Next Windows Phone User/Developer Group Meeting–Wednesday, November 16#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will be held on Wednesday, November 16th starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

For our featured presentation this month, we will be focusing on developing Microsoft Push Notification Service (“MPNS”) applications.

If you are a Windows Phone developer, leveraging the Microsoft Push Notification Service, or “MPNS”, can add a great deal of additional functionality, including making your application tiles come to life with real-time information. Best of all – adding MPNS capabilities are not as difficult as you might think.

In this presentation, we will add MPNS functionality to an existing application in a step-by-step fashion, making sure that we employ the best practices for creating toast and tile notifications for a Windows Phone client application.

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

11/01/2011 11:40:16 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Code Camp 16 Presentation Deck Available for Download#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Thanks to everyone who attended my Code Camp 16 presentation this morning in Waltham, MA. As promised, here is the slide deck (in PDF form) of my presentation.

Also – for those who wanted the complete sample application used to demonstrate during this session, please visit the “Get to Windows Phone 7.5 #7: Using Push Notifications with Secondary Tiles and Deep Toast” tutorial on the App Hub web site.

10/29/2011 16:52:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

NAVIGON Launches First Stand Alone On-Board Navigation App for Windows Phone 7 Smartphones#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

NAVIGON (my current favorite in mobile navigation) has launched the first on-board navigation app on the Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform. This means the application won’t consume data downloading maps similar to a stand alone GPS, the maps are downloaded onto your device upon installation. The application is available now in the Windows Phone Marketplace at an introductory price of $29.99 until 11/15/11 when it will return to the regular price of $49.99. This first to platform full featured Navigon app includes spoken turn-by-turn directions, visual lane guidance, live traffic information and rerouting provided by INRIX, as well as many other features. 

Editorial use only in direct correlation with Deutsche Telekom AG. / Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im direkten Zusammenhang mit Diensten der Deutschen Telekom AG
HTC 7 Mozart Deutsche Telekom AG

NAVIGON’s new app runs on Windows Phone 7.5 and also takes advantage of several new features now made available to developers with this new release. These features include the augmented reality function Reality Scanner, which provides an instant and effortless way of identifying nearby destinations while on foot; an option to select address information directly from the phone’s contact list; and the ability to save a favorite or home address as a shortcut on the start screen.

Editorial use only in direct correlation with Deutsche Telekom AG. / Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im direkten Zusammenhang mit Diensten der Deutschen Telekom AG
HTC 7 Mozart Deutsche Telekom AG
Editorial use only in direct correlation with Deutsche Telekom AG. / Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im direkten Zusammenhang mit Diensten der Deutschen Telekom AG
HTC 7 Mozart Deutsche Telekom AG
Editorial use only in direct correlation with Deutsche Telekom AG. / Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung im direkten Zusammenhang mit Diensten der Deutschen Telekom AG
HTC 7 Mozart Deutsche Telekom AG

NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7 features include:

  • NAVIGON MyRoutes: The app includes routing technology built upon NAVIGON’s 20 years of experience in the navigation industry, so users get the most reliable routes available. The MyRoutes feature provides customized route suggestions with up to three different choices based on the user’s driving style.
  • Reality View Pro and Lane Assistant Pro: Reality View Pro feature clearly displays photo-realistic views of actual highway/interstate signs, exits, and lane guide markers so users can see lane changes and exits in advance. Lane Assistant Pro prepares drivers to make an upcoming exit or turn with a lane map complete with arrows and actual road geometry.
  • NAVTEQ® maps: NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7 uses one of the most robust and accurate geographic databases in the world, providing the most accurate map data and points-of-interest information. The superiority of NAVTEQ® maps is defined by its verified accuracy, content richness, and its breadth of coverage data.
  • Traffic Live: NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7—using real-time traffic information available from industry leader INRIX—alerts drivers to traffic problems and automatically calculates alternative routes so they can avoid congestion and save time.
  • Reality Scanner: Reality Scanner is an augmented reality feature, providing an instant and effortless way of identifying nearby destinations. Users simply point their smartphone in any direction to see points-of-interest icons appear directly onto a live camera view, making it easy to find destinations on foot.
  • NAVIGON Shortcut: Save any address as a shortcut to the Windows Phone 7 start screen. This allows users to start navigating, for example to their home address, with only one click.
  • Speed Assistant: Drivers can potentially avoid costly tickets by receiving alerts when they’re speeding and getting notified of speed and red light cameras before they pass them.

NAVIGON traffic4all Windows 7 App

Traffic4allTraffic4all2Traffic4all3Traffic4all4

In addition to its turn-by-turn navigation app for Windows Phone 7, NAVIGON also announced a free traffic app: traffic4all helps drivers to avoid gridlock and save time by providing a clear overview of traffic conditions. NAVIGON developed an intuitive user interface that displays traffic incidents on a map with a single hit of a button. Colored road overlays indicate traffic flow, ranging from green for normal to red for traffic congestion or black/white for blocked roads. The app also allows users to plan ahead and look up traffic forecasts by entering a specific time and location.

traffic4all uses traffic information from NAVIGON’s partner INRIX. The leading traffic expert covers more roads than any other provider, delivering real-time traffic information that extends beyond major highways and interstates covering more than two million miles in North America and Europe.

Pricing and Availability

NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7 includes on-board NAVTEQ maps for the USA and is available for $49.99 in the Windows Marketplace. NAVIGON offers a special introductory price of $29.99 until November 15, 2011.

NAVIGON traffic4all is available at no cost in the Windows Phone Marketplace. An upgrade option for $1.49 turns off the integrated ads

PRESS RELEASE

NAVIGON Launches First On-Board Navigation App for Windows Phone 7 Smartphones

Premium GPS App for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) Provides Turn-by-Turn Directions without a Cell Phone Signal, NAVIGON also Releases Free traffic4all App

Hamburg, Germany, October 11, 2011,—NAVIGON AG, a leading provider of mobile phone on-board navigation, today announced the launch of the first on-board navigation app for Windows Phone 7 smartphones. NAVIGON’s app is available for Windows Phone 7.5 users and takes advantage of new features made available to developers with this new release such as the ability to save an address to the start screen. In addition, NAVIGON also launches a free traffic app for Windows Phone 7, traffic4all.

Similar to a standalone navigation device, NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7 works in areas without a cell phone signal, so users can get directions and information anytime, anywhere. Other navigation apps for Windows Phone 7 are dependent on a cell phone connection to download map and routing data. Therefore, no cell signal can render navigation useless or interrupted until a connection is reestablished.

“We are pleased to bring our award-winning navigation app to Windows Phone 7,” said Gerhard Mayr, NAVIGON vice-president of worldwide mobile phones and new markets. “The app includes many of the same signature features that have made NAVIGON’s apps successful on other platforms, such as Android and iPhone. The user interface is fully customized to the Windows Phone 7 experience, so users of this platform will feel right at home…”

NAVIGON for Windows Phone 7 includes spoken turn-by-turn directions, visual lane guidance, live traffic information and rerouting, among many other features. NAVIGON’s new app runs on Windows Phone 7.5 and also takes advantage of new features made available to developers with this new release. These features include the augmented reality function Reality Scanner, which provides an instant and effortless way of identifying nearby destinations while on foot; an option to select address information directly from the phone’s contact list; and the ability to save a favorite or home address as a shortcut on the start screen.

Additional features include Google Local Search, which allows users to find local points-of-interest instantly; one-tap access to help users find critical services such as hospitals and police stations in case of an emergency; and the ability to select address information directly from the phone’s contact list.

10/12/2011 18:00:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Sonos is now Playing at Target Stores Near You#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Sonos has traditionally been mostly available at online stores, several high-end Audio/Video stores and BestBuy, but they have just announced they are now going to be available at Target 

sonos target

You can order the SONOS PLAY:3, SONOS PLAY:5, and SONOS BRIDGE online now. If you have an Android or iOS based device you can control your Sonos system via the free downloadable app.

If your device supports DLNA you can stream music directly from your device to the SONOS system including different zones over your WiFi network.I have been successful in streaming content from several Windows Phones the LG Quantum via the Play To app, HTC HD7 & Surround via and Samsung Focus & Omnia 7 via the AllShare app.

10/12/2011 12:34:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone Camp Boston#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Microsoft is delivering two days of full of instruction on everything you will need to know on how to develop a Windows Phone application at the Marriott Boston in Cambridge on the October 12-13th.

wp7 build

Windows Phone 7.5 (codename: Mango) is here – and we want to give you the upper hand on this new release. Windows Phone Camps are free, hands-on events designed to deliver everything you need to develop and publish a Windows Phone application. The camps are ideal for students and seasoned developers alike, whether you create for Windows Phone, Android, Symbian, Web OS, or iPhone. Interested in making money? We'll lead discussions on how to earn money from your applications and generate buyers for your apps. We'll also be sharing recent innovations, inside tricks, and a wealth of Windows Phone know-how.

Don't miss the new Windows Phone 7.5 (codename "Mango") features as well - with detailed sessions in the afternoon around Fast Application Switching, Multitasking, Live Tiles, Push Notifications, and more.

The day will be capped with an open lab hands-on session and prizes for apps completed. This is the perfect opportunity to begin work on your dream application, or finish that app you've already started, with Windows Phone experts there to guide you every step of the way. Bring your own laptop to join in the fun and show off your killer app!

Day 1 Agenda: October 12th

08:00 AM - Arrival and Registration                                         
09:00 AM - Windows Phone Overview  
09:45 AM - How to get started building Windows Phone Apps with Visual Studio
10:45 AM - Break

11:00 AM - Frameworks for fun and profit (part 1) – Building apps with Silverlight
12:00 PM - Lunch                                            

01:00 PM - Frameworks for fun and profit (part 2) – Building games with XNA
02:00 PM - Live Tiles and Push Notifications        
03:15 PM - Break                                            

03:30 PM - Windows Phone 7.5 Fast Application Switching, Tombstoning and Multitasking

04:30 PM - How to make money with your Windows Phone App              
05:00 PM - What’s Next/Resources                       

05:00 PM - Event Ends 

To register for Day 1 head here.

The second day will be capped with an open lab hands-on session and prizes for apps completed. This is the perfect opportunity to begin work on your dream application, or finish that app you've already started, with Windows Phone experts there to guide you every step of the way. Bring your own laptop to join in the fun and show off your killer app!  We will have lightning talks with noted industry experts, experts in migrating apps to Windows Phone, and cloud experts on hand to talk about scaling your apps through cloud solutions.

Day 2 Agenda: October 13th

08:00 AM - Arrival and Registration                                         
09:00 AM - Open Lab Hands-on Sessions  
05:00 PM - Event Ends

To register for Day 2 head here.

10/08/2011 05:57:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Netflix Price Increase - It is good for Netflix, but is it good for you?#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Well I am sure you all heard by now that Netflix is raising their rates in order to cover the expense of sending and receiving DVDs to increase their profit margin. Hopefully with this money increase they can use it to shore up more lucrative contracts with streaming providers to provide possibly original content and more content customers desire and is offered on cable and satellite, which can cost up to 10 times more for the same services. Netflix has heard from 5000 customers(the maximum amount available on their blog)  stating their disgust with the price increase so Netflix is getting feedback from their customers, if they choose to listen to it and react to it that is another matter entirely. Here is what Netflix has stated:

First, we are launching new DVD only plans. These plans offer our lowest prices ever for unlimited DVDs – only $7.99 a month for our 1 DVD out at-a-time plan and $11.99 a month for our 2 DVDs out at-a-time plan. By offering our lowest prices ever, we hope to provide great value to our current and future DVDs by mail members. New members can sign up for these plans by going to DVD.netflix.com.

Second, we are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into separate plans to better reflect the costs of each and to give our members a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan or the option to subscribe to both. With this change, we will no longer offer a plan that includes both unlimited streaming and DVDs by mail.
So for instance, our current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:
Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month

Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming), for $7.99 a month.
The price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). For new members, these changes are effective immediately; for existing members, the new pricing will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

As always, our members can easily choose to change or cancel their unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both by visiting Your Account.

I received the following email from Netflix a few days after the announcement

ScreenClip

Currently my dilemma lies in that I am not a huge streamer, but my family shares my Netflix account and use it exclusively for that. I prefer the DVD service for new titles, more exact I have paid the extra $2 for the Blu-ray Disc option and like the quality to view the maximum what my television can produce. I have been a Netflix subscriber for years and their turn around time has never failed to impress me on sending out movies in disc format. Occasionally, I will stream a movie via my phone, tablet, game console, or laptop when traveling, but that hasn’t been as often as it was in the past, but I have loved the ability to do so, when needed. Last year I rolled back my 2 discs out at a time to just 1 because there was just nothing to ship in my queue. As of late over the past few months it has gotten even worse, Netflix has unfortunately at the request of many movie companies particularly Warner Bros, to have a moratorium on offering new titles so the company can increase the small window of DVD/Blu-ray sales that Netflix great renting service has put a serious dent in their sales. Have the movie studios actually seen this be effective? We don’t know, since there are several other options for consumers to get that next day content RedBox, Pay Per View, Amazon Video On Demand, Blockbuster, Apple iTunes, Zune and my personal favorite as of late VUDU, which offers Blu-Ray quality streaming rentals the same day of disc release titles for a mere $2 for a 48 hour rental, much better than the competition as of now for me with no wait time. I used to be a huge consumer of DVDs and have a collection 3 shy of 900 titles not including the few Blu-Ray titles that I got to have. I am a huge fan of DVD extras and can watch movies over again when the mood fits.

image

Currently my Netflix queue has been in a stall with the turn around time being delayed not only by release date delays imparted by the studios, but also due to the shear volume of requests for titles and the availability of those limited discs in my local Netflix distribution center, where the status says short wait, long wait, and the dreaded very long wait(which many titles as of this week were glaring back at red at me) until a few just became available. My Queue hasn’t really moved in the past few months and my family and myself will just throw a title in there just because the delay and activity of turn around time has been, well slow compared to other options available. Due to the quality of the turn around time of newer releases, I have been contemplating just cancelling my Netflix subscription, first it was just going to be the DVD/Blu-Ray portion only and now that the content of titles in Netflix’s streaming library has really “stunk” as of late and with the current price increase this may be the reason to finally push me over the edge and cancel it entirely. I have until September to make this decision, so I am hoping the folks at Netflix will be offering more streaming content to make it worth while to keep and improve the DVD release dates with the studios to make it worth having rather than going to a more instant option. I understand that this all requires money to make this happen and that may be the reason why Netflix is going this route to add more value for its customers and hopefully improve, but they are at the mercy of movie studios, who also want to increase their coffers so they can make the movies and content we all love as well as a profit.

