Microsoft Announces Free Upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8.1 Users

Microsoft Announces Free Upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Users.  This also includes free upgrades for those running Windows Phone 8.1 as well. This was announced today at the Windows 10 The Next Chapter event.  What is not known is if you can upgrade from Windows 8 straight to Windows 10 or if you will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 first. Also I did not hear about Windows RT in any version. Looks like Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Phone 8 and older are out of luck.  This free upgrade is available for the first year after Windows 10 is released.

 

This has never happened before to his extent.  Microsoft did make Windows 8.1 free to Windows 8 users but Windows 8.1 was not a full featured release like Windows 10.  This should come as welcome news to anyone running Windows 8.1 and for most running Windows 7.  I wonder what else will be announced today.

I am Still Betting on Windows Phone in 2015

Laugh if you will, tell me any of your reasons but I am still betting on Windows Phone in 2015! Toward the end of 2012 I upgraded my phone and my wife’s phone to two Nokia Lumia 822 Windows Phones without hesitation.  I previously had used a HTC Trophy Windows Phone 7 device and my wife was using an LG Fathom Windows Mobile device.  Over the course of the past two years there have been some ups and downs for Windows Phone 8 and as we were up for upgrade I questioned whether to stay with Windows Phone going forward.  There were a few things that factored into my decision to stay with Windows Phone.  First was the cost of the iPhone which even on Verizon Edge was going to be more expensive than I am willing to pay.  Second was the fragmentation of Android, finding an Android 5.0 device on Verizon is not the easiest thing and Verizon is not known for being speedy on software updates.  With Windows Phone at least I can upgrade to the newest software through the Preview for Developers. Third, I think Windows Phone will find its best success with Windows 10 as Microsoft merges the two together.

So what did I go with then?  I tracked down a Nokia Lumia Icon for me (The Icon is really the US version of the Lumia 930) Verizon did not have many left and I had to have them call around to find one.  My wife got the HTC One M8 for Windows which seems to be selling well as it was also in short supply.  I am very happy with both devices, my wife uses her phone more than any other device so this time around I wanted a phone that could keep up and it already comes with Windows Phone 8.1 so she is ready to go.  I went with the Icon so I can keep tabs on Nokia/Microsoft Mobile going forward and I was very interested in the camera.

Windows 10 is going to be a game changer for Windows Phone more than Windows Phone 8.1 was.  With Windows 10 Windows Phone and Windows RT will merge together meaning more consistency with small tablets and phones.  Combined with the programing being so similar to create apps that run on Windows and Windows Phone with Windows 10 I think we will see more apps, and better quality apps for both Windows and Phone.  I just have to stay in the game and see what happens going forward.

I know many of you are probably questioning my decision to stay with Verizon.  In the area I live in the US (Southwest) Verizon offers the best coverage in rural areas that I frequent often.  I have to give Verizon some credit that they did not just finally deliver Lumia Cyan but Denim as well putting the Lumia 822 and Lumia 928 ahead of all the other mobile carriers in the us with Windows Phone.  Verizon will be updating the Icon in early 2015 as well and now that I have one I will be waiting for Denim.

New Information about Lumia Cyan Windows Phone 8.1 for Verizon

Update: Verizon has done the right thing and then some.  They have released the next version of these updates, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 and Lumia Denim for the Lumia 822 and Lumia 928.  This update will be coming out for the Lumia Icon in early 2015 as well.

There is finally new information about the Lumia Cyan Windows Phone 8.1 update for Verizon phones.  A Microsoft website (former Nokia website) has changed its status from under testing to under development.

Lumia Cyan Update under developement for Verizon

Lumia Cyan Update under development for Verizon

It is not clear exactly what Under Development means but I think it means that an update is finally getting close, hopefully before the holidays.  Many users of the Lumia 822, Lumia 928, and Lumia Icon have gotten impatient with Verizon on how long this update has taken and Verizon has been quiet about the whole thing.  I reached out to Verizon almost a month ago and did not get a reply.  Lets hope this means that this update is getting close.  Earlier this month T-Mobile made the Lumia Cyan and Windows Phone 8.1 updates available for the Lumia 521 and Lumia 925 and Metro PCS made that same update available for the Lumia 521 on its network.  Verizon is now the last one to have not released the update.  Lets just hope we don’t end up like Lumia 520 users on Cricket who blocked this update from those phones.

