Little known secret: You can get phones from T-Mobile for a lot cheaper if you qualify as a Microsoft Partner, Developer or IT Pro. Now you can get the new T-Mobile Shadow, complete with its unique Neo frontend and slide-down keyboard, for $80, seventy bucks less than the usual price. You’ll pay $130 and get $50 back by rebate, saving a lot of money on a phone that is only weeks old. Also available: The Wing touchscreen PDA phone for $130 with a free BlueTooth headset, and the Dash for $50, also with a headset.
It looks like existing customers can get the deal, but only by adding a new line of service. I’m a T-Mobile customer, and I’d like to stick with the company when my contract is up, but it looks like I can’t get a good deal on a handset and keep my phone number (the best deals all involve starting a new account, which I can do under my wife’s name, but I can’t port my number from one T-Mobile account to another).
Anybody know how someone can keep their phone number and their phone company, and still get the same deals on a phone that new customers get? There’s got to be a way to convince T-Mobile to keep taking my money, right? Otherwise, I think I’m becoming an AT&T customer, at least for six months.
What’s your experience? Is it always impossible to keep your current carrier and get a good phone, or are there ways?
Anyway, if you qualify, pick up the Shadow for just $80. My wife is demanding I get this phone, so hopefully she’ll get what she wants.
Quickly develop small footprint device scenarios and connect to Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
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CE 6.0 R2 components can easily be added to existing CE 6.0 projects to quickly create new connected experiences
Current CE 6.0 users can download the R2 components directly onto their workstations
Download an evaluation version and give it a try
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Connect with a worldwide community of industry-leading partners who can provide expert support on R2
Take advantage of a large community of developers with Visual Studio 2005 experience
Don’t confuse CE with Windows Mobile. In essence, CE is the real mobile operating system, and Mobile runs off of the various versions of CE. Windows Mobile 6 runs on CE 5.2 because CE 6 wasn’t ready then, and hopefully Windows Mobile 7 will run off CE 6.0. CE 6.0 devices are expected in 2008/9.
Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Team Blog has all the information you might want to know about the T-Mobile Shadow, T-Mobile’s hot new $150 Windows Mobile smart phone. The Shadow runs a custom home screen interface, designed by Microsoft and codenamed Neo. It’s got access to almost all your vital info in a large, bold style (instead of cramming it all in with tiny text and cryptic icons), with nice transition animations.
Here’s hoping some hackers pull this homescreen to work on other Windows Mobile phones. Whether they do or not, I’ve already promised my wife this phone to replace her T-Mobile SDA when our contract is up.
The big one: Voice recognition. When you need to select a location on the map, instead of typing it in or browsing to it on the map, you can hit a Speak button and just tell it where to go. That means that when you need driving directions, when you want to find movie showtimes, or if you just need to browse the map, you can just say the name of the neighborhood you are in and get it, just like that.
I went to the Nightmare: Ghost Stories haunted house in Manhattan yesterday, and afterwards we needed to drop off a friend at the subway. I told my phone where I was, and it brought up the satellite map, complete with local subway locations. Then I clicked the Movies button, and we got showtimes for Saw IV in the area. When we decided to see the movie back in Queens, I just told the phone to look there, and it did.
Honestly, nothing compares to how good this is. If you’re using Google Maps on your phone and you can switch to this, you’d be crazy not to. The voice control is so easy, and accurate enough on a Manhattan street, that there’s no reason to use anything else.
The other new feature: Gas prices.
Hit the Gas Prices button on the home screen, and it’ll search for all the local gas prices, then list them according to the lowest prices. You can get more details, or hit a Map All button to see all the gas stations on a map, so you aren’t driving for forty minutes to save three cents a gallon.
If you have a Blackberry, there’s a new Blackberry Live Search application. It doesn’t have the voice search or gas prices, but it does have all the regular local search, mapping, movie showtimes, and traffic information. It’s also available at wls.live.com.
They’ve also improved the browser-based Live Maps, available at m.live.com. It now includes better, more readable maps, traffic conditions (that are taken into account in the driving directions).
There are two videos about the new Live Search mobile application, the first being a two-minute rundown, the other an eight-minute more detailed overview, both available at Rob Chambers’ blog. I’d embed them here, but Soapbox doesn’t work in my regular browser, and IE seems convinced that Flash player isn’t installed.
A few things you can download to make Windows Mobile a little better:
Web Viewer is a free add-on for Pocket Internet Explorer that adds tabbed browsing and changes around the UI to make it better (something sorely needed on that way dated browser). It also remembers closed tabs so you can get them back, as well as typed URLS, plus it has full screen viewing and source code viewing.
SPB’s Pocket Plus isn’t free, but it adds a lot of cool stuff for just $30 (with a money-back guarantee). You get tabbed browsing, fast search in IE, ZIP support, file encryption, storage card formatting, and file properties info. What’s really cool, though, is that it adds kinetic scrolling so you can scroll up and down just by flicking your fingers, and you can do it in the web browser as well as on lists (like the contact list, emails and stuff like that).
