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!
Microsoft has officially announced the next entry in the Halo series in Halo 5: Guardians. Exclusive to the Xbox One, Halo 5: Guardians will star Master Chief as he begins a new journey, which was previously teased at E3 2013.
"Halo 5: Guardians" is a bigger effort than "Halo 4." That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine. Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.
Read More | Xbox Wire
The WWE Network app is now available for download on the Xbox One console, completing its availability on all announced video game platforms. Prior to today, the WWE Network was available on the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Xbox 360, with the Xbox One launch scheduled to come later "this summer." Obviously, the app was completed here in early spring, and made its way to the Xbox Live Marketplace without so much as an announcement from WWE or Microsoft.
We played with the app for a few minutes, and found it to be much easier to navigate than the other game console offerings. In fact, we'd place the Xbox One version just behind that of the Apple TV when it comes to connected devices. Having already used the WWE Network on the Xbox 360, after downloading it to the Xbox One, I was able to navigate around and watch content without having to log in again, thanks to my credentials syncing over Microsoft's cloud.
Streaming quality looks great, with no initial lag or stutter. You can download the WWE Network app now.
On the heels of the recent February Xbox One update, Microsoft is now rolling out the big March Xbox One Dashboard update that brings with is a ton of new features and optimizations. Most are focused on the multiplayer and party chat features, but there's a lot more to it than that. If you've got your eyes peeled looking for that Twitch.tv live streaming feature, that one's not ready quite yet. You'll have to wait until March 11th, when the feature launches alongside the release of Titanfall. We're also still waiting on the external hard drive support, which Microsoft says is coming, but has yet to give any solid release date for.
To see the list of what's in the March Xbox One Dashboard update, hit the jump to see the video and feature play-by-play. Also, don't miss our look at the elusive white Xbox One console!
The Xbox One Titanfall edition bundle is set to launch on March 11th, and if you were able to play that Titanfall beta action, you know just how amazing this game is gonna be. If you don't already own an Xbox One (or if you're looking to pick up another,) this is a great deal. You get the Xbox One console and everything else you'd get in the standard box, plus a free downloadable copy of Titanfall, and a free month of Xbox Live.
Microsoft has confirmed that stock of this bundle will be limited, so you may want to pre-order this edition rather than waiting to try and find it in a store. You can pre-order from the Microsoft Store now for $499 (you can also pre-order from Amazon.)
Read More | Xbox One Titanfall Edition
Microsoft has been trying to push the idea that the Xbox One is your all-in-one media device, so it's curious to see that it's taken them four months to release a remote control for the console. However, the Xbox One Media Remote is finally almost here, ready to launch in early March:
Releasing across Xbox One markets worldwide in early March, the Xbox One Media Remote lets you control video playback for Blu-ray movies and streaming video on Xbox One. Additionally, there are dedicated Back and OneGuide buttons. The OneGuide button provides one-touch, quick access to your favorite TV shows and movies through the Xbox program guide. This remote is designed to help you listen, watch and switch among experiences instantly – allowing you to rule your entertainment. The Media Remote can also control TV/Receiver power and volume through Kinect, which uses IR blasting to send signals to your TV and/or receiver.
You'll be able to control your television and receiver power and volume as well as the Xbox One, which is nice. The Media Remote also has an integrated motion sensor, so when you pick it up, the backlit buttons will illuminate, making it simple to use in the dark. The Xbox One Media Remote will sell for $24.99 when it launches in a few weeks.
The delay of the first major Xbox One dashboard update isn't the only big news out of Microsoft today. The company has also announced a couple of new accessories: the Xbox One Stereo Headset, and the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter.
First, let's talk about the Xbox One Stereo Headset. As any Xbox One owner knows, the console does include a pretty flimsy mono headset in the package. Now the company is prepping to launch a full-on over-ear stereo headset that features premium, full-range sound with a unidirectional microphone. The headset includes the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter, which allows you to balance game audio and chat audio volumes, master volume, and mute your microphone. No batteries are required here, as the headset pulls power direct from the Xbox One controller that it's plugged into. These will sell for $79.99.
The aforementioned Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter will also be made available for purchase on its own, allowing you to use whatever pair of compatible headphones you'd like with your Xbox One. The Adapter itself will cost $24.99.
Both products will go on sale in early March.
The first significant Xbox One update is set for release on Tuesday, February 11th. Microsoft gave a few details on what gamers can expect from the new software, without going into too much detail on what all it entails. Here are three features you can look forward to on February 11th as an Xbox One owner:
- The ability to see and manage your storage space. With this update, you will find it easy to find how much space your content takes up and better manage your content. You can also control your install lineup and more easily manage your download queue. We’ve separated My Games and My Apps into separate lists, so you can easily create separate queues for both. Now you can pick the order in which you want your content to load and we’ve added a boot progress indicator so you can better track updates while they load.
- The battery power indicator is back! You can see it right on the home screen, so you can easily track how much battery life is left on your controller.
- And, you will be able to use your USB keyboard with your Xbox One.
While we haven't been waiting with bated breath for USB keyboard support ourselves, we're sure there's many a gamer out there excited to see that update. For us, being able to view and manage storage is a big deal--especially for a console that prides itself on selling all titles on demand with a paltry 500 GB hard drive. Speaking of which, we're still waiting on the update that enables external USB storage.
After the February 11th update, there will be another one released on March 4th in anticipation for the release of Titanfall. That one will be focused on multiplayer matchmaking and the party system, making sure it's in top shape for the release of the big-name title. You can pre-order Titanfall now.
Titanfall is one of the most anticipated games coming to the Xbox One this year, and developer Respawn Entertainment has teamed up with Microsoft on a special edition Titanfall Xbox One controller. As you can see in the image above, the Titanfall controller features custom artwork that pays homage to the game (although, to my eyes, it reminds me more of the Wipeout racing game series.)
"In a collaborative effort with the Xbox design team and the Respawn art department our goal was to create a controller that feels as if it is a piece of military spec hardware transported from the universe of Titanfall and into players hands," said Joel Emslie, lead artist at Respawn Entertainment.
To be clear, this is a standard Xbox One controller--it doesn't do anything extra that other controllers don't do--it just has the unique art styling and coloring. You can pre-order the Titanfall controller now, as well as the Titanfall game. Both will be available on March 11th.
For other special editions, check out the Xbox One I Made This edition console and controller.
Read More | Titanfall Xbox One Controller
Don't let the looks of the Microsoft Xbox One, the next entry in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide fool you--it may like more like a modern DVR than traditional game console, but that's by design. It's packing an 8-core processor and upgraded Kinect sensor which makes it more than just a game console--it's also your living room's entertainment hub. They're hard to find, but if you look hard enough, you can get one. Look even harder, and you can get one of the elusive white Xbox One "I Made This" models!
You can pick up the Microsoft Xbox One now from Amazon for $499--but hurry, they'll likely sell out before the end of the day.
Read More | Xbox One
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