It is a tough quandary to be in as a consumer who loves the service, but it doesn’t seem the service has been returning the same love to the consumer as of late. I hope we all see a turn around or we may see Netflix’s great model and customer service be replaced by another who does and go away like the brick and mortar stores they slowly closed over a period of a few years.

07/18/2011 05:12:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Evernote Comes to Windows Phone 7#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

One pinnacle must have application that Don and I have both been waiting on for the Windows Phone platform has finally arrived in the the WindowsPhone Marketplace

EVERNOTE !

winphone_evernote panorama

Evernote has been committed to building native desktop, web and mobile versions. In the past three years, we’ve build over 13 different versions of Evernote for just about every major platform out there. Today, we’re adding another. Say hello to the much-anticipated Evernote for Windows Phone 7!

Evernote for Windows Phone 7 lets you save and find your ideas and memories any time, anywhere. As you would expect, it seamlessly syncs with every other version of Evernote you use, but there’s so much more. In fact, this is the most feature-rich debut we’ve ever had. Not only is it packed with capabilities, but it’s also beautiful—taking advantage of the innovative Windows Phone 7 Metro interface and its Pivot panels. And, as always, Evernote for Windows Phone 7 is free and available now from the App Hub.

For more information on this monumentous release check out their blog post here on all the features packed into this long awaited app.

Note:

If you are previous user of Evernote and have many notebooks already setup be sure to connect via Wi-Fi first and sync your notes or you will experience the white screen of death.

06/16/2011 20:34:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

“Summer of Mango” Windows Phone Developer Series#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

While summer may be a slower and mellower time for some, Microsoft’s recent announcement of new features for Windows Phone 7.1 (codenamed “Mango”) and the beta release of developer tools to support all of the goodness means there is a lot of learning to be done in the coming months.

To help support the Boston-area community in getting up to speed with the latest in Windows Phone development, the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups are pleased to announce the “Summer of Mango” series of developer presentations. Each 90-minute presentation will focus on a major aspect of Windows Phone Mango development.

The sessions are:

  • JUNE 15th: Leveraging Background Processing in Windows Phone 7.1
  • JULY 20th: Developing Windows Phone 7.1 Structured Storage Applications
  • AUGUST 17th: Windows Phone 7.1. Live Tile Development Techniques

Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for all the details!

05/29/2011 07:50:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone Garage–May 9th#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Coming May 9th to the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (NERD).  Dani Diaz and Dave Isbitski will be presenting a free, full-day program focused on developing for Windows Phone 7. It’s a great way to get familiar with the current platform and learn about the upcoming features announced for “Mango” at MIX 11 just a couple of weeks ago. To the link to register for the Windows Phone Garage.

 

3480.image_5F00_95badaaa_2D00_e962_2D00_4a01_2D00_b9cb_2D00_5f10484d4d46

Agenda

9 – 10 a.m.  Introduction to Windows Phone Development

No experience with Windows Phone 7 development?  No problem.  During this optional session at the start of the day we will cover the fundamentals of Windows Phone Silverlight and XNA Development.  We'll explore the various core components and tools available and leave you with some resources to take you to the next level.

10 – 10:30 a.m.  What’s new for Windows Phone Developers

This session will highlight some of the new developer features coming for Windows Phone Developers. We’ll also take a look at AppMakr, a dynamic new tool that enables you to generate a simple Windows Phone application from one or more online data feeds.

10:45 – 12:30 p.m.  Windows Phone Application Jumpstart

To give you a jumpstart on application development, we’ll walk through in detail building an app, styling it, and adding advanced capabilities.  We’ll also cover submitting it to the marketplace and monetizing your app.

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.  Lunch

1:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Windows Phone Garage Open Lab

Bring your laptop fully loaded with Visual Studio 2010 and the latest version of the Windows Phone Tools. Get some help with an app you are working on or use the information from the Jumpstart to build an app around your favorite data feed. No ideas? No worries – we’ll have a few starter templates that you can build on.

05/05/2011 17:50:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

BOA Bank of America App for Windows Phone 7#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Bank of America announced some time ago during CES and again at Mobile World Congress that their application would be coming to the Windows Phone platform and it has finally arrived in the Marketplace already at version 3.0.92.

Bank_of_America_App

 

The free app, is only available to Online Banking Customers (you can create an account here), you can check your account balances and Account activity, transfer money between accounts, pay bills (through optional Bill Pay), and locate ATMs and banking centers via GPS. Bank of America ensures your privacy - "Feel secure with our industry-leading mobile security and our Online Banking Security Guarantee"

The app uses the same double authentication features found with the online application and adds your phone to the list of trusted devices by answering a security question.(Paris, please don't use your dog's name Tinkerbell here). For another level of security don't check the box to save your Online Id when logging in.

The app an be found in Marketplace here.

05/04/2011 21:48:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Boston/New England Windows Phone User/Developer Meeting–Wednesday, January 19, 2011 IN WALTHAM#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

While we had discussed having a January meeting at the Microsoft N.E.R.D. offices in Cambridge, MA, things just did not pan out. As a result, the next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will be held this Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 starting at 6:30pm at the MICROSOFT OFFICES IN WALTHAM, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

This month’s theme – It’s all about the applications! Microsoft recently announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace has crossed the 6,000 application mark. That’s a lot of applications to filter through to find the best of the best or even the one application you need. We will be taking a stroll through the Marketplace (using the Zune Desktop, device and even a few other tools you may not be aware of) and finding some of the best the Windows Phone developer community has to offer.

Hope to see you there!

01/15/2011 09:56:05 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

LG QUANTUM and Windows Phone 7 Impressions From A Different Perspective#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Over this past Christmas holiday weekend, I posted my review of the LG QUANTUM Windows Phone 7 phone for AT&T. At the time, I realized that I was writing a review of a new technology from the perspective of someone already somewhat intimate with the Windows Phone 7 platform. Furthermore, as a “power user”, I was not necessarily the key demographic for the Microsoft’s mobile OS “reboot”. While I did keep this in mind when writing the review and I do really love using Windows Phone 7, I thought it might be interesting to perform a bit of a “controlled experiment”. What if I could have someone closer to the target demographic for Windows Phone 7 to try the LG QUANTUM on a regular basis and get their feedback and impressions? Fortunately for me, I did not have to go far for a test subject.

LG QUANTUM_01

My lovely wife of nearly 14 years, Melissa, has been a longtime user of smartphone technology. Perhaps I should say “a longtime sufferer”, though. You see, over the years I have repeatedly convinced her to try some of the latest and greatest offerings for cell phones. For the most part, Melissa has been less than satisfied with the results. Her satisfaction level has ranged from non-existent to tolerant at best. Especially high on her frustration list has been Windows Mobile devices. Whether it was the less than stellar battery life, the occasional instability of the hardware and OS or just plain non-intuitive aspects of the device, she was always frustrated and upset – with one exception. She did have a reasonably satisfactory time with the Samsung Blackjack II running Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition. However, the lack of a touch screen was a point of contention for her.

Melissa most recently was using a Touch Pro 2 running Windows Phone 6.5. While the phone seemed to be fast enough, the same frustrations with battery life and the OS remained. She was pretty much at the end of her proverbial rope, telling me on more than one occasion she sometimes thought about going back to an old Motorola RAZR. At least it worked for phone functionality she way she expected.

Melissa is someone who relies on her phone for voice calls first and foremost. However, she has come to rely on her phones for basic management of her calendar and other forms of communication (email and text). She is not one to constantly charge her phone; she typically puts a phone on a charger when absolutely necessary. Melissa also uses the Internet frequently for information and research, and has been using Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. In my opinion, she was the ideal candidate for “The Experiment”. I approached Melissa with the idea of using the LG QUANTUM as her primary device for a couple of weeks and then providing her feedback. She was open to the idea, I believe at least partly because based upon her current Touch Pro 2 experiences it really couldn’t get much worse Winking smile So, the experiment began.

This was a total “end-to-end” experience, starting with the initial setup of the device. I reset the LG QUANTUM, working with Melissa to perform the initial setup. To be honest, she really did not need me for the setup; it is a strength of Windows Phone 7 to provide a simplified initial setup experience. I did want to make sure, however, that we made it past setup without Melissa having a change of mind. After the initial setup, I basically left Melissa to her own devices (pun intended). In the past, I typically has to spend a great deal of time working with her to get her phone set up with her. This time, I decided to let her discover things for herself, and only assisted when she had specific questions. Those questions were very few. I did should her how to pin items to the home screen, and that basically gave her the greatest help in making the phone her own.

This past week, I wrote some questions up for Melissa and asked her to write up some responses. She gladly agreed to participate.

----

Overall, what were your impressions of the LG QUANTUM?

As someone who is strictly an end user using this phone has been the best experience for me since.  Most everything was easy to use and very intuitive.  The phone itself is attractive, slim and not heavy.  The size of the screen is great.  The touch screen was accurate and responsive ~ the best touch screen I have ever used.

What were some of the things you liked most about the phone?

I love how you can pinch and zoom when reading an e-mail or browsing the internet ~ that is really awesome!  The size and clarity of the screen.

Compared to your previous phone (running Windows Mobile 6.5), what was the biggest change for you?

Ease of use.  It was very user friendly ~ relatively easy to navigate and figure things out.  Usually when I get a new phone I don’t know how to change settings and set things up.  With the LG Quantum I was able to figure out quite a bit on my own before needing assistance .

You are a big "physical keyboard" fan. How is the keyboard experience with the LG QUANTUM and Windows Phone 7?

The keyboard is very nice and easy to use.  However the small buttons on the left side for special symbols or caps is difficult to use.  For example, you need to use the function key for numbers ~ with short hand texting this is a bit of a pain.

Using mail was somewhat problematic for you in the past, especially with the drain on your battery. How do you like the mail experience in Windows Phone 7?

The mail experience is the best I have had with any phone.  Easy to tell when I have new mail ~ easy to read and respond.

Speaking of battery, how has the battery life been on the LG QUANTUM?

The battery life is excellent!  I am able to check e-mail and use the internet without needing to charge my battery during the day.  That is important to me as I am often on the go and not able to recharge my phone for long periods of time.

What did you think about how you could "personalize" the device (colors, tiles, etc)?

It would be nice if there were more options for “personalizing” the device.  As someone who is strictly an end user, I like to be able to change the look of my device based on seasons/moods, etc.  There are not very many options for that.  Most especially the colors for the text messages.  I also like to have “fun” ringtones and the choices provided with this phone are not great.

What has been your biggest "dislike" so far?

Sometimes when I go into contacts and try to call a number it doesn’t work and I have to back out and re-try.   

----

Melissa was not the only person with observations during her usage, by the way. As the person who serves as her “Familial Help Desk” and the creator of this experiment, I was keen to keep track of things. Here are some of my observations.

  • I really did not have to provide Melissa with much assistance when it came to using the LG QUANTUM.
    As I mentioned previously, Melissa often had issues with her previous phones. I spent time as a teacher, a “fixer” and an apologist. With this phone, I was anything but that. She was able to figure things out on her own and as for issues – there really weren’t any. For me, the LG QUANTUM was a breath of fresh air and a chance to free up time normally spent making things work. As a matter of fact, I found myself often having to “hold my tongue” in asking “Is everything OK?”
  • Melissa’s usage did NOT include games or media.
    When we initially set up the LG QUANTUM, I considered rushing straight to setting up the phone with music and videos, and perhaps a game or two from the Windows Phone Marketplace. I quickly decided to hold on that, figuring I would save that as a sort of “trump card” if Melissa wasn’t pleased or wowed by the phone. Melissa is a Zune user and occasionally would play games on her prior phones.
    Amazingly, Melissa’s impressions of the LG QUANTUM are incredibly positive without every having fully experienced these two aspects of the device. While I did show the Music and Video Hub and the Games Hub to her initially, she has yet to really try out two aspects of the Windows Phone 7 platform that I am willing to bet will raise her satisfaction to even higher level levels. I do plan on having her try these features out – as soon as I can get her to give up total control of the phone long enough to show her Winking smile
  • I never heard Melissa use the words “love” and “my phone” in the same sentence – until now.
    I really mean this. Melissa has always “tolerated” cell phones. When describing the LG QUANTUM to myself and others, she will invariably say “I LOVE this phone.” In my case, she has said “Have I told you how much I love this phone?” on an almost daily basis. Knowing my wife the way I do, these statements are by far the greatest compliment that can be made to both LG for the QUANTUM and Microsoft for Windows Phone 7. I often wondered if Melissa would ever come to enjoy using a smartphone; now I know she can (and does).

