it difficult for both Windows Phone and Windows 8 developers and publishers to promote their own games.

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There is and has been elephant in the room among Windows Phone and Windows 8 users, the app gap. I’m not talking about numbers here, but the difference in high quality apps. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of kickass applications, but if you’re a startup and you’re developing an app – it’s aimed at iOS or Android first. That’s ok, things will change as both Windows 8 and Windows Phone gain market share and mindshare. However until then you might not get to try out the latest fadapp (an app that’s a fad – like Words with Friends or Snapchat).

So what’s a tech nerd to do? Well, if you’ve got a Surface Pro, you can run some Android apps using BlueStacks software. Read on to find out how.

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The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet hasn't been on the shelves long and we are already getting tips that the tablet is sold out everywhere. Even for customers who pre-ordered the Surface Pro from local retailers.

One reader pre-ordered his at the local Best Buy only to learn that the store only received three units. Similar experiences were reported at other retail locations such as Staples with very limited supplies of the new Windows 8 tablet being delivered for launch day. Some stores are getting plenty of the 64GB models but no 128GB models which appears to have the greater demand.

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If you have a few hours to spare, or an entire year if you're exceptionally slow, there's a super piece over at ZDNet that goes into the whole issue surrounding available storage on the Surface RT. Ed Bott has gone into some length to compare the Surface Pro 128GB against the MacBook Air 128GB to see just which product offers more room for consumers to wiggle.

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We've known for a while that Microsoft will be working on its first set of updates for Windows 8, codenamed "Blue". But now, according to ZDNet, Microsoft is said to be expanding the coverage of said update to reach beyond the realm of Windows. Blue is also referring to Windows Phone, cloud services (SkyDrive, Outlook.com, etc.) and Windows Server. It's a wave of upgrades which are not believed to be arriving on the very same day, but very close to one another.

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Microsoft announced that along with the launch of Windows 8, the software will be accompanied by a limited time offer for upgrade packages. The company reaffirmed earlier this month that that special pricing would end at some point in the future. This date of closing is soon approaching, so this article is to serve as a reminder to get in quick and snap up some Windows 8 upgrades before the price is raised.

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Tomorrow may be the last day to snag the early bird upgrade price on Windows 8 Pro, but students have a bit of wiggle room going forward.

For whatever reason if you were planning on upgrading your PC to Windows 8 Pro, you should do it now and lock in that sweet $40 upgrade fee, because it goes up to $200 for Pro. However, students can wing it for $69.99 starting February 1st in the US with staggered roll outs depending on your location.

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It's a little early but Skulls of the Shogun is now live in the Windows Phone Store.

Due to be released tomorrow, January 30th, the newest Xbox title not only breaks the drought of Xbox game releases but also spans the full gaming spectrum with versions for Windows 8/RT and Xbox Live Arcade as well as for Windows Phone 8 and 7.x.

With the release comes special pricing as well. The Windows Phone version is discounted to $4.99, the Windows 8 version will run your $9.99 and the Xbox Live Arcade version launches at 1200 Microsoft Point (about $15).

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This morning we posted Nokia’s brief demonstration of Music+ for Windows Phone, HTML5 and Windows 8. We expect to hear a lot more on this and other Nokia news in the coming weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (we’ll be there in force to cover it), so we forgive their brevity on the new music service. Consider it a tease.

What’s not said though is how significant it is that Nokia is making their first Windows 8 and RT app.

Granted, writing an RT app once you have a Windows Phone compile is supposed to be easier. But writing a native Windows desktop client? That's a little trickier. That raises some interesting questions including just how large is Nokia’s Windows desktop team? Is it a 3 man crew or a whole group including engineers?

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Lightning strikes twice, history repeats itself, and Microsoft will be giving out reservation cards for the Surface Pro like they did with the Surface RT. Back in October, if you visited a physical Microsoft Store or those pop-up holiday kiosks you could get a card guaranteeing you a Surface the day they went on sale. Microsoft is now doing the same with the Intel-based Surface for when it becomes available on February 9th.

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We caught wind of this a little late, but the Windows 8 Xbox game The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running from Other Ocean and Microsoft is free through Monday. Dead Man Running normally costs $1.49 despite being designed and planned as a free-to-play game, with lots of in-game purchases on offer. So why not hurry up and get it free like it’s supposed to be?

Head past the break for our full impressions of the game itself.

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