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Windows Phone 7 – A deal breaker or just another desperate attempt?

September 18th, 2010 No comments

windowsphone-everything-top-1 
It’s been a nightmare for Microsoft in the last few years with their mobile operating system, Windows Mobile. The real battle began back in 2007 when iPhone was released to public and despite the popularity of Windows Mobile, Steve Jobs (CEO, Apple) has outwitted Steve Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft) and Windows Mobile has started to lose ground quickly. iPhone was taking the lead and outselled Windows Mobile almost immediately.

 

Just a year later (2008 A.D.) another bomb shell was dropped on the smartphone arena with the release of Google’s Android operating system and the intensity of the battle begun to rise. Google was working hard on improving Android as updates were being released more frequent on Android than iPhone. By the first quarter of 2010, the tide of war has shifted towards Android and for the first time it managed to outsell iPhone. By June of the same year, iPhone 4 went public but it failed to gain popularity like its predecessor.

 

But wait! Microsoft was holding ground under radio-silence and planning to counter-attack with the latest technologies their engineers have managed to develop. The preemptive strike has begun when Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 in Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and technologist around the globe got excited about this upcoming revolutionary mobile operating system. Some went as far as saying that that’s a deal breaker!

 

The mobile OS battle is not a fight between evil and good, like republic and separatist, Jedi and the Sith Lord, Batman and Joker. People will not go and choose sides; it’s more like a survival of the fittest were people will pick up the best smartphone out there, and the one that sell the most is the winner. So I’m quite convinced that all three companies have worked hard and squeezed their juicy expertise at best, although I’m having my doubts about Apple as they tend to release new iPhones and other products but not with the latest technologies – yes, the press exaggerates all the time with “latest technology”!

 

Without further ado, let’s compare the three mobile operating systems:

 

iPhone OS 4.0

Android 2.2

Windows Phone 7

Multitouch

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multitasking

Yes + Push

Yes

Yes but not third-party applications + Push

Copy Paste

Yes

Yes

No (Initially)

Keyboard

Virtual

Virtual + Physical

Virtual + Physical

Music Store

Yes, iTunes

Third party

Yes, Zune

Music Streaming

Third-party apps

Yes

Yes

Navigation

Third-party

Google Maps

Bing

Games

Tons on the App Store

Not as good as iPhone

Xbox Live

Gamers Social Network

Yes

No

Yes

Office Suite

Yes

Yes

Yes

Flash

No

Yes

No (Initially)

Silverlight

No

Yes

Yes

Customization Home Screen

Yes, third-party

Yes

Yes

Applications

170,000 +

50,000 +

Not launched yet

User friendliness

2nd best

3rd best

Best

Sync Game Online

No

No

Yes

 

windows phone 7 xboxOkay, so that’s a raw  comparison between the three players. We could dive deeper and see how Windows Phone 7 can be integrated to your Xbox set or your PC, and how with some upcoming games you can play it in your Xbox 360 and then go out and continue the game in your Windows Phone 7 device from the same point where you left the game on the Xbox 360.  And the list of features goes on…

 

But hey! Windows Phone 7 is still not out there yet, and if you’ve seen the developer framework capabilities you’d be amazed with what you can do with it. Microsoft is releasing an OS with amazing capabilities and an awesome developer tools for the developers’ community to make great applications and shine as a rock star.

 

There are still some issues remaining, as iPhone and Android has already gained solid ground, Microsoft will have to convince consumers to ditch their current technologies and immigrate to Windows Phone 7.

 

“Microsoft has a challenge in getting phone vendors to support Windows Phone 7,” said Jack Gold, the principal of J. Gold Associates, to the IT Business Edge. “Motorola is not going to do it. HP just bought Palm and the webOS, and it is very unlikely they will do it. HTC probably will make a few, but they are going down the Android path very quickly. Samsung may do Windows Phone 7, but how much effort will they put into it?”

