Microsoft today has finally announced the long awaited successor in it’s Windows Phone line, as was anticipated; and after watching the announcement unfold all I can say is– WOW! Yeah, if you were thinking this was similar to the tired and true Windows Mobile that we’ve seen over the years you’d be really wrong, like dead wrong. Take notice everyone– Microsoft is back in mobile, and it looks like they’re gonna be here to stay.
Rumored shots of Windows Mobile 7
This week is a big week for all things cell phone related with the Mobile World Congress (aka MWC) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. This event is seriously HUGE– think of it as a CES for cell phones. A lot of big stuff plan to be announced next week– newer, more powerful, and just plain better phones, new services for phones (such as TV, video calling), more info on the 4G that is set to begin being rolled out by Verizon and AT&T (as well as many other carriers around the world) later this year and early next year– but none of this seems to be as big as what Microsoft has in store.
According to the Wall Street Journal (note: subscription needed to read the whole article) and tons of other news outlets, Monday– which is the start of MWC– will finally be the day where Microsoft finally announces a truly new and much better version of Windows Mobile. We’re talking the release of Windows Mobile 7, not some small decimal point like last year’s Windows Mobile 6.5, where the OS was nearly the same as it was for most of the last decade, save for some nicer menus and an updated homescreen.
So what can we expect in this new OS that will keep it up to date with the likes of Android, webOS and the iPhone OS? If some of these rumors are true– then a lot. Everything from Zune and Xbox tie-ins (yes, Xbox– though to what extent is still very much up in the air) to a much, much better media and overall user experience (we love the Zune HD and it’s interface, which is said to play a pretty big role here throughout Windows Mobile 7). There is also talk that the Zune software will be where you sync your phone with your computer, similar to iTunes and the iPhone. There also is said to be better support for touchscreens (particularly capacitive/finger-friendly ones that don’t require a stylus, like the iPhone, Pre and most Android phones), multi-touch, a better version of Internet Explorer Mobile (which is much-needed as well), and just much more powerful hardware, which, supposedly, Microsoft is working more closely with device manufacturers to make sure all phones run this well. Heck, there is even talk Microsoft may release their own phones.
Whatever Microsoft plans to do, we’ll make sure you stay in the know. Their press conference is called for Monday at 9 AM Eastern time (or 3 PM Barcelona time), so make sure to check back Monday for all the news both and Microsoft and everything going down at MWC.
Pic from Engadget
Project Gotham Racing on the Zune HD (Pic from Kotaku)
Remember back in our Zune HD review where we mentioned how the Zune HD will be getting some new free games and apps, like the hit Xbox 360 game Project Gotham Racing? Microsoft released a whole bunch of new games for the Zune HD including
- PGR: Ferrari Edition (which is like it’s Xbox sibling, giving you 12 Ferrari cars to race all over New York, London or Tokyo either in a 33 level Career mode or in online races aginst up to 3 other cars)
- Lucky Lanes Bowling, a bowling game where you can play either against the computer or up to 4 friends
- Piano app which simulates a virtual piano
- Vans Sk8: Pool Service, a skateboarding game where you aim to do the best tricks in 10 different events
- Audiosurf Tilt, a game where you pick a song from your music library on your Zune and then try to collect the colored blocks and avoid speed bumps along a custom roller coaster made for each song. Microsoft also said today that they soon will also have apps for Facebook and Twitter.
Yes, this is nowhere near the 100,000+ apps in the iTunes App Store, but Microsoft does deserve some credit– creating what looks to be some quality apps (specifically the PGR and Audiosurf games) that look to take full use of the high powered Nvidia Tegra chip inside the Zune to give some solid games all for the unbeatable price of FREE (though you do have to look at a brief ad while the game loads, something I’m more than happy to deal with if it means quality, free apps).
Now if only they’d open up a real App Store and give developers a chance to fully tap into that high powered Tegra chip (I mean check out this video of PGR and Audiosurf on the Zune from Engadget, who they say looked as sharp as a PSP game!), and we’d be all set.
Anyone out there with a Zune HD, you like your new games?
Full info on the apps can be found on the Zune site here.
The Zune HD
For the last week or so we were able to spend some good ‘ol time with Microsoft’s sweet new Zune HD. It really is a slick device– OLED multi-touch 3.3 inch touchscreen with amazing display (thanks to NVIDIA Tegra graphics), sleek design, thin aluminum casing, built in WiFi, and of course, the HD features of HD radio and the ability to play your videos in HD with the optional HD playback kit.
So if your looking for a new device and have to choose between say, this and the iPod touch 3rd gen, which should you go with? The answer, my friends, is after the break.
The Zune HD
You’re also very interested in the Zune HD? Who could blame you — HD Radio, WiFi, AMAZING (yes, AMAZING) OLED screen, HD playback of videos, an awesome design and a bunch more features.
