WinRT

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, David Schmoock who's head of North American operations for Lenovo, gave some fairly specific pricing points for both Windows 8 tablets and the more consumer-focused RT variant running ARM processors. It's the most specific data on pricing that has been presented so far on the new but elusive Microsoft category.

There has been some wild speculation as to how much these Windows RT tablets would cost with Surface proving to be the focus of some of the more controversial pricing 'guestimates', going from thousands of dollars to just $199

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Windows 8 is done, recently reaching RTM and tomorrow some folks will be lucky enough to get their hands on the final code. Word from a few prominent bloggers is that Microsoft may not quite be finished with WinRT just yet.  Suggestion is that MS maybe moving to update the WinRT environment faster than the current three-year cycle dictates.

If this rumour were true then it would mean a major break with updating policy from Microsoft. WinRT is functionally still a long way from complete, a series of rapid updates could do much to fill in the gaps. Although haven’t we heard the promise of rapid updates somewhere before?

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Microsoft has so far been rather coy when it comes to the actual performance characteristics of their forthcoming WinRT tablets. That’s to have been expected due to the new ARM requirements but many have wondered how frugal with battery and weight a Windows RT tablet could really be.

Windows on ARM devices are designed to compete with existing tablets currently available in the market. So far the iPad has been leading the way with great all-day performance and setting the bar for its competition. The good news is some of these initial performance specs look good, even when based on non-final firmware.

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Windows Live Essentials has been part of most Windows Users standard installation for many years now. This familiar and ‘essentials’ set of applications does much to make Windows come to life as a useful productivity tool. Providing photo editing, movie making, blogging, email, synchronising and instant messaging apps, ‘Essentials’ forms a solid backbone for basic computing throughput when using Microsoft operating systems.

Whereas a certain other well-known fruit themed OSX has the luxury of these types of applications being built in, Microsoft decided after Vista to detangle these common apps from their OS. In part to make future updates easier to deliver and in part due to avoid any undue and potentially messy encounters with anti-trust bodies. So what’s the skinny on Essentials 2012? 

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Swedish website Webhallen.com is listing Microsoft Surface tablet pricing on its site. If these details are correct then pricing would be substantially higher than previously thought. Of particular interest here is the cheapest Arm based WinRT device, a 32GB model, showing up costing around £648.00 or $1000.

It had previously been suggested that WinRT tablets would be priced relatively in line with current ARM based tablets. If we were to rule out Android tablets and aim at the higher end iPads for a price guide then comparatively, the Surface is going to be much more expensive. Currently you can pick up a 32GB Wi-Fi only iPad for about £479.00 or £579.00 for the 3g variant. In either case, that puts the Surface well above the current market leader. Even if the Surface device is to be 3g enabled it would still be £70 more expensive in comparison. It has been rumoured that the Surface is not 3g capable, if that’s the case then the price gap leaps to £169.

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Over at Pocket Lint there is an interesting interview with Greg Sullivan, the Senior Product manager for Windows Phone detailing why Microsoft has decided to continue down the route of an entirely separate operating system for phones rather than using Windows RT.

Sullivan states that he believes that the phone is "unique enough to devote a specific effort... and differentiating that", going on to make comparisons to the most successful tablet on the market at this time:

"When I use an iPad I think it’s a really pleasurable experience, it’s a great consumption device, but I constantly run into guardrails. I want to connect a USB mass storage, oh I can't. I want to print to a printer other than the one Lexmark or whatever, I can't. I keep wanting to do things I can't do. I think it's primarily because of the fundamental strategy where they [Apple] took a phone OS and stretched it up to a tablet."

"We are taking a PC OS and shrinking it down. We could have done the same thing, but it doesn't make sense. When we deliver Surface or any Windows 8 device, the Pro model will run every Windows app ever written. That think will run Visicalc 1.0 from 1981. I saw a demo. It's amazing. It's part of the promise."

"They draw the line between the phone/tablet and the PC, and we are drawing the line between the PC/tablet and the phone."

Let's back up a little bit, and remember the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT. Windows 8 is your full-fat, all inclusive, no compromise operating system which runs on the traditional x86 infrastructure. This means it can be installed on your existing or new systems built on an Intel or AMD processor (or something more exotic using the same instruction set)...

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As a companion piece to my review of the Phonos app, I thought it would be interesting to check in with Andy and get some background on his experiences whilst developing for Windows Phone. Originally, on the team that built the ill-fated Kin devices he has since been working on Windows Phone 8.0 Apollo. Andy shares his experiences with bringing his app to market. He tells us about hurdles hes overcome with the platform, thoughts on WinRT development and much much more... For these insights you’ll need to keep on reading past the break..

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Red Badger – Developer Insight

Back when Windows Phone 7 was new on the smartphone scene the choice of Twitter apps was limited. Birdsong was one of the most interesting clients of the time, it was 100% accurate in getting the aesthetics right for how an app should look and work on WP7. Making good use of smooth scrolling, panoramic slide overs whilst embracing the best feature of Windows Phone, Metro.

At the time Birdsong was innovative, indeed Red badger became a poster child for how Metro style apps should look and feel, receiving praise from its users and even Microsoft. I wanted to catch up with the team and see how their start-up is going and what brought them back to re-kindling development for Birdsong. I met with one of the founders, Cain Ullah and Red Badgers newest team member, Joe Stanton to see what’s happening...

 

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Yesterday, Apple Inc. finally revealed their latest iteration of iOS for iPhone and the iPad.  There were no real "wow" moments just the continued rehash of market numbers and a collection of little improvements to the world-wide hit operating system.

We're not trying to be too bitter here--look, Apple and iOS have a massive success on their hands so they're not messing with a good thing (think of all the grandparents with iPhones!). But today's unveiling of the new iOS is starting to show that Cupertino may be out of "big" ideas for mobile and are instead concentrating on refinements. That's not exactly a bad thing and we don't necessarily blame them, especially with their strong market share. But it sure does make for some boring discussion.

Our friends at iMore were there for the whole event, turtlenecks and all, documenting all the new additions to the sixth version of the OS.  Due this fall, here is their summary of the major changes:

  • Maps - Probably the biggest news was the addition of Apple's own Maps app which will be powered by TomTom. Maps will come stock with turn-by-turn navigation, traffic info, and a new feature called Flyover.
  • Siri additions and enhancements- Siri received quite a few updates under iOS 6 including iPad support, integration with many car manufacturers, and several new features. 
  • Passbook - Passbook is a brand new way to store and save airline apps, boarding passes, and more all in one place. Many different services and Passbook apps are already available such as express check at hotels, Target cards, movie tickets, coupons, and more.
  • Photo Stream sharing - Photo Stream sharing will allow you to create separate streams (similar to how you'd create albums currently). You can then share those separate streams with whoever you'd like. Have one with family for vacation pics and one with mom and dad for baby pics. They'll also be given the ability to comment and like photos native in iOS.
  • Mail enhancements - Multiple e-mail signatures, VIP Mailbox allows you to add all the important people in your life to a VIP list and their messages will automatically be filtered into a new VIP mailbox that appears under your default inbox.
  • Facebook integration - In iOS 5 we saw Apple integrate Twitter into iOS natively. This year the same will happen with Facebook. Post status, upload pictures, and more without needing a third party app.
  • FaceTime over the cellular network - FaceTime has only ever been available for us on a Wi-Fi network since it's release in iOS 4. iOS 6 is about to change all that and you'll soon be able to FaceTime wherever you are, Wi-Fi or 3G/4G.

Read more after the break for some exclusive Windows Phone 8 news...

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