Windows Phone Marketplace opens in Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, and the Philippines

The Windows Phone Marketplace ongoing expansion has just hit a new milestone today with the service’s availability in five new countries: Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, and the Philippines. The Marketplace now reaches 41 countries worldwide and should hit 42 pretty soon once it opens in China (where dev can already submit their applications for certification). It should also be noted that application submitted to the Indonesia, Malaysia and China marketplace will be subject of additional requirements (censorship?) due to local laws, regulations, or norms.

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Skype for Windows Phone 7 is still coming soon

You got to love delays. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about them especially when the company decides to stay silent about a product. As you all already know, Skype for Windows Phone was announced back in April of last year and was supposedly set to launch alongside Mango last fall. Nothing happened, Nokia’s then flagship product, the Lumia 800 didn’t even feature a front facing camera so Microsoft may have decided to act as nothing was missing. That’s until this week CES where Skype’s VP of Products Rick Osterloh just let a “coming soon” slip in a interview with….Microsoft. Video after the break:

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Spotify for Windows Phone 7 coming today

According to the folks who are attending the Mango launch event in today, the long awaited Spotify application for Windows Phone 7 application is ready to hit the marketplace today. They’ve also shot a short hands-on video of it in action:

UPDATE: Spotify is now available here!
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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango officially out in Taiwan

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango is now apparently officially out in Taiwan. The update process is somewhat non-conventional though: HTC users who wish to update their HTC Mozart or HTC HD7 will have to go to their HTC store to get their device updated or grab the RUU firmware file from there. There’s no update through Zune yet because it apparently won’t include the Asian language support. the two firmware files are the following:

- RUU_Mozart_S_hTC_Asia_WWE_4.06.707.00_5.69.09_RELEASE (download)
- RUU_Schubert_S_hTC_Asia_SEA_WWE_4.05.728.01_Radio_5.69.09.29a_22.50.50.21_Signed_SCHUBERT_RELEASE (download)

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The Marketplace has less unique applications than you thought

courtesy of J.Angel

Still wondering why I don’t bother posting about the total number of applications every time the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace reaches a certain milestone ? Well here’s a fairly good reason. Justin Angel actually took the time to download every application currently published on the Windows Phone Marketplace and came up with some really interesting statistics numbers. The best one is the following: 18 549. That’s the number of unique applications currently available for purchase/download (at the time he did his research) . This essentially means that out of 24 505 apps he downloaded, 6881 apps were clones.

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Revamped Windows Phone My Phone web portal coming soon

Microsoft is about to launched and revamped version of the Windows Phone My Phone web portal alongside the Mango update later this year. As you can see in the screenshot above, which originates from the Microsoft Japan FAQ, this new web portal will apparently be accessible by clicking on the My Phone section of the windowsphone.com site and will allow user to locate their phone (this is already possible now) but also access their application purchase history and re-download applications from the web version of the Marketplace. Microsoft has yet to roll out this new website but now that the first Mango devices are on sale it shouldn’t be too far off.

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Windows Phone 7 Mango Wifi Hot-Spot feature is enabled by carriers

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone but we finally have confirmation that WiFi Hot-Spot feature introduced in Windows Phone 7 Mango exists and can only be enabled by your carrier similar to USB Tethering a several other features like visual voice mail (and other stuff that haven’t been publicly talked about yet). So nothing amazing here , Windows Phone works in the same way as iOS does when it comes to these kind of features.

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Silverlight Toolkit for Windows Phone 7 Mango released

Windows Phone developers should be happy to learn that the new Silverlight Toolkit for Mango has just been released by Microsoft. It contains tons of improvements over the previous version and is still open source. The toolkit has also been localized to support all the new languages supported by Mango along with new Mango specific controls like the HubTile and a totally rebuild LongList Selector that takes advantage of the OS’s smooth scrolling and off-thread image loading capability.

