Age of Empires Series Returns on Windows 8

Microsoft has far from abandoned their child Age of Empires and is readying a new version of the game. It will be fully presented at the PAX Prime 2014 that starts in a couple of days. Age of Empires: Castle Siege will be a Windows 8 exclusive and is a joint developed game between Microsoft itself and Smoking Gun Interactive Game Studios. The new game is specially designed to take advantage of touch-based devices with lot of swipe functions.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”600″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBU_D4FVYmY[/youtube]

The new game also allows you to connect with your friends through the Xbox Live portal and compete for the crown. The goal of the game is the usual you’re used to from the series, gather resources, build your castles, forts and armies and then attack the enemy players for the victory.

The player has six civilization to chose from, each with their unique cultural units. The game progress is saved between multiple Windows 8 devices if you should have more then one and it will feature in-game purchases to accelerate game play. The new Age of Empires has a size of 168MB and will only be available as digital download from the Windows stores.

Thank you Microsoft for providing this information

Image and video curtsey of Microsoft.

Microsoft Bringing 40 Xbox Live Games To Windows Phone 8 Devices

Running Windows Phone 8 or 8.1? Well Microsoft has just updated the list of available Xbox Live games that are available for Windows Phone 8 users. The list of Xbox Games from Microsoft Studios that are being updated to support Windows Phone 8.X is rather long, as shown below. The requirements for running these games is that you have 512MB of RAM and run Windows Phone 8 or 8.1. Most of the games are “older” ones that were available on Windows Phone 7 but were awaiting a port to Windows Phone 8. Anyone hoping to find favourites like Dodonpachi and Tentacles will be disappointed…

  • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  • Microsoft Mahjohng
  • Hexic
  • Shuffle Party
  • Rise of Glory
  • Avatar Gadgets
  • Microsoft Minesweeper
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Breeze
  • Parachute Panic
  • Jet Car Stunts WP
  • Max & the Magic Marker
  • Farm Frenzy 2
  • AlphaJax
  • ilomilo
  • Crimson Dragon: Side Story
  • Fusion Sentient
  • Z0MB1ES (on teh ph0ne)
  • I Dig It
  • BulletAsylum
  • Harbor Master
  • Big Buck Hunter Pro
  • Game Room – Pitfall!
  • Lode Runner Classic
  • Hexic Rush
  • Mush
  • Game Chest: Solitaire Edition
  • Game Room – Asteroids Deluxe
  • Implode!
  • Game Room – Centipede
  • CarneyVale: Showtime
  • iBlast Moki
  • Cro-Mag Rally
  • Hasta La Muerte
  • Crafting Guide
  • Glow Artisan
  • Game Room – Lunar Lander
  • UFC on Xbox LIVE

Source: WPCentral

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft Mistakenly Presents WhatsApp For Windows 8

Microsoft unintentionally revealed some never-before-seen Windows 8.X apps at its Worldwide Partner Conference yesterday. In a presentation given by marketing executive Tony Prophet Microsoft discussed the progress they have been making with their Windows 8 Apps and their Windows App Store. Upon the demonstration system running desktop Windows 8 Microsoft paraded apps for WhatsApp, WeChat and Pandora: three apps not seen before on Windows 8. Just as everyone started to get excited by the new apps it turns out that these apps will not be made available on the Windows 8 platform after all, they are merely Windows Phone 8 apps that Microsoft mis-presented. WhatsApp’s business head even came out to confirm it was a mistake by Microsoft and that they are not developing WhatsApp for any desktop or notebook platforms. Good job Microsoft…

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of Softpedia

Nokia Lumia 520 Is Best Selling Windows Phone Of All Time – 12 Million Units

We’ve already heard from Microsoft that Windows Phone has grown a staggering 91% year on year. This explosive growth has been fuelled largely by budget Windows Phones like the Nokia Lumia 520 pictured above. The Lumia 520 is the best selling Windows Smartphone having shifted a whopping 12 million units since its release.

The popularity of the Lumia 520 has come from its attractive price point and reasonable specifications: an 800 x 480 IPS display at 233 PPI, 8GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, microSD expansion, HSDPA support and a dual-core 1GHz processor. Microsoft and Nokia have since replaced the Lumia 520 with the Lumia 630 but it remains to be seen if the replacement can prove as popular. The Lumia 630 is still limited by the same 512MB of RAM the Lumia 520 had despite the fact it is supposed to be a newer and better model.