As someone who is deeply immersed in mobile technology as a user and a writer, it is nice to be able to really get detailed perspectives from others that are not like myself. Sure, I get the occasional feedback in brief conversations, emails or forum posts. But getting to watch someone use a technology on a daily basis and provide constant feedback really gives me the chance to objectively judge the success of a technology in the hands of a person for whom the technology is primarily intended. When it comes to the LG QUANTUM and Windows Phone 7, I can say based upon my little experiment that both LG and Microsoft have winners on their hands.

01/08/2011 10:38:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Congratulations To Our LG QUANTUM Giveaway Contest Winner#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The BostonPocketPC.com After-Holiday Contest is now over. After gathering the list of entrants, assigning numbers to the entries and using our favorite contest tool (Random.org), the winner is – Jim Travis! Jim is a longtime participant in the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups (I believe Jim has been attending sine the days when we were Club Pocket PC – Boston) and has also provided comments and feedback right here at BostonPocketPC.com.

Thanks go to all those who participated in the contest. Congratulations go to Jim, who should be receiving his new phone shortly. And don’t forget – if you are interested in learning more about the LG QUANTUM Windows Phone 7 phone, my full review is available right here at BostonPocketPC.com!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

01/02/2011 11:10:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

After-Holiday Contest - Win an AT&T LG QUANTUM!#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Well, the holiday shopping period has come and gone here in the US. Of course, this can only mean one thing – the After-Holiday Shopping Period has begun! The mall and store parking lots are packed with shoppers carrying newspaper flyers and printed web pages, all containing deep discounts on merchandise.

If you are not up for more store or mall chaos, or the weather outside is truly frightful, we here at BostonPocketPC.com have another way to get a great product at the greatest of prices – FREE! Thanks to the folks at LG, we will be giving away an AT&T LG QUANTUM running Windows Phone 7.

I have just completed a review of the LG QUANTUM here at BostonPocketPC.com – you can read all about it here. The winner of our contest will receive an AT&T-branded LG QUANTUM identical to the one I reviewed. If you are looking for the best deal of the post-holiday shopping season, read on for all the rules…

Contest Eligibility

This contest is only open to residents of the United States (sorry about this, folks). The winner of the contest will need to provide a valid US shipping address.

Contest Period

This contest is considered open until 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 1st, 2011. All entries after this date will be considered invalid.

Contest Rules

  • To participate, you will first need to visit the BostonPocketPC.com Official Facebook Page. Once there, you will need to “Like” the page in order to participate.
  • Read up on the LG QUANTUM. You can read from the BostonPocketPC.com review, or visit LG’s Mobile Global Facebook page (if you visit the LG Facebook page, please support LG in supporting this contest by liking them as well).
  • Once you have liked the BostonPocketPC Facebook page and done your homework, click on the “Discussions” tab on the BostonPocketPC Facebook page. There you will find the discussion topic “What do *you* like best about the LG QUANTUM with Windows Phone 7?”. To enter the contest, simply post your reply to this question.
  • Entries are limited to one per person. Only the original reply to the topic will be considered.
  • The contest is considered closed at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 1st, 2011. All posts/entries received after the deadline will be considered ineligible.
  • The winning post will be selected on January 2nd and the winner contacted through Facebook. The winner will have 24 hours to respond and provide a valid US shipping address. If no response is received in the allotted time period, a new winner will be drawn and the process repeated.  

A HUGE thanks goes out to the people at LG Electronics at their PR group for making this contest possible.

GOOD LUCK!

12/27/2010 20:20:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

REVIEW: LG QUANTUM with Windows Phone 7#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Microsoft has gone all out in making an impact with Windows Phone 7, with lots of marketing an exposure. However, the operating system is only a part of the overall phone equation. Windows Phone 7 did see the launch of a number of new devices from hardware manufacturers as well.

While Microsoft’s “Chassis” approach with strong hardware criteria has made for great similarities for Windows Phone 7 devices on the inside, there is still room for innovation and differentiation from manufacturers. The initial launch of Windows Phone 7 has seen a variety of features in the initial wave of devices in terms of screen sizes, sound capabilities and other amenities. One example of differentiation can be found in the LG QUANTUM. The QUANTUM is the AT&T-branded version of LG’s OPTIMUS 7 line.

Logo_LG_Quantum_Black_A

The folks at LG were good enough to contact me a short time back, offering me the opportunity to try out the LG QUANTUM for review. Having already had Windows Phone 7 experience, I was intrigued by what the QUANTUM had to offer. After using this phone for a while, I can say that there is quite a bit in the offering for those desiring certain features and functionality out of their Windows Phone 7 device.

LG QUANTUM_02

LG QUANTUM Highlights

  • Windows Phone 7
  • “Grippable” design
  • Physical keyboard
  • DLNA-enabled
  • Battery life

What’s In The Box

My LG QUANTUM review unit shipped with the standard configuration for AT&T. Items in the box included:

  • LG QUANTUM phone
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Headset
    • In-ear bud design
    • 3.5mm jack
  • microUSB to USB cable
  • USB to AC power adapter

The kitting was pretty much a standard AT&T offering, with standard branding in logos and colors.

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The Hardware – First Impressions

The first thing I noticed about the LG Quantum was the actual material makeup of the exterior. Personally, I have noticed a continuing trend from phone manufacturers towards the “shiny and smooth” approach with hardware. While this may be visually appealing, I constantly get the feeling with many devices that I am one small mistake away from the device slipping (or shooting if I squeeze too tightly) out of my hands. This is far from the case with the LG QUANTUM. The outer surface, especially along the sides, is designed for better gripping. Holding the device in my hands for the first time, I felt far more confident that the phone would not end up on the floor.

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The size of the phone makes for a nice fit in my (and I presume most peoples’) hands. My recent phone experience has been with phone that include large screens. While this makes for a nice viewing experience, it can make for an awkward experience when simply holding the phone or using the phone as a phone itself. Considering the fact that I have somewhat larger hands than most, I can imagine that a large-screen device could be even more uncomfortable experience for many. This is definitely not the case with the LG QUANTUM. The phone fits nicely in the hand and, when combined with the gripping nature of the exterior surface, makes for a pleasant experience.

The general feel of the LG QUANTUM is quite solid. While the device feels somewhat heavier than other phones I have worked with recently, it does not feel bulky. Of course, some of the additional weight can be attributed to the addition of a physical keyboard (more on that shortly).

From a Windows Phone controls perspective, the LG QUANTUM is designed with a physical hardware button for the Windows Start screen, and two touch-sensitive areas for the “Back” and “Search” functions. I do have to say that this takes some getting used to. With no tactile feedback for these two buttons, I often had to look at my device in order to touch in the correct place.

The LG QUANTUM also includes standard buttons for volume control (on the right-side of the phone), camera (on the right-side of the phone) and power/screen toggle (on the top of the device). LG chose a very “low-profile” approach with these buttons. While this makes the buttons less intrusive and less prone to accidental touches, it does make for some “trial and error” if trying to manipulate the buttons without looking at the device. The biggest case in point for this is the power button, which I found myself having to visually locate at times.

The LG QUANTUM also includes a cover for the microUSB port (on the upper left-side of the device). In a totally personal opinion, I tend to find these covers a bit annoying. While they do provide for nicer aesthetics and some protection, my experiences with these types of covers is that they eventually wear out and break off.

Overall, I found the hardware packaging to be quite nice. The device is easy to hold and very “pocketable” as well. 

The Keyboard

A major differentiator for the LG QUANTUM is the addition of a physical slide-out keyboard.

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The keyboard slides in and out smoothly and easily. The keyboard includes full QWERTY alpha support, with numeric and special character keys accessible via a Function button. The keys are of the “chiclet-style” variety, allowing for reasonable tactile response. The Function and Uppercase keys are on the left-side of the keyboard and are a bit different. They are small, round and metallic buttons.

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One item I noted was that when the keyboard was slid out, the overall weight and balance of the phone still felt very good. In many phones I have used in the past, sliding out the keyboard made the phone feel very unbalanced in my hands. As a result, I had to be extra careful to grip the keyboard area of the phone to avoid the entire phone flipping out of my hand. This was definitely not the case with the LG QUANTUM and was a big plus in my mind. 

There was a time where I basically demanded a physical keyboard for my phone. With recent advances in on-screen keyboards and larger screens, I have been less demanding in this area. However, I did find that the LG QUANTUM keyboard was very easy to use (with one exception). The keys were easy to tap and the feedback was good. My only difficulty was with the Function and Uppercase keys. In addition to being quite small, they were another example of being “low-profile” and made for a difficult time in hitting. Aside from this, I can say that I generally liked the LG QUANTUM keyboard and became quite comfortable using it. If a physical keyboard is a hard and fast requirement for a Windows Phone 7 buyer, the LG QUANTUM should meet those requirements quite nicely.

The Screen

As I noted earlier, I have become quite used to using larger screen devices as of late. This being the case, I had some initial reservations about using a device with a smaller screen (the LG QUANTUM has a 3.8-inch screen). However, I found the screen to be very readable and usable.

LG QUANTUM_01 

Thanks to the nature of the Windows Phone 7 OS, touch areas for navigation were easy to use and performed well. The screen is also very viewable in outdoor lighting.

The Camera

As phones become more and more of an “on-the-go” photo-taking device, using the camera and resulting picture quality is of greater importance to a lot of users. The LG QUANTUM ships with a 5 megapixel camera. As is the case with all Windows Phone 7 devices, the hardware leverages the standard Windows Phone 7 camera interface.

I found the picture quality of the LG QUANTUM to be quite good. Snapping a photo in standard lighting resulted in good picture quality. The picture below is left in it’s default resolution; click on the image for the full version.

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Low-light photography also worked well, thanks to the built-in flash on the LG QUANTUM. As an example, the following photo was taken in very low-light -

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While I am someone who has never looked to replace a true camera with a phone, I do believe that the LG QUANTUM more than suffices for taking photos when you’re camera simply isn’t available. Between the general camera quality and Windows Phone 7’s ability to go straight to the camera interface with just a push of the camera button even when the phone is locked, I found it easy to take quick snapshots “on-the-fly” that I wouldn’t have been able to do even with a regular camera.

The Media Experience

For me, one huge advantage of the Windows Phone 7 platform has been the inclusion of Zune integration. While other platforms have media integration, Zune adds Zune Pass functionality, allowing me to stream any music from the Zune Marketplace directly to my Windows Phone. As a result, I am finding myself using my phone as my primary media device for the first time (I previously used Zunes separate from my phone for my audio and video).

The standard headset shipped with the LG QUANTUM was adequate for my audio needs. If you are an audiophile, they may simply not be enough for your taste. The good news, however, is that you can use any 3.5mm headset for a better audio experience. Headset aside, the music experience is very good. I love the Zune-like interface for playing audio and video on the LG QUANTUM. I have used many phones and many interfaces (both stock and 3rd party), but the Zune interface is still my personal favorite.

Video playback is also good. I was able to easily transfer purchased video content from the Zune Marketplace to the LG QUANTUM and play on the device. The playback was smooth and crisp. I also was able to easily transfer other video content to the device and play with the same results. I will admit that the smaller screen is not the most ideal medium for watching video, but the LG QUANTUM screen is no smaller than the Zune HD and I was comfortable watching video on that device on a regular basis.

The LG QUANTUM does include another interesting feature – DLNA support. If you have watched the “Swamp Creature” commercials here in the US recently (where the homesick swamp creature looks at photos, watches videos and listens to the sounds of the swamp on other devices straight from his phone), you have some idea of what DLNA is about. Basically, DLNA allows for the streaming of content via WiFi to devices that also support DLNA. While I do not have any TVs or audio players with DLNA support, I do have two devices that do – a PC with Windows 7 and an Xbox 360. DLNA support in Windows Phone 7 is provided through Windows Media Player, and Xbox 360 support is indirect (using the Windows Media Center Extender functionality to view the content streamed to the PC from the LG QUANTUM). I tried out the DLNA functionality and have to admit it is quite cool. LG provides an application (“PlayTo”) on the phone. Simply open the application while your phone is connected to your WiFi network, and the application locates the DLNA-enabled devices also connected to the network. Pick a device, select the content and viola! – your media appears. I found the performance of this to be very good.

Overall, the combination of Windows Phone 7 and LG functionality (both hardware and software) makes for a compelling media experience.

Performance

I have talked about performance in the context of some of the specific functionalities of the LG QUANTUM. A couple of other areas of performance should be noted, however. First off, I have to talk about battery life. This is one area where I was extremely impressed. Generally speaking, battery life was very good. Average usage, with multiple email accounts using Exchange ActiveSync push, frequent Internet access and moderate phone usage (approximately 1 – 1.5 hours usage) found me with approximately 50% battery life after about 10 hours. When you compare this to my past devices, this is really amazing. When you add in the fact that I was using a 2G network (I am on T-Mobile and the LG QUANTUM radio does not support the 1700 MHz 3G spectrum), good battery life is exactly the opposite of older phones without some intervention. In the past, a phone capable of 3G running on a 2G network would constantly search for a 3G connection, greatly draining the battery (Note: Some phones provided the capability of turning off the attempts to find a 3G network to alleviate the issue). My use of the LG QUANTUM with just 2G and the resulting battery life was a very pleasant surprise.