Fix the Lumia Windows Phone Blue Screen of Sadness

I have never come across this till recently but I now know how to fix the Lumia Windows Phone Blue Screen of Sadness (Blue Screen Of Death).  Maybe you have seen this, you try to start-up your Lumia Windows Phone and receive a screen with a sad face on it.  Either the screen is black with a blue sad face or the screen is blue with a white sad face like below.

Lumia Windows Phone Blue Screen of Sadness

Lumia Windows Phone Blue Screen of Sadness

I only have fixed this on a Nokia Lumia 521 however the process should be the same for all Nokia Windows Phones.  This will not work for Windows Phones made by other manufacturers.  To fix the issue you will need to download the Windows Device Recovery Tool. Once you have downloaded that install it and run it. If the app asks to update you will want to do it as it will support more devices and have bug fixes.  Once it has started you will want to click on My Phone Does Not  Start Up Or Respond.

Nokia Software Updater

Nokia Software Updater

Then a screen will show up prompting you to plug-in your phone into the computer.  You will want to do so and if the software does not automatically start your phone you can hold down the Power and Volume Down buttons (at the same time) till the phone vibrates and then release them.  This will reinstall Windows Phone on your device and it will delete any and all data on your phone.  It will take a while to download the firmware but getting your phone working again is worth it.

This resets my Nokia Lumia 521 back to Windows Phone 8.0 and I am now using the Preview for Developers to update it back to Windows Phone 8.1 for testing purposes.  I was able to fix the Lumia Windows Phone blue screen of sadness (Sad Face, Blue Screen of Death) but as always your results may differ.  I also want to state that I am not responsible if you brick your phone trying this.  This is not supported officially.  Good Luck.

What is Up With Pandora’s Bad Audio Quality?

So hey Pandora the 1990’s called and they want their streaming audio quality back.  What is with the bad audio quality on Pandora lately?  I have not listened to Pandora for a while but recently I pulled it up to be disappointed.  I initially thought something was wrong with how under water and tinny the audio sounded.  I checked my data connection to see I was on 4G LTE with full bars.  I even tried over a few days and different devices.  Unfortunately for me I can no longer stand to use Pandora it just gives me a headache and Spotify has awesome sounding audio.

So what is the bit rate that Pandora is pushing out to mobile phones? My guess is no better than 128 Kbps.  I am right too, according to Pandora mobile phones get no BETTER than 64 Kbps AAC+.  I am not sure on the bit rate of Spotify at this time but it does sound better on my phone.  That reminds me that Spotify also released a new Windows Phone app that supports streaming free.  Check it out, it’s a great upgrade.

Maybe things will change in the future, but for now I am not listening to Pandora and instead listening to Spotify until Pandora changes it bad audio quality.  I do have to state if you love Pandora and are not a fan of Spotify you can subscribe to Pandora and get better audio quality and I believe that is for your phone too.

Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and Nokia Black are Available for Nokia Lumia 822 After All

Despite a user on Reddit claiming that the Nokia Lumia 810 and 822 were not getting the latest updates from Microsoft and Nokia (he has since made an edit about the 822) the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and Nokia Black are available for Nokia Lumia 822.  This was posted on many blogs and news sites even though it was bad information.  There is a lesson here, if you can’t seem to check out a story, you should not take it as truth.  Now let’s look at some facts.

Nokia has updated its Update Status page and now says that the updates are Available.  Verizon has also updated their Software Update page with a new PDF.

You can install Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and the Nokia Black Update today, Go to Settings, then tap Phone Update.  You will want to then tap Check For Updates.  It took a few tries at first to get it on my phone, my wife’s phone picked it up the first try.  The phone will give you prompts for you to follow.  Overall I like the update and there are a few nice features.  Below is a list of improvements.

According to Verizon the Windows Phone Update 3 and Nokia Black bring the following new features and enhancements.

– Driving Mode, when connected to a Bluetooth hands free device your phone can reduce distractions.

– New accessibility features, reading more of what’s on the screen

– Support for Bing Apps (you could download these from the store earlier

– New Multitasking features, now when you press and hold the back button there are close buttons for the apps

– There is now a Screen Orientation Lock (I am looking forward to this one)

– Updated versions of Nokia Apps (can be downloaded from the store) Include Nokia MixRadio, Here Maps, Drive+ and Transit.