The Nokia Lumia 520 can currently be had for around $100 in its SIM-free form in the USA, while in the UK it can be had for about £80 SIM-free.

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of Nokia

Windows Phone Store Reaches 255,000 Apps, 10 Million Downloads Per Day

It has been a long journey for Microsoft in the smartphone market but it finally looks like things are on the up for them since they acquired Nokia who have become increasingly popular. The latest indicator of Microsoft’s growing success in the smartphone market comes from their own Windows Phone Store where the number of Apps has hit a staggering 255,000 – that’s more than Amazon’s Appstore which has 240,000 apps. What’s more the Windows Phone Store now boasts an incredible 10 million app downloads per day. While the bulk of the downloads continue to be top cross-platform apps like Instagram and Vine there is increasing demand for Windows Phone and Nokia exclusive apps according to Microsoft. Furthermore the Windows Phone store boasts 510,000 registered Windows Phone developers busy generating apps for an incredibly fast-growing platform. Every day an additional 500 apps are added to the store.

While impressive the figures pale in comparison to Google’s Play Store which has 1.5 million apps as of this month, that’s 6 times as many as the Windows Phone Store.

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 8 Usage Growing Rapidly In Canada

It isn’t news to say that Windows 8 has had a tough time in many markets and uptake had been fairly slow. However, in the last year Microsoft’s newest OS has gained significant traction and new data from the Sage Group suggests that in the last year Windows 8 uptake has surged, at least in Canada it has. Between 2013 and 2014 the share of Windows 8 running on Canadian desktops increased by 19%, taking it from less than a tenth to over a quarter of the entire market. A similar trend was observed in laptops but to Microsoft’s surprise gains were also made in both the tablet and smartphone markets. The below figures include Windows 8.1 and Windows 8, irrespective of whether users have made the upgrade or not, and they also include Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 for smartphones and Windows RT 8 and 8.1 for tablets. It isn’t clear why Microsoft has made such significant gains over the past year but a combination of the retirement of Windows XP, the success of Nokia Lumia sales and the growing popularity of Windows 8 based tablets and ultrabooks probably has a lot to do with it.

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of Sage Group

Windows Phone 8.1 Expected In June-August, Developer Preview In April

WMPowerUser report that the Windows Phone 8.1 update is going to be happening much later than anticipated. Apparently the developer preview release of Windows Phone 8.1 will not be arriving until April with the official release coming about two months after that. This means consumers with Windows Phone 8.1 upgradeable handsets will probably have to wait until at least June but possibly as late as August to get their update. New devices running Windows Phone 8.1 will also be expected in the same time period, with most of them coming from Nokia and HTC.

The developer preview will be made available in April to developers, or anyone with an app studio account. There was a similar launch pattern with Windows Phone 7 which showed up in leaks in early 2012 before finally launching to new handsets and as an update to existing handsets in October 2012. If this is how long it is going to take to get a good update then we are sure most users will be happy, rather than having an incomplete and buggy update pushed out early. What do you think about the Windows Phone 8.1 update? Is it taking too long or are you happy to wait?

Image courtesy of WinBeta

Windows Phone 8.1 “Action Center” Notification Area Revealed

At April’s BUILD conference Microsoft is expected to unveil its newest mobile OS, Windows Phone 8.1. Ahead of that conference some leaked images about the update have been revealed showing what Microsoft is calling the “Action Center” which is essence the centralised area for viewing and managing notifications within Windows Phone 8.1. The Action Center has things like a driving mode, WiFi management, Airplane mode and Bluetooth management. There is also a “clear all” function to remove all notifications from the Action center and an all settings which presumably takes you into the main settings of the Windows Phone 8.1 OS.

Notifications in the Action Center are grouped by application making it easier to manage notifications, for example you can easily get rid of regular abundant notifications from apps like Facebook or Twitter. Apps can also have the ability to silently add notifications and delete or update existing apps. The Action Center can be used from within a full screen app by swiping down from the top of the screen in an app to reveal a blue tab which can then be pulled down to fully access the Action Center.

Image courtesy of Winphollowers

Archos Confirms Plans to Release Windows Phone 8 Handset

Other OEMs are rumored to not be happy with Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s hardware and services division, which happens to be the largest OEM manufacturer in the world. Nokia’s Windows Phone has accounted for 92% of the entire markets share last year, though not a lot of OEMs made Windows Phone devices.

