In our review of the Xbox One, we talked about the potential of the console as a platform that will evolve over the course of this generation. According to ZDNet, part of that evolution will include unifying the game console even further with the Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. An update codenamed “Threshold,” reportedly set to be released in 2015, will roll out to virtually every Windows-powered device. If the site’s sources are correct, this convergence will bring even more shared features and capabilities to Microsoft’s lineup than the previously-reported merging of Windows RT and Windows Phone. This update could also play a significant part in the single, OS-wide app store that Microsoft is working to bring to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1.
Microsoft’s mobile platform has made some impressive gains over the last year and the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel show that Windows Phone’s market share has passed the 10% barrier across Europe’s five biggest markets, a huge improvement from a year ago when it accounted for under 5% of smartphones sold across the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Windows Phone sales have gotten a big boost in Europe thanks to the efforts of Nokia, which has long been a popular brand in the Eurozone and which this year released some top-notch handsets such as the Lumia 1020 alongside some very competitive budget handsets such as the Lumia 520.
Windows Phone has definitely shown some very promising momentum this year and it has soundly beat BlackBerry in the race to become the world’s No. 3 mobile platform. But there’s one asterisk next to Windows Phone’s impressive growth in 2013: It’s been driven almost entirely by low-end and mid-range smartphones while it’s languished in the high-end market dominated by the iPhone 5s and the Galaxy S4. Neowin points us to the latest research from AdDuplex showing that just 1 of the top 4 Windows Phones in the world is a high-end model while the rest of the platform’s top devices are in the low-to-mid-range market.
Rockstar Games on Tuesday announced that its popular “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” console game will be available on mobile devices this December. The game will work on select iOS 7, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows Phone devices, although the developer has not revealed launch dates or prices for either of these platforms yet. According to the developer, the mobile version of the game has been upgraded, featuring “newly remastered graphics including dynamic and detailed shadows, grater draw distance, an enriched color palette,” and enhanced character and car models. Rockstar Games has also announced that the iOS 7 version of the game will launch with full support for mobile gaming controllers.
Although Windows Phone’s app market trails the iOS and Android app markets in just about every metric, it has received some good news the past couple days. On Wednesday, Instagram launched its Windows Phone app (though, without video support). On Thursday, a Strategy Analytics suvey suggests app developers are warming up to Windows Phone. And to cap it all off, Microsoft has now released some statistics to Neowin that show increased activity on the Windows Phone platform. More →
Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app acquired by Facebook for $1 billion last year, is finally coming to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. The announcement came early Tuesday morning from the Nokia World 2013 conference in Abu Dhabi. ”Our ultimate goal is to bring Instagram to everyone who wants to use it,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said on stage as he joined Nokia executives during the company’s keynote presentation. “We’re looking forward to watching the Windows Phone community use Instagram to capture and share beautiful moments in the coming weeks.” Windows Phone has seen numerous unofficial Instagram clients launch in the past, however many of them were eventually blocked by the company. According to Systrom, the Instagram app for Windows Phone will launch sometime in the next few weeks.
Microsoft may not be planning to perpetually support three different operating systems after all. An unnamed source tells ZDNet that Microsoft will likely fold its tablet-centric Windows RT into its Windows Phone smartphone operating system by 2015, a move that would let Microsoft use the same OS for smartphones and tablets, just as Apple and Google respectively use iOS and Android for both form factors. ZDNet speculates that “because it tends to be easier to take a ‘smaller’ OS and add to it than to take a larger one and remove features from it, it’s likely that the Windows Phone OS is the one on top of which the new operating systems group will build.” A move to combine the two operating systems into one makes a lot of sense, especially if Microsoft really does plan on creating a single app store for both Windows and Windows Phone platforms.
HTC’s disastrous Q3 performance has triggered speculation about how the company may try its luck in the Windows Phone market after getting clobbered by tough Android rivals. Microsoft may be considering waiving its licensing fee to keep HTC involved in Windows device design. HTC is also widely expected to finally pivot towards cheaper price points now that its premium phone strategy has seemingly gone up in flames. The problem with all this is that price competition in the budget Windows Phone market is going to be intolerable to HTC considering its quarterly smartphone shipment volume hovers around 6 million units. More →
Now that the new Surface tablets have made their debut, Microsoft might be looking to add one more incentive to its trade-in program later this week. According to Forbes, “an inside source at Microsoft” said that the in-store exchange program will expand this Friday to include the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 at some Microsoft Stores in the U.S. and Canada. Microsoft will reportedly offer its customers a minimum of $200 for Apple’s phones, which is identical to the iPad promotion already in place. Keep in mind Microsoft is already offering to buy back Android and iOS devices via an online program, so it would appear that the company will soon have all its bases covered.
With occasionally unreliable autocorrect software and periodically clumsy fingers, typing on a virtual keyboard has never been easy. Take these issues and couple them with slow response time, and it’s no wonder so many of our text messages end up riddled with errors. Cloud gaming company Agawi wanted to know which phones responded the fastest, and so the company set up a series of benchmarks (called TouchMarks) to measure touch responsiveness. More →
Microsoft is now in the handset business. The company’s shocking announcement Tuesday morning that it will acquire Nokia’s devices and services businesses for $7.2 billion has set industry watchers aflutter, and analyses on both sides of the fence are emerging. Needless to say, however, most seem bearish on the deal. Ben Thompson is currently the growth engineer at Automattic, maker of WordPress, but he has formerly held positions at Microsoft and Apple so he certainly has a unique inside perspective — and according to Thompson, Microsoft’s Nokia buy is “the deal that makes no sense.” More →
A picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes a chart is worth even more. Microsoft’s announcement late last week that Steve Ballmer would step down from his role as chief executive within the next year rocked the tech world, though it was hardly a real surprise. While Microsoft is still the largest software company on the planet, Ballmer has been widely criticized for the past few years due to Microsoft’s failure to address the exploding smartphone and tablet markets. While Microsoft’s future likely isn’t quite as bleak as some make it out to be, there is no question that its mobile efforts in recent years have failed — after three years, Windows Phone’s global market share is now just 3.7% and in the tablet space, Windows RT has hardly been well received. The following chart from mobile analyst Benedict Evans shows exactly why Microsoft’s minuscule smartphone presence and late, ill-received move into the tablet market is, as Evans puts it, a failure: More →
Nokia is getting ready to unveil a full HD phablet that will launch later this year alongside the company’s first Windows RT tablet, a new report claims. Windows Phone Central on Wednesday evening posted what it claims to be several key specs from Nokia’s upcoming phablet, which an earlier report said will be unveiled in late September. According to WPCentral, the new phone will feature a 6-inch 1080p display, a quad-core processor, a 20-megapixel camera and an updated version of the Windows Phone operating system. The unnamed device will supposedly be unveiled on September 26th and it may debut alongside Nokia’s upcoming Windows RT tablet, which is shaping up to be a pretty huge mess.