From a performance perspective, my other observation about the LG QUANTUM is – things just work. Pairing a Bluetooth headset – no problem. Using WiFi – no problem. Using voice-activated calling – no problem. This may not sound like much, but it is a testament to both Microsoft and LG that the basic functionalities work without the need for advanced tools or customizations. 

Additional Software

In addition to the standard Windows Phone 7 software, the LG QUANTUM for AT&T does ship with some additional software. On the AT&T side, there are a few applications available. Most notable is the offering of AT&T U-verse Mobile, providing access to a lot of video content. Unfortunately, I was not able to try this out. In addition to the PlayTo software for DLNA, LG also provides access to the LG Apps Store from within the Marketplace application on the phone. There are a number of useful and entertaining applications to be found here and (as of this writing) all are FREE to LG QUANTUM users. The additional software does make for a nice “value-add” when considering the purchase of an LG QUANTUM.

Conclusion

The initial launch of Windows Phone 7 brought with it a number of new devices. Based on performance and features, the LG QUANTUM rates as one of the most compelling of this first wave of hardware. If a well-built phone with a physical keyboard and solid battery life is what you crave, the LG QUANTUM has to be at the top of your list. I highly recommend you take the time to look closely at this phone if Windows Phone 7 is on your wish list.

12/27/2010 11:52:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 Apps I Would Be Thankful For#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. It’s a time for family and friends, football (the American kind) and most importantly – giving thanks. On my list this year (albeit down the list behind love, health and other significant items) is giving thanks to Microsoft for finally bringing Windows Phone 7 to the market. Long story short – while I still have Windows Mobile and Android devices available to me at a moment’s notice, every attempt to try to move back to those platforms for perspective ends up being short-lived. I end up right back on my T-Mobile HTC HD7, enjoying the ease of use and “glance and go” functionality Windows Phone 7 provides.

While I am thankful for Windows Phone 7 and the plethora of applications that have already reached the Windows Phone Marketplace (3,000+ and growing as I write this), there are a few applications I am longing for. That said, I thought I would write on some of these applications. Seeing as I am in the holiday spirit of things, I also thought I would write a brief “Dear Santa” letter to each vendor in the hopes that my wishes would be answered and I would have even more to be thankful for this holiday season Smile So without further delay, here is my “Windows Phone 7 Applications I Would Be Thankful For” list…

Hootsuite

“Dear Hootsuite,

Your platform has become an invaluable means in managing and monitoring my social media interactions. Your analysis tools are great, and your mobile applications for iPhone and Android have been mainstays on my devices.

I am now using a Windows Phone 7 device and sorely miss your mobile application functionality. Please, oh please, bring your platform to my phone this holiday season and make my social media experience pleasant once again.”

Waze

“Dear Waze,

I have watched your crowdsourced traffic application evolve from a fun game-type platform into a full-featured turn-by-turn navigation tool that still provides the real-time data and fun aspects so many have come to love.

Having moved to Windows Phone 7, I sorely miss the companionship of your application and invaluable guidance during my morning and evening commutes. Please, Waze – bring your application to Windows Phone 7 and make my commute fun (and faster) once again.”

XM/Sirius

“Dear XM/Sirius,

As a loyal XM subscriber for many years with many devices and an XM Premium subscription, you have managed to keep my sanity during commutes as well as providing me information and entertainment in places that are neither informative nor entertaining. Your iPhone and Android applications have kept me in-the-know when a radio is unavailable.

As the owner of a Windows Phone 7 device, I implore you XM/Sirius to bring your wonderful content to my new phone. Weekend yard work and waiting for the kids will never be quite as bright without you (or the NFL Radio Channel).”

ESPN ScoreCenter/ESPN Radio

“Dear ESPN,

Words cannot express my devotion to your family of networks and the hours of sporting fulfillment they bring to my sports-loving life. Your embracing of mobile technology with the ScoreCenter and ESPN Radio applications for phones has kept me knowledgeable in all things sport when a television was unavailable, making my technology addiction less geeky to those around me craving the latest sports news and scores.

As a user of a Windows Phone 7 device, I long once again to have the latest scores, stats and news available to me wherever I go. Please, ESPN – bring your wealth of all things sport to my new phone, making me happy and less nerdly to others around me.

P.S. – You think you could throw in an ESPN3 app for Windows Phone while you’re at it?”

TripIt

“Dear TripIt,

As a TripIt Pro subscriber, your iPhone and Android applications have often proved to be my best travel companion while on the road for both business and pleasure. With my complete itineraries and reservation details (as well as flight monitoring), you are the know-it-all obsessive-compulsive travel planning family member I never had.

Now owning a Windows Phone 7 device, I feel as though my family has grown apart, as the web-based version of your platform simply does not compare to your native applications. Please TripIt – bring back my OCD virtual family member to my fold by creating a Windows Phone 7 application. By the way – preferably do this before the upcoming holiday travel season, when I will so miss you.”

I am sure I will find more applications I miss as time goes on, of course. Looking on the bright side, this will give me more items on my wish list and (hopefully) more applications to be thankful for Open-mouthed smile

Happy Thanksgiving to all! May you have much to be thankful, both today and in the future!

11/25/2010 11:50:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

My Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Wish List#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The holidays are fast approaching, and thoughts turn to children writing (and some adults) making their holiday “wish lists”. With Windows Phone 7 having been launched, I’ve been pondering a bit of a Wish List myself. While Microsoft clearly put the consumer “front and center” in the initial release of Windows Phone 7, they clearly realized that “managing your life” includes work as well as home. This being the case, many users purchasing Windows Phone 7 devices fully intend to use their new phones in their enterprise environments. The question, however, is whether they really can or be allowed to.

The enterprise is evolving with regards to phones. More and more companies are allowing employees to select and even purchase their own devices and connect to corporate infrastructure. Most commonly, there is at the least the allowance of connecting to Microsoft Exchange for email, contact and calendar information. While easing up on some restrictions, there is often a baseline of security that must be adhered to in order for any phone to be considered “safe” for corporate use. In addition, the value of any phone is often attached to its additional potential and uses. If a phone cannot be used for certain productivity scenarios, it is not considered to be “qualified” for the enterprise environment.

With all of these considerations laid out, I now present to you my personal “Top 5 Windows Phone 7 Enterprise Wish List”. While I have placed these items in order of my preference, the realization is that for each individual or business, these needs may vary. Generally speaking, though, I believe that these 5 items are essential to Microsoft gaining greater user acceptance in providing a reason for an individual purchasing the device for both work and personal use.

#5 – Application Blacklist/Whitelist Functionality

While enterprise control over what a user can or cannot install on a phone has been trending downward, the fact still remains that some companies require the ability to restrict what applications can be run on a device. Most commonly today, the use for this is for blocking specific applications (blacklisting) and is usually very tightly scoped (the days of “blocking everything but…” known as “whitelisting” has diminished with increased use of personal phones). When the need for blacklisting does arise for a company, though, the result is typically a “go/no-go” for devices where this cannot be done.

Microsoft had this functionality in Windows Mobile, and it made that platform (along with RIM and the Blackberry) the preferred device on some enterprise networks for a long time. Without this functionality, some users simply will not be able to access work-related information on their Windows Phone.

#4 – Manual WiFi Configuration

In case you were unaware, Windows Phone 7 WiFi network discovery is very restrictive. Simply put – if the SSID of network is not broadcast, it is not available for configuration. In environments where the WiFi network’s SSID is not broadcast, there is no easy way to connect to the network. Now, we can have a long discussion around the security (or lack thereof) that hiding an SSID provides. The fact of the matter, however, is that certain enterprise environments are configured in this way and changing to a broadcast SSID is simply not going to happen any time in the future. If this access is required for work-related activities (Exchange access from within the firewall and Sharepoint access without Forefront UAG installed are examples), we have another “no-go” situation for the user.

Microsoft has provided manual WiFi configuration in the past with Windows Mobile. While the “old” methods may not be conducive to the new Windows Phone 7 UI, it should not be all that difficult to create an option that allows a user to simply enter an SSID for discovery. Such a feature could go a long way in supporting users with business WiFi needs.

#3 – Enterprise Line Of Business Application Deployment

For those organizations building client applications for their business users, providing a controlled method for deploying these applications to only those should have it. In the current Windows Phone 7 world, deployment is – well, “controlled”. There is one way to deploy any Windows Phone 7 application – The Windows Phone Marketplace. Unfortunately, any application that is deployed through that channel is open to the world. There is no way to say “only display this application to these users”. For custom line of business applications accessing sensitive information, this type of exposure is simply unacceptable.

Windows Mobile was the other end of the application deployment spectrum, with complete flexibility in deployment options and a certificate signing process and trust model that still ensured safety. Every phone platform today now supports multiple application deployment options (this includes Apple now) – except Windows Phone. In enterprise environments where these sorts of applications make or break the value proposition of one phone over the other, Windows Phone 7 will be excluded.

#2 – Data Encryption

The pros and cons of the value of device data encryption can be argued for days on end, but one fact remains – in some enterprises encryption is not just an IT policy; it is a legal compliance issue. In the case of all businesses with resident information in Massachusetts, it is the law (see here for more information). If data on a phone cannot be securely encrypted, using that device to store information may very well be in violation of statutes resulting in fines and other penalties. Regardless of the reasons, however, some enterprise environments simply cannot or will not afford the risk of unencrypted data.

Encryption functionality was another strong point for Microsoft and Windows Mobile in the enterprise environment. In addition to solid encryption capabilities, the ability to enforce encryption rules through policies was a key to enterprise acceptance. Microsoft needs to find a way to bring encryption back into the fold with Windows Phone 7. The legislative push for greater data security and privacy is likely to gain momentum and devices (phones or otherwise) that cannot meet the legal and technical criteria simply will not be tolerated.

#1 – Alphanumeric Password

Some may wonder why I have this rated #1 on my list. The reason is quite simple. Even in an enterprise environment where items 2 through 5 on my list are unimportant, the protection of device data through a device password is considered a minimum threshold for security. While Windows Phone 7 supports password security, it currently only supports simple (numeric) passwords. For most enterprise organizations I have worked with, the term “Basic Mailbox Policy” (the minimum security threshold for allowing a user to simply connect to corporate mail) includes the presumption of being able to mandate a more complex password. In many of these environments, not being able to even set an alphanumeric password means no Exchange Server access.

The lack of alphanumeric support and policy enforcement in Windows Phone 7 is one case where I was left nothing short of dumbfounded. While I don’t want to trivialize anything regarding the implementation of a feature, how this was not included for the V1 launch of Windows Phone 7 is out of the realm of my comprehension. I have already encountered people who work for smaller businesses with little to no security policies… EXCEPT for the requirement of an alphanumeric password for corporate accounts. I truly hope this is addressed soon.

There were a couple of items that missed the “Top 5” on my enterprise wish list that should still get some mention -

  • Custom APN configuration. For those enterprises that have agreements with carriers to have dedicated APNs.
  • Office Communicator. For so many enterprises, the expectation of a Microsoft platform includes a Communicator client, especially when the platform itself revolves around communication.

I am certain there are other items on people’s lists that I haven’t covered here as well (I did say this was my wish list, you know Winking smile). I do believe that none of these items are beyond the realm of possibility. While some are far more complex to implement than others, all can be achieved. The result of including these items as part of the value proposition for Windows Phone 7 would all equate to one message – Windows Phone 7 helps you manage your personal and professional life; and your company like it too

11/24/2010 11:54:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Calling All Boston-Area Windows Phone 7 Developers! Startup Weekend Boston Mobile#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

This weekend (November 12th – 14th), there is a great event happening – Boston Startup Weekend! The event will focus on mobile application development and is focused on brainstorming and building mobile applications.

Logo&Banner Template

Startup Weekends bring about 100 people that are interested in starting companies together for the weekend – developers, designers, business people. On Friday night, people pitch their ideas and startups form around the best of the ideas pitched. On Saturday & Sunday people actually create their startups. For this upcoming weekend, the focus is on mobile startups – so all of the discussion, planning and development will be around mobile applications. For more information and to register, visit the Startup Weekend Boston web site.

The folks organizing Startup Weekend Boston are also looking for area developers with Windows Phone 7 experience. In addition to the great content you can learn from and the networking opportunities, you can help to share your Windows Phone 7 development knowledge and assist others interested in learning about and developing for the platform. If you are interested in participating, simply visit the link referenced above for more information.

11/09/2010 09:15:13 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone User/Developer Group Meeting November 17th–Windows Phone 7 Hands-On!#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will take place on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th floor).

Map picture

This month, it’s Windows Phone 7 hands-on! We will have Anthony Kinney of Microsoft talking all about Windows Phone 7. In addition, we will have Windows Phone 7 devices on-hand and will demonstrate and discuss the various features and capabilities of Microsoft’s new mobile OS. Be prepared to bring your questions and “must-sees” to this meeting!

I look forward to seeing you all there!

