Category Archives: Microsoft

Windows Phone App Store Finally Reaches 200,000 Apps

Windows-Phone-Marketplace

Microsoft has announced on its Windows Phone Developer’s blog that its online marketplace has finally broken into the 200,000 app margin.

Apart from that, the number of apps downloaded a day have crossed 12 million mark.

The news did take quite a bit of a time to reach as both Apple and Google have accomplished the feat in lesser amount of time. Still, Microsoft did gain most of them in the last few months, managing to lure the developers to bring several acclaimed apps like Instagram and Vine in the meantime.

The company considered it the right time to announce its new gift cards, which will be available in 41 markets initially but will be coming in more later onward.

Microsoft also announced that payment via carrier billing is now available for 51 carriers worldwide in 31 countries, with the promise to bring more sooner. The Store is available on 190 countries worldwide now.

Microsoft predicts that the app gap between its platform and others will close by 2014. We’ll have to wait and see whether that happens or not.

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Microsoft Announces the Second-Gen Tablets Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

On Monday, Microsoft took time to unveil the successor to the first-generation Surface RT and Pro tablets. The new Windows RT and Windows 8-running tablets are renamed the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 respectively and come with several cool improvements, both on the surface and on the inside.

Microsoft Surface 2 Pro

Surface-2-Pro

 

The Microsoft Surface 2 Pro comes with the same 10.6 inch 1080p display with 1920 x 1080 resolution with, but with 46% more colour accuracy now. It is also Gorilla Glass protected and supports pen-input. (A digitizer pen is bundled along with the tablet.)

On the inside, it comes with a dual-core 4th-generation Intel Core i5 “Haswell” processor which is clocked at 1.6Ghz (can be turbo-boosted to 2.6Ghz). Alongside it is Intel HD 4400 Graphics and 4 or 8 GB worth RAM.

All in all, the new Surface 2 Pro offers 20% performance boost, 50% graphics boost and thanks to Haswell, 75% battery life increase. It is also more cooler and quieter than before.

There are two HD cameras on the front and on the back as usual. For connectivity, it has 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0, mini DisplayPort, Wi-Fi, microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack.

The design is the same VaporMg as before and now, it also features a two-step kickstand on the back. The Surface 2 Pro runs on Windows 8.1 out-of-the-box.

It will available in 64, 128, 256, 512 GB storage options for $899, $999, $1299 and $1799 respectively. According to Microsoft, the Surface 2 Pro is now faster than 95% of the laptops in the world.

Microsoft Surface 2

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The Surface RT proved to be one of 2012′s biggest let-downs and Microsoft are keen not to repeat that again in 2013. Called the most-productive tablet ever, it now comes with a 10.6 inch 1080p ClearType Display and Gorilla Glass protection.

On the inside, it comes with a 1.7Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, a 72-core GeForce GPU and 2 GB of RAM. This makes the Surface 2 four times faster than before. Around the back is a 5 megapixel camera (5 times better than before) with Full HD 1080p video, followed by a 3.5 megapixel camera on the front.

For connectivity, it comes with Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, microSD card slot, HDMI and 3.5mm headphone jack. Battery life is quoted at being 10 hours.

Of the inside, it runs on Windows RT 8.1 and comes with Microsoft Office 2013 RT edition. It will come in either 32 or 64 GB storage options which will cost $449 and $549 respectively.

Free Offerings With Windows Tabs

Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will hit the markets in the coming few weeks and will come 200 GB worth free SkyDrive storage for 2 years, as well as free Skype calls for 1 year.

New Covers

Along with 2 new tablets, Microsoft also announced several new keyboard covers for the Surface tablets. The tablets are now thinner and lighter than before.

The Touch Cover 2 features 1092 sensor now, compared to only 82 previously. The Type Cover remains mostly as before. A new cover called the Power Cover was also introduced which is actually a Type Cover but has a battery inside. All of them are backlit unlike before, and have a proximity sensor on the inside to variate the lightning levels on the keyboard.

Microsoft also announced the new Surface Remix project which is just like a normal cover, except that it trades the keys of a keyboard for music controls. It is mainly targeted towards DJs. Microsoft has even made a dedicated website for it.