 

Microsoft has managed to create a revolutionary simple “hub” centric interface and will definitely change the way people use smartphones as various technologies integration was achieved to some degree. Whether it will succeed or not we do not know. Only few days left until the release of the first Windows Phone 7 based device, and the decision is all up to the consumers to go for iPhone’s boring interface, Android’s openness, or the easiness of WP7. But of course, Microsoft wouldn’t want Captain Jack Sparrow (1) to repeat his own words to Windows Phone 7 “Up is down. That’s just maddingly unhelpful. Why are these things never clear?!”

 

 

 

 

 

This article will be published on next the issue of Al-Islamia Magazine.

– The writing style is intentional, to make it funny and inviting for youth readers.

Interviewed by Microsoft Feed

August 3rd, 2010 No comments

I’ve got interviewed by Microsoft Feed recently and the interview is now online at Microsoft Feed. The interview is basically about my experience as a Microsoft Student Partner in Kuwait University.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Launch in Kuwait

May 12th, 2010 No comments

Microsoft are doing Visual Studio 2010 launch in Kuwait and then premiering the movie Robin Hood. That’s two days before the movie launch in Kuwait cinemas.

Location: Cinescape 360, 360 Mall
Date: May 18th, 2010

Agenda:
01:45 PM – 02:00 PM | Registration
02:30 PM – 05:15 PM | Presentations
05:15 PM – 05:30 PM | Break 
05:30 PM – 07:20 PM | "Robin Hood Movie"

Register and book your seat here.

MSFT_VS2010_launch

Zune for International Users

April 7th, 2010 1 comment

So you are now one of those people who found out about Zune and got really turned down by Microsoft for preventing us to access the device and the Marketplace just because we do not live in the US? Don’t worry because I have the ultimate workaround.

zunesoftware

Since the released of Zune Software 4.0 and the integration of Zune Marketplace to the Xbox 360, Microsoft has stepped a big leap forward into the Music and Entertainment industry. The Zune Software 4.0 is user-friendly and much more responsive than its competitive the iTunes in the Windows platform and the Zune HD device is awesome and feels much more robust than the current iPods. And thanks to the Zune Pass, the Zune Marketplace now provides unlimited number of music at the tip of your hand to listen to or download, of course, with DRM lock. The Zune Pass cost only $15 USD monthly but the problem is that if you are not based in the US, you won’t be able to enjoy the Zune Marketplace, heck, you won’t even be able to buy Zune. To be fair to the Microsoft folks, I think those roadblocks were necessary for license music in the Marketplace whether the Zune team really wanted to block international users or no.

In this article I’m going to talk about how to own a Zune HD and get yourself hooked up with the Zune Marketplace with the full features of Zune Software 4.0 just like living in the states.

Get the Zune HD

Officially the Zune HD is supported and sold only in the states but you could find sellers in ebay that would happily sell it and ship it to your country but for an extra profit.

Zune HD

Another alternative is to buy Zune HD through Amazon or any other retailer and ship it to a “shipment forwarder company” in the states that ships anything they receive under your name to your home address. Basically, those types of companies will provide you with a US mailbox and an address, and if anything is mailed/shipped to that address it will be forwarded and shipped to your home. I personally use Aramex’s Shop&Ship but if you cannot use Aramex for any reason, you could always use DHL since they provide a very similar service. This kind of shipping service is available in my country and I’m not sure if it is available everywhere.

Grasp the Full Potential of the Zune Marketplace

Zune HD can play all music and videos in that’s already in your hard disk and playable by Zune Software 4.0. Now, here what really made me ditch iPod and iTunes, it is the Zune Marketplace. The main reason I made the move from iTunes to Zune Software is that I can get unlimited music with Zune Pass as I mentioned previously.

Now it is time to do some changes in your computer. Follow the next instructions before opening the Zune Software for the first time. You can download Zune Software from here.

Accessing the Zune Marketplace

zuenmarket In a typical non-US computer you won’t see the Marketplace & the Social tab in Zune Software, however, you could easily solve this by setting your location to US. To do that, go to Control Panel –> Clock, Language, and Region –> Change location, then select your location to “United States” [Windows 7].

Now you should be able to see the Marketplace tab after restarting the Zune Software.