11/04/2010 08:47:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Understanding “Customization” and “Personalization” and The Differences Between The Two#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

With the Windows Phone 7 launch now behind us and the arrival of devices either days (Europe) of weeks (North America) ahead, there is a lot of discussion around the new platform and the mobile phone space in general. One area of both discussion and debate that seems to be popping up quite frequently, both in personal discussions and on the Internet, concerns me a bit. It’s not the discussion per se that concerns me; it’s the use (and often time misuse) of two words that play an important factor in user satisfaction around mobile devices (and technology in general) – customization and personalization. Understanding what these concepts really mean and how mobile devices are designed with regards to the two concepts may make all the difference in determining which platform and specific device best fits your need. As a result, I thought it might be good time to talk to these two concepts in a bit more detail and try to eliminate some of the misrepresentation via interchangeability some have used.

Customization
Let’s start with the the concept of customization. At its core, customization deals with the look and feel of the device. Not necessarily the hardware, mind you, although you can customize what hardware buttons do when pressed. Customization is largely about the aesthetics of the device. It’s changing the layout of screens, the colors of screens, the sounds the device makes. It’s what appears or doesn’t appear on screens and how it appears. Customization is something that, first and foremost, needs to be enabled by the operating system. Those capabilities, in turn, have to be allowed by both the the hardware manufacturer and the mobile operator. Third party software vendors can also potentially play a part in customization, depending on how much access to customization is provided to the developer.

Customization has been either a strong point point or a weak point for mobile platform providers. The Windows Mobile operating system has had a long history of being a very customizable platform. Android has quickly developed this reputation as well. Apple, on the other hand, has taken its proverbial lumps on this front. Customization is, of course, a user preference. For many people, it is simply not that big a deal. Those who desire customization typically are considered to be more of the “power user” of mobile devices. In addition to desiring customization, they often tend to desire more out of their device in terms of ability and functionality.

Customization by and large affects how the device looks and sounds, and to some extent may affect the way the user interacts with the device. There is another level of interaction, however. This leads us to the concept of personalization.

Personalization
It can rightfully be argued that personalization is a form of customization, to stop there would be quite wrong. Personalization goes far deeper into the user experience with the device than customization. If we were to look at the depth of user experiences as an onion, customization largely makes up the outer layers by focusing on sight, sound and basic device navigation. The concept of personalization goes to the next level – it focuses on trying to answer the question how do I make the user experience throughout device usage truly my own.

Like customization, personalization that has to start with the mobile device operating system. Unlike customization, however, the effort involved in enabling personalization is far more complicated. To be successful in this area, in-depth research and knowledge of understanding how a user may work with a device is required. Actually developing a user experience is often the final step in a more time-consuming process of identifying target users and (for lack of a better term) “getting inside their heads”. It is about understanding how people think and behave when interacting with a technology and providing the tools to mimic most closely those behavioral patterns. Finally, it is about enabling the user to tailor those core experiences in ways to make the device more like the user in the way that they think – in this way the device is an extension of the user, a facilitator and truly personal. Perhaps the best way to think of this is through an example.

Suppose I want to get together with a couple of friends before a user group meeting for a bite to eat. From a human thought process, I would probably want to -

  1. Decide on a place to get together;
  2. Determine the appropriate time;
  3. Let just those friends know about the get together.

Seems simple enough, right? Now, try to map those steps to interactions on a mobile device. You likely will end up with something like -

  1. Navigate to a browser or application that allows me to find a proper meeting place. Depending on the application and its ability to recognize and remember your preferences, searching could be either easy or difficult.
  2. Once selected, either remember the location or use some sort of cut and paste mechanism to save the details in memory.
  3. Navigate out of the previous application and into a calendar application to pick an appropriate time. If you don’t share calendars, by the way, the time may just be an educated guess.
  4. Once a time is selected, you will need to paste the location information into a meeting invitation.
  5. Now you will need to find your friends in the contact management application. Depending upon the abilities of the application and search capabilities, this could be difficult (if not impossible). What if your friends aren’t in the default contacts application? What if they are not in any contact application, but are stored in a location on the Internet (Facebook, for example)?
  6. After the searching, you send off the invite.

Even in a simple example, you can see how human thought may not map quite well to device interaction. Most who respond to this example with “well, that isn’t so hard” are people who are very comfortable with technology in general and (through experience) are comfortable in performing this task. They are the “power user”. Mobile phones, however, need to address the more casual user much like other technologies have had to adjust. Think of the our evolution with something as commonplace as the VCR (and subsequent DVD and BluRay). Early user experiences were difficult for all but the most tech-savvy. They evolved, however, to make using the technology easier for the average consumer. Mobile devices are now moving into this same realm. More people then ever are purchasing sophisticated mobile phones, and most are not power users. As a result, the user experiences need to evolve as well.

Moving back to our example, personalization would need to focus on a few areas in order to create a more human, or “natural” experience -

  • The device/application would know and/or learn more about your preferences for things like food and use them to help with searching.
  • The device/application would be aware of location in aiding with search selection. Not only your current location, but perhaps the location of your friends.
  • The device would allow you to know more about your friends – where their information can be found and how that information (back to location, for example) will be used.
  • The experience of selecting a location and inviting friends would be more integrated, requiring less navigation and behaving more like the user thinks.

As a wrinkle on the last (and perhaps most important) point listed above, the order in which I perform the task may be different. I may wish to identify people first and then pick a location. Ideally, the device should support that order of interaction in a seamless fashion as well. This level of interaction is what personalization is really all about.

Historically, mobile devices have not been successful when it comes to personalization. The disjointed user experiences contained within Windows Mobile made for a constant sore point for new and less experienced users. Ironically, I am hearing some complaints from new and less sophisticated users of Android devices as well. They are not as bad as Windows Mobile complaints (things like Google integration help in some respects), but they are still there. A couple of years back, the iPhone took the first steps towards improving the user experience and personalization (this has always been an Apple strong point). However, little has evolved from Apple in this are in the last couple of iterations of iOS. Then there is Windows Phone 7.

For those that watched the Microsoft press event on October 11th (if you have not seen it, it is available on demand from the Microsoft PressPass site), a lot of the feedback I have received relates to the integration of applications and the seamless flow of some of the common tasks for a phone user. Ladies and gentlemen, I propose to you that -I wondered if I would ever be able to say this – Microsoft is starting to get user experiences and personalization on a mobile device. While I am a stereotypical power user, I now crave a Windows Phone 7 device. Why? – because customization is superficial; personalization, however, makes things easier. Customization may fulfill an impulse, but personalization males a difference for me in the long run. Honestly, Microsoft has not achieved “personalization nirvana” with Windows Phone 7. They have, however, taken a huge first step in this first release. When you see how fundamentally different the personalization aspect of Windows Phone 7 is, you can better understand why this operating system was a complete departure from Windows Mobile down to the very core of the operating system.

There is nothing wrong with making customization a priority over personalization, or vice-versa. It is, of course, a personal preference. It is a mistake, however, to say (accidentally or intentionally) that customization and personalization are one in the same. These two distinctly different concepts can make all of the difference between satisfaction and success when selecting a mobile device. Just remember to ask yourself what really matters the most.

10/16/2010 10:58:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 and “The Hundred Years War”#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Well, I sit at my keyboard typing on the eve of Microsoft’s “Big Event”. Tomorrow at 9:30am EDT in New York City, Steve Ballmer will unveil the long-awaited Windows Phone 7 platform (for those interested, the press conference will be live streaming here). For those who are involved with or follow the smartphone market closely, October 11th 2010 marks a day a long time in the making. I have had the great fortune to be quite close to all of the events of the last several years leading up to tomorrow, be they good or bad. There is a lot I would love to write about here, but cannot. Some things I will be able to write about in due time, while other things may never see the light of day. However, I thought I would take a few minutes to jot down some “safe” thoughts and observations this “Windows Phone 7 Launch Eve”.

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  • Whether you individually like it not, Windows Phone 7 marks a “company reset” for Microsoft when it comes to the role of a smartphone for the consumer market at large. Anyone who follows the industry (even casually) has read or heard from Microsoft executives about what Windows Phone 7 is all about and who the intended audience for Windows Phone 7 devices are intended. For diehard Windows Mobile users, this move will likely cause some pain; Windows Phone 7 introduces a number of new features and functionalities that are often at the expense of what Windows Mobile was or could do. Putting personal thoughts aside, I can only say one thing to those those who are upset by this change – Windows Mobile just wasn’t working.

    As much as there was (and likely will be) a very passionate and loyal Windows Mobile following, it was a VERY small passionate and loyal following. Such user segments are nice to have when market share is great, but when market share falls to single digits, it just isn’t enough. Even in the smartphone segment, there is history that backs this up. Simply look at failed attempts by Symbian/UIQ and the old Palm OS to build upon that small core of loyalty and the end result. In the end, it’s all about business folks – business was not good for the old Windows Mobile brand and change had to happen. For those upset by this change, the options *do* exist, but may not be what you want. Stick with what you have until you cannot any longer, or move on to another platform. For many Windows Mobile users, Android holds the greatest promise for now – Android frequently reminds me of Windows Mobile at its peak in both good ways and bad (good = control and customization, bad = platform fragmentation). I know this may all sound a bit harsh, but like I said – it’s just business and the reality we live with.
  • Speaking of “company resets” in philosophy, for those that think that the moves made with regards to Windows Phone 7 are solely out of desperation and cannot succeed, a little historical “reality check” is in order. This is far from the first time Microsoft has had such a significant change of heart. Remember the Microsoft of the ‘90s, that didn’t think this “Internet-thingy” was worthy of much attention. How about more recently, when the company realized that companies *didn’t* all want everything contained within their corporate firewall and cloud computing was something that had to addressed?

    Microsoft has tackled company shifts that in many ways dwarf the shift being made in the mobile space and has been reasonably successful in doing so. Does this guarantee success with Windows Phone 7? – absolutely not. But to simply dismiss any chance of success because of the shift is foolish, to say the least. Microsoft has too many people, too much talent and too much money to ever be dismissed. The key will be to see how these resources have been and will continue to be utilized to increase the chances for success.
     
  • While there are some things that have surfaced regarding Windows Phone 7 in the media that might sour some potential users (absence of “cut and paste” comes to mind Smile), there is something important to remember with regards to this technology segment – no one has ever gotten it all right in “Version 1”. Not Palm, not Microsoft, not Apple and not Google. The keys to success here (I believe both Apple and Google are doing this) are to “make a splash” up front and, more importantly, quickly evolve to meet demands of users and the industry at large. As someone who makes his livelihood working in this technology sector by dealing with potentially thousands of users and dozens (if not hundreds) of enterprises using all of these platforms, I can safely say that mobile platforms that evolve quickly to meet the demands and requirements of their target audience do gain acceptance.

    Windows Phone 7 will, by and large, will be found to have flaws in the minds of some users and businesses. However, there are enough compelling features at launch to get some to jump on board and others to pay close attention as Microsoft moves to meet their needs. Folks – most business users didn’t go within 10 feet of the iPhone in versions 1 and 2 of the OS. The same can be said for many in the early 1.x (and even early 2.x) features and limitations of Android. I can tell you from firsthand experience, however, that these platforms were never completely dismissed. Instead, the prevailing attitude was “let’s see what comes next.” Microsoft can put themselves in a good position to do the same with Windows Phone 7; personally, I believe they have done this based upon what I have seen. The key will be to adapt and evolve after October 11th, 2010. I also believe they will.
  • I find it amusing when I hear commentary in the mobile segment about “[Fill in the blank] has won the smartphone wars”. Folks – there is no such thing as a “war” here; only an ongoing set of “battles” that will constantly change and evolve over time. If anything, the “war” is more like The Hundred Years War when it comes to mobile technology. If it were truly a war, Palm would have won in the early 2000’s, Microsoft would have won in 2005 and Apple would have won in 2008. Last time I checked, none of those platforms owned a monopoly on the smartphone space.

    In this battle for market share, the companies involved have to be willing to commit to being in the arena for at least a couple of years in order to see any true results. If Google had only committed to 12 months, they wouldn’t be where they are today. Same goes for Apple. This simple fact is important to remember when it comes to Windows Phone 7. If unit sales aren’t astronomical for the first three months and market share has not shot through the roof, this is by know means a sign of failure. If only a few hundred units move in that timeframe, then – well, you’ve got the KIN Winking smile (BTW – The KIN is an entirely different story altogether; I believe we may never know all the details behind this failure unless someone writes a tell-all book).

In the end, I am extremely excited about what Windows Phone 7 brings to the mobile market and sincerely believe it will have an impact on the segment as a whole. I won’t be audacious or arrogant and try to predict the future here – I’ll leave that to the analysts Winking smile I do believe, however, that Windows Phone 7 will “bring enough to the table” tomorrow to at least become a player in this technology-based Hundred Years War. It sure will be fun to watch it all play out, too.

10/10/2010 10:23:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Create Games for Windows Phone 7#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Creating Games for Windows Phone 7 isn’t as hard as you think using XNA GameStudio 4.0. Over at the XNA Creators Club there are some great tutorials and an introduction to get your started. There is even a great beginner guide here.

Get introduced to Windows Phone 7, and phone game development with XNA Game Studio.This set of educational content is for all skill levels and phases of development, with a focus on introducing basic game techniques – such as input, graphics, and sound –to developers interested in making games on Windows Phone 7 using XNA Game Studio 4.0.

Phase One - Platform: Available Now!

Phase Two - Performance: Coming in September 2010

  • 3D Accelerometer-Based Game Lab
  • Dynamic Audio Sample
  • 3D Asset Types Article
  • Intro to Render Loop Article

Phase Three – Polish: Coming in October to November 2010

  • Social Game Lab
  • Best Practices Game State Management
  • Location and Photo Integration
  • Bonus: Augmented Reality Sample

To get started creating games head over to the XNA Creators Club now!

