Notable Microsoft news highlights of the week ending September 1st

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Windows Phone 8 GDR3

Windows Phone 8 is the most secure OS, Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 gain more market share, Xbox One launch date rumors, Microsoft sues the U.S government over surveillance transparency, and more. We go over the most notable news of the week ending Sunday, September 1st.

Windows Phone more secure than its competiton and IPv6-ready, Windows Phone gets better for developers, More about GDR3

Even after three years, Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone, is still fighting to get out of the single digit market share mode. Now the fledgling mobile is getting quite a good reputation of being number one in another area. According to a post from the Windows Blog, Windows Phone is the number one mobile operating system in terms of security. Android, not surprisingly, is at the end of the chain.

According to an unclassified document from the U.S Department of Homeland Security, Windows Phone is the least targeted mobile operating system with only 0.3% of malware targeted; iPhone comes in second as the most targeted mobile operating system with 0.7% malware targeted; Android leads the pack in terms of malware targeted with 80%. Other operating systems such as BlackBerry is quite secure against malware targets.

"Windows Phone, with a single yet steadily growing market, is relatively the most secure."

Although this is maybe good news for Windows Phone users and Microsoft, it is clear that the number of malware targets is quite proportional to the percentage of market share. Android as the leading mobile operating system is expectedly the most targeted mobile operating system. Windows Phone, with a single yet steadily growing market, is relatively the most secure.

Microsoft also took the time to talk about some of the contributing factors to the high level of security for Windows Phone users. Windows Phone users can only download apps through the Windows Phone Store whereas there are several ways Android users can install apps on their phone. All Windows Phone apps, prior to being to becoming available on the Windows Phone Store, go through a certification process. With recent news that Windows Phone is now the certified third mobile platform, we wonder if Microsoft can keep Window Phone on the top of the hill of being the most secure mobile operating system.

Also, Windows Phone is once again leading the pack but this time for IPv6 adaptation. With the world running out of IPv4 since practically every web-connected device has a unique IP address, many companies are getting ready to circumvent the paucity of IPv4 by switching to IPv6. Windows Phone, besides being the most secured mobile operating system, is also the most ready operating system for the new newer IPv6. Although Windows Phone is notoriously belittled for lack of apps, it is quite good news for the new mobile operating system to be the most ready-OS for IPv6.

If you are a Windows Phone developer, the devices and services giant shared the good news that the $19 Windows Phone Developer Center price will be permanently extended. We often wonder if Microsoft should just go ahead and make it totally free to entice mobile developers towards its mobile platform, but, $19 is definitely a better price tag than the ridiculous $100 price tag. With a steady increase in mobile market share, the release of different Windows Phone devices by Nokia to address the low and high market segment, and now the very affordable Windows Dev Center registration fee, there could not be a better time to start publishing apps for Windows Phone. If you are a developer, are you thinking of developing apps for Windows Phone and do you think Microsoft is doing enough to attract new developers?

On the update side, while some users are already getting the GDR2 update and others are still waiting, we are already getting details on some of features and improvements that will be available with GDR3. While we already know for sure that GDR3 will usher support for higher screen resolution support and quad-core processor, this week we learned of some new features that could potentially be part of the next update. The GDR3, which is scheduled to be released this fall, will supposedly bring a new ‘Quick Settings’ features and a separate volume control feature.  Although we are not sure if these features will see the light of the day, these features will definitely be welcomed if the rumors do come true. If these rumors come true, do you think this will sway some users to give Widows Phone a try?


Market share going up everywhere, New Nokia device with Windows RT, and some updated apps

While Windows 8 has not been acclaimed by users as Microsoft expected, the new operating system is slowly getting more market share. According to new report from NetApplications, the new Windows 8 has gained a 2% market share increase for the month of August which amount to a total of 7.41% since it was released last October.

You may wonder how Windows 8 is doing compared to Microsoft’s other operating systems. Windows 7 is still the new king of OS with 45.63% market share, followed by Windows XP which is close to reaching the end of its life support. However, Window 8 has already surpassed Windows Vista in terms of market share.

With the new Windows 8.1 update due for October release, Microsoft and its OEMs will try to attract more users with some of the improvements that will come forth with an updated operating system as well as the support of new device types with longer battery life thanks to Haswell, Intel's next generation processor. There are some considerable improvement that users will see with some of the core apps of Windows 8.1, the return of the Start button and the added capability to boot directly to the desktop.

And since we are on the topic of market share, Internet Explorer 10 is getting more market share and soon should become the top IE browser. With more than 18% of market share, IE10 is now the most second used IE browser.  IE10 was released with Windows 8 and has been steadily gaining market share although Internet Explorer 8 is still the number one browser in terms of Microsoft’s browser market share. IE10 comes with two version on Windows 8. The devices and services giant has considerably improved the security in IE10 and it uses the smart screen technology that is now in various aspects of Windows 8. Microsoft has also made a preview of Internet Explorer 11 available with the Preview of Windows 8.1. The final version of IE11 should be available this October in concert with the general availablity of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 RTM build 9600 leaked this week in varois flavors (including Chinese). This leak came shortly after Microsoft announced plans to keep the Windows 8.1 update under wraps until October 18. Skype now comes pre-installed in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RTM also debuts a new default wallpaper called "Harmony."