However, that’s about to change this year since Archos is planning to do a Windows Phone handset, since Archos CEO stated that it will launch a Windows Phone device when it believes ‘the time is right’. Well that time is this year, and it is just about right for it.

Archos CEO, Loic Poirier, believes that WP market is now mature enough to enter, though that doesn’t mean Archos is going to shift focus entirely from Android. Google’s mobile operating system will continue to be a major part of Archos’ future. Archos is not the only OEM that has committed to Windows Phone recently, both Alcatel and ZTE have announced their own plans as well.

This undoubtedly serves Microsoft’s interests, as it looks to expand Windows Phone’s market share, having more OEMs onboard will enable its platform to reach millions of potential customers in markets where it hasn’t been that strong.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

Lumia 1320 Battery Test Show It Beats Nearly All Android Competitors In Web Surfing

The Lumia smartphone has its appeal, and together with the Windows Phone 8 tiles, it really does brighten your day. And the mid-end Lumia 1320 looks to be one of the best budget phones so far. It has a great design, big screen, light-weight and fair specifications. Latest news also bring some more good news for people who spend more time outdoors than on a couch inside the house.

According to GSM Arena battery test benchmark, the smartphone has scored big on the battery side as well. The Lumia 1320 scored similar points in 3G talk time tests as the Lumia 1020, 22 hours and 13 minutes, a mere 6 minutes behind the BlackBerry Z30 and 6 hours behind the Lumia 1520. When it comes to web browsing, the Lumia 1320 scored almost 12 hours (11:58 minutes to be more precise), which is not too bad given its 6″ IPS LCD screen. It is reported to be ahead of nearly all Android competition, having the Sony Xperia C score 12 hours and 45 minutes and HTC One Max 11 hours and 20 minutes.

Now, for the more interesting part, the video playback. The Lumia 1320 has reportedly scored 9 hours and 17 minutes, beating the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3’s time of 8 hours and 34 minutes. However, the Lumia 1320 should have been expected to score similar to the Lumia 1520 or 1020, however the latter handsets scored 12 hours and 31 minutes and respectively 13 hours and 12 minutes. This indicates that the Lumia 1320 needs a little optimization in utilizing resources when playing back videos.

Overall, the score really does match the Lumia 1320’s performance, and even price. The handset is priced at $429.99 on Amazon.com and £366.99 on Amazon.co.uk.

Thank you

Microsoft Confirms That Windows Phone 8 Will Be Upgradeable to Windows Phone 8.1

When Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 7 could not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 when it first got released, WP7 users were not too happy about it. Some have even wondered if the same fate will be seen for Windows Phone 8 users when 8.1 comes along. However, according to a Microsoft official, that won’t be the case, meaning phones running on Windows Phone 8 will be able to upgrade to the updated version of the OS.

“We will not have the same experience as we had when Windows Phone 7 was upgraded to Windows Phone 8,” said Greg Sullivan, Windows Phone director of public relations at Microsoft, speaking to Computerworld at CES. ”We won’t run out of head space on Windows Phone 8 any time soon.”

It wouldn’t have made any sense not to be able to upgrade since the incompatibility between Windows 7 and 8 was due to a shift to a new kernel. Windows Phone 8.1 won’t see such a major change in its core, meaning current handsets would be compatible with updated versions of the OS for the foreseeable future.

This doesn’t mean all Windows Phone 8 handsets will be updated to 8.1, as it will be dependent on manufacturers and carriers whether they wish to upgrade an existing device or not. But an upgrade path will certainly be available, and we should find out which handsets will be making the jump around the same time Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8.1.

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information

HP Reportedly May Launch New Smartphones Next Year

Hewlett-Packard is reportedly planning to introduce a few phablets with screen sizes of six and seven-inches. The news comes from The Information (via T3).

According to the report, the devices will be aimed at developing markets and cost between £125 to £150 without a contract. The company pulled out of the smartphone market in 2011, following its failed attempt to turn Palm’s assets into a viable business. HP subsequently dumped its plans to use WebOS as an alternative to Windows on a number of devices. It is unknown if the rumoured smartphones will be powered by WebOS, Android or possibly even Windows Phone 8.

Rumours that HP was considering returning to the smartphone market originally surfaced in 2012 when CEO Meg Whitman told Fox Business Network that the company was considering returning to the smartphone market.

