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Microsoft announce Sling, Foursquare & more for Windows 7 Phone series; Silverlight embracing open-source

Microsoft may not be known for their open-source credentials, but at MIX 2010 this morning the company have announced a new push to drive Silverlight adoption.  As well as launching Silverlight 4 RC today, the company have confirmed that the technologies used during the Olympics – that used Silverlight for web-streaming – will be made open-source.  Meanwhile Microsoft have given us a list of launch software partners for Windows Phone 7 series, which includes social networking tools from Foursquare and Seesmic, through entertainment like Pandora, Shazam, EA Mobile and Sling, through to enterprise providers like Citrix.  Microsoft have also confirmed which hardware functionality Windows Phone 7 series developers will be able to access, including multitouch and accelerometer.

As for Windows Phone 7 series, Microsoft have confirmed that developers will be able to use the hardware’s accelerator, multitouch display, camera and microphone, as well as using Microsoft’s Notification Service and Location Service.  The former will give developers a way to push information to the smartphone, whether or not the related app is actually running, while the latter provides a single point from which to source location information.  Finally there’s also Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming for digital delivery of content together with support for DRM.  We’re expecting to hear more about these things as MIX 2010 progresses.

Confirmed software partners for Windows Phone 7 series’ launch include Associated Press, WeatherBug, Citrix, EA Mobile, Fandango, Foursquare, frog design, chúng tôi chúng tôi , Microsoft Game Studios, Namco, Pandora, Photobucket, PopCap Games, Seesmic, Shazam, Sling Media, SPB Software and Vertigo Software among others (check out the full list in the press release below).

They’re using the new, free tools for Windows Phone 7 series development:

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone

Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010 RC

XNA Game Studio 4.0

Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator for application testing

Expression Blend for Windows Phone Community Technology Preview (which will also be available as a separate download)

Apps can be distributed through the Windows Phone Marketplace, with a 70/30 revenue split in the developers’ favor.  Microsoft have also scythed away some of the secondary fees previously involved, and students will get more discounts or even free submissions.  The new Marketplace slots into the Marketplace Hub, complete with gaming and carrier-specific offerings.  We’ll be bringing you more from MIX 2010 as it develops.

Press Release:

Microsoft Outlines New Opportunities at MIX10 for Developers to Create Compelling Experiences

“As the browser, server, Web and devices evolve, a focus on delivering consistently great user experiences has become paramount,” Guthrie said. “By extending our familiar platform technologies and tools to phones, Microsoft is delivering the premier application development experience across a variety of devices and form factors.”

End-to-End Application Development Platform for Windows Phone 7 Series

•Accelerometer, an intuitive control that responds to motion

•A Microsoft Location Service to provide developers with a single point of reference to acquire location information

•Microsoft Notification Service for pushing information to the phone, regardless of whether or not an application is running

•Hardware-accelerated video with digital rights management (DRM)

•Internet Information Services Smooth Streaming for the industry’s highest quality content viewing experience


•Camera and microphone support

“Windows Phone 7 Series brings together a rich application environment, powerful hardware, a fresh approach to software and a smart new design,” Belfiore said. “It was designed to generate incredible opportunities for developers and designers to quickly and easily deliver compelling applications and games. With the best developer tools, an established ecosystem and marketplace, and a path for developers to use their Silverlight and XNA Framework skill sets, we are delivering an application platform that is simple, powerful and inspiring.”

Free Tools for Windows Phone 7 Series Developers and Designers

To further support an end-to-end development experience, Microsoft announced the availability of comprehensive tools support for Windows Phone 7 Series. The easy-to-install package includes previews of the following:

•Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone

•Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010 RC

•XNA Game Studio 4.0

•Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator for application testing

•Expression Blend for Windows Phone Community Technology Preview (available as a separate download)

A Marketplace for Windows Phone 7 Series Applications

Several leading companies will be creating exciting applications and games for Windows Phone 7 Series. They include The Associated Press, Archetype International Inc., AWS Convergence Technologies – WeatherBug, Citrix Systems Inc., Clarity Consulting Inc., Cypress Consulting, EA Mobile, Fandango Inc., Foursquare Labs Inc., frog design inc., Glu Mobile Inc., chúng tôi Hudson Entertainment Inc., IdentityMine Inc., chúng tôi Inc., Larva Labs, chúng tôi LLC, Matchbox Mobile Ltd., Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Networks America Inc., Oberon Media Inc., Pageonce Inc., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., PopCap Games Inc., Seesmic, Shazam Entertainment Ltd., Sling Media, SPB Software Inc., stimulant, TeleCommunications Systems Inc., Touchality LLC and Vertigo Software Inc.

