It looks like Microsoft is set to bring back the Start button in Windows 8.1, a mainstay of the Windows OS that was removed in Windows 8. According to a report from The Verge, the new Windows 8.1 Start button will not include the traditional Start button functionality, but will rather be a method of taking you back to the Start screen. In addition to the Start button making a reappearance (in name, at least,) Microsoft is also said to be including a feature that will allow users to boot directly to the desktop, bypassing the Start screen altogether.
Read More | The Verge
This morning Xbox SmartGlass made its long-awaited debut on the Amazon Appstore. You can now download Microsoft's second-screen app for the Amazon Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, fitting perfectly on the display of all Fire and Fire HD tablet models. With Xbox SmartGlass, which has been available for iOS, Windows, Windows Phone, and Android for the past six months, users can navigate and control their Xbox 360 consoles right from the tablet or smartphone.
Read More | Xbox SmartGlass for Kindle Fire
T-Mobile is set to release the Nokia Lumia 521, powered by Windows Phone 8, sometime next month in May. The Lumia 521 sports a 4-inch display, 5 megapixel rear camera with autofocus that records 720p video, and the exclusive suite of Nokia apps like Nokia Music, Cinemagraph, Maps, Transit, HERE Drive, etc. The device will run on T-Mobile 4G (not LTE) network. T-Mobile is keeping quiet on exact pricing and availability for now for whatever reason, but the Lumia 521 won't exactly be flying off of store shelves, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding it once it lands at Walmart, Microsoft Retail Stores, and T-Mobile locations next month.
We open up the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone in this episode. It's the flagship model available from AT&T, sporting a PureMotion HD+ display, 4G LTE, and PureView camera with optical image stabilization and Carl Zeiss lens. You can pick up the Nokia Lumia 920 from AT&T from $99.99. It's a bit heavy, but the phone looks great, the camera is fantastic, and for $100, it's hard to beat the value.
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As we reported months ago, Pandora has finally come to Windows Phone 8. Even better, Windows Phone 8 users get free ad-free listening for the rest of the year, a feature that typically costs $3.99 per month, or $36 per year, known as Pandora One. A few weeks back, Pandora also announced a monthly 40-hour listening cap for free users, so this makes Pandora on Windows Phone 8 the best bang for your buck--provided you want to use a Windows Phone. One other cool feature is that Pandora integrates in with the Windows Phone Kid's Corner feature. When in Kid's Corner, Pandora doesn't show or play any explicit content. You can download it now.
Read More | Windows Phone
The future of search, according to Microsoft, is outside of the white search bar. "Now the way for human beings to express their interest or needs goes way beyond a browser search typing in keywords," said Microsoft's Bing chief, Qi Lu. "You can use voice to have a conversation, you can use gestures to express yourself."
Moving forward, Bing will fit into all of Microsoft's products, providing information access from physical objects to expand the context of its search.
"The battle between us and Google is going to be over who can build understanding more quickly to serve people in a much more anticipatory way," says Microsoft's Adam Sohn. "Google's going to understand every entity on the planet, we're gonna understand every entity on the planet, but the question will be what do you do with that information?"
Read More | The Verge
The big rumor on the street about the next Xbox is that Microsoft will block used games from working with the console. Reports from sources have hit various news outlets saying that the new Xbox, which should launch later this year, will require mandatory game installs to the hard drive of the console, and will require an activation code in order to get them to play. Once the code is used, that game is activated for that console specifically (or, maybe, that specific Gamertag,) and won't work on other consoles, effectively killing the used game market.
Read More | MCV India
We recently reported on the Slacker Radio redesign, and the company is keeping the freshness going, debuting on the Xbox 360 today. You can download the Slacker app for free, and you've gotta be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber in the US or Canada for the privilege. You get the same overhauled color scheme, music guide, and Kinect voice controls. Head over to the Xbox Live Marketplace to grab the 116 MB download.
Read More | Microsoft
Those hoping to score a 128 GB Microsoft Surface Pro have been frustrated by lack of supply, but that should be changing this Saturday. While Microsoft has been tight-lipped regarding Surface Pro 128 GB stock since launch, the company has promised that more of the tablets will be available in stores on Saturday. This includes Microsoft stores and Best Buy, with Staples being questionable--so if you want one, we recommend going with one of the first two.
Many would-be Surface Pro purchasers were disheartened to find stock so limited upon launch, since Microsoft didn't allow for pre-orders of the devices, leading many to believe that there would be plenty for everyone, which was far from reality. You can also try your luck at grabbing a Surface Pro from the Microsoft online store.