Zune branding officially killed by Microsoft
While the Zune hardware has been gone for some time, the Zune branding is finally dead. Microsoft spokeswoman Melissa Stewart confirmed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo that the brand is going away to make room for the better known and more respected Xbox brand for its entire entertainment service, including audio and video. Zune Music customers who created playlists using the old service can still access the content using the newly announced Xbox Music Service. The new Xbox Music Service commences sometime this fall.
Over 35 more apps will appear on console, including ESPN
Microsoft is adding more content to the Xbox 360 in future updates, the company has announced. Over the next 12 months, the console will have more than 35 new content partners, offering more films and shows to watch and listen to. Xbox Music was also revealed as a marketplace on Windows 8-based devices as well as the Xbox 360, along with an expansion to the current sport-related offerings.
UK Official Charts Company measuring Spotify usage
The Official Charts Company of the UK from Monday onwards will start releasing a chart based solely on streamed music tracks. The Official Streaming Chart will be the first chart ranking audio streams from both ad-funded and subscription streaming services in the UK, instead of product sales or radio airplay figures.
Woodstock music to have Facebook link, more
Microsoft's restarted music plans will see them escape the platform and feature limits of the Zune Music Marketplace, according to new leaks. Tipsters for The Verge had the service, codenamed Woodstock, being available not just to Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox users, but Android and iOS as well. It would also be playable on the web, although without needing a plugin.
Windows Phone shopping to be web or phone only
Microsoft in an update instituted two major changes in how Windows Phone owners would get apps. It was now planning to pull the Windows Phone Marketplace option from the Zune desktop app on Windows PCs. Customers now had to either browse the web store, and push apps to their device, or else shop directly from the phone.
Live ID, Zune brands won't appear in Windows 8
When it launches the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 at MWC next week, Microsoft will have done away with two long-standing brands, The Verge found out. The Windows Live brand will be gone, replaced by similarly functioning Windows Communications apps. At the same time, Microsoft Live ID will now be known as Microsoft Account, likely with some minor changes and improvements.
Microsoft tries rework of Zune music strategy
Microsoft is looking to redo its music service strategy, leaks uncovered Friday. Those said close to major label discussions told CNET that Microsoft was aiming for a mix of streaming and downloads. The focus would be on the Xbox and an unnamed Windows Phone, possibly made by HTC or Nokia.
Consumer Preview of Win 8 may have Media Center
The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will have a number of Metro-style apps preinstalled, The Verge has learned. They will include mostly simply-titled core apps, such as Camera, SkyDrive, Messaging, Mail, Calendar, People, Photos, Video, and Music. There may be even more than that, and all will be updatable from the Windows Store.
Microsoft Points may be droped by end 2012
A potentially impactful rumor on Monday claimed that Microsoft will drop its Microsoft Points system. As of the end of 2012, the Windows Phone, Xbox Live, and Zune Marketplace stores would all rely on real currency, Inside Mobile Apps had heard. Developers being published by Microsoft were reportedly being told to prepare any downloadable extras to adapt to the change.
Microsoft seeking software engineer for WP backup
Microsoft is seeking a new employee to join its Windows Phone Backup, Migrate, and Restore team, suggesting the next update to Windows Phone will allow cloud backup and easy restore functions. The ideal Software Development Engineer would be based in Redmond and help users restore their wiped phones to their user-customized states. They could also quickly put the contacts, settings, apps and other content onto replacement phones when their original one is lost or stolen.
Sonos update stops Zune, Microsoft devices
Sonos has quietly put out an update for its Play and Bridge devices last week that unusually strips out features. The 3.6 update pulls support for copy-protected Windows Media files, leaving Zune Pass users and those still tied to mostly inactive PlaysForSure DRM stores without a way to stream their music to Sonos boxes. The company hasn't given an explanation for the switch but has been asked for a comment.
Microsoft to bring beaming to future Windows gear
The so-called squirting functionality of the first-gen Zune could come back in future Microsoft-powered devices such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and the Xbox 360 using near-field tech. Files could be beamed using NFC, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct pairing, frequent rumor source MS_Nerd tweeted. This would be yet another step in Microsoft's attempt to unify the experience across its devices, with the first step being the Metro user interface.
T-Mobile updates G2X and Radar 4G
T-Mobile planned out a pair of updates for key smartphones this week. It confirmed that it was restarting its Android 2.3 update for the G2X. Updates had gone properly for the LG phone before, but T-Mobile hoped to catch those who either missed the update or had bought phones that still had 2.2 after the 2.3 upgrades finished.
