HALO: Spartan Assault coming exclusively to Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and Windows RT in July

The Halo franchise is finally headed to Windows Phone as an exclusive first party game from Microsoft’s 343 Industries Studio in collaboration with Vanguard Studios. Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down arcade shooter game which will be exclusive to Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and Windows RT. The game’s story line is set between Halo 3 and Halo 4 and will focus on the Halo: Spartan Ops team’s first mission against the Covenant forces.

The development and released of this exclusive title was only a matter a time given the different OS’ share core and APIs and is a definitive sign of Microsoft flexing it’s muscle to pushed it’s ecosystem further ahead of the Xbox One launch later this year. Still thinking that MS doesn’t really care about Windows Phone? Well this and the flood of high quality applications hitting the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Store in the past months is a clear sign the Redmond is finally “getting it”.

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Nokia Drive + now available to all Windows Phone 8 devices for US UK and Canada users

As I previously hinted at in my Nokia Lumia 920 software video tour (and by Nokia a few months ago); Nokia and Microsoft have just announced that Nokia Drive + Beta is now available for free for all windows Phone 8 devices from HTC, Samsung in addition to Nokia’s handset. This is really a big plus for the platform given that Nokia Drive is in my opinion the best navigation software on any platform thanks to it’s offline maps and its price it’s totally free!

Head over here to grab it and check out my handset on video on the Nokia Lumia 920 after the break:

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Living with Windows Phone 8 and the Nokia Lumia 920: the good and the ugly

It has been nearly two months since I’ve been using Windows Phone 8 with a Nokia Lumia 920 phone as my daily driver so I thought that now should be a good time to share my thoughts and experience about the platform and the hardware powering it. Is it good, is it bad, how does it compare to the competition? I’ll try to answer all of these questions and hopefully give you a good idea of Microsoft’s (and Nokia) uphill battle to get a nice share of the mobile industry. Follow me after the break.

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HTC and Nokia working on Windows RT tablets

News has just broke (or should I say “rumor”) that HTC is working on two Windows RT tablets that should launch in 2013. A 12inch and another 7inch device powered by a Qualcomm SoC which will probably be a SnapDragon S4 Pro (Quad-Core with Adreno 320). This story follows up recent rumors that Nokia is also hard at work on a similar device with the same Qualcomm chipset.

Talk about a Nokia Windows 8 tablet surfaced last summer (and here) but the Finnish company apparently decided not to take too much risk and wait for Microsoft Surface release to see if this whole endeavor is worth it. Unfortunately all of these rumors ,which should be taken with a pinch of salt, only make my decision to get a Surface RT even harder given that they will most probably be powered my a much faster SoC.

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Nokia Drive + Beta updated with new Battery saver mode

Nokia has just issued an update to Nokia Drive + Beta for its Windows Phone 8 device today to partially fix one of the most annoying issue plaguing the app: extreme battery drain when the app is running in the back ground because the software was constantly updating it’s position via GPS even when navigation was stopped. As you can see in the screenshot above this is now a thing of the past thanks to a new Battery Saving feature.

There’s also a new new back to my position feature which is really handy and a welcome UX change. Check out my hands on video with the previous version after the break:

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Nokia Lumia 920 hands on videos: Hardware and Software tour

Better late than never right? Here are my first videos of my Nokia Lumia 920 in action that I shot a week ago (sorry didn’t have much time to post them earlier). The first one is a simple hardware tour of the device followed by a software tour with a short performance comparison against the Nokia Lumia 800. Finally, the third video is a demo showing Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia Transit / Transport integration in the Windows Phone 8. Hit the break to watch them:

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4 times more Windows Phones being sold this year compared to last one

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer announced today during the annual Share Holder meeting that Windows Phone sales are 4 times more than at this time last year. Now, given that we don’t know exactly how many Windows Phones were being sold exactly one year ago this doesn’t really mean much for the time being. The only real number we have was that Nokia sold around 1 Million Lumia handsets in November and December (US not included because they were only available principally in EU) so don’t expect this year’s number to be extraordinary.

Microsoft finds cause of Windows Phone 8 rebooting issue. OTA fix to be pushed out next month

Many users have been reporting strange phone reboots with their new HTC or Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets ever since they got them a few weeks ago. The good news is that Microsoft has apparently found the cause of the problem and is going to push an OTA (Over The Air) fix/update next month to all Windows Phone 8 devices. The cause of the problem has not been made public yet but from what I have seen reported on forums it may partially be Bluetooth related (this may be why I have never encountered it because I never have BT on on my devices). Anyway here’s the official word from Redmond:

“We’re continuing to investigate some reports of phones rebooting and have identified a cause with our partners,” Microsoft said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are working to get an over-the-air update out in December.”

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NVIDIA Tegra 3 still not fully compatible with Windows RT

Here’s a non Windows Phone 8 related piece of news I came across a few days ago when looking around for real performance benchmarks and impression on the Microsoft Surface RT. As most of you have heard the Surface suffered/suffers from some performance issues according to most of the early rushed out reviews posted on the web. My own impression based on real users feedback/experience posted on forums and especially YouTube videos seems to indicate the opposite. Not really surprising to say the least but given that I have never touched a Surface in my life I can’t really judge one way or another. Anyway, I surprisingly found out that NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 SoC which powers the Surface and Asus Vivo Tab apparently doesn’t fully support Windows RT yet according to the company’s own product page. For those of you who aren’t aware; the Tegra 3 SoC packs 4 CortexA9 cores plus a 5th ARM core meant to take over all the low-power tasks like video,music, active standby. Turn’s out that the 5th core simply isn’t recognized by Windows RT yet and that one of the 4 CortexA9 cores is probably being tasked with all the low power workload.