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Get a taste of how Windows 8 Tablet applications will look like

Fandango has developed a really awesome Sliverlight out-of-browser application for Windows 7 slates/Tablets that gives us an early look at what the future Windows 8 tablet applications will look and feel. One the application is installed you will be able to pin it to your taskbar as if it was a regular app and quickly access it when look for movie tickets, trailers and, info -only in the US so if you are not in NA just enter any US location during the setup process to try it out).The Fandango touch app has a Metro like UI so any Windows Phone 7 user should feel at home when using it (it’s has essentially the same design as the WP7 Fandango application). It also feature a really slick integration of the Bing Maps control and built in media player (yes it works with the mouse to if you don’t have a touche-enabled Win7 PC).Check out some screenshots after the break

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Windows Phone 7 Mango applications performance tweaks detailed

Two of Microsoft’s Mango most anticipated features are undoubtedly the new smooth scrolling ListBox control and off-thread decoding of images that will finally allow third party applications to be a lot more polished in terms of UX and performances. Microsoft’s Jeff Willcox has posted to must-read blog posts detailing both new implementations which are already available to developers in the Windows Phone 7.1 Mango Beta SDK.

In the case of the new ListBox control no code changes have to been implemented for it to take effect in Mango as long as a regular ListBox/ScrollViewer was used in the application and enabling background decoding of image requires less than one line of code ( CreateOptions=”BackgroundCreation”).

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ORB for Windows Phone 7 available for free today

An extremely nice looking and addictive Windows Phone 7 game named ORB is available for free exclusively today. The game is frankly one of the best looking one in its genre and really performs like a charm on any Windows Phone 7 device. It’s looks remarkable good on a Super AMOLED display if you have a Samsung Focus or Omnia 7. here’s the game’s description:

ORB is a fast-paced 2D action game requiring skill to keep your rolling ball on solid tiles and to not fall down. Use fans to jump across large gaps and boost fields to get the full thrill. But take care to not run into dangerous mines or getting pushed into a hole by a slider. Compete against the world in our global Highscore Rankings!

Video after the break:

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Microsoft hopes to grow Xbox Live with Windows 8 integration and Windows Phone

The consolidation of Microsoft’s online assets and services is continuing its slow march with the upcoming integration of Xbox Live into Windows 8. Seeing Microsoft’s online gaming hub on all of the company’s platform is definitely natural but people should expect much out of this especially in terms of cross-platform multi-player scenarios or even cross-platform game development.

A: Live has been successful on the Windows Phone. Live will be built into the PC. It will be the service where you get your entertainment. We were talking about it — you will not just see consoles and handhelds at this show next year, this show’s going to morph into other devices.

A: We think there’s a lot of potential on the Windows phones. With the Nokia relationship, we’re going to have a lot more distribution of phones and Live will be the primary entertainment service. I think that’s going to be a good play for us.

If we have that and the PCs to leverage, that will be a big Live base. It’s our job to make “buy a movie in one place and play it everywhere, buy a game in one place and play it everywhere.” Making things portable will be a big focus of ours.

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Windows 8 UI unveiled: Windows Phone 7 Metro inspired (Video)

After months of leaks and rumors the Windows 8 UI has finally been unveiled by Microsoft’s Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky today at the D9 conference.

As you can see in the picture below the UI is heavily influenced by Windows Phone 7‘s Metro UI where Application can be pinned directly on the home screen. The Metro like UX is actually a shell running in windows this means that you will also have access to the “regular”desktop UI for legacy apps and other tasks as seen in the video after the break. Both regular and Metro UI will always be on and apparently can’t be switched of.

According to has been said Windows 8′s software ecosystem will essentially be composed of to types of applications: regular ones (C++,C# etc) that will run exactly like the ones we have right now on Windows and lightweight HTML5 / Javascript applications that will use internet Explorer’s rendering engine. Surprisingly Silverlight isn’t mentioned at all. This will surely fuel the “Silverlight is dying” talk in the days to come and makes me wonder if it will now only be relevant for Windows Phone 7.X development. Microsoft has also tweaked the touch interface to to make the regular application useable with finger touch. Video and pictures after the break:

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Windows Phone 7 Mango media and speed improvements overview: 32bit color support, better controls

Now that MIX11 is finished I took the time to watch most of the Windows Phone 7 related sessions looking for some interesting info that may have been missed earlier. The first thing to note is that Mango will be a big step forward in terms of developer tools and APIs (thanks to Silverlight 4) and third party applications performance thanks to the new and improved controls. Microsoft has apparently listened to the users and developer complaints and tried its best to fix all the major issue found in the OS’s current release (most of them listed in my Windows Phone 7 review here).

