Microsoft has announced today that it will be opening its third California retail store in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA. The software giant did not give an exact date for the store's opening, but did say it would be this spring. This move continues a trend of opening stores on the west coast, closer to Microsoft's home base.
There are also a fair number of Microsoft retail stores in other areas, including the Midwest, but none on the east coast. Rumors indicate that Microsoft may be looking to change that with a store in New York sometime this year. The stores are used as locations for consumers to get their hands on the latest Microsoft devices and software. Windows Phone 7 is a big part of the initiative, but pre-configured computers from Microsoft partners are also present.
Despite the similarities in look to the Apple stores, there are only seven currently open Microsoft stores. Apple is over 300 at this point. Do you think Microsoft will ever see anything approaching the retail success for Apple?
LG is happy with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform and believes there's a lot of potential there, but the company is less than thrilled with the platform's launch.
"From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected," James Choi, marketing strategy and planning team director of LG Electronics, told Pocket-lint.com in an interview.
Despite the slow launch, LG isn't giving up on WP7 or changing its tune on the platform.
"LG has been closely collaborating with Microsoft from the beginning," Choi said. "What we feel is that it is absolutely perfect for a huge segment out there. What we feel is that some people believe that some operating systems, mainly Google, are extremely complicated for them. But Windows Phone 7 is very intuitive and easy to use."
So what's the problem? According to Choi, being a mostly high-end device is holding the platform back. He says that "once Windows Phone 7 handsets that are mid-tier to low-tier start appearing the market share will grow."
Microsoft is banking on it. As CNet amusingly points out, the long retired Windows 98 OS has a higher market share than WP7, according to Net Market Share's numbers. Windows 98 claims a scant 0.04 percent of the worldwide OS market, while WP7 sits at less than 0.010 percent.
Major kudos are in order for a band of modders known as The Dark Forces Team who went and released a Windows Phone 7 ROM for HTC's HD2 handset.
You can find instructions on the XDA-Developers.com forum, which aren't terribly hard to follow. You'll need to download the Windows Development Tools and Zune PC App, and once you've done that, it's just a matter of following a handful of easy steps.
The latest hack/ROM even allows access to the Marketplace and Xbox LIVE service, at least for now. Keep in mind that this isn't an official release, so the usual disclaimers about warranties, bricked devices, and proceeding at your own risk all apply.
Windows Phone 7 brought with it not just the promise of a better user experience, but also freedom from the draconian policies of the Apple App Store for beleaguered developers. Though Microsoft wasn’t entirely clear on their policies upfront, it would seem indie developer Matt Bettcher has stumbled upon a new one.
According to Bettcher his mostly open source Nintendo emulator has been rejected, and he was advised by company officials that this category of application would not be allowed in the Marketplace. This is a rather interesting stance when you consider that while Apple initially took this path as well, they finally give in to community pressure and have allowed similar projects to be accepted into the store.
So will community pressure work on Microsoft? Grab your pitchfork and lets find out.
Microsoft is left with a little egg on its face after a developer spent just six hours cracking the DRM on its Windows Phone 7 platform, DailyTech reports.
The developer attempted the crack for technical blog site WPCentral, but it wasn't malicious in nature. Instead, WPCentral hopes this will help Microsoft improve its busted DRM scheme and has no plans of publishing how the hack works.
"We are confident Microsoft will work hard to implement a stronger DRM system, in part due to this proof-of-concept demonstration," WPCentral said.
As part of the proof-of-concept hack, the developer was able to create an app called FreeMarketPlace that's capable of downloading any app from Microsoft's WP7 Marketplace and stripping away the DRM. Those apps could then be loaded on an unlocked smartphone or saved to a PC.
Microsoft has been very coy when it comes to discussing Windows Phone 7 numbers. But the software giant has finally given us something to mull over. According to MocoNews, Microsoft mentioned in an internally produced interview that 1.5 million handsets have been shipped to carriers and other retailers. That's not actual sales to consumers, but just phones that have been sent out for sale.
We're expecting some sort of detailed numbers at CES, but in the meantime, Microsoft isn't doing itself any favors staying silent. Microsoft has only been willing to speak in generalities. They point out that their performance is about on par with other first generation mobile platforms at launch. While phone sales are still shady, the app ecosystem is coming along well. The Windows Phone Marketplace has over 4000 apps so far.
It's only been two months since WP7 dropped, so we're willing to give them time to get their ducks in a row. But will consumers offer them the same courtesy.
Take this with a grain of salt, folks. But Unwired View is reporting that Nokia may be in talks with Microsoft about making Windows Phone 7 devices. The news comes via mobile reporter Eldar Murtazin, who has a track record of being right about these things. Te be clear, the rumored talks are not regarding an exchange of technology, but rather Nokia hardware with Microsoft Software.
Nokia has been pulling back on Symbian in recent months, and their efforts with Meego still seem a long way from producing a viable product. Perhaps a sweet deal from Microsoft could coax the Finnish company out of their software safe-zone. There is no guarantee the Nokia-Intel Meego project would go away if this deal happened. In fact, WP7 devices could just be more of a stopgap measure.
We've always liked Nokia's hardware, but the software is usually lacking. Would you be interested in a Nokia-built Windows Phone 7 device?
By most accounts, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is a solid platform, one with a lot of promise and potential, but the hardware and OS are only part of the overall equation. The other part? Apps.
Towards that end, Windows Phone 7 users now have access to over 4,200 apps, Fudzilla reports. By tomorrow, that number will be 104 higher, which is how many new apps are added to the platform each day.
That's not a bad start for a new platform, even if it pales in comparison to Android (nearly 200,000 apps with around 900 new each day) and Apple (over 300,000 apps and about 1,000 new every day).
Paramount has announced that it will release 10 new apps for Windows Phone 7, each one will be a so-called "enhanced app" for a particular feature film. These apps will be built on Microsoft's Silverlight technology ad will include the full feature length film. The forst apps out of the gate will be School of Rock, Zoolander, Waiting for Superman, and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. More movie apps will be launched in the near future.
Other than the film, users will get the ability play Scene It trivia for the movie, create clips, and identify actors or props while the movie is playing. The apps themselves will follow the Windows Phone 7 design guidelines with the expansive scrolling columns and sharp text.
There are still some unknowns. First and foremost it price. Paramount has not announced how much they will be charging for these apps. Second, we don't know if the content in this app will be usable on any other devices, or with a larger screen. The apps appear to only be for playback on the phone, but could perhaps be expanded to other platforms in the future. If the apps are too expensive and rigid, we can't see this being a sustainable method of content distribution.
Maybe we put too much stock in Microsoft's emphatic insistence that streaming music service Pandora was going to be a launch app for Windows Phone 7. It seemed like a lock, but now Pandora has been backing away from that commitment. Their twitter feed last week said there was no app in the works, and they have no clarified the situation slightly. "I'm not sure if/when we will be available on [Windows Phone 7]. Appreciate everyone’s enthusiastic suggestions. I’m passing the feedback on," a Pandora spokesperson told BGR.
The Pandora app has been wildly popular on other platforms like iOS, Android, and webOS. Many users that are switching will expect the service to be available. It could be that Pandora is waiting for some sort of background audio streaming capability in WP7, but they managed to get along without that on iOS for a few years. Competing services Last.fm and Slacker have already deployed WP7 apps to offers users some choice in streaming audio.
Pandora later clarified they intended to be "everywhere our listeners want us to be". But Pandora PR reiterated they have no plans to announce any Windows Phone 7 plans at this time. Does the lack of Pandora on WP7 make it less attractive to you?