For the last month, the Windows Phone 8 hardware has been on show, but until today the second half of the experience - the software - was not. The strategic choice to build up some silence and mystique has been discussed and disected over countless posts and podcasts on All About Windows Phone and beyond. The Windows Phone 8 launch needed to make the case for Windows Phone 8 to the consumer, to the media, and to the world. Did it?
Readers of this site already know all about live tiles and Microsoft's Modern user interface (UI). Until now, knowing this has almost been secret knowledge in a world full of iPhones and Android phones. With the release of Windows 8, though, that state of affairs is due to come to an end as anyone buying a new PC will have tiles put in front of them by default. In anticipation of the official release of Windows 8, we take a look beneath the surface, and ask what does all of this mean for Windows Phone?
The UK's first 4G network, Everything Everywhere (EE), has announced their pricing plans this morning, and it makes for some interesting reading. EE will be selling the Nokia Lumia 920 exclusively in the UK, and their pricing is going to have a notable impact on the fortune of Nokia's Windows Phone programme. Which makes their initial offering of £36/month for 500MB of data problematic for Windows Phone 8 in the UK.
Whichever smartphone you're currently rocking or aspiring to, the chances are that there will be a certain amount of extra hardware that you'll find helps you get through the day, enhancing what the phone does and helping it do it for longer. Here, in a somewhat personal, though fairly cross-platform selection, I pick my top dozen smartphone accessories. Don't sneer at the back, I bet you get grabbed by a few of these too....
OneNote is Microsoft's cloud notetaking system, and is part of the Office 2010 suite. OneNote is also built into the Windows Phone Office Hub, allowing you to sync your notes via SkyDrive. If you've always taken OneNote for granted and never investigated its abilities in-depth, then stop to read our guide as we take you through all of the tips and tricks.
Following on from yesterday's news of Microsoft's new Xbox Music service, there's been some confusion on what this means to people with the Zune Music pass, the music subscription service that is built into Windows Phone 7 handsets. Microsoft have clarified the impact the updated service will have. The short answer is that nothing is going to change beyond the rebranding, but there are some points and limitations for people to take note of. In the long term, Microsoft seemed to have played a blinder with their music service.
I'll say one thing about the current round of handset/network leaks, it's making sure everyone knows that Windows Phone 8 is nearly here. Just this morning images of a purported Lumia 822 for the US network Verizon leaked, and it looks like the Lumia 810 is heading for T-Mobile USA. HTC's leak are reinforcing the idea that the Windows Phone 8X will be on every carrier in the US network. Assuming these are all true, that's two wildly different strategies at play, and the exciting news is that both strategies are right.
I've commented before at length (and quoted below) on the pros and cons of having sealed batteries in our smartphones, i.e. batteries which can only be removed or changed at your manufacturer's designated service centre. My stated bullet points are all very well, but I've now had direct experience in the last month that strongly leads me to declare having a sealed battery as a showstopper, for me personally, at least. Below is my tale of woe and a handy table of which smartphones are vulnerable to potential disaster in this way.
Yesterday Nokia announced the beta of Nokia Xpress, a proxy-based web browsing service, for its Lumia devices. Leaving aside the "magazine" and other elements of the user interface, we were keen to find out if the claims of being faster and using less data were borne out in practice. Armed with two different connection methods and six different test sites, we put Internet Explorer from Windows Phone 7.5 and Nokia Xpress for Lumia head to head.
Guest writer Mark Johnson has been deep in real world test territory, trying out the Symbian and Windows Phone versions of Nokia Drive, both in planning, execution and on the road over an identical 110 mile journey. Here's his report. Although the latter version ends up a little less mature than its predecessor, it's worth noting that Nokia Drive and Maps and set for a big overhaul for Windows Phone 8, due out in a month's time. It'll be interesting to see Mark revisit his article in the New Year, perhaps?