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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.

HP Announced End Of Life for webOS Cloud Services

That’s right HP announced End of Life for webOS Cloud Services for January 15, 2015 on the Palm Developer site.

HP webOS End Of Life

HP webOS End Of Life

The FAQ tells us more about what is being shut down including; Downloading and updating of apps, Restoring a device, Setup of a new device (or one that has been reset) and password recovery.

HP once had plans to put webOS on computers alongside Microsoft Windows and had released an HP webOS powered tablet.  I have to admit I was considering a webOS based smart phone before I bought my first Windows Phone.  I loved the OS but hated the keyboards on their devices.

HP has made webOS open source and LG now uses it to power their smart TV’s.

To once what could have been…

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.

Microsoft Reveals the New Xbox One Console, All In One Entertainment

Today Microsoft revealed the new replacement for the Xbox 360 and its third video game console the Xbox One.  The Xbox One really seems to be the console that Microsoft has wanted to have in the living room for years and then some.  They are marketing this as the All In One console for your entertainment needs.  The Xbox One has an eight core 64-bit processor with 8 GB of RAM, a 500 Gb hard drive, Blu-Ray optical drive, built-in Wireless N support, and Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI in and out ports, optical audio out, and what looks like an IR out for controlling set-top boxes.  The Kinect sensor has been redesigned with a 1080P camera, and there is a new controller.

New Xbox One Console

New Xbox One Console

New hardware is not the only thing that is new there is new software that drives new experiences on the console.  Microsoft said during the reveal on Tuesday that the Xbox One has three operating systems.  I really think it is more a combination of three operating systems.  These three systems are the Xbox OS which game makers can use to take advantage of the Xbox One’s power, There is another system that is based on the Windows kernel which should make porting Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone apps very easy, and finally a third that allows switching between these systems seamless.  You can also snap another app along side what ever you are doing like watching TV or playing a game.  There are also a love of voice commands and hand gestures to control the Xbox One without the use of a controller and since the console is powered down in a more connected standby state you can just say “Xbox On” to turn the Xbox One on.  Also Microsoft has integrated Skype into the Xbox software so you can video chat right from your living room and do so will still watching your favorite TV show or playing you favorite game with the Skype app snapped to the side of the screen.  This really changes things like we have not seen since the Nintendo Wii was revealed.

New Xbox One Dashboard

New Xbox One Dashboard

If you look at the above screen shot you will see that they were watching Live TV, and if you noted earlier I said that there was a HDMI input.  the Xbox One can pass through the HDMI signal from your Set Top Box and overlay additional content.  Also the IR out allows the Xbox One to control the Set Top Box to change the channel.  This allows the Xbox One to make TV much more interactive and allows apps to be snapped next to what you are watching on TV.  The Xbox One also has Xbox Guide which is like in interactive TV guide allowing you to find the shows you want to watch and go right to them.  In addition Microsoft announced that there will be a live action Halo TV show directed by Steven Spielberg.

Xbox Live is also getting additional features allowing for your content to be synced to the cloud and they are ramping up the amount of servers from 15,000 to 300,000.  I think Microsoft is expecting increased traffic on their servers.

So what about gaming, well I can say what I have seen looks great and games are going to look fantastic on this system.  EA announced they had new titles coming to the Xbox One and their will be a new Call Of Duty game coming out soon.  All downloadable content for Call of Duty will come out exclusively on the Xbox One first.  Microsoft’s own Game Studios will be releasing 15 new games only on Xbox within the first year.  Eight of those games will be new franchises.  The only thing Microsoft did not talk about was backward compatibility of Xbox and Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.  We will have to wait till E3 to hear more about the system.

I am excited about the new system and can’t wait for it to come out which should be later this year.  It looks great and the new features and not only compelling they are just down right cool.

 

Windows Live Messenger (MSN) Support Has Ended, Users Must Upgrade To Skype

Microsoft has retired the Windows Live Messenger, formally MSN Messenger, in favor of Skype.  This comes after Microsoft purchased Skype in 2011 and started integrating other Microsoft technologies into it like Lync and most recently migrating Windows Live Messenger users to Skype.  This transition was supposed to be done at the end of April.  Now when users try to open Windows Live Messenger they are presented with a message to download an update in order to continue.  This update is in fact the latest Skype for Desktop.

Windows Live Messenger Message To Download Skype

Windows Live Messenger Message To Download Skype

If you chose no, you will not be logged in and instead Windows Live Messenger just sits there at the login screen.  If you click the What’s New… button you are taken to a website urging you to download Skype and explaining it to users.  Now Microsoft had made it so you can sign to Skype with your Microsoft Account and all your Windows Live Messenger contacts will be there ready for you to chat with.

Skype supports Windows XP (Including Windows XP Professional X64 Edition) all the way to Windows 8 Desktop (there is a Windows Store app as well).  You can also get Skype for Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

I do think it is a good thing that Microsoft is pushing forward with Skype instead of Messenger.  There are a lot more users on Skype today than there were on Messenger.  Now Skype does not have all the features that Windows Live Messenger had and I hope Microsoft adds these to Skype goes on.  I also would like to see Skype better integrated into Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox like Messenger is today.  (For now these Windows Live Messenger integration features are still active and useable) I am sure as we go forward Skype will only get better and those users that miss features from Windows Live Messenger will hopefully get any features they miss.  Either way, welcome to the future, welcome to Skype.