Continued Innovation With Silverlight and Expression Blend

Microsoft announced a release candidate (RC) for Silverlight 4, available for download today, which builds on the beta version released at the Professional Developers Conference in November 2009. The Silverlight 4 RC provides powerful media and enterprise application and media capabilities, out-of-browser flexibility and world-class tools support via Visual Studio and Expression Blend with Sketchflow to enable robust application development and rich interactive experiences.

In addition, Microsoft unveiled the Expression Blend 4 Beta, a design and development workflow tool. New features such as Path Layout enable developers and designers to build and animate innovative user interface design via a groundbreaking visual layout mechanism, without the need to write code. Expression Blend 4 Beta also adds support for Silverlight 4, .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 2010.

Silverlight Customer Adoption

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Wix And Google Announce Gmb Integration

Wix and Google announced an expanded partnership that integrates Google My Business (GMB) directly within Wix. Businesses can now access GMB data, customer interactions and manage their  profile directly from Wix.

Wix Business Model

The value proposition in a service like Wix is that they take handle the technical side of an online presence. Things like search engine optimization (SEO) and structured data are taken care of by Wix. Wix also provides marketing tools that help small businesses succeed. This allows businesses to focus on doing what they do best.

Integrating Google My Business fits in with the Wix business model of making it easy to do business online. The expanded partnership with Google simplifies managing a Google My Business (GMB) profile. This gives Wix a strong position in the local search industry.

What GMB Integration Offers

Everything that a business owner can do in the GMB interface, including managing their Google Search and Maps profile, can be done directly from the Wix platform through a familiar user interface.

According to the Wix announcement:

“Business owners can manage their Business Profiles, update their business information and hours, add photos, update their website, create posts, add attributes, respond to reviews, share Q&As, message with customers and accept bookings.

An up-to-date Business Profile is considered 2.7 times more reputable, 70% more likely to attract location visits and are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase.”

Q & A With Wix

I asked Kobi Gamliel, Head of User Marketing at Wix about this integration.

The integration of GMB is seamless and easy to manage as the user interface (UI) is unified across the Wix platform.

Business owners find it easy to navigate in an ecosystem they are already familiar with where they create, manage and grow their businesses online.”

What kind of insights and data is available through the GMB integration?

Google Integration Expertise

Wix already has experience integrating Google services directly into the Wix platform.

Here are some of the Google integrations already built-into Wix:

Google Search Console

Google Workspaces

Google Analytics

Google Tag Manager

Reserve with Google

Adding GMB is just the latest of many integrations with Google, so it should be as they said, seamless.

According to Valerio Sudrio, Head of EMEA Google My Business partnerships at Google:

“Together with Wix, we’re providing essential tools that help business owners efficiently and instantaneously engage with new and existing customers online…”

Wix Making Strides in Local Search

There are other platforms that help small businesses build an online presence. But there aren’t any with the full suite of marketing and business features included with a Wix account.

Wix has been making great strides in their offerings,including in the area of SEO. Integrating GMB into the Wix platform solidifies Wix as a strong consideration for any business wanting to go online but without having to make significant investments hiking the steep technical learning curve. And that makes Wix a strong contender.

Apps & Updates: Things 2.0, Foursquare, Pixelmator, Pomodorable, Pdf Expert, More


On top of a few great game deals, including savings on Shift 2 Unleashed for iPad and the Mass Effect Infiltrator iOS app, there are  a number of noteworthy apps and updates hitting the App Store today. We will update the list, as always, throughout the day.

Things 2.0: One of the leading iOS and Mac productivity apps was updated today to version 2.0 with a ton of new features. Included in the update is “Things Cloud”. It is a cloud service that syncs your to-dos across Macs and the iOS client. A new Daily Review feature makes important to-dos appear when you need them, and a “revolutionary scrolling Date Picker makes selecting dates more natural than ever.” The UI has also been updated along with a new engine that provides “blazingly fast Things Cloud performance.” These and other new features and improvements are included in the Things for iPad app.

Things 2.0 (Mac App Store): In addition to free updates to the iOS versions of Things, the Mac App Store client was updated today to version 2.0. The update includes the “Things Cloud” service mentioned above, allowing you to sync across platforms, while other new features include a “Daily Review” that presents important to-dos for the day, full Mountain Lion support, Retina graphics, full-screen mode, a number of other enhancements.