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Microsoft Buys Nokia Devices & Service Unit for $7.2 Billion

Britain_Nokia_Microsoft_XAG105

Microsoft and Nokia have just announced that both companies have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay $ 5 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, and $ 2.2 billion to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of $ 7.2 billion in cash.

Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

“It’s a bold step into the future – a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft’s share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer. “In addition to their innovation and strength in phones at all price points, Nokia brings proven capability and talent in critical areas such as hardware design and engineering, supply chain and manufacturing management, and hardware sales, marketing and distribution.”

“We are excited and honored to be bringing Nokia’s incredible people, technologies and assets into our Microsoft family. Given our long partnership with Nokia and the many key Nokia leaders that are joining Microsoft, we anticipate a smooth transition and great execution,” Ballmer said. “With ongoing share growth and the synergies across marketing, branding and advertising, we expect this acquisition to be accretive to our adjusted earnings per share starting in FY15, and we see significant long-term revenue and profit opportunities for our shareholders.”

“For Nokia, this is an important moment of reinvention and from a position of financial strength, we can build our next chapter,” said Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman of the Nokia Board of Directors and, following today’s announcement, Nokia Interim CEO. “After a thorough assessment of how to maximize shareholder value, including consideration of a variety of alternatives, we believe this transaction is the best path forward for Nokia and its shareholders. Additionally, the deal offers future opportunities for many Nokia employees as part of a company with the strategy, financial resources and determination to succeed in the mobile space.”

“Building on our successful partnership, we can now bring together the best of Microsoft’s software engineering with the best of Nokia’s product engineering, award-winning design, and global sales, marketing and manufacturing,” said Stephen Elop, who following today’s announcement is stepping aside as Nokia President and CEO to become Nokia Executive Vice President of Devices & Services. “With this combination of talented people, we have the opportunity to accelerate the current momentum and cutting-edge innovation of both our smart devices and mobile phone products.”

Nokia has outlined its expected focus upon the closing of the transaction in a separate press release published today.

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Windows Store Reaches 100,000 Apps

Windows_Store

The Windows Store platform for Microsoft’s Windows 8 and RT operating systems has just reached the milestone of having a hundred thousand apps. The achievement was announced via twitter and it took just 7 months to accomplish, not unlike what Microsoft had predicted.

The announcement came just days after the company announced that the Store was about to reach 100,000 app margin. Compared to 7 months, Android took 18 months to achieve the feat while iOS took 14.

The news, however, is the greatest for the Windows RT platform which can’t run legacy programs and is reliant on the Store solely for content. This, then, should help the OS to garner some new potential buyers as the main apps are almost all onboard now with the remaining ones coming in the meantime. Also along with the launch of RT 8.1, success might not be that far really, unless luck is really against them.

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Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 8

Microsoft  unveiled Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the company’s smartphone operating system

Windows Phone 8, along with addition of countless new features, is aimed at resolving long pending features that were hurdling Windows Phone market share that stands at around 5 percent in smartphones market.

With Windows Phone 8 OS, smartphone manufacturers will now be able to develop multi-core smartphones with better than WVGA (or 800 x 480) displays. Earlier versions of Windows Phone OS (7 or even 7.5) restricted manufacturers for doing that as part of OS requirements.

Windows Phone 8 will also support external storage devices, unlike its earlier versions. Additionally, WP8 will finally bring native support for NFC.

As part of the announcement, Microsoft revealed new features, including Kid’s Corner and Rooms, along with details and pricing for a range of new smartphones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC, each with their own differentiated designs, colors and features.

Windows Phone 8 devices will go on sale in November at carriers and retailers around the world.

Here are windows phone 8 highlights:

Most Personal Smartphone

Live Tiles are the heart and soul of Windows Phone, and no other phone has them. People can arrange the iconic Start screen however they want by pinning their favorite people, apps, music, games, photos and more. Three sizes of Live Tiles and 20 bright color choices including cobalt, crimson and lime mean you can personalize your Start screen to be unmistakably yours.

In addition to Live Tiles, Windows Phone 8 offers a range of new features to make your smartphone experience even more personal, including these:

The only phone with Live Apps:

Live Apps bring information right to the Start screen, such as the Groupon deal of the day, flight information and news headlines. With Windows Phone 8, Live Apps such as Facebook can even deliver real-time information right to your lock screen with updated wallpaper.

Top apps.