Microsoft sends tile-based Xbox 360 UI
Microsoft on Thursday started giving beta users its promised fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard update. The upgrade introduces the tiled, Windows Phone 7-like interface we first saw at E3 and organizes sections that would normally need hierarchical sections into groups. The interface is more optimized for the Kinect and lets users search for content across the whole Xbox and Xbox Live using voice, although a gamepad fallback is available.
Microosft may axe Silverlight after major release
Microsoft may join in decisions to drop proprietary plugins with an exit from Silverlight, insiders mentioned later on Tuesday. Silverlight 5, expected to be finished by the end November, is said by Microsoft partner contacts for ZDNet to be the last-ever version. It might not get any minor updates and may even go without any support beyond Internet Explorer for Windows, backtracking on claims of cross-platform support.
Microsoft may have forced staffer out of Apple
Microsoft may have blackballed Apple's choice of datacenter head in the moves that ultimately led to Apple hiring from Yahoo, according an unusually detailed rumor. After fighting opposition from his immediate management on his way out, Kevin Timmons was supposedly met by CEO Steve Ballmer, SAI heard. Timmons may have had an "attitude" during the meeting that led to Ballmer reaching Apple directly, threatening legal action if Apple completed the hire.
Limited control of games will be enabled tomorrow
Microsoft has said will soon be bringing its Zune Music Pass service and enhanced Kinect voice control to its Australian gamers. Zune will be available starting November 16. The Kinect voice menu is expected to be fully functional by mid-December.
iPod introduced 10 years ago today
Apple's iPod on Sunday marked its tenth anniversary in a very different landscape. The MP3 player was unveiled on October 23, 2001 at an event in Apple's Town Hall at its Cupertino headquarters in what's now considered one of the late Steve Jobs' crowning achievements. Its first iPod, available in just a 5GB capacity with only Mac and FireWire support, reached stores on November 10 that year for $399.
Zune HD clearing out from stores
Microsoft over the weekend provided a more definitive answer on the end of the Zune after repeatedconfusion as the Zune HD exited stock in earnest. Best Buy, the Microsoft Store, and Walmart all now show the MP3 player as out of stock. Microsoft had pulled the Zune HD from its Originals plan but, until now, still had supply in other stores.
Microsoft says Zune end not yet official
Microsoft's support team claimed late Tuesday that it hadn't officially ended the Zune. Despite a public support page explicitly stating no more devices were being made, the support team told a user that "no official info has been released" dropping the platform. The division didn't have an explanation for the apparent self-contradiction.
Zune HD support page, podcast end lineup
Microsoft in spite of its earlier claims has said it will drop Zune players. A support page has made clear the company will "no longer be producing Zune players." It will keep honoring support and sales, but hasn't made mention of future OS updates.
Zune HD references temporarily disappear
Microsoft sparked a brief moment of panic after dropping all references to the Zune HD on its Zune Pass page. The absence, which only left PCs, Windows Phone, and Zune, led some to believe that Microsoft had quietly dropped the MP3 player. Michael Yaeger from the company's team posted a clarification noting that the product pages were still up and it was a "publishing mishap."
Zune Pass gets cheaper option, hits Canada
Microsoft in an update Thursday recommitted itself to music by launching a new, lower cost Zune Pass. The new option will cost the same $10 per month as competing services but drop the 10 free permanent MP3 tracks from the $15 original. Listeners will also sync to fewer computers and devices, down from six to four, when the plan goes live October 3.
Microsoft details speed of WP7 Mango rollout
Microsoft in a follow-up post outlined the speed at which its Windows Phone 7.5 Mango rollout would take place. In an attempt to keep quality in check, only about 10 percent of users will get the update pushed out in the first week. That could expand to 25 percent later if everything went well, Microsoft's Eric Hautala said.
T-Mobile and Cincinnati Bell Pros also get Mango
Dell announced on Thursday that the first of its Windows Phone 7 devices to get the Mango update will be the unlocked Venue Pro smartphone. Those in the US, India, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with the handset can expect the update to roll out sometime this fall. Owners of the handset locked to T-Mobile and Cincinnati Bell Wireless will also get the new code.
Zune manager McLauchlan exits for Buddy
Microsoft's Zune media players faced an extra setback Tuesday after Zune HD business development manager Dave McLauchlan said he was exiting the company. The company veteran resigned last week and will finish Friday. His ultimate destination is Buddy, an early startup that will help make mobile apps "cheaper, faster & easier."