Note: to run this samples require XNA Game Studio 4.0 and the Windows Phone Developer Tools to run. A phone is not required. Download the tools here!

08/23/2010 18:01:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone Developer Tools Final will be Available Sept.16th,2010#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes


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Microsoft announced that the final build of the Windows Phone 7 developer tools will ship on September 16th and that the current tools have already been downloaded over 300,000 times (CTP and Beta versions).

Developers have been waiting patiently for the final release of these tools especially controls like Pivot,Panorama,List,Bing Maps, etc (Developers have had to build their own controls or use open-source versions available on the web to replicate the final build,look, and feel of Wndows Phone 7 apps).

Over at the WindowsTeam blog the following has been mentioned:

While our developer community has been busy stretching the capabilities of the application platform and developer tools, we have been working very closely with some amazing application and game developers to ensure that Windows Phone 7 customers have the applications they expect, across a wide swath of the categories they value. Here’s a just small sample of the variety of companies with whom we have been working:

Adenclassifieds, Allociné (including sister brands: Screenrush, Filmstarts, Sensacine), APPA Mundi Ltd, Artificial Life, Inc., ebay, Inc., Esurance Insurance Services, Inc, Flixster, Intelligent Touch Solutions Ltd., Jobsite UK (Worldwide), Limited, Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc., Le Figaro group, My Interactive Limited, Open Table, Inc., Pageonce, Inc., Panoramic Software, Inc., photobucket inc., REALTOR.COM® Real Estate Search  (Move, Inc.), Red Badger Consulting Limited, rising systems networks GmbH, Seesmic, Sequence Collective Ltd, TBS Field Mobility Solutions, The Associated Press, Touchnote, Trip Mate, Inc., Tx3 Solutions, vente-privée.com, Viadeo S.A

Of course, it’s not just the big names in development who are going to bring great titles to Windows Phone 7 customers. There are many multiples more of lesser known developers who are looking to be in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Large or small, all developers will have equal opportunity to capitalize on the first mover advantage of having their apps or games ready at launch. In order to do that, there are a few things developers will need to do:

  1. Register at the marketplace today

  2. Finish you application or game using the Beta tools

  3. Download the final Windows Phone Developer Tools when they are released on September 16th

  4. Recompile your app or game using the final tools

  5. Have your XAP ready for ingestion into the marketplace in early October when it opens

The final tools will likely have some minor breaking changes from the Beta tools, so developers may have to fix some bugs that arise. The final tools will also include several highly requested Silverlight controls which will make it even easier for developers to deliver high quality Windows Phone 7 experiences. Also in the September 16th final release, the panorama, pivot and Bing maps controls will all be available to drop into applications.

The developer tools, controls and application platform are great, but we also recognize the need for smart training. Just last week we released a course called the Windows Phone 7 Jump Start, delivered by two of our MVPs, Andy Wigley and Rob Miles. It includes 12 hours of classroom training and supporting exercises. We have also recently updated theWindows Phone 7 Developer Training Kit. We will be releasing many more hours of training in the coming weeks and months. For the XNA developers, the XNA Creator Club announced today a new set of educational materials.

08/23/2010 17:10:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 Firestarter & Garage Events#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

MSDN will be holding some Windows Phone 7 developer tech events at various MS Offices
around the country.

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The first event is an In-Person Event called a Windows Phone 7 Firestarter

Dream It. Build It.

The power to build smart, visually stunning games and applications is
right in your hands with Windows Phone 7. Want to see what’s under
the hood? This full-day series of learning events for developers
will take you behind the scenes with an inside look at the
philosophy, design language, and the fundamentals of Silverlight and
XNA coding for Windows Phone 7. You’ll also see how the Windows
Marketplace provides exciting new distribution and monetization
opportunities for developers and application publishers.
Join your local MSDN Events team and get ready to amplify your
creativity, productivity and market opportunities.

Morning Sessions:

Introduction to Windows Phone Development and the WP7 platform
Meet Windows Phone 7! We’re proud to introduce the innovative Windows
Phone 7 platform and explain the philosophy behind its all-new user
experience design. We’ll also outline the Metro design principles
and cover the basics of building applications for Windows Phone 7.
Finally, you’ll tour the Windows Phone Marketplace and get an
overview on its exciting revenue opportunities for developers and
application publishers.

Building Windows Phone 7 Applications with Silverlight
You’ve heard the fundamentals; now it’s time to dig a little deeper.
This session will focus on building Windows Phone 7 applications with
Microsoft Silverlight. You’ll see first-hand how to use Visual Studio
2010 and Expression Blend to develop and debug projects. You’ll also
learn about the built-in templates and the many available controls
and styles for WP7. We’ll wrap by covering how to consume services in
the cloud.

Building Windows Phone 7 Applications using XNA
Microsoft XNA has been a favorite with game developers for many years.
Now game developers will be able to harness the power of the XNA
framework to create highly immersive and responsive games for
Windows Phone 7.. We’ll charge full-speed into XNA to outline the
basic Windows Phone model, explore its core device characteristics,
and review the highlights of the XNA phone framework. Finally, we’ll
show you some of the cool and impressive games that have been
developed specifically for Windows Phone 7.
Lunch (included)

Afternoon Sessions:

Monetizing Your Apps with Marketplace
Windows Phone 7 will launch with a fully loaded Marketplace and the
opportunity for developers to sell or distribute their applications.
. In this session, you’ll get the details about how to navigate the
certification process and publish your application including updates.
Learn how to increase discoverability as well as deepen your
connection with your customers through the powerful business
intelligence capabilities of the marketplace.

Windows Phone 7 Services
Get ready to build more engaging user experiences with Windows Phone 7
and several powerful cloud- and phone-based components. First up is
the Microsoft Location Service, which allows you to obtain location
information based on GPS, cell and Wi-Fi signals. Next, we’ll cover
the Microsoft Push Notification Service, which provides “live”
updates for apps running on the device.

Light Up Windows Phone 7!
Device integration is how an application becomes an experience. In
this session, you’ll learn how to create the compelling and
interactive mobile experiences which users have come to have expect
by tying into device hardware such as the keyboard, touch input and
accelerometer. You’ll also learn how to incorporate audio and video
into your rich media solutions.
If you can dream it, you can build it with Windows Phone 7!

The second event is MSDN WP7 Evening Hands On Phone Garage Workshop

Stop Dreaming. Start Building.

Can’t wait to build the next big Windows Phone 7 application? We hear
you. The Windows Phone 7 platform represents a truly revolutionary
new opportunity for mobile app developers. That’s why we’re hosting
the evening Windows Phone Garage – and you don’t want to miss it.
This hands-on event immediately following the daytime Firestarter is
your chance to work through interactive learning labs and get
step-by-step instruction on developing for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft
and community experts will be on hand to share their wisdom and
provide one-on-one assistance as you work. You’ll also see “quick
hit” presentations throughout the evening that tackle key Windows
Phone 7 topics.

This is a great opportunity to design and implement your own
applications and (where available) deploy them to an actual Windows
Phone 7 device for testing, so gather your ideas and get ready to
code.

Prerequisites: Bring your ideas and design specs and prepare to build.
You’ll also need a computer installed with the Windows Phone
Developer Tools available here .
Seating is limited, due to the hands-on nature of this lab and the
opportunity for one-on-one instruction from Windows Phone 7 experts.

Register today – this event will sell out.

To find these and more WP7 related events in your area(sorry the US
only link) head here.

Here are some other Firestarter/Garage events coming up in the US.

8/24 - Atlanta - fire/garage
8/24 - Waltham - fire/garage
9/7 - New York - fire/garage
9/8 - Raleigh - fire/garage
9/21 - Charlotte - fire/garage
9/21 - Chevy Chase - fire/garage
9/22 - Philadelphia - fire/garage
9/28 - Pittsburgh - fire/garage
9/30 - Farmington - fire/garage

08/19/2010 18:13:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Xbox LIVE Titles Announced for Windows Phone 7#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

At Gamescom 2010, Microsoft announced the first wave of Xbox LIVE game titles headed for Windows Phone 7, set to launch this holiday season. Attendees received a glimpse of the gameplay experience on Windows Phone 7 devices with over 50 titles announced, a mix of exciting new games and old favorites for both the casual and hardcore gamer. Some that were announced were: “Halo: Waypoint” an Xbox LIVE hub where Halo fans can go to watch videos and engage with the Halo community, also will be available on the phone, for example. And games like “Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst” will be mobile companion games that offer different gameplay than the console versions, but will be set in the same universe. In addition, hits from Xbox LIVE Arcade like “Rocket Riot” also will make their exclusive mobile debut on Windows Phone 7.

The company also announced that its Windows Phone 7 games will be closely linked with the XBOX platform via Xbox LIVE, and said that gamers will be able to extend the experience of some of their favorite console franchises to the phone. Mobile users can earn achievements on-the-go, update their avatar and keep track of their gamerscore extending the Xbox experience on the go.

“We’re really approaching this as we would a console, so we have to deliver the breadth of games and the quality people expect from Xbox,” Unangst said. He said that’s why starting out with a strong portfolio of games is so important. “To have this quantity and quality of games committed this far ahead of launch, with even more to come, is a statement of support that says Windows Phone 7 will be a big success,” he said.

Among the first titles are familiar casual games like “Bejeweled” and “Uno” as well as new ones like “Game Chest” - a collection of card and board games. Those games should appeal to the target audience that’s all ready to buy a Windows Phone 7, Unangst said.

Microsoft’s mobile gaming portfolio also will appeal to Xbox’s millions of gamers, he said. Popular games like “CarneyVale: Showtime” will be ready to play this fall when the phone launches, for example. But going beyond bringing Xbox games over to Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is building mobile experiences that connect with and complement the Xbox 360 experience, Unangst said.

“Windows Phone 7 is the launch of a major gaming platform for Microsoft,” said Matt Booty, general manager of mobile gaming for MGS. “Just like we’ve done with Xbox 360, our charter is to push the envelope and deliver definitive games that maximize the platform. We will have an incredible lineup of MGS titles, and that’s just the beginning.”

The most creative minds in game development are bringing the biggest franchises to Windows Phone 7. The first wave of launch portfolio titles includes Xbox LIVE games from the likes of Gameloft, Konami Digital Entertainment, Namco Bandai, PopCap and THQ. Whether you choose to play a gem of a puzzler with “Bejeweled™ LIVE” (PopCap), bring down the house with “Guitar Hero 5” (Glu Mobile), fight off a destructive alien invasion in “The Harvest” (MGS), paint your way out of a corner with “Max and the Magic Marker” (PressPlay) or defend your city in “Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst” (MGS), the first wave of games announced in the launch portfolio of Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone 7 has something for every mobile gamer.

Games Lineup

The first wave of games announced in the launch portfolio of Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone 7 has something for every mobile gamer:

  • 3D Brick Breaker Revolution (Digital Chocolate)
  • Age of Zombies (Halfbrick)
  • Armor Valley (Protégé Games)
  • Asphalt 5 (Gameloft)
  • Assassins Creed (Gameloft)
  • Bejeweled™ LIVE (PopCap)
  • Bloons TD (Digital Goldfish)
  • Brain Challenge (Gameloft)
  • Bubble Town 2 (i-Play)
  • Butterfly (Press Start Studio)
  • CarneyVale Showtime (MGS)
  • Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst (MGS)
  • De Blob Revolution (THQ)
  • Deal or No Deal 2010 (i-Play)
  • Earthworm Jim (Gameloft)
  • Fast & Furious 7 (i-Play)
  • Fight Game Rivals (Khaeon)
  • Finger Physics (Mobliss Inc.)
  • Flight Control (Namco Bandai)
  • Flowerz (Carbonated Games)
  • Frogger (Konami Digital Entertainment)
  • Fruit Ninja (Halfbrick)
  • Game Chest-Board (MGS)
  • Game Chest-Card (MGS)
  • Game Chest-Logic (MGS)
  • Game Chest-Solitaire (MGS)
  • GeoDefense (Critical Thought)
  • Ghostscape (Psionic)
  • Glow Artisan (Powerhead Games)
  • Glyder 2 (Glu Mobile)
  • Guitar Hero 5 (Glu Mobile)
  • Halo Waypoint (MGS)
  • Hexic Rush (Carbonated Games)
  • I Dig It (InMotion)
  • iBlast Moki (Godzilab)
  • ilomilo (MGS)
  • Implode XL (IUGO)
  • Iquarium (Infinite Dreams)
  • Jet Car Stunts (True Axis)
  • Let's Golf 2 (Gameloft)
  • Little Wheel (One click dog)
  • Loondon (Flip N Tale)
  • Max and the Magic Marker (PressPlay)
  • Mini Squadron (Supermono Limited)
  • More Brain Exercise (Namco Bandai)
  • O.M.G. (Arkedo)
  • Puzzle Quest 2 (Namco Bandai)
  • Real Soccer 2 (Gameloft)
  • The Revenants (Chaotic Moon)
  • Rise of Glory (Revo Solutions)
  • Rocket Riot (Codeglue)
  • Splinter Cell Conviction (Gameloft)
  • Star Wars: Battle for Hoth (THQ)
  • Star Wars: Cantina (THQ)
  • The Harvest (MGS)
  • The Oregon Trail (Gameloft)
  • Tower Bloxx NY (Digital Chocolate)
  • Twin Blades (Press Start Studio)
  • UNO (Gameloft)
  • Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet (i-Play)
  • Zombie Attack! (IUGO)
  • Zombies!!!! (Babaroga)

Additional titles in the launch portfolio will be released between now and the Windows Phone 7 launch this holiday season; once the phone launches, new Xbox LIVE titles also will be added to the games portfolio every week.