The Windows Phone Store has 120,000 apps to choose from, with hundreds added every day and hits coming this holiday, such as “Angry Birds Star Wars,” “Cut the Rope Experiments,” “Disney’s Where’s My Water,” “LivingSocial,” “Temple Run,” “Urbanspoon” and many more. Today Microsoft announced that Pandora, the leading Internet radio service, is coming to Windows Phone in early 2013 with one year of ad-free music.

Kid’s Corner.

Exclusive to Windows Phone 8, Kid’s Corner is a worry-free way to share your phone with your kids, so they can play “Angry Birds” without texting your angry boss. Parents can now hand over their phones to the kids without worrying about deleted photos, misdirected emails, unapproved purchases or accidental phone calls.

After a simple setup, parents can activate a specialized place on the phone for kids to play — complete with their own customizable Start screens — where they can access only the apps, games, music and videos picked by parents.

Rooms.

Sometimes you want to share and chat with one group, not your entire social network. Rooms allow you to create private groups of people who have Windows Phone 8 — like your family members best friends or fantasy football league — and easily connect with just them. Chat, share calendars, shopping lists or photos in an ongoing conversation where only those invited can join in. You can share some aspects of Rooms with friends and family on other smartphones as well.

Data Sense.

This new feature helps you surf more and do more — without worrying about going over your data limit. Data sense helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits.

Data Sense also shows how much data is used per app. As you approach your limit, Data Sense notifies you so you can get the most out of your plan. Data Sense will roll out to select mobile operators this holiday and additional partners next year. Verizon will be the first to offer Data Sense in the U.S.

Wallet and near-field communications.

Windows Phone 8 brings together the best of new wallet technologies, including payments via near-field communications (NFC).(1) The Wallet can also store your debit, credit, loyalty and membership card information on your phone.

Always-on, premium Skype experience.

With the new Skype app, coming soon to Windows Phone 8, you can make and receive Skype calls just like a regular phone call. Simply tap a friend or family member’s contact card in the People Hub, or just pick up when the phone rings. Skype is always on and available so you can choose how to connect with people.

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Microsoft Signs Education Alliance Pact with HEC

To achieve these objectives in Pakistan, Microsoft Pakistan has entered into an Education Alliance Agreement with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to.

In essence, the Education Alliance Agreement between Microsoft and HEC will provide centralized IT services to HEC-approved universities across Pakistan while maintaining the highest standards in the use of Information Technology within the ambit of education in Pakistan.

Commenting on this major development in the country’s higher education sector, Kamal Ahmed, Country Manager, Microsoft Pakistan, said,

“This Education Alliance Agreement provides the framework for a comprehensive joint public/private implementation plan that supports Pakistan’s objective of achieving education excellence. It is aligned to the key strategic aims of Transforming Education, Fostering Local Innovation and Enabling Jobs and Opportunities, and contains a selection of mutually agreed programs and solutions that offer the tools and support to achieve the country’s overall vision pertaining to education.”

A key objective of the Agreement is to establish the basis of a long term, on-going partnership that will also allow for regular review and measurement to ensure that all  undertakings of Microsoft within the educational programs remain aligned to the long term.

Since it is always fruitful for the state sector and private enterprise to work together to combine expertise, knowledge, experience and resources to ensure successful and sustainable education transformation, Microsoft will help the HEC to attain its goals by transforming education, fostering local innovation and creating jobs and opportunities through this alliance.

This blends perfectly with the HEC’s stated objective of equipping university students and faculty with the latest technological access across Pakistan. The HEC is also committed to bridging the digital divide by bringing Pakistan at par with the developed nations of the world where technology enablement for the students is concerned.

Giving his views on the Agreement, Professor Dr. Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, said

“The Commission has entered into this joint partnership with Microsoft to promote the use of Information Technology in Pakistan’s higher education sector through powerful software tools and to improve the efficiency of the education system by attaining the best accepted standards at all higher education institutions in the country.”

Since a strong technology infrastructure serves to make communities more appealing to local, regional and global businesses and investors, deployment of technology access under the education alliance will help bolster Pakistan’s economic growth and global.

Discussing the merits of the agreement, Anwar Amjad, HEC’s Director IT, said,

“This is a great opportunity for institutions of higher learning in Pakistan to gain access to a broad spectrum of technology and enable the country to move towards a knowledge-based economy.”

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