Pixelmator version 2.1: Popular image editor Pixelmator was updated on the Mac App Store today with a much needed Retina-ready UI and image-editing engine, iCloud support to keep projects up to date on multiple machines, as well as a new effects browser containing “new Vintage, Miniaturize, Black and White, Rain, and Snow effects.” Also included in the update is full OS X Mountain Lion support and alignment guides to “quickly position, align, and evenly distribute objects in your Pixelmator compositions with pinpoint accuracy.”

Tweetdeck version 1.5.3: Today’s massive update to the popular Mac Twitter client brings a slew of user-interface enhancements such as the ability to use the Columns button to quickly jump to any position. Users can also navigate the arrow buttons to scroll left and right several columns at a time, use swipe gestures on the trackpad to scroll, access key user and Tweet actions from the new actions menu, and fit more columns on screen by enabling Narrow Columns in Settings. The update also boasts improved animations for tweets and column management, performance improvements, and many bug fixes.

Foursquare version 5.2.2: The Foursquare app received an update today that restores a feature many users will appreciate. The app once again includes the ability to view just check-ins from friends with a “nearby friends view”:

Based on all the great #allnew4sq feedback, you can once again see just check-ins from nearby friends. Just drag down when you’re on the friends tab to switch between views. We’ve also made a ton of small tweaks and bug fixes under the hood to make things faster and more intuitive, like the ability to easily add photos to a place from the gallery. Enjoy!

Burner – Disposable Phone Numbers: Recently released on the App Store, the Burner app from Ad Hock Labs is getting a lot of attention for its ability to set temporary numbers for receiving calls and SMS on iPhone. Burner numbers are not free, but the $1.99 app starts you with enough credits to try out a temporary number for seven days that is good for 20 minutes of calls or up to 60 text messages.

• Inbound and outbound calls forward to and use your actual phone line (and cellular minutes) but keep the call identity private in both directions. Text messages do not use your SMS allowance. You can buy more credits, starting at 3 for $1.99, with discounts for buying more

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Bloomberg: Apple To Announce Its Own Desktop Chips Ahead Of First Arm

Apple’s for years been rumored to have been secretly developing its own desktop chips, based on iPhone and iPad processors, to ditch Intel from Macs. Bloomberg in a new report this morning claims that the tech giant is going to announce the first in-house designed main processors for Macs at the upcoming virtual WWDC event, which kicks off June 22.

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

Unveiling the initiative, codenamed Kalamata, at the event would give outside developers time to adjust before new Macs roll out in 2023. Since the hardware transition is still months away, the timing of the announcement could change.

The new processors will be based on the same technology used in Apple-designed iPhone and iPad chips. However, future Macs will still run the macOS operating system rather than the iOS software on mobile devices from the company.

Apple’s exciting semiconductor foundry TSMC will be reportedly churning out Apple’s desktop chips that are expected to be fabbed on TSMC’s cutting-edge five-nanometer process technology (its current mobile chips are manufacturing on TSMC’s seven-nanometer process).

According to Gurman, Apple plans to eventually transition the entire Mac lineup to custom processors, “including the priciest desktop computers,” which would imply the Mac Pro. That is something we haven’t heard before as Apple was largely expected to use its own chips in Mac notebooks and consumer desktop models, but not in the Mac Pro.

Inside Apple, tests of new Macs with the ARM-based chips have shown sizable improvements over Intel-powered versions, specifically in graphics performance and apps using artificial intelligence. Apple’s processors are also more power-efficient than Intel’s, which may mean thinner and lighter Mac laptops in the future.

Matching Intel’s performance in terms of workstation chips should also permit Apple to maintain a single macOS code base vs. maintaining two code bases, one powering ARM-ed Macs and the other reserved for its most powerful Intel-based models like the Mac Pro.

Apple is expected to employ the same approach that made its mobile chips the envy of the industry. That means squeezing the CPU and GPU cores, the Neural engine for machine learning, the RAM and any co-processors (such as the Secure Enclave cryptographic coprocessor and the power-sipping motion coprocessor) onto a single semiconductor die.

Gurman again:

Apple is working on at least three of its own Mac processors, with the first based on the A14 processor in the next iPhone. In addition to the main central processing unit, there will be a graphics processing unit and a Neural Engine for handling machine learning.

Macs already use specialized Apple-designed chips for things like securing your fingerprint and Apple Pay data, as well as for on-the-fly disk encryption and secure boot capabilities.

As for the iPhone and iPad chips, these pack in custom CPU cores based on the ARM instruction set, Apple’s custom GPU and more. Intel’s chips are not very power friendly — that’s why Intel is largely absent from the mobile market — and its roadmap is increasingly unreliable.

