Microsoft's Build conference is happening right now in Southern California. Right off the top, president of the Windows division, Steven Sinofsky, gave developers a preview of what the next generation of the Windows operating system will look like. Available soon for desktops, mobile, and tablet devices, we got a quick look at the tablet that is said to launch soon, along with a walk-through of how Windows 8 will operate. First impressions of Microsoft's "metro style" UI are that it's pretty, and pretty impressive, especially when used on a tablet. Take a look at what to expect in this stylish OS in the gallery!
Though Windows phone users seem to be few and far between, when compared to those smartphone users that pledge allegiance to iOS, Android, or BlackBerry, Microsofts Mango has often tempted me away from my standard iPhone fare. The user interface is quite pleasing (once you get used to not clicking on icons, like you find in most phones these days), and super stylish. Plus, when Mango was first released, it came with over 500 new features. Now that Mango 7.5 is out in the open, check out some of the features that might make you want to switch:
- Hands free — When you're driving, Mango can announce an incoming call or text message and will allow you to respond to either without ever picking up your handset. Safe driving FTW!
- Threads — Switch between your active texts, Facebook chats, or instant messages in one threaded space, so you can keep the conversation going no matter where it takes place.
- Local Scout — Bing will aggregate activities and events that are going on around your current location and allow you to rate each activity.
- App Shortcuts — Kind of like multitasking, App Shortcuts are a handy feature in Mango. For example, if you're reading about a movie while surfing the web, Mango will create a quick shortcut to your IMDB app, so you can check out the film's details.
- Fast app resume — This feature keeps things moving as it quickly reboots apps that have been recently used.
- Turn-by-turn navigation — Bing Maps supports voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, so you don't have to take your hands or eyes off the wheel when you're in a new 'hood.
- Kinect support — For the übergamer: you can interact with Xbox Kinect games with your Mango phone.
- Bing Vision — Scan QR, Microsoft Tags, books, CDs and DVDs for quick info and pricing.
- SMS dictation — Microsoft Tellme technology helps you text on the go by enabling you to speak your texts instead of typing them on your virtual keyboard.
Want to learn more about the three new Windows Phones coming to AT&T? Catch the available specs after the break.
Students who are also Xbox 360 fans can select from a nicely priced ($700 or more) Windows 7 Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, or Toshiba laptop or desktop to qualify for a free Xbox 360 console. Better yet, you don't even have to leave the dorm as you can buy online with a valid .edu email address or buy at a Microsoft store with a student ID.
Gamers not currently in school also benefit from Sony's current deal; purchase a Sony VAIO F Series notebook with a Sony Playstation 3 console for a total of $950. Just remember to leave time for studying between games.
Yesterday's Microsoft E3 press briefing gave us a look at what's to come in the next year for Xbox, and I gotta say — it's looking pretty good, folks. Though the presentation brought a ton of new titles (but very little launch dates), there were some standout games that I can't wait to see more of. Check out which ones below, then tell me your favorites in the comments!
- Tomb Raider — This new look at the series takes us back to Lara Croft's origin — when she was just 21 years old, fighting her way through a mysterious island. The demo looked really intense and sometimes even a little bit frightening.
- Kinect Star Wars — I perked up when I heard the Star Wars theme music playing during the presentation for this new title. I'm hoping LucasFilm does what it does best to help Kinect Star Wars take off — produce some awesome accessories to go along with it. Hello, light saber!
See the rest of my list after the jump.
- Hands-free — When you're driving, Mango can announce an incoming call or text message, and will allow you to respond to either without ever picking up your handset. Safe driving FTW!
- Threads — Switch between your active texts, Facebook chats, or instant messages in one threaded space so you can keep the conversation going no matter where it takes place.
- Social networks — Mango will add Twitter and LinkedIn feeds to contact cards and includes built-in Facebook check-ins, along with integrated face detection to easily tag pics of your pals before you upload to Facebook or the web.
- Local Scout — Bing will aggregate activities and events that are going on around your current location, and allow you to rate each activity.
- App Shortcuts — Kind of like multitasking, App Shortcuts are a handy feature in Mango. For example, if you're reading about a movie while surfing the web, Mango will create a quick shortcut to your IMDB app so you can check out the film's details.
What other features are you looking forward to in Windows Phone 7.1? If you want to see the entire Windows Phone 7.1 presentation from yesterday, check out the video on Microsoft's website.
Microsoft Bing quickly backed away from their Japan Quake Twitter campaign once the outrage began from Twitter users. On Saturday, its official Twitter account, @bing, said they would donate a $1 for every retweet they get of their pledge to donate up to $100,000.
Some users started fuming and saw it as "exploitation" of tragic events happening in Japan. "just write the goddam cheque and cut out the spam. What do you need to be lauded for the humanitarian aid?" tweets @jonhoneyball.
I can understand why Bing's efforts can be seen as negative and they probably didn't pick the best way to address the issue. The situation is so sensitive that public backlash is easily triggered. Keep in mind that Bing's ultimate intention is positive, and it's heartwarming to see companies doing something for the tragedy. Remember what Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft, has done for philanthropy. His foundation is the biggest one in America, and the only reason that his Forbes billionaire ranking dropped is because of his efforts to give away his wealth to charity.
Now's the time for people to come together and not to spew negativity. If you're looking do your part, read our tips on the smart ways to donate. Going back to the topic of Bing's marketing debacle — do you think it was a PR fail or nice (albeit a little misguided) show of support?
If you've been jonesing for some bling to add atop your entertainment center, then you can rest a little easier tonight knowing that this blue Swarovski-studded Xbox 360 Kinect sensor of your dreams is about to become reality.Hand-crafted and outfitted with over six thousand crystals, this fancy-pants sensor was commissioned by Microsoft for none other than Kylie Minogue for her upcoming Aphrodite: Les Folies European tour. Microsoft and Kylie Minogue an unlikely paring? I don't think so. You see, this piece will go quite well with the studded Lips mics we saw a while back. Plus, you can sing and dance along with Kylie in Dance Central. All you need now is a spotlight.
Announced features include Internet Explorer 9 for faster browsing, multitasking, and built-in Twitter integration. But arguably the most exciting announcement is that the phones will connect with the Kinect, serving as a kind of controller for the device. Details are still sketchy, but based on the demonstration, the Kinect will be able to detect players using Windows phones and allow them to use the phones as controllers to enhance the game. The phone's screen will also display game play, adding another level of interactivity. No official date was announced for this functionality.
These updates, plus the recent announcement that Nokia would be ditching its own software in favor of Microsoft's mobile OS in its phones by the end of the year, could signal that 2011 is the year of the Windows Phone.