For the latest news on Windows Phone and Xbox Live titles head here.

08/16/2010 18:49:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

REMINDER: User / Developer Group Meeting This Wednesday (Aug. 18, 2010)#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Time for your friendly reminder… Winking smile

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will be held this Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

Our main presentation of the evening will continue our series on Windows Phone 7 Application Development that began back in April. This moth’s topic -

“State” and “Notifications”: A Whole New Meaning in Windows Phone 7
.NET Compact Framework developers who hear the words “state” and “notifications” invariably think of the State and Notification API, used to respond to various device state information and events. In Windows Phone 7, however, these words take on an entirely different and potentially critical meaning for application developers.

In this presentation, you will learn about the new application lifecycle for Windows Phone 7 applications and understand the importance of managing application state and responding to OS-level events. You will also learn about the use of the Microsoft Push Notification service as a means to communicate information to users when your application is not running.

We will also be repeating our very special drawing of the July meeting. One lucky attendee will receive a 1-year Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscriptioncourtesy of Microsoft! Nothing special required – just be in attendance.

I look forward to seeing everybody there!

08/15/2010 09:19:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Resco Continues to Add Support, Tools for Windows Phone 7 Developers#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Resco, a long-standing supporter of the Windows Mobile platform for both consumers and developers, has announced further support for Windows Phone 7 developers in two areas -

  • Resco has released a Technical Preview of what is now being called the Resco MobileLight Toolkit. Similar to their already successful MobileForms Toolkit for the .NET Compact Framework, the MobileLight Toolkit will provide a rich set of Silverlight controls for Windows Phone 7 -

    “The first version of the Resco MobileLight Toolkit—scheduled for September 28, 2010—will include two most frequently used controls: Resco AdvancedList and Resco DetailView. After the release, Resco will continually add new controls, such as Calendar, Grid, etc. The controls’ UI will meet the Windows Phone 7 Series UI Design & Interaction Guide in order to fulfill the Windows Phone 7 graphics and usage standards.”

    RescoMobileLightAL
  • Resco has announced that their recently-released MobileApp Studio, a rapid application development tool suite for Visual Studio, will be extended to support Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft is investing a great deal of effort in recruiting developers for the Windows Phone 7 platform. Part of a successful recruiting strategy is to show not only the “home-grown” tools Microsoft provides, but to demonstrate the rich partner ecosystem around application development. Resco once again is stepping up in this regard, providing additional proof of the potential of the platform.

Thanks, Resco!

08/10/2010 15:22:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

NEXT USER/DEVELOPER GROUP MEETING: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

I cannot recall the last time I posted the announcement of our Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups meeting so far in advance. It’s always nice to have a vision beyond 30 days, I tell you… Winking smile

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Groups will be held on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

Our main presentation of the evening will continue our series on Windows Phone 7 Application Development that began back in April. This moth’s topic -

“State” and “Notifications”: A Whole New Meaning in Windows Phone 7
.NET Compact Framework developers who hear the words “state” and “notifications” invariably think of the State and Notification API, used to respond to various device state information and events. In Windows Phone 7, however, these words take on an entirely different and potentially critical meaning for application developers.

In this presentation, you will learn about the new application lifecycle for Windows Phone 7 applications and understand the importance of managing application state and responding to OS-level events. You will also learn about the use of the Microsoft Push Notification service as a means to communicate information to users when your application is not running.

We will also be repeating our very special drawing of the July meeting. One lucky attendee will receive a 1-year Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN subscription courtesy of Microsoft! Nothing special required – just be in attendance.

I look forward to seeing everybody there!

07/22/2010 12:55:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

WP7DEV: Where Are My Files On The Emulator?#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Recently, I’ve seen a number of questions posted in various forums that typically come in the form of something like -

“I am using the Windows Phone 7 Device Emulator to test my application. The application creates data which is saved in Isolated Storage. The other day I ran tests. I then ended the day and shut down Visual Studio and the emulator. When I started the next day’s work, I discovered that the data I had created are nowhere to be found on the emulator.

Where on my hard drive are the files related to Isolated Storage data?”

I’ve also been asked similar questions like this a lot lately. If I wanted to be blunt, the best answer would be – They’re gone. Bye-bye. I think a bit more of an explanation is in order, however Smile

CloseEmu

It’s important to being with by saying that the device emulator is just that – an emulator. It is a self-contained emulation of a device from both a hardware and software perspective. This includes the ROM image for the device and “local storage” for the device. As such, data written to the emulator is stored within the confines of the emulator session.

In past versions of Windows Mobile development, shutting down an emulator would first prompt you to save the current state of the device.

Close65Emu

If you said yes to this question, the emulator would write out the current state of the emulator (including applications running in memory and data written to file systems) to your local hard drive. The next time you started the emulator, this information would be used to restore the emulator to it’s last running state. Think of it like hibernation on a PC. If you said no to saving state, the data written during the current session would be lost.

The Windows Phone 7 device emulator works on the same principle, with one major difference – the current implementation of the emulator does not give you the option to save emulator state. In other words – once shut down, your device data is gone.

I am not certain of any plans to bring the Windows Phone 7 emulator to a par with it’s Windows Mobile 6.5 brethren. I would image the state persistence will come eventually. In the meantime, just remember – once you close the device emulator, anything you had created in the form of data on the device (files in isolated storage, contacts, etc) are gone. 

07/22/2010 08:02:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

UPDATE: User and Developer Group Meeting Next Wednesday (July 21, 2010)#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Just a friendly reminder (and an update at the bottom of this post) -

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Group will take place on Wednesday, July 21st starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

Continuing our meeting focus on preparing for Windows Phone 7 development, I will be presenting “Silverlight UI Tips and Tricks for Windows Phone Developers” -

In our previous presentation on Windows Phone 7 development for Compact Framework developers, be were introduced to the essentials surrounding UI development with Silverlight and Visual Studio 2010. The logical “next step” in the learning process is to enhance our user interfaces using the powerful capabilities that Silverlight provdes.

In this presentation, you will be introduced to animation capabilities to enhance your Windows Phone 7 UI. You will also learn about data access and data binding capabilities and see how to leverage “the cloud” and services it provides.

We will also be kicking off our meeting with a group discussion on Essential Applications for Windows Mobile. We have these discussions from time to time, and we’ve been asked to have another. We’re always willing to oblige in that respect <img alt=" src="http://www.bostonpocketpc.com/smilies/happy.gif" />

As for the update – in addition to our normal selection of items for our attendee giveaway at the end of each meeting, we have a very special giveaway this month courtesy of Microsoft. One lucky attendee this month will receive a Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN 1-year subscription!

ff520604_Tile_VS10-Ult-msdn_v_rgb(en-us,MSDN_10)

If you are unaware of the value of this subscription, simply head over to the MSDN Subscriptions Comparison page (and be amazed). As always, there is no signup or fee required for attending our meetings, so I look forward to seeing you there! 

07/14/2010 08:06:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 SDK Beta and Developer Training Kit Refresh Now Available#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Well, it’s a bit later than expected, but it’s well worth the wait. Microsoft announced at the Worldwide Partners Conference on Monday the availability of the Beta (that’s right – beta) of the Windows Phone 7 SDK and Tools for developers.

WP-vert-web

Among the highlights -

  • In addition to the inclusion of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone Developers, the beta is compatible with the RTM version of Visual Studio 2010 (no more VS 2010 RC for me).
  • The tools also include a beta version of Microsoft Expression Blend for Windows Phone. This version will install side-by-side with Microsoft Expression Blend 4 (another long-awaited install for yours truly).
  • Very important to note – this release of the SDK includes a number of potentially breaking changes for previous users of the CTP version of the SDK. Fortunately, both the release notes included with the beta SDK and this blog post from Jaime Rodriguez walk through the required changes to CTP-based applications.

Rather than walk through all the highlights, the best advice I can give is to visit the Windows Phone Developer blog for all the details. You can also download the tools beta from the Windows Phone Developer homepage.

In a related note, Microsoft has also released an updated version of the Windows Phone Training Kit. The kit has been updated to include labs covering newly exposed features, including the Launcher and Chooser APIs for performing common tasks, as well as handling “tombstoning”, the OS process involved with terminating (but maintaining state) in your application when a launcher or chooser is used. There are also lots of other little enhancements included, many of which are detailed in this post on the Windows Phone Developer blog. You can also download the training kit from this post or the Windows Phone Developer website.

Happy coding!

07/14/2010 07:54:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Next Windows Phone User/Developer Group Meeting – July 21, 2010#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

The next meeting of the Boston/New England Windows Phone User and Developer Group will take place on Wednesday, July 21st starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor).

Map picture

Continuing our meeting focus on preparing for Windows Phone 7 development, I will be presenting “Silverlight UI Tips and Tricks for Windows Phone Developers” -

In our previous presentation on Windows Phone 7 development for Compact Framework developers, be were introduced to the essentials surrounding UI development with Silverlight and Visual Studio 2010. The logical “next step” in the learning process is to enhance our user interfaces using the powerful capabiliities that SIlverlight provdes.

In this presentation, you will be introduced to animation capabilities to enhance your Windows Phone 7 UI. You will also learn about data access and data binding capabilities and see how to leverage “the cloud” and services it provides.

We will also be kicking off our meeting with a group discussion on Essential Applications for Windows Mobile. We have these discussions from time to time, and we’ve been asked to have another. We’re always willing to oblige in that respect :-)

I look forward to seeing you there!

06/18/2010 07:46:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

REMINDER: User/Developer Group Meeting THIS WEDNESDAY, June 16th#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Just a friendly reminder – the next meeting of the Boston/New England User and Developer Group will be held this Wednesday (June 16th) starting at 6:30pm at the Microsoft offices in Waltham, MA (201 Jones Road, 6th Floor). For details, check out this post or visit our Facebook page.

I am looking forward to presenting another in our series of Windows Phone 7 development topics. This time, it’s Silverlight UI Development Essentials for Windows Phone Developers. This topic is big enough to warrant a second session on more advanced topics, so it looks like our July meeting agenda is now set :-)

I look forward to seeing you all there!

06/13/2010 09:36:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7 Developer CTP Refresh Now Available#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

According to the Windows Phone Developer Blog, a refresh of the Windows Phone 7 Developer CTP is now available for download! -

WP-vert-web

Beginning today you can download the Windows Phone Developer Tools CTP Refresh (WPDT CTP) from http://developer.windowsphone.com, which means you can now build Windows Phone 7 apps on the final release of Visual Studio 2010 (VS2010). While this update is primarily intended to enable development using the final release of VS2010 there are a few new things here too.”

In addition to the big item of Visual Studio 2010 RTM compatibility (I know a few people eagerly awaiting this), there are a number of other enhancements -

  • This release has been tested to work with the final release of Visual Studio 2010.
  • An updated Windows Phone 7 OS image for the Windows Phone Emulator.
  • A few APIs in the frameworks have been added and or changed. See this MSDN page for more details.
  • The documentation has been updated with new and expanded topics. See this MSDN page for more details.
  • We’ve provided limited support for launchers and choosers. In cases where the underlying built-in experience is not present launchers and choosers are still not available (i.e. the email chooser asks you to select a contact, but there are no contacts in the emulator and no way to add one).
  • Pause/Resume events are now supported.
  • If the tools are installed as the admin user, non-admin users are now able to deploy to the emulator.
  • A problem with incremental deployment of projects has been fixed.
  • A problem resulting in the error "Connection failed because of invalid command-line arguments" being displayed during project creation has been fixed.
  • A problem where the Windows Phone node was not appearing in VS 2010 on non-system drives has been fixed.
  • Design time skin refresh issues have been addressed.

Be sure to read the Release and Installation Notes for important instructions!

04/29/2010 12:47:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Why KIN and Windows Phone 7 Can Succeed – Getting User Experiences#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

Print WP-vert-web

It’s fortunate that we all have the ability as humans to grow, mature and learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the ability to adapt and learn. This fundamental principle not only applies to “macro” topics like culture; it applies to the little things as well. Cellular technology and its uses are one such example.

When cell phones first came into existence, there was essentially one use for the new technology – to make and receive phone calls. Time passed, and the emergence of the Personal Digital Assistant (“PDA”) eventually merged with the cell phone to create what came to be known as the “smart phone” – a cellular phone that could also be used to digitally maintain and manage your life. While this technology evolved, something else evolved. People began to use the technology and evolve in the ways we use the technology, as well as what we expect from the technology. As we look at today (2010) and compare how people view and expect to use smart phones to a decade ago, a lot has changed.

Ten years ago, we were all trying to figure out the best way to take advantage of smart phone technology. Not only the makers of the technology, but also the users of the technology. Different companies took different approaches. For Microsoft, the approach was simple – give users the ability to do many of things they did on a computer in a smaller, more mobile form. This is what led to the Pocket PC platform and eventually extended to the Microsoft Smartphone operating system. For the most part, no one really knew well (and could only assume) how user should interact with and experience working with a platform of this type – there really just was not enough information. Microsoft took a logical approach of familiarity; try to give users a look and feel similar to what they had on the Windows operating system. For a while, this approach worked and worked quite well. But time marched on, and along with it users comfort, experience and desires with regard to smart phones. As a result, the focus of expected user experiences also changed. This became strikingly apparent when Apple introduced the iPhone to the world.