– New Nokia Apps also available Nokia Camera and Nokia Storyteller (I have not been able to install these yet)

– Updated Glance, Now shows notifications, plus download Glance Background from the Windows Phone Store

Microsoft also states that the update has the following.

– Storage improvements so you can easily free up temp files

– You can share your phones internet connection with a computer running Windows 8.1 over Bluetooth

– Bluetooth improvements

– Custom Text message tones, you can even assign a special text message tone to one of your contacts

Verizon PDF for Nokia Lumia 822 Update 3 Black Update

Verizon PDF for Nokia Lumia 822 Update 3 Black Update

I suggest you install Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and Nokia Black for you Nokia Lumia 822 on Verizon today. Oh and thank you Verizon Wireless for being awesome.

Verizon Rolls Out Amber and Windows Phone 8 GDR2 Updates for Nokia Lumia 822

I got a notification on my phone that an update was available so I started the download and did a search.  It looks like Verizon rolls out the Amber and Windows Phone 8 GDR2 updates for the Nokia Lumia 822 today.  This is not just an update that fixes a few things, this update brings some new functionality and a much requested feature to Verizon Windows Phones.

According to the PDF on Verizon’s website this update brings the following to the Nokia 822.

-Flip to Silence a call (Enabled by default, it is under Audio under Settings)

-Improved Xbox Music Experience

-Improved HTML 5 Compatibility in Internet Explorer

-Improved reliability for VOIP apps like Lync and Skype

-CardDAV and CalDAV support for Gmail

-Storage Check to remove temporary files (You will find this under Settings)

-FM Radio (yes its back) (It is part of the Xbox Music + Video App)

-Improved Texting performance and Bluetooth Connectivity

-Glance Screen (Disabled by default, you can enable it under Display + Touch under Settings)

-The ability to adjust the color profile of the display (Same Location as above)

-Group Text (Its back and this has been requested by many users) (Disabled by default it is under the Settings in the Messaging app)

According to Nokia’s website the Amber update also brings the following to the Nokia Lumia 822

-Improved Camera Capabilities with better Low-Light performance, Improved Auto Focus, and Enhanced Noise Filter

-Nokia Smart Camera And Nokia Video Trimmer Compatibility (You can download these from the App Store, Nokia Video upload and Play To already work with older Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 Devices)

I also see under Settings Call + SMS Filter which I believe is part of the Nokia Amber update.

Also under Display + Touch you can enable Double Tap to Wake Up Phone (Part of the Nokia Update)

Also according to Microsoft’s website the GDR2 update also brings the following.

-Set one of the Lens apps to open when the Camera Button is pressed. (you can change this under the Camera Settings)

-Update to the Bing Search app, (reduced the number of panes of information and not all data loads till you swipe to them to save data)

This really brings a lot to the Nokia Lumia 822 and the Amber and GDR2 updates should help make this device great to use even more so than it has been. I know some people think this is not that big of an update but with all the new features this is a pretty big update indeed. Below is a screen shot of the PDF on Verizon’s website.

Nokia Lumia 822 Verizon Update

Nokia Lumia 822 Verizon Update

Will Windows 8 be Hurt by Low End Tablets?

With the recent announcement by Amazon a friend of mine started saying he thought that these low-end tablets are going to hurt Windows 8.  Granted some of these tablets are cheap going under the $200 mark, but I really don’t think it will and here is why.

Will these low-end tablets hurt Windows 8?  Maybe.  Windows 8 devices are going to be more expensive for sure as they all will be Intel (X86/X64) based.  Now Intel has the Atom wich is its system on a chip, and there are always the low-end Celeron.  Also, any PC makers could use AMD to cut costs down too but these devices are going to, I think, be more than $300.  So you could say yeah Windows 8 could be hurt by these things, but then you would be forgetting something, Windows RT.

Windows RT is almost exactly like Windows 8 but it runs on ARM chips.  These devices will be cheaper than their Intel-based counterparts and I could see someone making one for less than $300 maybe even around $200.  Honestly, these devices are going to be using almost the same hardware as these low-end tablets.  Windows RT will be competing with most tablets out there today.

I could stop here but there is something else to consider.  Let’s say Microsoft’s strategy fails, and Windows 8 on a tablet is just not working for consumers.  Microsoft still has Windows Phone 8.  Microsoft could easily turn this into a tablet operating system if it had to and I still think it would be great.  Windows Phone 8 is also based on the Windows 8 code and not the old Windows CE (Windows Mobile) like Windows Phone 7 was, so it would perform great on these devices while having a great feature set.  I would say at this point Windows Phone 8 could be Microsoft’s backup plan.

