A couple of weeks ago I reported that after the purchase by Google of Softcard, the NFC payment app and service, that support for Windows Phone would end. This was according to Softcard’s own FAQs answer the question of if support would continue. It is unfortunate and shortsighted by Google to immediately kill the solution on Windows Phone and it further shows the one sided relationship between the tech giant and Microsoft. Now we know for sure when the support will end. March 31, 2015.
One of the biggest challenges-meets-disappointments with the first release of the Windows 10 for Phone Preview was the limited number of devices which were supported. Adding to that pain was the lack of high end devices being supported. As I’ve posted in my Initial Thoughts on the release, be careful what you wish for as it was and still is pretty rough. That said, it looks like hope is on the horizon.
Microsoft’s Gabe Aul from the Windows Insider program has Tweeted this morning that the next release of the Windows 10 for Phone Preview will indeed support more devices. In a reply to a question being asked on the subject, he replied with the following Tweet
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) March 5, 2015
While which devices will be included is not clear from the Tweet, it should be encouraging to Windows Phone fans that more support will be coming to more devices.
The Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone has been updated today, shedding the “preview” tag and added a few new features for users. The update, version 184.108.40.206 for those keeping score at home, is what everyone should consider the first release of the app given it has been in preview (i.e. beta) for many, many months. If you have the Remote Desktop app installed on your device, the update can be installed right over it so no need to uninstall/reinstall.
This week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona we have already seen some interesting developments for Windows and Windows Phone. First, we saw the announcement of the new Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL, two mid-range devices that Microsoft will be launching globally, including here in the United States. On the same day we saw Microsoft discuss in great detail Universal apps and the architecture underneath those apps for all things running Windows 10. That latter point has garnered a lot of attention as it should. Microsoft is general and Windows Phone in particular has been a fragmented mess that the company has essentially rebooted three times now. They have to get it right with Windows 10 for Phones and universal apps will be a key part of that success. I’ve said as much in the past and continue to believe that is the case. I’ve encouraged developers to keep the faith as universal apps will make their lives and the lives of consumers easier in a Windows 10 world.
But universal apps in themselves will not save Windows Phone. If anyone reading this believe that is the case, I’m sorry, but you are misguided. They will play a big role, but they cannot be the only thing that changes if the platform on mobile is to survive. It will take a level of marketing that Microsoft has never done with Windows Phone, a commitment – with consequences – from carriers, and partnerships that may seem unholy but are necessary. The problems with Windows Phone go much deeper than Universal apps and lack of developers. It’s a fundamental perception problem.
This week or next it is expect that we will see the next Windows 10 Preview build for PCs and Tablets drop to Windows Insiders. While the release date is not exactly known, there are indications of what can be expected in the build. While no major changes are coming to the Preview, you can expect to see the new Project Spartan web browser experience come to it in this release.
For those of you who haven’t heard, Project Spartan is a new universal app browser that is coming to all platforms in Windows 10. That new browser, which was demonstrated yesterday at MWC in Barcelona, is significantly faster than the current Internet Explorer and brings other improvements like Cortana integration. Everything I’ve seen and from those on the inside at Microsoft are saying it is impressive. Personally, I cannot wait to see it.
The even better thing about Project Spartan is that it is a true Universal App based on the methodology and framework Microsoft laid out yesterday. That means that we will see this new browser experience not only on PCs and Tablets, we will see it on Windows 10 for Phones. That will also be in the next Preview build for Phones but don’t expect the next build for phones next week. All indications are we have a mid-to-late March to wait for that release.
Overnight at MWC in Barcelona there was two interesting tidbits of news related to the Xbox 360. Yes, it is still alive and well and given the game incompatibility between it and the Xbox One, you can expect they will be around for a long time to come. The first bit of news was the announcement of a new Xbox 360 Preview program. This, like the one for the Xbox One, will bring preview (beta) bits to the console. Invited customers will be able to sign up directly from their Xbox 360. Starting this month invitations will be sent out and you can sign up. What this not however is Windows 10. While Microsoft is saying more changes are coming later this year to the 360, there is no indication whatsoever that it will be updated to Windows 10 like the Xbox One will be once it is released. Could that change? Of course, but frankly I don’t see it happening given the emphasis and focus on the Xbox One platform.
As part of the launch announcements for the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL, Microsoft has released two new launch videos covering both devices. Both of the videos can be found after the break and both are quite dramatic, outlining the look and feel of the devices as well as the wide range of apps that come built into the device.
In addition to the Lumia 640 announced today at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft also announced their new Phablet device, the Lumia 640XL. The 5.7″ device is a replacement for the now quite dated Lumia 1320 (my personal phone of choice) and it is a significant bump up in specifications over the 1320. Like the Lumia 640, there will be multiple variants of the Lumia 640XL: Single and Dual SIM 3G models as well as Single and Dual SIM LTE Models. It is expected to retail for around $245 for the Dual SIM LTE model which is a very attractive price point for what this device has to offer.
The Lumia 640XL will be powered by the Snapdragon 400 Quad-Core processor running at 1.2GHz and will sport 1GB of RAM. It will have 8GB of internal storage with expansion up to an additional 128GB with a MicroSD card. It has a 5.7″ IPS display running at 1280×720 with Glance screen and sunlight readability enhancements for when you are outside. The rear camera is probably the single biggest improvement over the Lumia 1320. The 1320 has a 5MP camera while the 640XL will have a 13MP camera. That rear camera can also shoot 1080p video and has a flash. The front facing camera is a 5MP wide angle fixed focus. It will also have SensorCore which is something the Lumia 1320 does not have either.
Another interesting change is that the Lumia 640XL will have a user replaceable 3000 mAh battery, something you cannot do on the Lumia 1320.
As I posted just a bit ago, Microsoft launched the Lumia 640 this morning at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. If you haven’t had a chance to review the specs, you can do so here and I think you’ll like what you see. The Lumia 640 is certainly not a flagship device but it is a nice step up in the mid-market and one that should do well.
Microsoft has now released hi-res images of the Lumia 640 and I’ve got all of them here for your viewing pleasure. All of them can be found after the break to save those who don’t want to see them from a big download on the front page of the site. Keep in mind that these are all between 1.5-3 MB is size so rendering may be slow depending on your connectivity.
At Mobile World Congress today, Microsoft announced the new Lumia 640, a mid-range Windows Phone that is a step up from the popular Lumia 635. The Lumia 640 comes in three variants, the 3G Dual SIM, LTE Dual SIM and an LTE Single SIM and it is expected to sell for less than $200 when it reaches the US. Yes, the Lumia 640 is coming to the United States! It is expected to be with AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS but what is unclear is which variant will be with which carrier. While I’ve voice my opinion on the need for a flagship Windows Phone from Microsoft, it is good to see this Lumia 640 as it is, specification wise, not bad at all for a sub-$200 device.
The Lumia 640 will run on the Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor at 1.2GHz and will sport a 8GB of storage on board. That can be augmented with up to 128GB on a MicroSD card. The rear camera is a 8MP autofocus capable of shooting 1080p video while the front facing camera is a HD 1MP wide angle. The display is a 5″ HD 1280×720 IPS that does support Glance which if you don’t have, once you do, will love. It is expected to launch this month in various markets globally.