From the report:

Apple’s chip-development group, led by Johny Srouji, decided to make the switch after Intel’s annual chip performance gains slowed. Apple engineers worried that sticking to Intel’s road map would delay or derail some future Macs.

Custom chips could help Apple overcome these issues in one fell swoop.

Apple has been through these CPU transitions twice in its history. In the early 1990s, it ditched Motorola chips for PowerPC ones. Once PowerPC technology ran its course (they couldn’t produce power efficient processors that Apple needed for notebooks), the company at the 2005 WWDC announced a switch to Intel chips.

First Intel-based Macs started arriving in January 2006.

By WWDC 2007, all of the Macs in the lineup would feature Intel chips, finalizing the transition.

That said, the Bloomberg report indicates this is something Apple has probably been developing in secrecy for years now — again, similar to how the company surprised the WWDC 2005 attendees by announcing that its engineers had been secretly developing major macOS updates for both Intel and PowerPC chips for five consecutive years.

The Apple chip project has been in the works for several years and is considered one of the company’s most secretive efforts. In 2023, Apple successfully developed a Mac chip based on the iPad Pro’s processor for internal testing, giving the company confidence it could announce such a shift this year.

For what it’s worth, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in March of this year predicted that first Mac computers based on custom processors would be arriving in in late 2023 or early 2023.

If these rumored ARM-based Mac in fact yield faster processing performance, beefier graphics and significantly longer battery life, then I’m all for this switch.

How about you?

Microsoft Openxml Format: Microsoft Gets It Right This Time

What does being an Indian meant to me till now? I think it has been assimilating various cultures in my personal value systems and being better than all of them.. the sum of all is greater than cultures added together.

OpenXML is the same. It provides a culture new us that promises efficiencies in the future. It is up to us to take up all that is there and make a story better than each of them put together, different cultures, different standards have been always beneficial for the world-leading to choice & ensuring the survival of the fittest… if TCP/IP was not given a chance in the world dominated by Novell Netware’s XNS stack, would the Internet ever be around?

OpenXML is the “opening” up of Microsoft Office. The earlier binary format of MS Office is now available for viewing & working upon by anyone. This has been a long way for Microsoft when in 2004 EU recommended that MS opens its Office formats. there may have been licenses granted to 3rd party developers for building products but OpenXML makes it available to all the developers of the Microsoft Technology ecosystem.

Next, when it was put forward to be ratified as a standard from ISO, India decided to vote against the same.

This I think is primarily against Indian values of giving everyone a fair chance! here are some of the reasons that India should reconsider their stand on OpenXML:

Microsoft technologies are an ecosystem like any other technology. Killing a standard here amounts to killing an ecosystem! does india want its IT story to turn sour? Not only Microsoft ecosystem but also Java ecosystems as OpenXML can be leveraged from Java as well.

OpenXML provides an opportunity to convert numerous Office documents of yesteryears to be converted to open format so that it be maintained and acted upon now and in future? OpenXML ensures long term preservation of content.

OpenXML is technically superior to competing formats given it has support for custom schemas i.e. for any document format that your company devises. Not only this, it has great accessibility support and focuses on maintaining fidelity in the office documents.

Does Govt. of India want to be seen as a closed economy or be seen as a cultivator of open economy encouraging better products and services?

The OpenXML standard is available for FREE and there is no IP issues around the same. Given the freedom that OpenXML provides, what could be so wrong with OpenXML?

Microsoft as a company has given many good products and technologies to the world (including the now famous AJAX)… why should a company with such wide penetration and technical depth be not supported in opening up its technologies to the world?

One does wonder though if OpenXML was developed by Microsoft to serve it “secret” purpose? In fact, the standard was developed in consultation with a lot of companies and many others have already implemented support in their products e.g. Apple, Corel, Novell, IBM (Websphere Portal, DB2 Content Manager V8.4, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Symphony & DB2 9 pureXML) & Google (use filetype:docx, filetype:xlsx, filetype:pptx in your search terms).. Now doesn’t it seem ironic that many of these companies are at forefront of opposing OpenXML standard?

There are primarily 2 reasons for this contradiction:

Some companies want to use the standardization process as a barrier to trade.. getting a standard disapproved shields them from ever facing competitive threats in the Govt. procurement. this should never be allowed to happen!

Given the widespread adoption of MS Office technologies, these vendors don’t want to be cut off from the opportunity OpenXML brings about in the market… we should welcome the move as it encourages competition.. what can be more exciting than an IBM product that does a better job handling Office formats than Microsoft does?

So what is the current situation and do we have a second chance to correct our mistakes?