That was followed up earlier this year by more reports claiming that HP would soon re-enter the fray. However, at the time the company was only said to be considering a return. No handsets were said to be being planned; rather, the company was looking at a timetable to return to the market.

Thank you T3 for providing us with this information

Windows Phone Users To Be Given 20 GB of Free Skydrive Storage

Microsoft made a move and made available 20 GB of free storage to all Windows Phone users, as a holiday season Christmas Special. All Windows Phone users will be able to claim 20 GB of free SkyDrive storage that’s active for a year, so long as you click the link before the end of January.

The 20 GB of cloud storage is in addition to the free 7 GB, or 25 GB for early adopters, already offered by the service. If you happen to have an Office 365 subscription, you’ll likely find yourself with over 50 GB of storage available in Microsoft’s cloud. Even more if you claimed the free 200 GB for two years that comes with any Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 purchase.

As a suggestion, one of the best uses for the heap of free cloud space is to enable automatic full-resolution backups of your Windows Phone camera photos over Wi-Fi. Smartphone photos, especially those taken by the 41-megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020, can occupy quite a bit of space, which is where the extra 20 GB can come in handy.

The offer is currently available for Windows Phone 8 users, but it should be available for the majority of Windows Phone users.

Thank you TechSport for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TechSport

Nokia Adds Bluetooth LE To All Windows Phone 8 Lumia Handsets

Nokia is going to release an update which will add the latest low-energy version of Bluetooth to all Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8. It was released for the Lumia 520, Lumia 620, Lumia 625 and Lumia 720, and now will arrive for the rest of the Lumia smartphones through the Lumia Black update, as Nokia calls it.

The Bluetooth LE has a number of features but the most important is low-energy consumption. Built into Bluetooth 4.0, the low-energy technology lets you pair your phone with special accessories designed for health and fitness, among other areas. With Bluetooth LE, the accessory’s battery charge also lasts considerable longer than it would, using an older version of Bluetooth.

The low-power consumption feature is a key factor in today’s smartphones. Having a handset run a variety of apps, including internet connectivity for social media, news apps, etc., and listening to your favorite tunes on wireless headphones will gobble up a lot of battery. Therefore any low-power consumption features are welcome anytime.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Nokia Lumia 525 Specifications Leak Head Of Launch

MyNokiaBlog has managed to get access to the full specifications of the Nokia Lumia 525 ahead of its launch. The Nokia Lumia 525 will be the successor to the exceedingly popular Nokia Lumia 520, which along with the Lumia 620, led Nokia’s charge towards increasing their market share by capturing the budget end of the market. The Lumia 525 features a 4 inch IPS LCD touch screen display with a modest 480 x 800 resolution that still gives an impressive 233ppi. The screen is also said to feature 2D hardened glass and super sensitive touch for finger nail and glove usage.

Internally the Lumia 525 has 1GB of RAM, double that of the Lumia 520, and it is said to have a 1GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. There is 8GB of internal memory and a microSD slot for up to a further 64GB. SkyDrive users will also get 7GB of free cloud storage.  The battery is a 1430mAh Li-Ion design and the operating system will be the latest version of Windows Phone 8, GD3.

The Nokia Lumia 525 measures in at 119.9 x 64 x 9.9mm and weighs 124g (battery included). In terms of networks it is compatible with WCDMA 900/2100, 850/1900/2100, GSM/EDGE 850/900/18000/1900 and offers HSPA+ (21mbps) download speeds. Connectivity includes WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, microUSB and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Pricing is still to be announced but expect it to be similarly priced to the Lumia 520 that it succeeds.

Image courtesy of Baidu Tieba

Windows Phone Excessive Data Use Caused By Built-In Twitter Feature

Microsoft has indeed confirmed that there’s an issue with its built-in Twitter feature and that could result in unexpected data usage. The issue is said to originate from a Twitter back-end change that has caused Windows Phones to re-download the profile images for Twitter contacts frequently. Twitter is currently transitioning its profile pictures from one server to another, and The Verge discovered the data use problem nearly a week ago and reported it to the software giant.

Their device was said to have used over 300MB of mobile data and over 3GB of Wi-Fi data in under a week. All of it consumed by one application, the People Hub. All of it consumed by one application, the People Hub. Apparently, the data drains occur even if the People Hub is not used and a start date for the issue also could not be determined. Users however confirmed even more substantial data drains, of over 500MB, which apparently is an issue for 500MB or 1GB monthly data subscribers.

