Chris Weber is the CVP of Mobile Devices Sales at Microsoft, re-joining the company through it's purchase of Nokia, where he was in charge of global sales. He knows his way around every Lumia device, and is now aiming to make sure that Windows Phone first-party hardware is an even player at the devices table. We were able to sit down with Chris to talk about Nokia, Lumia, Windows Phone, and what changes need to be made in order to realize the success he is seeking. Check out the full interview below:
When is Windows Phone 8.1 coming out?
The answer varies by device and operator. The Lumia 630 and 635 are the first 8.1 products, launched internationally. We’re also working with our current products, and any Windows 8 phone is upgradeable to 8.1. There is currently a developer preview, but the operator version requires further testing. 8.1 is a completely different experience. Things like the background wallpaper, increased customization, and especially Cortana, which is one of the best features.
There are key differences between Cortana and similar services on other devices. It proactively learns. The other day I was flying to Moscow. The week before, it asked if it wanted me to track my flight to Moscow. There is a link that says "Do you want to know how I knew that?" Cortana looked at my calendar and started looking up flight numbers. It also has geo-fencing. You can say "Remind me that Ignacio owes me $100." I can say remind me when I send an email, when I arrive home, etc. Or "Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning" and when you get in the area, the message pops up. "Remind me to pick up milk at the grocery store” and you get the choice of having it remind you when you are near any grocery store, not just one specific one.
Back to being on the plane, I said "Remind me to download the music for guitar when I get home." It's really, really good. Flow writing, which is similar to Swype, means I can do emails faster on my phone than on the keyboard now. I got a new phone and it wasn't running 8.1 and the hunt and peck was tough!
Yes, it’s true—Microsoft is about to get into the smartwatch game, and I got the opportunity to play with it. As we'd previously reported, Microsoft has filed a patent that details a smartwatch. However, often these patent filings aren’t exactly what we see companies end up releasing. So, let’s separate the cruft and get to the meat of the matter. A number of months ago I took a trip to New York where I came across someone who was testing the upcoming Microsoft wearable device. I saw it on their wrist and asked about it. They tried to explain that it was a random fitness wristband ordered from China at first, but eventually (with some prodding) gave me the scoop. Here is your exclusive first look at what Microsoft is planning for its first wearable smart device, what we are referring to as the Surface Watch:
- As far as looks, the image above is a parody, but not far off. It has an elongated form factor, but isn't as comically large as what's in the image. It is much more akin to something like the Fitbit One or Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit in shape rather than taking on the shape of a traditional watch, like Pebble did, or like what Google showed off with Android Wear. What we saw had a flat display, while the inner portion that would rest against your skin was curved.
- The icons are the flat style that Microsoft has been using on its other devices like Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox One. That's what tipped me off in the first place.
- Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy is how it interacts with the rest of the world
- The flat glass display, and was definitely not high resolution. We hope that both of these change in the final product--a high-resolution curved display already exists on the Samsung Gear Fit, and the Microsoft device just didn't look as good.
- The watch is packed with sensors. It has a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and most interestingly, a galvanic skin response sensor all built-in. The galvanic skin response sensor is built into the watch band, while everything else is built into the unit itself.
Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3 this morning, and noted that the device would be priced starting at $799. Of course, with multiple configurations and processors available, you're probably wondering what pricing across the entire Surface Pro 3 line might look like. Well, we've got the answer:
- Intel Core i3, 64GB SSD, 4GB RAM: $799
- Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM: $999
- Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM: $1299
- Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM: $1,549
- Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM: $1,949
Here's the kicker, though. Microsoft has positioned the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet that can replace your laptop. Well, in order to do that, you need a keyboard. The Surface Pro 3 Type Cover keyboard costs a ridiculous $129.99. So, in other words, that $799 entry-level Surface Pro 3 price jumps to $929 with keyboard. Extra Surface Pens cost $49.99 as well, so, you'll want to not lose the one that comes with the device.
You can pre-order the Surface Pro 3 now. Who's buying one?
On the point that Microsoft tried to hammer home during today's Surface Pro 3 event, that it could replace your laptop:
At $929 with a keyboard it darn well better. At that price you get 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage and an i3 processor. The $899 11-inch MacBook Air is a 4 GB / 128 GB / i5 configuration. The Surface 3 has a better screen, but Apple’s base offering is faster, has more storage and is $30 cheaper.
As usual, great point made by John Moltz.
Microsoft has officially the new Surface Pro 3 during a press event in New York City this morning, just under 7 months after releasing the Surface Pro 2. While the Surface Pro 3 may look similar at first glance, what with the kickstand and all, Surface chief Panos Panay went out of his way to make the point that this device is all about solving the problem of deciding between a laptop and a tablet. The Surface Pro 3, after all, can replace your laptop, claimed Panay.
So what makes the new model so impressive? Let's take a look at a rundown of features. First, Microsoft has increased the display size to 12-inches at a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. That is the largest Surface display yet, with the highest density to boot. Despite being larger, it's also lighter than the Surface Pro 2 as well, weighing in at 800 grams. Panay made the point by comparing the weight of the Surface Pro 3 against the 11-inch MacBook Air, which has a smaller display without as high a screen resolution.
Microsoft has announced that it'll finally release the Surface 2 with LTE built in with 64GB storage capacity. Interested buyers will be able to pick up the updated model starting tomorrow from Microsoft Stores, Best Buy, and AT&T Wireless locations.
With the exception of the added LTE support, don't expect other changes in the Surface 2 hardware. You'll find a new SIM card slot located by the volume rocker, but that's it. Users will be able to use the LTE function as a mobile hotspot for their other devices as well. A year of free Skype calls to landline numbers and 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage is also thrown in.
You can order the Surface 2 with LTE here.
Read More | Surface 2 with 4G LTE
One of my journalist friends, Monica Guzman, sent me an email asking what I'm looking forward to for 2014 as it pertains to technology and gadgets. There's a lot that I'm looking forward to, since I see 2014 as a marquee year--one that we will look back on as having brought us devices and convergence that we've been waiting for, for years. However, when I thought about it more, there was one thing that was more important to me. Here's how I responded:
Microsoft's 900 million write off on the Surface RT hasn't prevented them from continuing its advertising campaign efforts by bashing Apple's iPad and propping thier device as the the better alternative. Microsoft recently slashed the price of the Surface RT by $150 in hopes of getting them off store shelves and into customer's hands. The Surface tablet has been suffering from poor sales as it dove into the highly competitive tablet computer arena. The question is will these continued commitment efforts work? Check out the video ad. Does Microsoft make its case?
If you are looking to pick up the Surface RT this weekend, you'll want to make sure you wait until Sunday, when the price is slashed by $150. That's right, Microsoft's Surface RT is set to get its first widespread price cut, bringing the price of the entry-level 32GB Surface RT to $349 (down from $499,) and the 64GB model to $449 (down from $599.) Add $100 to the new prices if you want a Touch Cover thrown in.
If you haven't bought a Surface RT yet, is the new pricing enough to get you to take the plunge? Check out our Surface RT review for our take on the device.
Microsoft has prepared a video first-look at Windows 8.1, the upcoming update to its major desktop operating system, due out later this year. Using a Surface Pro to demo the software, Jensen Harris of the Windows User Experience team walks us through some of the improvements, including the new cloud-powered lockscreen, new Start screen tile sizes, app sorting, Start screen arranging, new personalization options, motion accents for wallpapers, and more. Two pretty big items not touched upon are the return of the Start button, and that Outlook 2013 is coming to Windows RT 8.1. Check out the full video after the break to see what awaits you in Windows 8.1, the preview of which will be available on June 26.