Really though when I look at all this I think these low-end tablets are going to be more harm to the iPad and it’s not just that but Microsoft will have Windows 8 competing with the iPad in the same price points, as well as Windows RT in the lower ones.  Really Apple has much to fear I think in the next coming months.

Why Microsoft needs to release a new Zune

Many of you out there remember the Zune.  I, in fact, own two of them.  The Zune set out to battle against the iPod in the portable music player and honestly, is smoked the iPod.  If it had been released earlier it would have become the number one player if not a solid number two.  The problem for the Zune was not that is was a bad product, the problem was that the market was changing.

As PDA’s had proven just what portable electronics could do, it was only a matter of time before they were combined with a cell phone.  Now the first smartphone was years before this but it was not until PDA makers started adding phone capabilities to their devices in the early 2000’s this smartphone really took off here in the US and even then it has taken a decade.

Microsoft had created something called Windows Mobile which would power many early Pocket PC and PDA devices and would be used for Smartphones as well.  Windows Mobile was really meant as portable productivity software and would never be a good media playing device.  Windows Mobile did include Windows Media Player but it was a pain to use without a stylus.   In fact, when Microsoft did get media players out on the market before the Zune they were based on Windows Mobile but used the Media Center interface.  (and were called Portable Media Centers)

Dell Axim running Windows Mobile 5

Dell Axim running Windows Mobile 5

Now Apple had won over most people with the iPod and I even had an 80 Gb iPod Video (which died the other day) Apple had really jump started a portable media player marked and dominated it.  Microsoft wanted a piece of the pie and created Zune but after the Zune was released Apple was getting ready to do something that would start to change things, they released the iPhone and then a little while later released the iPod Touch which used the same OS as the iPhone.

80 Gb iPod Video

80 Gb iPod Video

These iOS devices started something, people bought them and liked that they could download apps and expand the capabilities of the devices and they were still good media players.  Now people could have an iPod that did everything they wanted to a certain extent or a phone that was also an iPod.

Microsoft noticed and responded with the Zune HD which puts any iPod Touch to shame and still does.  It too had some apps you could download but the device never caught on and people did not develop for it, but it had started something that would change the company.

32 Gb Zune HD

32 Gb Zune HD

Many fans of the Zune HD had said that Microsoft needs to release a Zune Phone, and Microsoft denied that this would happen and would instead point to its Windows Mobile Smartphones and while Windows Mobile 6.5 was a good update it was still not enough.  But Microsoft would not let the Metro interface from the Zune HD die, instead, it remade Windows Mobile into Windows Phone.  And if you are like me you know Windows Phone is magical.  It has apps, it always works, it looks fantastic, and it is user intuitive more than any other Smartphone out there.

HTC Trophy running Windows Phone 7

HTC Trophy running Windows Phone 7

Microsoft did not stop there, however, now Windows 8 is soon to be released and it too has a lot of Metro interface in it.  In addition, Microsoft is releasing its own tablets called the Surface.  You look that this device and it is clear that Microsoft can create great hardware.  Also for the first time, you see all Microsoft products working together and really being better together but there is a whole.

Microsoft Surface running Windows 8

Microsoft Surface running Windows 8

The Zune was canceled long ago, and its services are being rebranded.  There is no portable media player today, and no PDA either.  The sad thing is I do see a market for one.  I volunteer with teenagers and I see one thing they all seem to have.  iPod Touch’s!  Let’s face it Smartphones are expensive and so is the data use, it is not something you want to give to your kid, but an iPod Touch is cheaper and uses WiFi, also the games on it are cheaper than other portable game systems.  The Zune HD was a step in the right direction but it was not enough of one but Windows Phone was.  I believe that Microsoft needs to bring back the Zune using the Windows Phone software.  I really think they could get in this market! (if they price it correctly remember parents are buying stuff like this for their kids and it needs to be marketed to these pre-teens and teenagers) Heck, I would buy one, a media playing device that can do everything my phone can. (I have a Windows Phone now)

So will Microsoft do this?  Well as the Zune brand has been killed it will not be called that but I think they could call it something else or make it more of a portable gaming device and use Xbox branding.  One thing is for sure, though, if they are considering it, they are not telling anyone.

Microsoft, please do this it would be awesome and I need a new media player.