Microsoft is thankfully working on a fix, but is limited in terms of methods to use for order to address the issue due to it being a backend Twitter change. For now, removing your Twitter account from the Windows Phone will certainly stop the data drainage until Twitter finishes migrating its servers. A quick change has also been implemented by Microsoft to sync the Twitter account once a day in order to reduce the impact.

For those of you who are worried about the issue and still want to use Twitter on your Windows Mobile handsets, the Data Sense application can be of help to track your mobile usage and ensure you don’t pass your data limit.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Microsoft Says Windows Phone May Be Small Still But It’s Growing Fast

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is still a small operating system by today’s standards but their Vice President Joe Belfiore says that’s going to change in the future because Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 may be small now but it’s growing fast.

The Windows Phone 8 OS has started to grow exponentially in recent times, largely driven by huge sales of the affordable device pictured above – the Lumia 520 from Nokia.

“We’re small, but growing fast…We’ll take it.” Said Belfiore to AllThingsD.

Belfiore claims that Microsoft Windows Phone team are working hard behind the scenes to bring the functionality of WP8 up to the standards of Android and iOS. Belfiore stated that a lot of the work being done on WP8 is behind the scenes so people do not always notice:

“The work we are doing is valuable, and a lot of people aren’t aware of it”

That said he still believes one of the best ways WP8 can grow is by continuing to attract app developers, but ultimately one of the main drawbacks of WP8 has been and still is the lack of key apps. Microsoft announced a major WP8 update on Monday which added features like a driving mode and improved storage management as well as support for 1080p displays and quad core processors.

Image courtesy of Nokia

Nokia Lumia 1520 Full Specifications And Pricing Revealed

Some fresh reports from NokiaPowerUser have revealed the specifications and pricing for the upcoming Nokia Lumia 1520 handset, pictured above. The key specifications can be seen below:

  • Display: 6 inch AMOLED PureMotion HD+ display at 1920 x 1080 which is 367~ PPI
  • CPU: 2GHz MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 quad core processor
  • GPU: Adreno 330 graphics
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Operating System: Windows Phone 8
  • Internal storage: 32GB or 64GB
  • Cameras: 20.7 megapixel rear with Zeiss Optics (panorama compatible)
  • Connectivity: MicroSD and Nano-SIM
  • Network support: 4G (LTE), 3G (HSDPA) and 2G (GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 all versions)
  • Dimensions:  152 x 81 x 8.7mm
  • Weight: 176/185 grams (AT&T/Global versions)
  • Battery:  3400 mAh with inbuilt wireless charging for the global variant
  • Colours: Black, White, Yellow and Red

The handset is expected to launch on October 22nd and will be made available first on AT&T on November 2nd. On contract the device will cost $299 while SIM-free and off-contract it costs $699. Global availability is expected for December.

See more details on the Nokia Lumia 1520 here.

Image courtesy of EVLeaks

Windows Phone 8.1 To Support 10″ Tablets

While Microsoft is working hard to integrate the two platforms of theirs, those being the ARM dependent Windows RT and their Windows Phone platform, here’s something that confirms the impending demise of the former in favor of the latter.

The rumor is that Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 GDR3 software update will bring more than just support for 1080p displays and quad-core processors. Amongst all the new features, the real game changer would be the addition of support for 10″ displays to the Windows Phone platform. This can only mean one thing, that the days of Windows RT is numbered, and the merging of the two platforms will happen sooner than we had initially anticipated.

We already heard that the GDR3 Windows Phone updatemight add support for 5- to 6-inch devices, but it seems the update after that – the Windows Phone 8.1 release, code named “Blue” – might push that even farther, although this obviously infringes on Windows RT/8.x tablets, so it’s not clear what the thinking is there.

Compatibility with more devices is generally a good thing, but there are few key questions that signal extending Windows Phone 8.1 to tablet-sized devices may not be a great idea. One question that Microsoft should take into consideration is the possibility to maintain and explain three different operating systems that are all on devices of the same size. Another question that is unclear is what will be left standing between the Windows 8 and RT that are currently battling over 10-inch displays if Windows Phone 8 tablets of the same size join the trio.

Finally, probably the most encountered question that everyone heard of, will the Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 eventually merge. It’s time for Microsoft to clarify their actions for current and future Windows users.

