One more nail lurking over the coffin for GPS navigation companies like TomTom. Rumors are doing the rounds that Windows Mobile 7, Microsoft’s soon to be launched mobile OS might come equipped with a free GPS navigation software that will make the likes of TomTom and Garmin redundant.
You might recall that Android already offers free turn-by-turn navigation on their platform and Nokia too has introduced the same with Ovi maps. With Microsoft too jumping ship, it might not be too late before Apple offers a similar software too. For the record, Cupertino acquired maps development company PlaceBase last year and there are speculations over introduction of GPS soon.
Do you think TomTom and the likes have a niche to cater to in this new world order? Let us know what you think.
Rumors about Microsoft launching their Zune phone have been swirling around for quite sometime. It is also speculated that MS would be making an announcement regarding this during the Mobile World Congress later this month.
However, news is in that Microsoft is also considering to buy one of the big guns in the mobile segment – including the biggest of them all, Nokia. However, the most likely candidate is said to be RIM.
Sources close to the All Things Digital blog have revealed that Steve Ballmer has indicated his interest in a buy out of RIM multiple times. No further news is known in this regard other than the fact that Palm is the least likely candidate.
We will keep you updated on this front as and when we see something cooking.
Apple’s penchant for depriving users of much necessary features seems to be spreading like a virus. The Windows Phone 7 which is expected to be demoed next week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is rumored to come without Flash and multitasking.
In a recently published article, folks at PPCgeeks reveal that the event during MWC will only preview the device and will not be a full length introduction. However, a few interesting features about the OS are likely to be announced
- UI very similar to Zune HD interface
- App installation through a marketplace (similar to Apple App Store)
- Marketplace to include “try before you buy” option
- No backward compatibility
- Complete Zune integration
- Zune software to replace Windows Mobile Device Center for PC syncing
- Full Xbox gaming integration
- Integrated social networking
- No Flash and multitasking
While the features appear interesting, the last point has taken the sheen off the excitement. How about you? Do you feel the same way? Tell us in the comments.
Local search is big and everyone is jumping into this segment. And for a fact, we all tend to realize that the local results from major search engines is nothing to brag about; except if you are in a high internet density area like New York or San Francisco.
While companies have been devising different ways to go local, Microsoft’s new technology seems to offer you very relevant local search results; except that it can be a privacy nightmare.
In a patent filed recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Microsoft has described a new way to rank local search results. The inventors cite the following issues with current search results
- Search engines make use of link authority to rank results. While they are good for most cases, they are not exactly relevant when a person is searching for say ‘Italian restaurants near MG Road, Bangalore’. This is because restaurants around MG Road in Bangalore might not necessarily have good PR value
- Some search engines make use of ‘click popularity’ where sites which have been clicked a higher number of times tend to be ranked higher. These sites create a positive feedback loop which does not help in showing the relevant results
To overcome these, Microsoft has proposed the usage of the users’ access log in order to study the pages visited in a specific time period and build an implicit pagerank for pages from the user log which will be used as a factor while displaying search results. So in the earlier example, if the user has visited BangaloreRestaurants.com, results from this website could fetch higher weightage than results from a site like Yelp.
Microsoft says this technology will be particularly useful while ranking pages from intranet websites. While the algorithm sounds interesting, making use of a user’s access log sounds scary. Users are not always comfortable giving third party websites access to the sites they visit. Something does not sound right in Microsoft’s plan to record this log, processing them for implicit pageranking and delivering results back to the user.
What do you think? Are the fears justified or are they unfounded?
Folks at IStartedSomething have detected a few lines of code referencing to the elusive Zune Phone in a recently updated Zune software. This Zune.INF file, which is responsible for devices connected to the Zune driver explicitly mentions Zune Phone as one of the devices recognized. Here is an excerpt of the code from the file
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\MS_COMP_MTPZ
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0710
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_063E
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0640
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0641
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0642
With an announcement regarding this very much expected during the Mobile World Congress to be held next month, this discovery has reignited hopes of us being able to see a Microsoft phone soon.
[via I Started Something]
There has been a lot of confusion regarding the release dates of Windows 6.6 and Windows Mobile 7. DigiTimes has now revealed that its sources have confirmed that Windows 6.6 shall launch during the Mobile World Congress to be held next month while the date for Seven’s launch will be announced at the same time.
It is believed that Microsoft’s Windows Seven will be available to the manufacturers by September 2010 who will then be able to launch Seven powered devices by Q4 2010. Apparently, there are a lot of manufacturers here – Samsung, LG, HTC, Toshiba and Asus to name a few. Windows Mobile Seven is also expected to support Zune, Xbox and Silverlight.
The blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Microsoft has lost a significant chunk of the advertising partnership that it had inked with Facebook and is renegotiating the deal.
You might recall that all of this follows Microsoft’s investment of close to $240 million in the world’s biggest social network when they also subsequently clinched a deal to display Microsoft ads in some markets.
So why has the deal fallen through now, and is this permanent? The answer is possibly NO to both these questions. Firstly, the Facebook of today is not the same Facebook that Microsoft invested in. When Microsoft pumped its money into Facebook back in 2007, the social network had less than 100 million users. Today, it is inching towards 400 million users. With a diversified user base, Microsoft’s predominantly US-targeted ad network does not make much sense.
However, this might not be a permanent reversal as well. You might remember that Microsoft is working on a social network targeted advertising platform which will promote products to users based on thei product’s recommendations from the visitors’ friends and network. It is possible that once Microsoft launches this technology, Facebook could, in all probability, replace its existing ‘Like’ option on ads with Microsoft’s recommendation feature.
What do you think?
The default windows of Google Chrome and a few other browsers show a thumbnail of all the recently viewed websites. Taking this a step further, Microsoft wants you to be able to organize your open-tabs better.
In a patent filed recently at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Microsoft writes that the purpose of a ‘Quick Pick’ interface is to help users who have several dozens of tabs open a quick way to surf through all open tabs and pick the right window.
Here is what we know about the Quick-Pick Interface
- A Quick-pick button shall be available on the navigation menu of the browser and it could additionally come with a hot-key
- Pressing the same will open the Quick-Pick Interface which will display the open tabs in thumbnail fashion
- Hover your mouse over any of the thumbnails to see a bigger picture of the window
- Reorganize your tabs by dragging the thumbnails across on the Quick-Pick interface
- Close all unwanted tabs from the Quick-pick interface
- Click on the tab you want to go to on the Quick-pick interface
The Quick-Pick interface appears to serve as a dashboard from where you may manage all your open windows. But I wonder how many users will actually need such an interface to manage tabs. Except for the power users (who I believe have migrated away from IE a long time back), not many would see a need for this. What do you think?
Folks at WMExperts are reporting that they have heard from several sources that Windows Mobile 7 shall actually come in two versions – Business Edition and Media edition. It is also said that the official name for WinMo 7 shall actually be “Seven” and also it is possible that the two editions are referred by more fanciful names and not just ‘Business’ and ‘Media’ plainly.
So, what else do we know? Here are some specs gathered from another rumor posted at MobileCrunch
- Very different from WinMo 6.X and is also backwards incompatible
- Very close to Zune HD kernel and shall work best on OLED screens
- Seven will use Apple-like notification system
- Will not have background processing
- It does not come with any customization – No system resource access, threaded processing
- Based to a major extent on Silverlight and .NET and will not run WinMo 6.X code
- Focused majorly on Business functionalities and Gaming (including Xbox Live functionality)
The actual announcement is expected to happen on February 15.
You could soon be seeing your friends recommend products for you on your social network. Microsoft has filed a patent for a new advertising method for generating User-Generated-Advertisements.
The patent elaborates on the low engagement level in ads on social networks because of the low relevance factor. To solve this, the patent calls for a new technique wherein the original ad can be supplemented with user reviews – positive and negative.
In the filing, the inventors say that subsequent visitors to the website could be shown few of those reviews based on relevance (reviewer is the new visitor’s friend, they have similar interests, etc.). Here is an example quoted in the patent
” Advertisement 400 includes objective information 401 describing a product or service that is the subject of the advertisement 400. The objective information 401 is generally provided by a promoter of the product.”
“In other information fields 403, 405, and 407, information is presented that was provided by users of the social networking web site. This information can be subjective in nature, such as the accolade provided by “USER1″ in other information field 403.”
“if both the user which provided the information and the user to whom the advertisement is being presented are both members of the same social network (e.g., the users are “friends” or a functional equivalent within the social networking site), the information provided by the user is presented as part of the advertisement. Other criteria can also be applied in determining the amount of information to present.”
The patent emphasizes the use of reviews from users of one social network elsewhere in other websites or networks.
This looks a more exhaustive ads-review system that is currently used in Facebook. On Facebook, users may choose to ‘Like‘ an ad which is possibly used in determining other ads to be shown to the same user; though in Microsoft’s case the reviews are stored to be displayed to other users of the same social network or elsewhere.