Say what you will about Apple. Whether you like them or not, Apple does one thing as a company better than anyone in the technology sector – they research and understand targeting users and understanding their expectations for user experiences. Apple has made their living by identifying a market segment, intimately understanding how they interact with a given technology (or more importantly, how they want to interact with a given technology), and crafting a solution based upon those needs and desires. They had proven themselves time and time again with OSX as an operating system and the iPod as a media platform. While these technologies may not appeal to you or I, they did appeal to millions (I now explain to people regularly why I am not an iPod user or an OSX devotee as simply “I am not Apple’s target audience”). Apple’s next target was the cellular market – an we all know about the success of the iPhone. By identifying and understanding a user base of cell phone users, Apple created a user experience destined for success for that user base. While this was going on, Microsoft continued its focus on enabling users to do a lot of things with their now Windows Mobile devices. However, the user experience around Windows Mobile seemed to be secondary when it came to features. Which leads us to the present time.

Microsoft has shown in recent years that they are increasingly “getting it” when it comes to the user experience. While Windows Vista wasn’t the success Microsoft had hoped for, it was obvious that Microsoft was moving the desktop computing experience towards more “user-focused” features. Windows 7 has taken that design thinking to the next level, and early indicators are pointing to success in this regard. Microsoft has also shown their understanding of user experiences with both their Xbox and Zune platforms. While Zune has never achieved the sales numbers that people would have liked or expected, the customer satisfaction numbers for Zune prove that Microsoft is at least listening and responding to a targeted user bases’ needs (I think it is easy enough to argue that while their technology focus has improved, their marketing strategy still leaves much to be desired). Now, Microsoft has turned its “user experience crosshairs” on the area where they most critically need it – their mobile phone business.

If you look closely at the announced KIN platform and first devices, you can see that Microsoft has targeted a very focused user segment. This audience is all about the phone being used for connecting with friends, be it by call, email or social network. They also created very useful user experiences around all of this functionality. In the KIN, Microsoft has designed not only to do things, but to do things in a fun and efficient way.

Microsoft has taken this same approach with Windows Phone 7. They have looked at a targeted user base and focused on creating both fun and efficient user experiences to match up with user’s needs. In this respect, I am excited about Windows Phone 7. Not so much the “fun” side (although I do like fun) of the platform, mind you; I am looking forward to the efficiency. In this way, I too have evolved as a user of smart phones. While I enjoy the amount of control I have with a current Windows Mobile device, I have come to realize that is not what I really crave. I crave the ability to do the things I do on the phone in an efficient manner. I now leave the control and customization part of technology to my desktop and notebook computers. By the way – I’ve come to recognize this in my use of netbook computers as well. I craved the form factor, but the restricted power of a netbook was too hindering for me. I now realize that I am not the “target audience” for a netbook. Instead, I am the target audience for a small form-factor notebook.

KIN and Windows Phone 7 are not for everyone – I realize that. I know first-hand many existing Windows Mobile users who are upset with the decisions Microsoft has made in their mobile phone strategy. For Microsoft to succeed (or even survive) in this market, however, Microsoft has had to evolve along with users of the technology. Unfortunately, targeting certain user segments also leaves others out of the equation. From working in this segment on a daily basis, though, I can safely say the “old” market segment is much smaller than the “new” and “evolved” segment. In the end, it is about business.

Both the KIN and Windows Phone 7 platforms truly have the tools to be a success. They address how users have evolved in their usage and expectations of mobile phones. If Microsoft can effectively market that point to the world, they have the ability to once again be a major player in this market. 

04/24/2010 11:29:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Mobile and The Enterprise: What’s Next?#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

As many of you might have already heard, Microsoft has plans for the current version of Windows Mobile (6.5) beyond the launch of Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is bringing Windows Mobile operating system under the control of the Windows Embedded Business (“WEB”) group. This group has previously been responsible for the Windows CE business and works closely with OEMs focused on specialized hardware for business.

Microsoft is fully committed to the Windows Mobile operating system as well as the associated application development tools for the long term, which is great news for enterprises that are heavily invested in Windows Mobile hardware; “Great news” at least on the surface. There is, however, a looming concern for certain types of enterprises as the launch of Windows Phone 7 draws closer. A little elaboration is in order here.

As is the case with most of Microsoft’s operating system businesses (exceptions include Zune and Xbox), Microsoft relies heavily on hardware manufacturers (the OEMs) to choose and license the operating system. Traditionally, the WEB group has partnered with OEMs either focused on specific vertical markets (healthcare devices, for example) or use case scenarios (field service technicians, military) for using the Windows Embedded platform to create highly specialized solutions. Now, Windows Mobile does fit nicely into one aspect of the current business. For enterprises requiring a more “generalized” operating system (versus highly-customized), an enterprise application development platform (think .NET and .NET Compact Framework) and device durability, Microsoft’s partners like Motorola/Symbol, Intermec and Honeywell fit quite well. They will continue to be key partners in supporting Windows Mobile as it moves forward. There is, however, another key enterprise customer here that these devices do not address. Take, for example, the following hypothetical enterprise customer (when I say “hypothetical” here, many of these types of customers do exist; I am just generalizing the type rather than stating by name):

My company currently has hundreds/thousands of Windows Mobile devices deployed throughout our organization. We chose Windows Mobile for several reasons, including:

  • Custom Line of Business applications.
    Our organization has developed (at great expense) applications that integrate with our enterprise infrastructure. They have been built using the .NET Compact Framework and are capable of occasionally-connected scenarios thanks to Microsoft SQL Server CE. These applications used by personnel throughout our company (including key decision-makers) are now considered “mission-critical” to our business.
    Windows Mobile also provides us with a variety of application deployment options, including OTA download and install via device management solutions.
  • Device configuration and customization.
    The Windows Mobile operating system provides us with the capability to tailor configurations and settings to meet both corporate and user requirements.
  • Security.
    Windows Mobile provides us with the security features to meet our business and regulatory compliance needs.

The most important factor with this type of customer as it relates to hardware is that they typically do not need or wish to pay for a ruggedized solution. These users are “information workers” that are highly mobile and best benefit from the smaller form factors a consumer-oriented device provides. So, what can this type of enterprise user of Windows Mobile expect in the near future?

While the Windows Mobile operating system will be alive and well for these customers, the big looming question is – Will there be an OEM continuing to build “consumer-like” Windows Mobile devices once Windows Phone 7 ships? If one looks to the WEB group, there is cause for concern here. This group has traditionally (and rightly so) focused on specific verticals and “blue collar” scenarios for partners. My hypothetical company example just isn’t their business. Now while I acknowledge that it is not Microsoft’s roll as the operating system vendor to force OEMs to develop for a platform or market, they should at least promote that market. My concern – I don’t see that happening. Instead, I fear these enterprises will be branded as “consumers” and considered simply a Windows Phone 7 target. REALITY CHECK – they simply are not for the following reasons:

  • Windows Phone 7 in it’s initial incarnation is not targeted to meet many Line of Business application needs.
    The sandboxed application model, no database engine for storage of large and complex data structures and new programming tools platform (Silverlight) make this a “no-option” for many enterprises. One could come up with workarounds to overcome the obstacles, but even those would require extensive application rewrites.  
  • Lack of device control by the enterprise.
    Whether talking about application deployment, device configuration or device customization, Windows Phone 7 just is not an option. This is a very controlled platform, once again leaving enterprises needing that functionality out in the cold.

So, what is our hypothetical company to do? Well, we’ll stay on Windows 6.5 of course. But what happens after Windows Phone 7 launch when new employees are hired, or phones break, are lost or stolen. Simple we go by new ones from… uh-oh. You see, this isn’t about the operating system or the development platform. It’s all about the hardware.

All of this leads me to the two following pleas:

  1. Microsoft – Please consider promoting the case for Windows Mobile consumer hardware to OEMs. There is an identifiable and quantifiable market here – you don’t have to make numbers up. Simply do the math on break/replace rates and look at enterprise adoption numbers.
  2. OEMs – Please consider making these types of devices. Think about it this way… If you are the one company that steps up to the plate and makes this commitment, imagine the large and quite captive audience you will cater to.

Outside of this happening, the only advice I can give to enterprises like the one described in this post is – start hording devices now to build up inventory in advance of the coming hardware “famine”.

04/22/2010 10:16:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Windows Phone 7: Price Matters!#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

During last night’s monthly user and developer group meeting, we covered a number of items. Steve Hughes’ KIN presentation was great in providing lots of info. We also covered an overview of Windows Phone 7 development (SIDE NOTE: We are planning a number of focused developer presentations in the coming months on various aspects of Windows Phone 7 development. Stay tuned for more details…).

During the meeting, a recurring theme emerged. It spanned both the KIN and Windows Phone 7, and it is an area that is essential for both platforms’ success. It is also an area that has been a sore point for Microsoft and it’s partners throughout the life of the Pocket PC, Smartphone, Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone – price competitiveness. It is an area that if not addressed will potentially cause history to repeat itself and risk the failure of the platforms regardless of the the values they provide.

The cellular industry has a long history of product pricing through subsidies that reduce the cost of a phone for the consumer. While we all know that the physical phone is but one “cost” when combined with voice, data and additional services, the general consumer expectation has been that the cost of hardware should not be an obstacle in making a purchase. This has become a sort of “immutable law” for the average consumer when it comes to cell phones. For many of you reading this piece, this line of reasoning does not apply (and rightly so). Your love of “gadgetry” supersedes cost. But remember – you are the exception, not the rule. Just think about significant others, family and friends who have questioned your sanity about the amount of money spent on such technology :-) All this brings us back to the history of Windows Mobile in the cellular market space.

Traditionally, device manufacturers using the Windows Mobile operating system and mobile operators (the AT&Ts, Verizons, etc of the world) have chosen to brand these devices as “high-end” and often priced them closer to traditional computers than phones. At the same time, the industry still treats them as “disposable devices” in terms of shelf-life (translation – you, the consumer, are willing to upgrade to new hardware on a frequent basis at “discounted” prices in return for renewing service agreements). At prices that are often still $100 - $200 USD over other phones (even after subsidies and discounts), the perception to the average consumer is often “that’s an awful lot of money for something that I won’t keep forever.”

I will grant you that Microsoft is working hard with Windows Phone 7 to attempt to add long term value to Windows Phone 7 devices. But they are not the device manufacturer nor are they the mobile operator, both who see value in you not keeping a single device for long periods of time. That being said, what else will drive sales of new Windows Phone 7 devices. Ironically, the answer lies with Apple, AT&T and (of course) the iPhone.

While initial sales of the original iPhone were good, it was not until the iPhone price drop (remember the event that had many early iPhone adopters feeling foolish for paying so much?) that truly drove sales. Since then, there has been a continuous and very conscientious effort of Apple and AT&T’s parts to bring new devices to market at lower prices. The most recent example – the entry price for the iPad coming in at under $500 and resulting amazing sales numbers – shows that competitive pricing in this segment matters. Price matters. The iPhone and iPad have, in essence, revolutionized another aspect of technology (at least in the cellular space) – powerful devices at affordable prices (at least that is what the numbers show).

For both KIN and Windows Phone 7, price will matter. IN the case of KIN, which Microsoft themselves brand as a “feature phone with great features”, but not a smartphone, pricing this device significantly above other feature phones will likely be disastrous – history and the numbers simply don’t lie. Interestingly enough for Microsoft, this is the first phone for them in which they are actually closer to being the manufacturer than ever before (while Sharp was their hardware partner here, Microsoft really ran the design part of things). Such is not the case with Windows Mobile, nor will it be the case with Windows Phone 7; Microsoft is simply the operating system licenser. However, Microsoft has the most to lose or gain with it’s investment in Windows Phone 7 (keep in mind that most of the device manufacturers are currently hedging their bets on the operating system front with Android as well).

So, how does Microsoft ensure price competitiveness with Windows Phone 7 devices? I don’t know the final answer here. Some common sense possibilities include putting pressure on the device manufacturers and mobile operators to ensure cost competitiveness (although that really hasn’t worked out in the past). Perhaps Microsoft themselves stepping up (at least initially) to cover some of the subsidy cost in order to improve chances of success. Regardless – something has to be done here to make certain that Windows Phone 7 devices do not show up on mobile operators shelves with prices that induce consumer “sticker shock”.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana

For Microsoft and it’s partners in the cellular space, these words have never rung more true. Regardless of capabilities or of “sex and sizzle”, KIN and Windows Phone 7 devices risk being relegated to inventory shelves if they cannot entice average consumers with effective competitive pricing.      

04/22/2010 08:42:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

All content © 2017, Don Sorcinelli
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WP7DEV: Where Are My Files On The Emulator?
UPDATE: User and Developer Group Meeting Next Wednesday (July 21, 2010)
Windows Phone 7 SDK Beta and Developer Training Kit Refresh Now Available
Next Windows Phone User/Developer Group Meeting – July 21, 2010
REMINDER: User/Developer Group Meeting THIS WEDNESDAY, June 16th
Windows Phone 7 Developer CTP Refresh Now Available
Why KIN and Windows Phone 7 Can Succeed – Getting User Experiences
Windows Mobile and The Enterprise: What’s Next?
Windows Phone 7: Price Matters!
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September 19th, 2012

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