Tag Archives | Microsoft Windows Phone 7

A Harvard Professor Puts Smartphone Usability to the Test

[UPDATE: Upon further reflection, this seems to be a student project created for the class, not research by Galletta himself. And as I said, it’s not clear how serious a test it was or what the methodology was. (I do note that the end credits list a “cast.” My bad for jumping to conclusions after reading this story.]

Professor Dennis Galletta has been teaching a summer course at Harvard on Human Factors in Information Systems Design. As part of it, he conducted some usability testing of the iPhone 4, Samsung’s Windows Phone 7-based Focus, HTC’s Android-based Thunderbolt, and RIM’s BlackBerry Storm. He had people who hadn’t used any of the phones try to make a call, add a contact, and send a text message, and videotaped their attempts to do so.

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Windows Phone “Mango” Pushes Apps Off the Pedestal

As I read This is My Next’s liveblog of the Microsoft Windows Phone event today, one quote from Microsoft’s mobile president Andy Lees resonated: “The problem is that today smartphones only include basic communications — everything else is an app,” he said.

That remark sets the tone for nearly every feature that Microsoft will bring to the next Windows Phone upgrade, codenamed “Mango.” The gist? Apps aren’t everything.

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Great Idea: “Where’s My Windows Phone Update?”

So far, Microsoft’s Windows Phone update process hasn’t gone too well. A February update went awry after it disabled a small percentage of handsets, which in turn forced a delay in this month’s delivery of the long-awaited copy and paste.

But instead of bottling up and hoping the whole ordeal would blow over, Microsoft has responded with the one thing that touches a journalist’s heart: information. To let users know when they can expect the latest software, Microsoft has created a website, dubbed “Where’s My Windows Phone Update?

“When an update is available, a message appears on your phone letting you know,” the website says. “But we understand that it’s hard to wait, and that many of you want a better sense of when to expect your update.” Amen.

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Windows Phone 7 Will Get Competitive in 2011

A couple of Windows Phone 7 updates, coming this year, will give Microsoft’s smartphone operating system some much-needed parity with other platforms.

The first update, which according to Ina Fried at All Things D will be out by March, adds copy-and-paste, performance tweaks and support for the CDMA networks of Sprint and Verizon Wireless, clearing the way for new handsets from those carriers.

A meatier update is due in the second half of 2011, and will add Internet Explorer 9 Mobile (with HTML5 support), Twitter integration into the People Hub, support for SkyDrive online storage and — wait for it — third-party multitasking. As VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar reports, Windows Phone 7 will use a card-like interface for multitasking, kind of like HP’s WebOS and Research in Motion’s Playbook tablet. No word on voice-guided Bing Maps navigation or custom ring tones, though. Bummer.

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Slowly, Windows Phone 7 Games Start Talking to the Xbox 360

One of Windows Phone 7’s most tantalizing hooks is Xbox Live, an offshoot of Microsoft’s online video game service, but so far the interaction between mobile and console games has been limited.

Slowly, that’s starting to change. At a CES press event, Microsoft was showing off Full House Poker, an upcoming Texas Hold ‘Em game for Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7. Although the games differ on each platform, and you’ll have to buy each one separately, your performance in one game affects the other.

Microsoft has done some tie-ins before — Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, for instance, unlocks an achievement in Crackdown 2 for Xbox 360 — but Full House Poker is the most closely linked game I’ve seen yet.

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Will Any Emulators Be Allowed on Windows Phone 7?

It looks like Microsoft is following in Apple’s footsteps by refusing to admit a Nintendo emulator to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

Matt Bettcher was the first developer to try and report the result. On YouTube, he demonstrated a simple port of SharpNES running on his computer’s Windows Phone 7 software emulator, and claims that his Samsung Focus can handle the NES emulator at 10 to 20 frames per second. But according to WMPowerUser, Microsoft promptly informed Bettcher that the app won’t be allowed in the Marketplace.

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Windows Phone 7 Games List: A Complete Breakdown

As expected, Microsoft made a big announcement about Windows Phone 7 gaming this week, revealing the first wave of Xbox Live-enabled games that will be available at launch. The list includes 63 games, with more promised before Windows Phone 7’s holiday launch.

As I explained in my rundown of Windows Phone 7 gaming, these Xbox Live games will include achievements and leaderboards, and Microsoft says you can also try them before you buy. Not included in this lineup is the more open Windows Phone Marketplace, which won’t be curated by Microsoft and won’t have access to the Xbox features. Microsoft also didn’t say anything about the ability to play games across the phone, PC and Xbox 360.

Just how impressive is Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 gaming lineup? To find out, I made a big spreadsheet of every Xbox Live game announced, noting which ones are also available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, PSP Minis, DSiWare and Flash. You be the judge of whether Microsoft’s flying out of the gate.

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