When we first wrote that post on the Zune HD we were very excited as this could really be Microsoft’s “iPod killer,” but were left wondering on its launch date and price, as well as details including battery, features and storage. Well have no more fear– Microsoft has finally let all the details out of the bag, and wow this thing looks even better to me than it did before.
Beginning with storage, the Zune HD, like its iPod Touch competitor, has either 16 or 32 GB depending on how much you want. Among the previously unmentioned features of this incredible machine, the web browser seems nearly on par with Safari, and I especially advise you check out CNET’s hands-on video and their positive comments here. And not only is there multi-touch, battery life on this bad boy is also insane: 33 hours of music, 8.5 hours of video, and only 3 hours to charge from your PC and 2 (yes, 2) hours to charge from an AC adapter! All that is way better than the iPod Touch in every way. There are also a host of color design options, as you can see from the above pic (right now you can only pre-order in the standard black, 16 GB version, or “platinum”– a 32 GB version, silver)!
On to the biggest news: the price and release. The 16 GB version will be coming in at $219.99 and the 32 GB version will be coming in at $289.99 when they launch on September 15th (a little under 1 month away). That’s $80 cheaper than the iPod Touch 16 GB and $110 (!) cheaper than the 32 GB iPod Touch. Wow is right.
Of course, just to be fair, Apple is said to be holding a big event sometime in the two weeks of September where they are rumored to be launching new iPods (possibly these), so if your looking for a new Mp3 player, you may wanna hold off for a month cause things are about to get really interesting.
New Blue Zune Flash with what might be part of the new Zune 3.0 Software
Well, I guess Microsoft isn’t really going to be stealing Apple’s thunder tomorrow (let’s face it: they had to climb a really steep hill to even become a more serious competitor), or at least in the music player department anyway. Included though in their releases were several intriguing products and updates: three impressive new Zunes– 120 GB, 16 GB Flash, and 8 GB blue Flash– packaged with the new Zune 3.0 software, games for the Zune like Texas Hold’em and Hexic (a puzzle-like game), and a clever feature which enables you to tag a song playing on the built-in radio and purchase it directly, using a new WiFi music store! Unlike Apple’s store available exclusively on the iPod touch and iPhone, the Zune WiFi music store will be accessible on all Zunes, now equipped with built-in WiFi.
The new Zune 3.0 software–which includes these updates and many more– should be out for Zunes (we assume for all versions: the original 30 GB, the more recent Zune flash in 4 and 8 GB, and Zune 80 GB) on September 16. The new 16 GB and 120 GB Zunes will arrive in stores September 12 for $199.99 and $249.99 respectively according to Amazon, presumably preloaded with the 3.0 software. No word on the release date nor pricing of the blue Zune flash but we guess sooner than later– from now to the 16th are the most likely, with our bets on the 12th.
So there you have it. Some news on a Mp3 player from someone other than Apple (don’t worry Apple/ iPod lovers- your day is coming soon 🙂 ).
What you think, will the new software and the WiFi advantage will be enough to make a dent in Apple’s dominance of the market? Also current Zune owners– those brave individualistic souls pushing against the cultural current– how do you feel about the new updates? And while you’re at it, take the much-cherished opportunity to let the world know why you chose the Zune over the iPod?
Zune line-up- 80GB is the tall one with the shorter ones being the Zune flash.
We know Apple will be hosting their “Let’s Rock” event next Tuesday, where new, updated iPods are expected to launch, but word now is coming out that Microsoft will be having their own rival event Tuesday, where they are rumored to be debuting new Zunes (Microsoft’s iPod competitor for those who don’t know– it hasn’t yet taken off quite like Microsoft would’ve hoped 🙂 ). Now why would we mention this? Well, couple of reasons:
- New/Updated Zunes– These include a 120GB model for $250, a 8GB blue Zune flash (as in running on flash memory like in those pocket memory sticks), as well as a new 16GB Zune flash which may or may not be blue. Just to put it in perspective, the Zune flash is the Zune’s version of iPod Nano; the 120GB Zune rivals the iPod Classic.
- New Software– Supposedly a significant overhaul of the system, and will likely make the syncing your Zune to your computer much like the iPod-iTunes relationship.
While the Zune releases and updates may likely steal the spotlight of this Microsoft event, Microsoft is expected to talk more about– and possibly release– new “Blue Track” mice for your computer, allowing the user to use the computer mouse on more surfaces. Also anticipated are new webcams offering better videos and images.
Anyways, the big news here is the Zune, which will try yet again to take another shot at Apple’s thunder. So what do you think: what will it take you make you ditch your iPod for the Zune?
Info from Engadget.com