Microsoft has finally announced a launch date for its Surface Pro tablet: you'll be able to pick one up on February 9th. Yes, the device missed the promised January release timeframe, but we're talking 9 days here. That date, by the way, only pertains to the US and Canada, with international markets to follow in "the coming weeks and months" according to the company.
Surface Pro will be the first Microsoft tablet to run the full version of Windows 8, as opposed to the stripped down Windows RT. This means that you'll be able to install and run regular desktop applications on the tablet. It's a half pound heavier than Surface with Windows RT, but also brings a 1080p display and digitizer pen support. Oh, and a much higher price tag. Surface Pro will start at $899 for the 64GB model, and $999 for the 128GB version.
Microsoft is officially retiring its Messenger service and will redirect users, and their contacts, to Skype.
According to The Next Web, users will retain access to Microsoft Messenger until March 15th, at which point they will then be prompted to join Skype. The migration will be made with your contacts in tow, so that alleviates some of the stress involved in the changing of hands. Mobile users of Skype will be glad to know that Microsoft account support is already mixed in with the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 to make the transfer as swift as possible.
How do you feel about the death of Messenger? Let us know in the comments.
Read More | The Next Web
Maps for Windows Phone users is about to get a little better. According to Google, it is planning on fixing the issue preventing Windows Phone users from reaching the Google Maps website through Internet Explorer. The search giant had this to say:
"We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users. In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users. Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users."
Google had previously stated that the outage was because its mobile Maps site wasn't designed with IE in mind.
2012 is set to come to a close in just a few hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, and it's dominated by smartphones and tablets, with the exception of two Monster headphones, a look at the Boeing 787, and a USB 3.0 hard drive.
GadgetMasters has uploaded two videos to YouTube that compare HTML5 benchmark tests of a BlackBerry 10 development device with an HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 device, and of course, the iPhone 5. See who comes out on top. RIM will launch BlackBerry 10 on January 30th in New York.
Read More | BGR
If you're not familiar with the SmartGlass second-screen app for Microsoft's Xbox 360, it is an app that seeks to improve user viewing experience by connecting the 360 console to smartphones and tablets. Sports fans might be in for a new reason to download the app if they haven't already, as Microsoft is bringing SmartGlass functionality to it's ESPN and NBA Game Time apps, as well as a new Sports Picks app.
From the SmartGlass app for iOS, Android, and Windows, you will be able to navigate the content from the apps directly from the tablet or smartphone. SmartGlass also brings more interaction to the viewing experience, such as allowing competition between friends to see who is most knowledgeable about whatever they're watching, with the chance to be featured in a global leader board.
Consumer Reports thinks that, for the time being, you're better off sticking with Windows 7 and waiting on Windows 8. The consumer ratings publication provides pros and (mostly) cons of Windows operating systems, and ultimately comes to the conclusion that updating to Windows 8 is not worth the upgrade at its current state. Windows 8 has received mostly lackluster reviews from technology internet sites. Most of them being flummoxed as to what went into the decision-making at Microsoft. Still, according to Microsoft, Windows 8 is selling faster than when Windows 7 launched; but there's a question as to where these numbers came from. Here's an excerpt:
"A quick look at our newest computer Ratings tells an interesting story: Despite the release of the new Windows 8 OS, many Windows 7 computers are still available from a variety of retailers, and several top our Ratings. If you're shopping for a new computer right now, there are some good reasons to opt for Windows 7." - Consumer Reports
Read More | Consumer Reports
There’s no question that it’s been a momentous year at Microsoft. The company introduced the world to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, announced its family of Surface PCs, showcased a new version of Microsoft Office and released “Halo 4,” keeping up a steady rhythm of advancements across its most popular products for individuals and businesses throughout the year. - Microsoft
Read More | Microsoft
A new update for Windows Phone 8's Facebook app doesn't bring new features, but does make the app a lot faster and more responsive. Similar to the recent Facebook app updates on Android and iOS, this one focuses on the general performance of the app, and eliminates the lag from the older version.
Windows Phone 7 devices, however, aren't capable of running the new update. UK users will assuredly find the Facebook version 4.1 update in the UK Windows Phone Marketplace, but its not quite available in all markets yet.
Read More | Windows Phone
If the Surface with Windows RT isnt sporting the power and flexibility you need (check our Microsoft Surface review,) then the Surface with Windows 8 Pro would be more your jam, and Microsoft has finally announced pricing for the beefed up slate. Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available in early 2013 (read: at least 3 months later than it should have been release) in two configurations: a 64GB standalone version priced at $899 and a 128 GB standalone version priced at $999. Both models will include a Surface pen with Palm Block technology.
What do you think? Have you been holding out for the Surface Pro? How does that price range hit you?
Read More | Microsoft Blog