Amazon Releases Cloud Player for PC, an iTunes, and Xbox Music Alternative

Amazon has released the Cloud Player for PC which it really starting to set them up as a good alternative to iTunes and Xbox Music / Zune.  The software is very simple to use and does not have a lot of features but I imagine that more is coming in future versions.  In this version you can listen to music on your computer which Amazon Cloud Player for PC will auto scan you computer for or listen to music in the cloud that is stored in Amazon Cloud Player, this includes any AutoRip or mp3’s you have purchased with Amazon.  You can also export those song to iTunes or Windows Media Player.  There are also links that take you to the Amazon MP3 Store but at this time it is not integrated into the software like iTunes or Zune PC software.  There are also no options to Sync to a device unless you export the music to Windows Media Player or iTunes.  Of course you could also use Winamp to sync music to your device of choice once you have exported it to either option.  The interface looks like other Amazon software and services out there.

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

One great feature I have found about the Amazon Cloud Player for PC is that is supports Windows XP Professional X64 Edition.  I know that there are still a few fans of the 64 Bit version of Windows XP and both the Zune PC software and iTunes do not install or work on that platform but this does.

I am glad Amazon made Cloud Player available for the PC and I hope to see a Windows 8/RT and a Windows Phone app soon as well.  Going forward for me I will be purchasing my music through Amazon or Xbox Music à la the Zune PC software.  If you want would like give the Amazon Cloud Player for PC a chance and see how you like it.

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.

The Windows 8 Start Screen, Will it Work?

There has been a lot of discussion about the Windows 8 Start Screen and the lack of the Start Menu. So much so that there are those that want Microsoft to bring the Start Menu back. So this does beg the question, Will the Start Screen Work? Well, the first thing I say is to try it.

It should be no surprise to my usual readers that I fit in the group of a computer power user. I make Windows work for me no matter what version and feel right at home from Windows 3.0 to Windows 7. I even still remember many DOS commands, of course, being a Windows guy my favorite is still Win, but what about Windows 8.

I started using Windows 8 with the Developer Preview in September and have not since moved on to the Consumer Preview in February. The Developer Preview did knock me off of my game at first but I was quick to adapt and I liked it. The Consumer Preview makes me feel right at home, they did a great job at getting the keyboard and mouse interfaces smoothed out.

As time goes on I do believe that touch will be the primary interface for computers. I used to work for a major electronics retailer in their tech support department. One of my responsibilities was setting up new computers for customers and these new All-in-ones are really popular. They all, but a few models, come with touch screens. I will say that using the Start Menu with a touch screen in Windows 7 is a pain. It takes a lot of practice and every touch screen computer is different in calibration I noticed. Most of my other techs would just pull out a mouse and keyboard instead of fiddling with it.

I was also a long time Windows Mobile user and both of those phones were touch screens. Even here trying to use your finger to touch a menu item was at times difficult. Now Windows Mobile 6.5 was a great improvement over Windows Mobile 6.1 or 6.0 or 5.0 which I had used at some point. When my Windows Mobile 6.5 device was giving me some issues recently I really took a good look at Smartphones and was not impressed. Yeah, there was iPhone which does feel like playing whack an app, Android is the new Windows Mobile with a lot of the modding community heading that way. Blackberry feels stuck in a time warp, Nokia was non-existent in the American market (which I was upset, they are back now, yes!), and Palm had an interesting operating system but their devices were just horrible. The Chicklet style keyboard was too small and the raised plastic around the keyboard made me want to take a file to it. So I stuck with my Windows Mobile device and thought about going back to a regular cell phone or at least a feature phone. Then my roommate got a Windows Phone.

I used Windows Phone 7 for ten minutes and I knew this was love at first touch. It was so fluid and fast and really reminded me of my Wife’s Zune HD. I really actually like the Windows Phone interface better than the Zune HD in fact. I was done and knew that was my next phone. And after getting one and using the apps on it, I was sold. I just love how easy to used it is. It is many levels above and iPhone and worlds better than Android.

Now what does this have to do with Windows 8, well the Developer Preview was devoid of a lot of apps and the Metro interface felt unfinished because is was. The Consumer Preview, however, has some App Previews and the App Store is now up and running. With the apps and the revised Metro interface, I felt right at home like I am using my Phone. I can already tell and will go all in and say that Windows 8 will be every bit as great as Windows Phone. It makes my day-to-day general computing stuff easy and enjoyable. And when I get into my power user mode I still have the Desktop. I can still pin apps to the Task Bar and I can pin Desktop apps to the Start Screen. If I really want I can add a new toolbar to the Task Bar and point it at the Start Menu folder under ProgramData (I will explain this in a post later) Windows 8 for me is really the best of both worlds. It is slick, fast, fluid, and dare I say enjoyable.

So what am I using now? Well on my Desktop I still just have Windows Vista and Windows 7 as sadly I have run out of room on the desktop and am planning a complete storage upgrade on my workhorse. I also plan on making a Windows Home Server so my data is more central and my desktop can have a break. On my laptop, I am running Windows 7 and Windows 8 and I find myself spending more and more time in Windows 8.

Now as I close this rant of a post I will be covering a lot of Windows 8 material, but I will also still be covering Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and even on occasion Windows 2000 or earlier. As for the question yes, I think it will work just fine and I am excited.