"The notable app news this week was the release of Foursquare app exclusive to Windows 8."

As we are quickly approaching the release of Windows RT 8.1, we are learning about the existence of new Nokia tablet. The new device will run Windows RT 8.1. The device will sport a 10.-inch device and will have a modest 1920x1080 display. We are not sure about the dimensions of the device but it is expected to be as thin as the other competitive tablets, mainly the iPad.

The specifications of the device will be nearly similar to existing high-end tablet with 2GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The device is expected to be LTE-ready and some of the mobile US carriers are expected to see the device but the details are still bleak.

Nokia will supposedly announce the device on September 26th, so that gives us 21 days to speculate and imagine what will the polycarbonate tablet should look. We are not sure about the device cost. We don’t think Nokia should put a high price tag and repeat the mistake of Microsoft with the Surface RT. At least, Microsoft is quickly learning and now selling more Surface devices after a much needed price reduction. If US mobile carriers intend to sell the device, then we should expect an affordable subsidized price. Would you be interested on getting a Nokia Window RT based on Windows RT 8.1 if the device is competitively priced?

On the app update side, some of notable apps that received an update this week was the Shazam app that brings UI improvements and bug fixes, the Yahoo Mail app which now comes with Flickr photo integration. The Bing News, Travel, Finance and Sports apps all were updated. The notable app news this week was the release of Foursquare app exclusive to Windows 8.

Xbox One

Xbox One will launch on November but when exactly? Is Xbox worth more? Xbox One audio Chat get better with Skype

While we are certain that Microsoft will launch its next generation gaming console sometime in November, the devices and services giant has been very taciturn about the exact launch date. While we know for sure that Sony will launch its gaming console, the PS4, on the November 15th, Microsoft is still not saying anything. If Microsoft were to announce a day sooner after Sony unveiled the release date for the PS4, some would probably argue that Microsoft was again reacting to Sony; the same way they reversed their controversial term of usage policy after Sony publicly criticized Microsoft. We are really not sure what difference it would make if Microsoft decides to release the Xbox One before or after the 15th of November, they should release it before the PS4 to win the PR war.

The Xbox One will cost $100 more than its main rival, the PS4, and most of the next gen gaming consoles that will be on the market. While it is never easy to justify a premium price, unless you are selling an Apple product, Microsoft believes they can justify the higher price tag. Most tech pundits have already predicted that the Xbox One will sell less units with such a premium price, but Microsoft is touting a better online service, an all-in-one system that delivers more, the Kinect sensor, and the plethora of games that the Xbox One will have. While all that is true, we wonder if Microsoft can actually do a good job justifying that premium price since they could not do a better job at explaining the benefit of the Xbox One as it was intended. We will have to wait until November to see. Do you think the Xbox One is worth more than the PS4?

If Microsoft really wants to justify the higher price tag of the Xbox One, promoting the improved audio chat quality is a place they can start; they seemed to do just that. This week, the devices and services giant talked about some of the improvement that users will experience due to the adaptation of Skype’s audio codec. Since Microsoft has decided to include the chat headset with the system at no additional cost, it will be relative easy to find out if indeed the audio chat quality is good as it cracked up to be. We cannot wait to find out. Will a better audio chat quality sway you to get the Xbox One?

Microsoft and Google are suing the U.S government over surveillance transparency, is that even necessary at this point?

Although the U.S government is now busy deciding what they are going to do in response to the use of chemical weapons of the Syrian government against it civilians, we are also in the middle of national discussion on what the U.S. government is doing violating the privacy of all Americans through a surveillance program. After it became transparent, thanks to an illegal leak by Edward Snowden that the U.S government was collecting digital information on virtually every American citizens for the sake of national security, we are wondering why Microsoft and Google would sue the government over the issues of surveillance program and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). According to the information that was deciphered through the leak, companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook were among the companies providing information to the U.S government through PRISM.

Media channels and the public angrily reacted to the news and demanded that the U.S government be more transparent. While they have been several national debates on many levels of the U.S government, the tech companies that were involved quickly came forth and demanded that the U.S government allow them to reveal the information that was requested. Apparently, the U.S government is not ready to authorize such a request. Now Microsoft and Google are suing the government over surveillance transparency.

While we are certain that Microsoft's, and Google for that matter, main concern is the protection of their users’ privacy, is it really necessary at this point to sue the U.S government? If it was such a concern in the first place, why did these tech giants have to wait until this big surveillance transparency fiasco to come forth and demand more transparency from the U.S government? Especially in the cloud era we are living in, we can understand why Microsoft and Google are in such urgency to show their credibility. What your take on the whole situation?

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for next weeks notable news highlights.

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