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Watch the MIX11 Windows Phone 7 Mango, Silverlight 5 and Kinect SDK keynote

Here’s your chance to watch yesterday’s MIX11 keynote about Mango, Silverlight 5 and the Kinect SDK. I’ve already talked about most of what was announced here (besides the SIMD / NEON stuff that wasn’t part of the keynote). So just grab some drinks and hit the break to watch the 2 hours long event.

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All about the new Windows Phone 7 Mango features

Most of the new features which are going to be introduced in the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Mango update have just been demonstrated on stage during the MIX11 keynote. So in case you didn’t check it out here’s a compilation of the most important features that you can expect to see on your Windows Phone 7 device later this year.

First lest start with something that wasn’t talked about during the Keynote: SIMD / ARM NEON support in Mango. As you probably know all Windows Phone 7 devices are powered by an AMRv7 Qualcomm QSD8250 SoC which also features support for NEON instructions. Unfortunately the current version of WP7 doesn’t have support for these SIMD functions but this is going to change in the coming months (only for XNA apps):

ARM processors support SIMD (Single Instructions Multiple Data) instructions through the ARM® NEON™technology that is available on ARMV7 ISA. SIMD allows parallelization/HW-acceleration of some operations and hence performance gains. Since the Windows Phone 7 chassis specification requires ARMV7-A; NEON is available by default on all WP7 devices. However, the CLR on Windows Phone 7 (NETCF) did not utilize this hardware functionality and hence it was not available to the managed application developers. We just announced in MIX11 that in the next version of Windows Phone release the NETCF runtime JIT will utilize SIMD capabilities on the phones.

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Skype, Layar, Spotify for Windows Phone 7 announced. New developer tools and Mango features!

Many Windows Phone 7 users should be happy to learn that Microsoft has announced the upcoming availability of Skype, Spotify, Layar (augmented reality app), Quantas for Windows Phone 7. Joe Belfiore is going to demo these apps during his MIX11 keynote in a few minutes so stay tuned for more info. What this essentially means is that third party developers finally have access to the device’s sensors (Compass..), live camera feed and HTTP sockets support. Angry Birds for Windows Phone 7 will be available on May 25th.

full press release after the break:

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All Windows Phone 7 MIX11 sessions unveiled

Remember the 11 mystery sessions that pooped up on the MIX11 website agenda last week? Well, here’s what they are all about:

- What’s Coming Next to the Windows Phone Application Platform
- Going Mobile with Your Site on Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Phone 7
- Mini-Session: Get Ready for Fast Application Switching in Windows Phone
- Windows Phone Multitasking
- Multitasking in the Next Version of Windows Phone, Part II: Using Background Agents
- What’s New in the Windows Phone Developer Tools?
- What’s New for Windows Phone Development with the XNA Framework?
- Sensor Access in the Next Version of Windows Phone
- What’s New for Windows Phone Development with Silverlight?
- Enhanced Push Notifications & Live Tiles for Windows Phone
- New Data Access Features Coming to Windows Phone

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11 More Windows Phone 7 sessions added MIX11. But they are still a mystery

As Mary Jo just pointed out Microsoft has just added 11 new Windows Phone related sessions to the MIX11 calendar. The sessions’ topics probably won’t be unveiled before the conference’s opening keynote where Joe Belfiore is excepted to discuss Windows Phone 7′s future road map and Mango. Most of the new sessions seem to be about Silverlight (and one about XNA) so it’s safe to assume that something like SL5 for Windows Phone or a new version SL for WP7 is going to be unveiled. I just recently posted a short editorial about what to expect in 2012 so check it out and post your thoughts.

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