Thank you TechPowerUp and TechRadar for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp.

Official Press Images Of The Nokia Lumia 1520 Have Been Leaked

For those who were impatiently waiting for Nokia to introduce their newly anticipated Lumia 1520 phablet, @evleaks have posted on their Twitter page an official image of the new Nokia Lumia 1520. Not only is this device the Finnish company’s first attempt at making phablets, it is also a first for Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform.

The Windows Phone 8 powered smartphone is very colorful and eye-catching, just like any other Lumia phone. You can clearly see extra added layer of Live Tiles, making the Windows Phone 8 powered aesthetically fantastic. The Nokia Lumia 1520 to come with Windows Phone 8 mobile OS with GDR3 update. With the upcoming GDR3 update, you will see handsets to be launched with this update would feature bigger high-resolution displays, a quad-core processor and sizzling camera at the rear.

We expect the Nokia Lumia 1520 to feature a 6-inch FHD 1080p resolution Super AMOLED display. The phone will have top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC( quad-core) with 2GB of RAM and 16GB/32GB of ROM (expandable up to 64GB via a microSD card slot). The camera will have a 20MP PureView shooter and a 2.1MP front facing camera.

Nokia is hosting Nokia World on October 22 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The expected off-contract pricing is North of $700 ( £437 ).

Thank you GizBot for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of @evleaks.

The Best Selling Windows Product Is….The Lumia 520!

Microsoft’s recent internal meeting revealed a whole host of interesting information. According to the details of that internal meeting the best selling Windows product is actually a phone. In fact it is the Nokia Lumia 520, so it is hardly surprising that Microsoft decided they wanted to buy Nokia’s handset division. Recent figures suggested that the Lumia 520 accounted for about 32% of all Windows Phone 8 devices. If you consider that Nokia’s other Windows Phones also account for another 56% then it is easy to see why Microsoft is pinning its hopes on Nokia to help get more Windows products out there.

For Nokia this is a great success but for Microsoft it isn’t so impressive. It means that the Surface tablets and Windows 8 push have all been relatively mediocre. Microsoft made huge investments into Windows 8 and Surface and spent nearly $1.5 billion combined advertising those two products. Yet the humble Nokia Lumia 520 has managed to trump that just by being a solid value for money handset. Indeed Microsoft should have taken note of the Lumia 520 design philosophy when developing their latest generation of Surface tablets. Those new Surface tablets start at a hefty £359/$449 for the Surface 2 Windows 8.1 RT tablet and £719/$899 for the Surface Pro 2 full Windows 8.1 tablet. Microsoft will probably sit back in another 6 months time and wonder why the new Surface generation has failed to inspire the market yet again. Nexus 7 tablets starting from £199/$229 anyone?

Image courtesy of Nokia

Microsoft Will Focus On Entry-Level Smartphones Over Next 12 Months

Networkworld.com reports that Microsoft’s intention for the next year is to expand aggressively in the entry-level smartphone market. Microsoft’s Vice President for advertising and online marketing apparently stated that:

“We are going to spend a lot of time in the next 12 months building a real presence on the low-end smartphone market with developing countries.”

Indeed Microsoft’s strategy seems sensible as the Nokia Lumia 520 is currently the best selling Windows Phone 8 device according to recent statistics. With Microsoft in total control of Nokia’s handset division, and Nokia currently excelling at the entry level part of the market, it seems logical for Microsoft to push the entry level Lumias.

While Western smartphone markets at the mid to high-end have been crowded out by fierce competition from the likes of Samsung, LG, Apple and HTC it seems sensible for Microsoft to not only pursue the entry level part of the market (where most of the money is) but also emerging markets in developing countries (where most of the money will be in the future).

As a result of this new strategy from Microsoft we can probably expect to see a range of handsets from Nokia that are more entry level than the Lumia 520, aka below it, to assist with expanding into the developing markets.

Image courtesy of Nokia

Microsoft Is Apparently Close To Unifying Its App Stores

The Windows Store

Microsoft is rumoured to be close to completing the unification of its two separate app stores. Currently Microsoft’s Windows Store and Windows Phone Store are both separate but if ZDNet’s reports are accurate then we could see the two stores unified in time for the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system next month. Microsoft apparently already demo’d a single app portal for Windows and the Windows Phone behind closed doors at its annual company meeting in Seattle.