Get a Windows Live Account

Now you need to register for a Windows Live ID which is the generic account for all Microsoft services, or you could just grab a new Windows Live or Hotmail email which is also considered as a Windows Live ID. You could use your existing Live email.

Just ensure that in your profile your home address is set to US. You could use any US-based address you want. Heck, you can use any of Microsoft offices address 😀

If you followed previous instructions you should be able to browse the Zune Marketplace and play with it. But wait! We are not done yet. Follow next instructions if you want to be able to buy Music and download them.

Note: To login successfully in your Zune Software, your PC location has to match the location in your Windows Live profile which should be US by now.

Purchasing Music from the Zune Marketplace

xbox point cardTo purchase Music from the Zune Marketplace you’re going to need Microsoft Points which is the currency being used for the Zune Marketplace and it is also the same currency being used for the XBox 360 Marketplace. You can purchase Microsoft Points online by the Zune Software but the problem is that Zune Marketplace only accepts US-credit cards. Fortunately, I was able to overcome this roadblock with the Xbox point card.

You can purchase an Xbox point card by either asking a friend from US to buy one for you and send you the card code, or you could head to ebay and buy one. Some sellers in ebay will just email you the card codes regardless of your location which is perfect for a fast solution. I personally buy from GSG online retailer because I’ve bought several Microsoft Points from him already so I trust him, and he usually send the code in less than 24 hours.

Now that you have the card codes, launch Zune Software in your PC then go to Settings –> Account –> Redeem code. Enter the code and you’ll be redeemed with Microsoft Points which can be used to buy anything in the Zune Marketplace.

You could also use those points to purchase videos on the Zune Marketplace but you’ll need to workaround it more to download videos. I’ll talk about it later.

Zune Pass

Want to enjoy the ultimate experience of Zune? Then Zune Pass is your salvation.

zuenpass

Again, the Zune Marketplace will not accept a non-US credit cards so you won’t be able to purchase Zune Pass on your own. It took me a lot of Googling (Bing suck!) to figure out alternatives which is the Zune Pass Anywhere retailer. It provides you with a Zune Pass but for a higher price and they will need to access your account so you’ll have to submit your password. Basically, they will access your account and buy a Zune Pass.

Alternatively, if you have a friend in the states you can ask your friend to buy you a Zune Pass card from Best Buy for $15 and email you the card code.

Videos

So far you should be able to download music yourself with no problem. The experience is not complete without the ability to purchase videos from the Zune Marketplace or downloading it. Easy, get a VPN (aka Virtual Private Network) for as low as $40/year from some firms.

I use Witopia but there are many other companies that provide VPN and you probably could even find lower prices. But you have to ensure that the VPN is based in the states. By the time I write this article it seems that the video download works even when the VPN service provide you with an anonymous-IP.

As soon as the video starts downloading, you won’t need VPN anymore. If your VPN connection is slow, you could pause the download then disconnect your VPN connection and resume the download with your regular connection.

After doing the first download, it doesn’t seem to need VPN anymore to download any additional videos. I don’t know the actual reason behind it but I can guess that because I have already purchased a Zune HD and linked it to my account.

Finally…

What Microsoft has done with Zune HD and Zune Software 4.0 is really incredible. If you were one of those lucky people who own a Zune HD and Zune Software, you officially own the modern device and software. They are both much user-friendly, easy to use and feels much more modern than the iPod-like interface. If you are a tech-savvy you are probably bored from the iTunes and iPod interface which feels really out-dated. You would also notice the big gap in performance with Zune Software 4.0 compared to iTunes 9.1.

You can connect to my profile:

Happy Zunning!

Senior and Fresh Graduates Job Oppotunity from Microsoft

March 31st, 2010 No comments

 

Microsoft has a program called MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hire) to hire fresh graduates. As a Microsoft Student Partner, Microsoft has informed me that they are looking for fresh graduates and senior students in Kuwait University who would like to take part in this program. Participants will be offered a full time employment opportunity at Microsoft.