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Nokia Lumia 920 FREE on contract with AT&T

Just a friendly heads up if you are in the market for a Nokia Lumia 920 in the US. Amazon is still taking orders for the Nokia Lumia 920 at exactly $0.01 with a 2y AT&T contract. (in Black cause all other colors are out of stock). The Lumia 920 is either selling like hot cakes or in extremely short supply given that it’s seems to be out of stocks nearly every where right now (same as the HTC 8X and Lumia 820 in the US). Just hit the Amazon link below to grab yours.

Nokia Lumia 920 mostly sold out everywhere

UPDATE: The remaining stock of Nokia Lumia 920 (only in Black) at Amazon is now being sold at 19.99 with an AT&T contract so hurry up and hit the Lumia 920 link below (all other WP8 devices are now out of stock)!

If you are in the market to buy a new Nokia Lumia 920 you better hurry up because the Finnish’s flagship device is mostly sold out everywhere and is on back-order (1 or 2 weeks delivery) even in Europe. Tomorrow’s black Friday rush won’t help the situation in the US but you probably will be able to order one at a fairly good price. It’s currently at 69.99 on AT&T via Amazon and the Lumia 820 is Free with a 2 year contract. Nokia has recently reported that the 920 has sold-out in Germany but it remains to be seen if this is because it’s hugely popular or because the stock was low to begin with. As far I know there’s still some stock in France and in the UK but your mileage may vary. The same inventory issues also apply to HTC’s Windows Phone 8X which is also on back-order right now.

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Nokia Lumia 920 first impressions

Better late than never, right? Well, I finally received a Yellow Nokia Lumia 920 on Monday and started using it as my main phone since then so I’ve had a bit more than 24 hours to handle the beast so far which is enough hands-on time to give you my first impressions about the device (but keep in mind that my device isn’t brand new).

As previously reported the Lumia 920 isn’t for the faint hearted; it’s thicker and heavier than the competition. Thankfully this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for me as the 185g really don’t feel like a lot when pocketed all day. One handed usage is equivalent to most other 4.5″+ devices on the market so you will see yourself using it with both hands most of the time.

Build quality is great but unfortunately not perfect on my particular device. The whole polycarbonate body is apparently thinner than the previous Lumia 800 and 900 bodies and can creak when pressure is applied in certain areas. There’s also a relatively big air gap between the screen and the actual LCD panel (I can see light bleeding underneath the black bezel when I tilt my handset at extreme angles) this directly impacts the quality of the viewing angles as there’s a significant drop in brightness (but colors stay intact).

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Windows Phone 8 phones now available on all major carriers world wide: But are they selling?

For those of you who have been living under a rock or simply on vacation just like me here a small reminder: Windows Phone 8 has really launched and most of the major carriers in the world are selling WP8 handsets from HTC or Nokia. What I would like to know though is if any of you have seen TV ads, Street ads, magazine ads etc in your respective countries or if Microsoft is still failing to promote its mobile platform just like it has ever done?

Several TV ads are apparently currently being aired across the world since last week so did you actually see them (note that each region/country has its on version with its local celebrity)? Verizon has also started to sell the Nokia Lumia 822 and HTC Windows Phone 8X yesterday which is kind of a big news in the US. From what I have seen pricing and availability has been a bit spotty throughout the world especially on carriers which is really disappointing as this seems to always be the case with Windows Phone devices compared to the iPhone which is always available everywhere on the same day with enough stock or even flagship Android handsets like Samsung’s.

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Nokia Lumia 920 reviews, Windows Phone 8 and everything in-between

It’s been a year since I landed a full time job and stopped updating this site on a daily bases simply because I no longer have time to do so. Every once in a while I managed to sneak in a post when something really important pops-up (like the WP8 SDK leak here and here) but I must admit that the Windows Phone world wasn’t that exciting in the last year following the launch of Mango.

Fast-forward to this month and the launch of Windows 8, Surface and Windows Phone 8. Some may be wondering where is my Nokia Lumia 920, Windows Phone 8, Surface review etc.. Well, to put it simply: those things take time and I don’t have much of that lately. Others may not care but I sincerely want to do my best to give you a honest opinion about all those products especially after reading all the biased and link-bait drivel that is being posted on most major sites lately.

Let’s take for example the Nokia Lumia 920 review embargo that lifted today. Nothing’s more annoying than reading something passed as a review when it’s obviously nothing more that a piece written to generate quick hits. In case you didn’t know it; most reviewers didn’t have the Lumia 920 for more than 48h, which is a relatively short amount of time to form a final judgment on a product, some only got to handle it at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle (see for example The Verge’s review where the camera samples where shot in the UK and the “review” mostly done in the US with a pre-production device using pre-production FW). Here, Nokia France only had three 920′s to hand out for reviews which is not a whole lot as you can image. But what’s even more laughable are some of the cons listed against the 920:

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Microsoft retail stores design leaked

Looks like Gizmodo got their hands on a PowerPoint presentation showcasing and describing in length Microsoft’s future retail stores. Plenty of Surface demo are to be expected, mobility (Windows Mobile & Netbooks) , Windows 7, PCTV (Windows Media Center), XBOX & Zune sections. Interestingly events around the future product launches like Windows 7, project Natal and the mysterious Pink project are planned to take place in the retail stores. You can find all the info over at Gizmodo.