Deals on MacBook Airs, MP3 players, and more
Today's Deals fro DealNN include price breaks on MacBook Airs, MP3 players, and more. Macmall.com has recently lowered the cost of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air, complete with 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, 256GB of Flash storage, Bluetooth support, and a NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor. Currently priced at $1,349.99, this MacBook Air is featured at DealNN and offers savings of up to $449.
WP7 Connector Mac gets Mango, Aperture sync
Microsoft on Wednesday posted a 2.0 overhaul to Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac (free, Mac App Store). The update arrives just in time to support the first wave of Mango phones. Among the additions for the new mobile OS are the ability to visit the Windows Phone Marketplace for these devices and to transfer custom ringtones.
Microsoft Tysons Corner store opening soon
Microsoft on Thursday confirmed that it planned to open its hinted at McLean, Virginia store. The shop doesn't have a release date but will be conspicuously placed in the Tysons Corner Center, the same place as one of Apple's two original Apple stores. It had already been recruiting for positions at the store over the past few weeks.
Platform revamped for Windows Phone update
Microsoft has released an updated version of its Zune software that works as a companion utility for Windows Phone handsets and the company's media players. Version 4.8 is mostly focused on under-the-hood changes that bring support for the upcoming Windows Phone update, known as Mango. Users that have not kept up to date with their WP7 software will only need to click the update button once to install multiple updates.
Zune, PlayStation stores lose ground
iTunes movie sales have managed a turnaround in US marketshare, according to research firm IHS. During the first half of 2011, Apple's portion of electronic sellthrough and video-on-demand spending grew to 65.8 percent, versus 64.9 percent in the first half of 2010. In an equivalent gap between 2009 and 2010, Apple dropped by 11.9 percent. IHS remarks that Apple's last rise in share was during 2009.
Windows Phone 7 Mango upgrade gets narrowed timing
Microsoft has narrowed down the date when it starts rolling out Windows Phone 7's Mango update, contacts slipped on Thursday. Both an upgrade for existing owners as well as new phones are poised to be available as soon as September 1. The information relayed to Pocket-lint had it timed with the start of the IFA show in Berlin and could see some of the first phones demonstrated, if not shipping, that day.
Walmart to shutter MP3 store by August 29
Walmart said Tuesday that it would close its MP3 store on August 29. The discount retailer said it had made a "business decision" to get out of MP3 downloads and would wind down in just under three weeks. No reason was given for the closure.
Forbes puts Apple at 5th but behind Amazon
Forbes has updated its Most Innovative Companies chart to reveal what it considers the most innovative companies in the world. The ranks buck some expectations and give enterprise-focused Salesforce the top spot where frequent darling of the list, Apple, is at fifth. Amazon, Intuitive Surgical, and QQ creator Tencent all rank higher.
Windows Phone, Mobile revenues still miniscule
An investigation into Microsoft's SEC filing for its fiscal year has revealed that the company made very little on its mobile platforms for the entire year. Of the nearly $8.72 billion in revenue from the company's Entertainment and Devices group between July 2010 and last month, just $613 million belonged to something other than the Xbox 360, the Seattle PI found. The figure left Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile making no more than the amount combined.
Live tiles being tested for Bing search engine
Microsoft is currently internally testing live tiles, or small windows, that remain fixed while users scroll down the screen to keep navigation tabs in view for the HTML5 version of Bing, WinRumors reports. The tiles will enable animated pictures and automatically-generated slideshows so users can visually explore a search query. They depend on a user's location and provide weather information, local news, mapping, targeted advertising and trends.
Microsoft decides against next Hulu buyout bidding
Microsoft has quit the bidding process on Hulu, sources disclosed Tuesday. The Windows developer had dropped out of the second round for unknown reasons. Bloomberg in getting the tip was told Microsoft hadn't shut out the possibility of going back in later.
W3C looks for prior art
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) this weekend put out a call for prior art that might invalidate two Apple patents potentially keeping the web from using the concepts as standards. The W3C's Patent Advisory Group is hoping to make Apple either give a royalty-free license for the patents, which cover widget security and safe distribution, or else lose control of the patents so that they can be used royalty-free.
