Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Launches Today

The highly anticipated Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating system is expected to be finally unveiled in a short while from now. The announcement is expected to be made at around 9.30 AM Eastern Time as part of the company’s media event at New York City.

If you are wondering if the event this will also include the launch of Windows Phone 7 based handsets, then the answer is no. The Windows Phone 7 based handsets are expected to be announced in Europe on October 21 and in the USA on the 8th of next month. There is not much word on when these devices will be made available in the rest of the world. But knowing that this is Microsoft and not Apple that we are talking about, expect these launches to happen much sooner.

Microsoft’s media event shall be streamed live on the Microsoft website. If you are eager to catch up on the announcement, you can click here to watch it starting 6.30 AM Pacific Time.

Turn XBox 360 Into A Set-Top Box With AT&T U-Verse TV Streaming

Microsoft and AT&T have announced a new partnership that will let users of XBox 360 use their gaming console as a secondary U-Verse Reverser. Basically, if you are an AT&T U-Verse subscriber and also own a Microsoft XBox 360, you can save up on multiple U-Verse receiver rentals by alternately using your XBox to stream TV.

Two points to note here. Firstly, you will need to be owning at least one receiver already which means that while you cannot use your XBox as the primary U-Verse receiver at home, you can use it to substitute for additional receivers if you need to set them up at more than one room. Secondly, not all XBox 360 models are compatible. You need to be owning a device that has an internal hard drive with storage space.

If you satisfy these prerequisites, then you are all set to go. The new ‘XBox 360 as a U-Verse Receiver‘ partnership is set to start rolling in from November 7.

Windows Phone 7 Worldwide Launch Dates Revealed

So as you may have heard already, Microsoft is holding an official launch event for the new Microsoft Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system next week at New York City. While the launch dates are officially still not out (that is what the October 11 event is for!), we are however hearing some talk about this being a worldwide release. And according to some people who claim to be in the know, the launch is expected to happen in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe on October 21 with the new platform hitting USA only on November 8. Launch in Asia starts October 21 though it is going to be only in a few countries to begin with.

What this means is that technically New Zealand will be the first country to see the launch of the new phone since it is on the east. Nevertheless, do remember that this is a rumor as of now and so keep waiting for the official word.

Is Microsoft Bringing Second Life To XBox Live?

Rumors are doing the rounds that Microsoft may have acquired Linden Lab, the developers of the popular virtual world game, Second Life. According to reports, the deal has either been sealed or is in very advanced stages. Linden Lab is reported to have been entertaining offers and Microsoft is reported to have shown keen interest. […]

Rumors are doing the rounds that Microsoft may have acquired Linden Lab, the developers of the popular virtual world game, Second Life. According to reports, the deal has either been sealed or is in very advanced stages. Linden Lab is reported to have been entertaining offers and Microsoft is reported to have shown keen interest. Incidentally, Linden Lab also announced that it was closing its UK office this week.

While this still remains a rumor that needs more confirmation, there are reports nevertheless that Microsoft is keen on buying social gaming companies. It’s learned that Microsoft executives are looking for more than just partnerships and are talking about purchases with several social gaming vendors.

Nevertheless, this news should be interesting if you are a Second Life user. The acquisition could bring the game to XBox Live. Do you think that’s a good move?

Steve Ballmer On Facebook – “I’m On Facebook Every Day”

It’s not often that you have corporate CEOs admit to visiting social networks every other day; at least if they are not Mark Zuckerberg. Apparently, Microsoft head, Steve Ballmer does. In an interview to the Seattle Times, not only did Ballmer admit to having a Facebook account that he visited every day, but also agreed to the problem with fake accounts. On being asked if he was one of those several Steve Ballmers on Facebook, the Microsoft CEO said,

“Yeah. I do, but I don’t want to tell you which one it is because I don’t want to get those friend requests. There’s about 11 of them (Steve Ballmer pages). Not as many as there are Bill Gates, but there are a few Steve Ballmers.”

Ballmer later also admitted to being a frequent visitor. He said,

“Every day. Oh, absolutely. I’m on Facebook every day.”

That doesn’t sound surprising. But I really don’t think he goes there to check on his crops. What do you think?