In order to qualify you have to meet the followings:

  • Be a final year student of an IT-related degree (2009 graduates will also be eligible)
  • Have a GPA equivalent to 3.0 or above
  • Be able to demonstrate a passion for technology
  • Speak and write fluent English and Arabic
  • Possess excellent communication and presentation skills as well as strong interpersonal skills
  • Be a strategic thinker
  • Be able to balance individual creativity with working as a team
  • Have a high degree of customer focus
  • Be available from July 2010 to take part in our summer internship.

For more information and to apply, read this document: Job opportunity from Microsoft

Life at Microsoft

December 16th, 2009 No comments

I’d like to share some great and funny videos about working at Microsoft.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

Categories: Computer and IT Tags: , ,

TechED Middle East Website

December 6th, 2009 No comments

As mentioned before, TechED is coming to the Middle East and now the public website is live for registration for $595 US for early registration which is $230 cheaper than the standard fee.

That’s around 170KD which I think is still expensive. There should be a student registration with cheap registration fee or maybe make it free since Microsoft are marketing their products after all!

Silverlight 3 Tools Installation – Unable to Detect Visual Studio 2008 SP1

November 7th, 2009 10 comments

I’ve been trying to install Silverlight 3 Tools for Visual Studio 2008 but I keep getting a message saying that I don’t have SP1 installed even though I do have it installed, and it won’t allow me to install it. I tried to uninstall everything and reinstalled Visual Studio 2008 and updated it to Service Pack 1 but the same error keeps showing up whenever I executing the Silverlight 3 Tools installation. Here’s the error message I keep receiving:

Installation Requirements:

Build 9.0.30729.XX of Visual Studio 2008 SP1 or Visual Web Developer 2008 SP1 must be installed before installation can continue.  See <A HREF=”http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=122094″>http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=122094</A> for download information.

Silverlight 3 Tools installation error

I’ve done much research to resolve this problem but I couldn’t find any helpful information. However, I’ve been able to find some hints here and there and I’ve came up with the solution after playing around with it for awhile. But first I should clarify few things before I continue with the solution:

  • I’m using an early version of Windows 7 Professional since it was released 3 weeks ago by the time I’m writing this post.
  • I have Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Professional Edition and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed.
  • The VS2008 build is: 9.0.21022.8 RTM which is the latest update I can get from Windows Update and it cannot detect any more updates for the VS2008.
  • I have Expression Studio 3 already installed.

Okay, so now to overcome the installation error of Silverlight 3 Tools follow up these few steps:

  1. Download Silverlight 3 Tools for Visual Studio 2008 from here. The download file name should be: Silverlight3_Tools.exe by default.
  2. Download WinRar from here. Winrar will be used to extract Silverlight3_Tools.exe since it is an archived file. The reason I mentioned Winrar here is because I’m not sure if there is any other application that supports extracting EXE files. Feel free to use any other app that could do the job.
  3. After installing Winrar or any equivalent application, right click on Silverlight3_Tools.exe and extract the archive file.
  4. Finally, go to the location where you have extracted the file and execute the file VS_SilverlightTools_Setup.exe to install the Silverlight 3 Tools.

Microsoft New Efficiency Launch Roadshow

October 20th, 2009 No comments

Among other G.C.C. countries, Microsoft is launching a tech demo event, or a roadshow, in Kuwait for new technologies from Microsoft such as Windows 7 and Exchange Server 2010. The event will take place at 17th  November, 2009 from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM in Salmiya’s Salwa Alsubah stage.

You better register now before they run out of seats. There is also a quiz to win a laptop or an XBox 360.

TechED Dubai

October 19th, 2009 No comments

This time I might have the chance to get into TechED since Microsoft have decided to do one in Dubai.

Microsoft’s premier technical education and networking conference is coming to the Middle East.
Connect one-on-one with Microsoft insiders and IT peers, get your toughest questions answered and hear
expert advice – right from the source, right in your region.

TechED Dubai Logo

The conference will start at 1st of March in Dubai World Trade Centre and for 3 days.

I’ve always wanted to attend one of these events to get into the community and talk about programming and technologies with others especially about those exciting new technologies from Microsoft.

Fore more information, check out the official website.

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