I hope when the time comes to finally vote, we stand true to our character of being Indians & embrace all the variety that the world has to offer to us.

Office Open XML Formats

Microsoft Senior Vice President Chris Capossela has just released a public statement, relative to the Open XML standards process. In this message, Capossela offers perspective on the rationale behind standardization for Open XML, the benefits afforded to the broader industry that is actively implementing the current Ecma specification, and Microsoft’s commitment to supporting the enhancements made to the current ISO specification under review.

There are now just two weeks remaining before the final collective decision from ISO/IEC’s 87 participating National Body members regarding the DIS 29500 ballot (Office Open XML file formats). Midnight CET (Geneva) is the official deadline for National Body members to communicate (in writing) any changes to their formal position.

Microsoft relinquished the formal ownership of the formats, in Nov 15th, 2005, to Ecma International. The Co-sponsors have been Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, British Library, Essilor, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, NextPage Inc., Statoil ASA, Toshiba.

This standards process is both highly nuanced and political! While Microsoft has been accused of influencing NGOs and Govt officials on their stand; readers may also want to check up this letter from Ashish Gautam, Open Standards Specialist – India, IBM India sent to govt officials and others, which states:

“Please start influencing our national body – BIS, the press, STQC and state IT bodies. Also start asking BIS and MCIT to post all the documentation on their website and make it available to the public…This way you can point people to the documentation and they can become familiar with all of the information as we commence the balloting process…”

The Govt now needs to take a stand! And act in the best interest of the end-user! It should encourage multiple platforms and multiple standards so that benefits of innovation, may ultimately accrue to the end customer.

Authored By: Abhishek Kant.

Is Microsoft Planning Its First

With the economy in the tank and other major firms planning massive cutbacks, rumors have been swirling for several weeks that Microsoft plans big layoffs of its own to be announced on or about Jan. 15.

How big? As much as 10 to 17 percent of the company’s employees, if you believe the buzz.

If true, the cuts would be the first “official” layoffs in Microsoft’s history — blunting a point that the company has always pointed to as a matter of pride.

Despite one Web site’s claims that the layoffs are now “fact,” however, no one seems to be able to substantiate the rumors. That may make for a lot of Microsoft employees lying awake at night after tonight’s champagne wears off.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials were mum on the rumors.

Yet this week, blog site Fudzilla proclaimed that the rumors are true.

“The rumor that Microsoft was set to lay off people on January 15th, 2009 is no longer a rumor but a fact,” a Fudzilla post said on Dec. 30. “Staff at Microsoft have been informed that the company is readying major layoffs to its worldwide operations and it’s not a small cut, either,” the post continued.

One problem is that, at this point, there is no way to verify whether layoffs will be announced or not. Neither does anyone seem to have any support so far for the rumors that cuts at Microsoft could range between 10 percent and 17 percent of the software titan’s titanic work force, which currently is slightly more than 91,000 people worldwide, according to Microsoft’s site. Fudzilla said there will be as many as 15,000 pink slips handed out, but didn’t quote anyone — not even anonymously — providing any verification.

And, if staff had been informed on a companywide basis as the blog suggests, securities laws would typically require Microsoft to publicly disclose that information within 24 hours as a material fact that could affect the company’s stock price.

For that reason, Rob Enderle, an industry analyst with the Enderle Group, doubts that layoffs have been communicated to employees en masse — at least, not yet.

Layoffs “wouldn’t surprise me,” Enderle told chúng tôi “But I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Good timing?

To some observers, the week of Jan. 15 might seem like a good time to announce layoffs. The date falls between next week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce the beginning of the Windows 7 public beta, and Microsoft’s quarterly earnings call with analysts on Jan. 22.

The worldwide economic slowdown — and its effect on customer spending — has IT vendors scrambling. While some are persevering and sussing out new areas of business, others are bearing the full brunt of the downturn.

“Around the time of the earnings [call] is when you want to make an announcement like that,” Enderle told chúng tôi He added that Microsoft would not be smart to reveal worker cuts before the Windows 7 public beta starts, because that would take some of the shine off the pending replacement for Windows Vista.

Two former senior Microsoft development managers, who are still well plugged-in at the firm, said they had not heard anything from inside the company that might point to massive layoffs, but could not rule it out either.

They both suggested, though, that Microsoft is likely to not call whatever it does a “layoff.”

Instead, such an announcement might be couched in euphemisms framing the story as the year-end period when Microsoft managers traditionally evaluate their employees for raises and retention, as well as plan what have become nearly annual company reorganizations.

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