Soon Operate Sky Player On XBox 360 Without Remote Control

If you are a regular viewer of Sky Player – the online TV service from Sky – on Microsoft XBox 360, you will soon be able to operate the service without a remote control using just gestures. ElectricPig reports that Microsoft’s upcoming camera-based motion controller technology could actually expand its functionality to be used as a gesture-based remote control system. That will mean users can make use of Sky Player’s integration with Microsoft Kinect to use gestures to play, rewind, fast-forward or pause television progams besides also using more gestures to change channels or pick on-demand content.

This is not completely surprising considering Microsoft’s Kinect patent that demonstrated the multiple use-cases of gesture controls. However, I wonder if it is actually making things more complex to the user. Regular remote controls solve the purpose way better than any Minority Report like gesture controls.

Windows Phone 7 Launch In USA Scheduled For November 8?

Reports earlier this month suggested that Microsoft was organizing an event on October 11 in New York City. The agenda was rumored to be the official launch of the upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile OS. While that is still a rumor with no confirmation from Redmond, we are now hearing that the official launch in US would rather happen on November 8. According to sources, Microsoft is indeed holding an event on October 11 at NYC. However, that event is not related to the Windows Phone 7. The source goes on to say that the actual launch in US is set to happen on November 8.

This is in line with statements made by Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner earlier this month where he had indicated that the upcoming mobile platform will first launch in Europe followed by a holiday season launch in US.

Nevertheless, mark this as a rumor for the moment till we get an official word.

No USB Tethering On Windows Phone 7

Earlier this month, there were reports that suggested that Microsoft could be offering the USB tethering functionality on Windows Phone 7. This must have got many of you excited considering that many carriers, at least in the US, offering tethering as a value-added service at extremely steep rates of $20 to $30 a month.

The excitement died a little when it was later revealed that it was up to the carriers to either enable or disable the feature on their networks. However, it now appears that the whole announcement could be wrong. Microsoft has come out with a statement letting us know that the USB tethering functionality shall not be provided on Windows Phone 7; at least in the initial phase of launch. Apparently, this was a feature “on the bubble” before Microsoft moved to the final RTM phase. Microsoft has dismissed the speculations as misinformation.

Regardless, now that we know that the new Windows Phone 7 is not going to come with one of its core USPs, I wonder if this is going to be a deal-breaker.

Most Popular Gaming Title On XBox Live Last Week? Not ‘Halo: Reach’!

Well, after the mega opening last week that saw Bungie’s ‘Halo: Reachgarnering over $200 million in the first 24 hours of launch, one may have assumed that the new release would have easily been the most popular title on XBox Live last week. Apparently, not so. Microsoft has announced that it was Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 that was the most popular download last week. Halo: Reach was actually number 2.

While that does sound a little strange, it looks like CoD’s top spot is already under trouble. Microsoft has also conceded that the new launch from Bungie is already the top downloaded game over the past 7 days which means that Halo: Reach could turn out to be the most popular title this week.

Not that all of this matters to the gamers who have been downloading and playing games like crazy.

Bing Rewards – Get Paid To Search Program Rolls Out

If you have been on the internet for long, I’m sure you may have stumbled upon one of those sneaky websites that promise to pay you peanuts for simply searching (and possibly clicking on ads?). Now, this business of incentivizing people with cash rewards for searching just got a legitimate turn with the new Bing Rewards program. Microsoft’s latest venture is to push people into searching more on Bing by offering them credits; call it a loyalty program of sorts like you see in airlines, for merely using the search engine service. Microsoft says that users accumulate these credits over time to win for themselves something pretty nice.

But a catch here. To start accumulating these credits, users must make these Bing searches from an Internet explorer running on a Windows computer. And yes, you will need to install a Bing bar on the browser and sign into it using a Live ID. Not too many people are going to go the length I’m sure. But it will be interesting to see how many new loyal users Microsoft can make with this latest move.

So how much can you make for your searches? SearchEngineLand writes,

Until October 2, you can earn one credit for every five Bing searches, and up to eight credits per day. According to that schedule It would take just under a year to qualify for a Scrabble game (8 credits per day X 358 days = 2866 credits).

That’s the hardest you will ever work to enjoy a game of scrabble..