Jason Langridge posted about Microsoft Office Mobile 6.1, the coming upgrade to Office for Windows Mobile, which would allow mobile users to work with documents created with Office 2007 file formats. His post, which was later removed, said the upgrade would allow viewing and editing of Word 2007 and Excel 2007 files, plus the playing of PowerPoint 2007 slideshows, enhanced viewing of Excel charts, Smart Art viewing in PowerPoint, and the ability to view and extract from .ZIP archives.
Now, like any smart company, they’ve probably massaged the numbers to make them look as positive as possible, but I’m a bit shocked at how different the U.S. market is from the rest of the world. Two things to take away from it:
Now I understand why I know nothing about the Symbian operating system: Nobody has it!
I wouldn’t be surprised if other markets have very different definitions of what a smart phone is. In other countries, like Japan, it might mean a phone that can do a million different things, more of a consumer smart phone than a business one. I wonder, if we divided the smart phone market into business and consumer segments we’d see a very different chart.
Either way, we’d probably have to assume that Microsoft has a real long way to go outside the U.S. before Windows Mobile can be considered an international success. At least its doing real well here. I’m surprised a bit by the big purple block for Apple after just three months.
Check this out: iWhack, a game where you play Whack-A-Mole with Steve Ballmer. The game is designed for touchscreens, specifically the exact dimensions of the iPhone, though it should work quite well on Windows Mobile. How many Ballmers can you smack down?
(via iPhone Matters > CEOsmack > Digg)
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Microsoft’s aQuantive Deal Clears Federal Review
Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of aQuantive has passed the Federal Trade Commission’s waiting period for antitrust considerations without objections, leaving Microsoft free to continue the acquisiton without worry. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives is launching an inquiry into Google’s DoubleClick deal, meaning Microsoft will almost assuredly complete its acquisition well ahead of Google. Google’s deal is hitting some serious roadblocks, while Microsoft has been given the nod to go forward.
Live Maps July Update Adds Rendered Maps, 26 Terabytes Of New Data
The Virtual Earth team pushed out a huge update to the tech that powers Windows Live Maps, adding a new style that shows elevation in the regular road view. They call it “hill shading”, giving you an idea of hills, mountains and just plain ol’ inclines on maps you view in your browser or print out. They also added expanded aerial imagery (and in most cases, 3D buildings) to these cities:
Canada: Hamilton, Quebec, Toronto
Europe: Toulouse France, Eastbourne UK
United States: Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Phoenix (expanded), Arden, Denver (expanded), Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Tampa West, St Petersburg, Coral Gables, Cape Coral West, Pembroke Pines, Orlando, Hialea, Columbus GA, Jackson, Oak Park IL, Rockford IL, Ohare IL, Baton Rouge, Shreveport New Orleans, Metarie, Jersey City, Elizabeth, East Ruth, Newark, Paterson, Brooklyn, Niagara Falls, Portland (expanded), Nashville, Chattanooga, Milwaukee
Windows Live Search Has Special Preview View
This website has details on a special view that Windows Live Search has in some countries and regions (not the U.S., far as I can tell) that shows the top six search results as thumbnail image previews of the website. A Site Owner FAQ on MSN Singapore confirms the feature, and gives instructions on how to tell the search crawler not to create a thumbnail for your site (for bandwidth concerns, I assume). You can see a screenshot of the Search Preview thumnails at the original post.
Get the iPhone Keyboard on Windows Mobile Devices
Someone’s released a program that replaces the Windows Mobile on-screen keyboard with one that looks more like the iPhone’s. Besides enjoying a bolder look, it has bigger, easier-to-hit buttons, though they don’t grow in size while typing, and they use Windows Mobile’s form of predictive text input, not Apple’s. If you’re like me, and you’re still wondering how the hell Microsoft thought the current WinMobile keyboard was okay, this app is a required install.
Xbox 360 Gets Yet Another Backwards Compatibility Update
The Xbox 360 got yet another backwards compatibility update, letting it run a good number more original Xbox games. Are there any important old games that still won’t run on a 360? If you’ve got one that’s driving you nuts, leave a comment. The newly compatible games:
Version 2 of Windows Live Search for Mobile was released, bringing with it some improvements and enhancements. There are versions for Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5 and above, J2ME, and Blackberry. There are new features and old ones I’ve decided to give a little more depth. I’ve got a slideshow GIF above and a rundown of each of the screenshots below. Go to wls.live.com on your device to download it.
The main menu. Note the new Movies icon. We’ll talk about that later. First, there’s a great feature that lets you find places by navigating through categories. Not only does this save you time typing (important on a mobile phone), but the organization makes it easier to browse and find things without having to be all specific with searches.
First you get categories of interest, then specific types within those categories. For example, in the Restaurant category, there are types of restaurants, like cafes and bagel places. You can navigate by tapping or with the directional pad.
Once you’ve gotten to the last category, you get a list of places in your area (something you can specify or choose at this point).
Choose one and you get a detail page on that place. You can choose to search near that place, save it, send it as a text message to a friend, or…
Get directions to it. These are turn by turn directions, and a click on the Map button…
And you get to follow it on a map, turn by turn. This map shows the map view, along with traffic conditions in red and yellow.