The Windows Phone Store

The speculation aligns with recent comments made by Microsoft’s Terry Myerson who explained that a unification of Microsoft’s platforms and APIs was high up the agenda. Of course he didn’t specifically state that the two app stores would be combined but a unification of the two would be a logical extension of his comments.

Images courtesy of Microsoft

Nokia Account For 88% Of Windows Phone 8 Devices

According to statistics from analytic company AdDuplex Nokia accounts for the lion’s share of shipped Windows Phone 8 devices in the world. In fact Nokia accounts for 88.4% of the Windows Phone 8 market, followed by HTC with 8.5%, Samsung with 1.9% and Huawei with 1.2%. This is hardly surprising as Nokia’s complete dominance of the Windows Phone 8 market is the main reason behind why Microsoft decided to buy Nokia’s mobile handset division earlier this month for $7.2 billion.

In terms of the most popular Windows Phone 8 handsets Nokia’s Lumia 520 leads the way by quite a substantial margin. The Lumia 920, 620, 820 and 720 make up the rest of the big Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices. HTC’s market share of 8.5% is mainly due to the HTC 8X which accounts for 56% of their market presence while the HTC 82 is also popular.

Windows Phone 8 is also doing a good job of phasing out Windows Phone 7 devices and WP8 now outnumbers WP7 by around 2:1.

Images courtesy of AdDuplex

Nokia Had Functional Android-Powered Lumia Smartphones Before Microsoft Deal

The New York Times (via AndroidCentral) reports that Nokia was actively testing Lumia smartphones with the Android OS before the Microsoft deal was agreed. This is hardly surprising news as it had long been speculated that Nokia would opt for Android smartphones in an effort to boost sales of its handsets.

A conversation with your average smartphone buyer would probably tell you that the reason Nokia’s Lumia handsets are often overlooked is because of the fact they use the Windows Phone OS. While a lot of people do buy Nokia phones specifically for the Windows Phone OS, a lot more people avoid them to opt for Android instead – rightly or wrongly is not something that I’ll dare comment on. Nokia apparently recognised this tentative position of the Windows Phone OS and was trialling Android on their Lumia series as a back-up plan if sales didn’t improve.

The report from the New York Times suggests that Nokia had functional Android-powered Lumia handsets in testing and development before they entered negotiations with Microsoft. The source of the report claims that Android powered Lumia phones weren’t used as a bargaining tool by Nokia in the negotiations with Microsoft. Since Microsoft now owns Nokia’s smartphone division we will probably never see an Android powered Nokia smartphone make it to market.

Image courtesy of Technobuffalo.com

Windows Phone Store To Get Targeted Ads, Passes 9 Million Daily Transactions

The Next Web reports that the Windows Phone Store has passed 9 million daily transactions putting the monthly total at around 270 milion. That is up a staggering 70 million since June when CEO Steve Ballmer reported it was around 200 million per month. Microsoft is continuing to streamline payments from carrirers so that developers are eligible for payouts every 30 days.

It isn’t all good news though as Microsoft will be implementing targeted ads into the Windows Phone store in an effort to make more revenue with advertising partners. Microsoft will issue all Windows Phone devices with unique device IDs to help target ads, though users will be opt out on the Microsoft website and Microsoft claims these unique device IDs won’t expose any personal information.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Nokia’s Lumia 1520 Launch Is Now Delayed To October 22nd From September 26th

EVLeaks have reported that the launch of Nokia’s Lumia 1520 “phablet” has been pushed back to October 22nd from the current release date of September 26th. Neither Nokia or Microsoft have confirmed whether such a push-back is correct but enough people in the mobile industry and media seem to think this is the case. The planned media event in New York City on September 26th is apparently now delayed but no reasons have been given for the delay.

In terms of specifications we reported in an earlier article that:

“The Lumia 1520 is reported to have a 3400 mAh battery alongside the latest Windows Phone 8 GD3 operating system. The large 3400mAh battery is larger than that of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which uses a 3200 mAh battery. The hardware should include a 1920 x 1080 full HD display – which is a 6 inch capacitive and internally a Snapdragon 800 SoC is at the core. A 20MP PureView camera provides all your photography and video needs while 32GB of memory is complimented by a microSD card slot for expansion.”

Fans of Nokia’s Lumia series will have to wait just that little bit longer to get their hands on the largest ever Windows smartphone.

Image courtesy of EVLeaks