Zune subscription videos said coming to Xbox, WP7
Microsoft is planning a subscription video service that would go beyond the live Xbox TV it promised during its E3 keynote, insiders uncovered Friday. The service mentioned to The Daily would be badged as a Zune service much like the existing pay-per-title store and compete with one of Microsoft's frequent partners, Netflix. The service would "most likely" not be locked to the Xbox and would show up on Windows Phone 7 and Windows PCs.
Will charge for streamed misic as part of a bundle
Virgin Media has signed a deal with
Spotify to add streaming music to its cable content offering in the UK. Virgin's subscribers will be able to buy a bundle which includes access to Spotify's 13 million tracks. Although Spotify does offer a free, ad-supported streaming service, Virgin's subscribers will have to pay a subscription for their songs.
Zune HD Originals stopped as of July
Microsoft gave further clues that the Zune HD is phasing out with the departure of Zune Originals. A notice on the page now says custom orders for the Zune HD have stopped as of the evening of July 1. Any orders placed before 8PM Eastern that day will be honored, but those that slipped through after the cutoff may need to get in touch with Microsoft.
Windows Phone 7 Mango reaching devs tomorrow
New hints have emerged that Windows Phone 7 developers will be getting the Mango update on Thursday. The beta version is reportedly being cleaned up to work on regular devices and would be accessible through the developer-only AppHub. The WinRumors source was complemented by a Twitter update from Microsoft communications Senior Director Bill Cox on Wednesday morning that there was a "juicy surprise for tomorrow."
Ports may not include third-party titles
Microsoft is reportedly considering porting many Zune HD apps over to the Windows Phone platform. In a Zune Insider podcast, Zune senior business development manager Dave McLauchlan suggests the company is mulling the idea of reworking its internally-developed Zune HD titles for compatibility with the range of WP7 smartphones.
Microsoft Windows 8 tablet would use TI chip
Microsoft may be hoping to more directly challenge Apple with a self-branded Windows 8 tablet, part suppliers asserted in a rumor on Tuesday. The company would collaborate directly with TI, possibly using its 1.8GHz OMAP4470 chip, and brand it much the way the company has the Xbox 360 or Zune. The company was said by Digitimes to be keeping a "low profile," in part to give it the opportunity to scrap the project without much attention.
Windows Phone 7 Mango music extras get demo
Microsoft this weekend gave a more detailed preview of the music aspects of its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Mango update. The mobile OS now finally has native podcast support and, similar to the Zune HD, gets a dedicated menu and dedicated navigation for individual episodes. The WP7 upgrade lets users subscribe directly from the app or stream episodes they don't want to cache locally.
Xbox Live Diamond TV kicks off next week
Microsoft's rumored Xbox Live TV subscription is about to get its public showing next week, industry contacts reported Friday. Known as Diamond, it should be shown off at E3 as long as the deals are in place. Microsoft was reported by WinRumors as being in the same position as Apple, holding last-minute talks, and might skip mentioning it entirely if talks aren't done by the Los Angeles show.
Microsoft may have planned a Zune nano
A patent sleuth Manan Kakkar has uncovered a Microsoft patent application in 2009 for a nano-like Zune player. The device looks very similar to the current Apple iPod nano. The main point of difference in the hardware design is that it appears to require physical controls, while the iPod nano uses a touch screen.
Windows Phone Mango hits summer with new phones
(Update: corrected to fall) Microsoft ahead of its live event on Tuesday gave word of the launch of its planned Mango update for Windows Phone 7. The update is still penned in to the fall. The upgrade will also come with some partners completely new to WP7, such as Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE, as well as new models from existing phone makers.
Salesforce says Microsoft repeating Zune failures
Salesforce chief Marc Benioff squared off against Microsoft in an earnings call late last week that boiled Microsoft's more recent failures to a single method. Calling it the "Zune strategy," he argued that Microsoft kept repeating the strategy it took with its self-designed but largely unsuccessful MP3 player, expecting different results. Along with failing to topple Salesforce's Sales Cloud with CRM Dynamics, Microsoft had tried to push Windows tablets and the Zune as iPad and iPod rivals without having anything special beyond the brand name and price.
Dev makes WP7 aping music app for Android
Android phone owners who wish to have a more Windows Phone-like experience, at least in appearance, now have the option of doing so, thanks to a program from Federico Carnales. The maker is the same one behind the Launcher 7 app (free, Android Market). The skin only works for the music player, and mimics the respective Windows Phone 7 interface nearly perfectly, as Engadget illustrated. The similarities are strong, especially with the app still in an early alpha build.