You can also switch to satellite map view. The text is surprisingly sharp, and the imagery isn’t bad either.
Now the cool new movie feature. Select it, and it gives you a list of movies in your area, and the other tab has a list of theatres in your area.
Tap a movie and get a detail page on the movie. Hit “More Movie Info” to go to a website about the movie.
Hit the theatres link for a list of theatres where it is playing, along with distance to there and showtimes, and get directions if you need them.
The preferences page is pretty smart. You see that you can use a GPS (only on Windows Mobile) so it’ll always know where you are for directions and searches, making this a damn cheap navigation system. You can also tell it to cache to your storage card, not waste space on internal memory. With a large storage card and the cache, performance improves significantly.
All told, it looks and works amazing. The older version was, on many features, better than Google Maps for Windows Mobile, and the new one is definitely the winner for now. If you have a compatible phone, go to wls.live.com on your phone to get it.
There has also been an update to the browser-based Live Search, with:
A Single Search Box: Tell us what and where, if applicable and youâ€™ll get the most relevant results from Instant Answers, Local, Web, Images to News and Spaces â€¦ all perfectly formatted for your mobile phone.
Image Search: Weâ€™ve unleashed our image search capability on the mobile and you donâ€™t even have to ask for it. Click on a result to see a copy of the image optimized for your your mobile (when necessary).
Instant Answers: Weâ€™ve reserved some premium real estate for Instant Answers weâ€™ve all come to love. Currently, we offer weather, finance, movie show times and Encarta Instant Answers and thereâ€™ll be more to come.
Local Directory Listings: Get business and residential listings with ratings sorted by relevance. You can also narrow results by filtering on the most relevant categories!
Web, News & Spaces: Last, but not least, we automatically search web, news and spaces for relevant results. Should you click on a result within these scopes, we render the destination site for viewing on mobile.
MSN has launched a new MSN mobile portal, located at mobile.msn.com. You get a single column page, automatically sized to your phone’s screen, that shows from top to bottom lots of information. Just scroll all the way down, and you get a search box, links to popular services, top news from MSNBC, weather, FOX Sports news, stock quotes and entertainment news. Nothing as cool as the Windows Live Search application for mobile devices, but a solid homepage with a lot of useful information.
Check out iContact, a free program for Windows Mobile that gives you a contact list you can scroll by just flicking your finger or stylus, just like on the iPhone. While nothing is as good as smart dialing (which the iPhone doesn’t necessarilly have), the iPhone-jealous should love this, and it definitely improves on WinMobile’s “interrupt me with a letter” system.
Looks good, not revolutionary, but a significant step in the right direction. If HTC plans on supporting the software (and nothing makes me thing they will) it could grow into something really amazing with future updates. The iPhone means devices need to get more visually dynamic and media-centric, and HTC has here the best effort I’ve seen so far.
(via Engadget Mobile)
HTC unveiled its hinted-at iPhone competitor (I even talked about it in my video blog last week), the HTC Touch. The Touch is a Windows Mobile device with a touchscreen, fewer buttons, and a gesture-based UI overlaid on Windows Mobile.
It’s TouchFLO system allows users to browse through lists by flicking their fingers, the main screen has information that can be browsed by swiping your finger through it, and various applications will allow you to replace the scroll bar with a simple finger motion, including web browsing, documents, contact lists and messages.
The Touch includes a 2.8 inch QVGA screen, 2 megapixe camera, Wi-fi (b and g), GSM/GPRS/EDGE Tri-band: 900, 1800,1900, Bluetooth 2.0, 200 hours standby and 5 hours talktime, 128 megabytes ROM, 64 megabytes RAM, a free 1 gigabyte MicroSD card. It comes in black and a goldish/green color. It is available right now in England, will be available in Asia and Europe this month, and is coming to the U.S. later this year.
I’d so break my contract to get one of these, if the price is right.
While on looks it doesn’t have the sleekness of the iPhone, it does sport many of the things Windows Mobile users have been jealous of ever since January, and it is good for business users (something the current iPhone will never be). Sadly for Microsoft, HTC has proven how one little company can out-innovate Microsoft on UI design on its own mobile operating system, and HTC has basically shown Microsoft’s failure in creating a stylish UI for Windows Mobile 6. Luckily, we all get to benefit, and maybe this will give Microsoft a swift kick in the butt to start bringing an “A” game on UI coolness.
Here’s the second video blog for InsideMicrosoft, fourth overall, and the last before my stiches came out (about two hours ago). Typing is still a pain, but expect new blog posts as the weekend dies down.
I think this is the best camera angle so far. I had to tape my camera to a lamp to get it, though. I need a tripod, bad.
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Microsoft’s exciting (and great looking) Silverlight platform runs on all sorts of browsers and operating systems, but one thing that was kind of overlooked was that Silverlight is coming to Windows Mobile. With Silverlight on mobile phones, we’ll be able to have rich applications on phones, akin to (if not far better) than what has been demoed on the iPhone. Silverlight even uses vector graphics, so developers won’t have to worry about different screen resolutions.