Tech Review • June 19-20 2012

Windows Phone 8•More MS Surface•WikiStats•Bing ties for best Local•Shapeways 3D Hot•DIY 3D wire bending machine.

Windows Phone 8 Announced. Lots of Pros and Some Unfortunate Cons

Microsoft announced details of Windows Phone 8 today and the upgrade is impressive. Windows phone will move from the old CE kernel to the same NT core used by Microsoft’s desktop OSes. While Windows Phone 7 has arguably offered a leading user interface experience, WP8 will at last bring Windows Phone into reasonable feature parity with iOS and Android.

There are lots of Pros related to the new OS. Windows Phone 8 will support:

  • Multi-core processors—up to 64 for über-geeks who might care about that. However, the initial batch of WP8 phones will be limited to using Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core processors. That means no quad core phones for a while. This won’t be so bad if WP8 is as efficient on its platform as WP7 has been. The user experience with single core WP7 phones has compared favorably with dual and quad core phones on other OSes.
  • Higher resolution screens.
  • Full device encryption, the lack of which has prevented any of us here at Expedia with Windows Phones from connecting to our corporate network.
  • A “company hub” to allow organizations to distribute their own custom apps.
  • MicroSD card storage.
  • NFC wireless sharing.
  • A new digital Wallet, competitive with Apple’s Passbook, to hold credit cards, boarding passes, loyalty cards, etc.
  • Turn by turn maps with an offline option.
  • Native code (e.g., C, C++) support—meaning developers can easily port apps (games will be the most common use case) from other platforms and use cross platform frameworks.
  • In-app payments.
  • VOIP support.
  • Enhanced multitasking.
  • Enhanced voice commands to rival and in some ways surpass Siri. Unlike Siri, application developers will be able to add their own nouns and verbs to WP8’s voice recognition.
  • A new more customizable Start Screen with different sizes of tiles .

Cons. some unfortunate drawbacks have been confirmed:

  • The Windows Phone 8 OS will not run on current Windows Phones. Those folks who just bought a nice new Nokia 900 are out of luck with respect to WP8. Microsoft is mitigating the break by ensuring that all WP7 applications will run on the new platform—owners will be able to take all their apps with them when they next upgrade. Microsoft is also releasing one more update to current platform. That version will be called Windows Phone 7.8 and will feature the newly redesigned Start Screen.
  • New apps built for WP8 will not run on WP7. However, apart from the native code apps mentioned above and apps that extensively use new platform features not available on the old platform, I expect that developers will be able to use the same code base to easily create separate builds for the new and old platforms.

Read the Windows Phone blog for for the official message.

Windows Team Blog

The Verge has the most comprehensive press coverage I have seen today.

The Verge

Long time Microsoft observer Mary-Jo Foley offers a good layperson’s explanation of the architectural changes and implications of the switch to the NT core.


Ars Technica predicts that the by finally delivering enterprise security and functionality in Windows Phone, Microsoft has signed BlackBerry’s death warrant.

Ars Technica

Follow-up Microsoft Surface Tablet News

Business Week has a great article and analysis on Microsoft’s Surface:

Microsoft, in many ways, helped create this mess that Panos et al are trying to fix. Along with Intel, it sucked all the profits out of the PC industry, leaving HP and Dell to rely on manufacturing companies in Taiwan for their innovative twists. The result has been the Great Stagnation, during which PC makers have been throwing smartphone and tablet designs over the wall, only to see them ignored en masse.

Business Week

Reuters says Microsoft waited until the last minute to tell its long-time PC partners about surface, and even then, it offered few details. We can imagine they’re not happy, but Microsoft couldn’t afford the status quo of its partners offering mediocre products while Apple continued to grow market share and profits.


Ballmer’s thoughts the morning after the Surface announcement.

Business Week

Design is Preeminent in Microsoft’s latest products.

“To Gadi Amit, principal designer at NewDealDesign, the San Francisco-based agency behind products like the Fitbit activity tracker, Metro is the best design work Microsoft’s ever done. ‘From a purely design standpoint, it’s really superior to Apple,’”

Business Week Provides Dynamic Analytics Insights into Wikipedia

If you’re an analytics geek and like to think about how to visualize dynamic website changes, have a look at this new site that provides a birds-eye’s view showing how content gets into Wikipedia and how Wikipedia users and editors transform it. Pretty interesting.



Bing beats Google, ties with Yellowbook, Superpages, for Most Accurate Local Data

Search Engine Land

Shapeways Prints 1 Million 3D Objects, Gets 6.2 Million Dollars

NYTimes Bits Blog

Just One More: “DIWire,” a 3D Wire Bending Machine

This is way cool—an Arduino-based machine that takes metal wire off of a spool and following a vector input file, bends it into 2D and 3D shapes. There are of course very expensive industrial machines that can do this, but this one was designed so it can be built from scratch by advanced basement tinkerers.


Watch a fascinating video of the machine in action:

The DIWire Bender from PENSA! on Vimeo.


Build your own: here you can find the bill of materials, code and models of custom parts for 3D printing.

PensaNYC Blog

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