Fun new Xbox LIVE games come to Windows Phone

Microsoft announces today that it has released two classic games, Minesweeper and Sudoku, for Windows Phone. The games are both free, which is great. But they’re also real Xbox LIVE games too, which is even better as they bring Achievements and power ups to the mix. Sounds good to me.

Two of the most immensely popular puzzle games of all time—the PC classic Minesweeper and the newspaper staple Sudoku—just landed in Marketplace for Windows Phone. But these aren’t just any versions of the classic games. They’re official Xbox LIVE editions—so now they come with all kinds of cool powerups and achievements. Best of all? They’re both totally free.

Download Xbox LIVE Sudoku

Download Xbox LIVE Minesweeper

The goal in Minesweeper is to clear the board using flags to safely mark potential hidden mines. One wrong move and it’s game over. The new Xbox LIVE version comes with two modes—Classic and Speed—and as many as 4 different levels of difficulty each. Sudoku, the hit Japanese numbers-based logic game, challenges you to fill a 9×9 grid with the numbers 1 to 9. (But of course it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.) Play it in Classic or Lightning mode.

Update: Unfortunately, these games appear to be US-only. Sorry for the confusion.

Posted in Windows Phone, Xbox LIVE | 19 Comments

Charlie Kindel is Leaving Microsoft

Maybe someday, I’ll write a book about my experiences dealing with Microsoft or, better yet, help a former Microsoftie write a book about their own experiences at the company. Either way, I’d love for Charlie Kindel to be part of it. I’ve known Charlie for many years, probably dating back to his work on Media Center (Freestyle) but possibly even longer than that. So at least ten years. That he was a big part of the Microsoft products I’ve cared the most for–Media Center, Home Server, Windows Phone–is not coincidental. He always seems to land in the thick of things. Interesting things.

And now he’s leaving Microsoft, after 21 years. There’s a lot I’d like to tell you about Charlie, all of it good, Actually most of it is pretty fricking awesome. But he wrote his own goodbye to his coworkers, which he’s graciously reposted on his personal blog. Here it is:

From: Charlie Kindel
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011 9:00 AM
To: A gazillion old friends and colleagues
Subject: Goodbye Microsoft – After 21 Years It’s Time To Move On

July 2, 1990 was my first day at Microsoft and September 2, 2011 will be my last.

In the time honored tradition of “good-bye mails” this is mine.

My first Microsoft product was a Z-80 Softcard for my Apple ][+ in 1984. That amazing product enabled me to become a UCSD P-System, CP/M, and Turbo Pascal geek. I still remember opening the big clear plastic box for the first time.

In 1988 (my junior year at the University of Arizona) I decided I wanted to work for Microsoft when I discovered Windows programming (I conned my dad into buying me a copy of the Windows 2 SDK). Charles Petzold was my hero.

I got no-hired after my first interviews (a dev role in Languages; shouldn’t really surprise anyone).

I bribed my recruiter into getting me another set of interviews by sending her a Christmas card (clearly I was meant to be a PM).

The brightest memory I have of my first day at work was a Seattle Times sports page pinned to my manager’s (Ridge Ostling) cube: “Husky Women Beat Beavers”.

A few months later we threatened to quit because management kept turning the lights ON in Lincoln Plaza.

Arne Josefsberg: I feel bad about writing that tool that generated fake time tracking reports. But what did you expect? We were providing the best damn developer support possible and the number of minutes we spent doing it was totally irrelevant.

Curtis Palmer: I miss you. Our Bogus Software was the best. RIP.

Tunneling Todd Laney, one day I got so pissed that the Windows 8514a driver didn’t support “smallfonts” that I just fixed it and checked it in. I was still in PSS. My first “production code” at Microsoft and if you don’t count OLEView which was just a tool, my last.

I decided I wanted to be Chris Guzak. So I got out of PSS and into Developer Relations. I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

Vertical Developer Relations was an amazing group. Out of that group came: Jeff Teper, Satya Nadella, Joe Long, John Wilcox, Bret O’Rourke, and others.

After writing OLEView I woke up and I was no longer an evangelist but a PM on the OLE team. Initially I was given all the glamorous stuff like Mac OLE. Mario Goertzel scared the crap out of me. It was 3 months before he and the other devs would invite me to lunch.

I got to work with Bob Atkinson. He taught me the trick of taking people on walks during 1:1s. He also taught me everything I know.

We gave all PDC ’93 attendees a CD with the first DCOM bits. ole.h was missing. One (one!) customer noticed. We thought DCOM was hot-sh**. It wasn’t.

The first name for COM+ was COM3. Windows used to let you create directories named COM3. But you couldn’t delete them. The real reason I’m leaving Microsoft? COM is making a comeback.

Sweeper and December 7, 1995 were epic. How the name “ActiveX” was chosen was not. Designing the <OBJECT> tag with Tim Berners-Lee was mind blowing for me. Ben Slivka still owes my sister an airplane ticket.

Shipping IE 3.0 was my first taste of what it really meant to build a product that changed the world. I would have never joined the Windows Phone team if I had not had that prior experience of an impossible, come-from-behind, project.

Somewhere along the line I learned the word “mentor”. Bob Muglia and Chris Jones: Thank you. I learned everything I know from you.

In 1998 a bunch of us from the IIS team were in Paris for some conference. We went out to dinner and when we came out of the restaurant there was a literal riot going on around the Arc de Triomphe. France had won the world cup. We joined in. I rode around the Arc de Triomphe on the roof of a city bus chanting Viva-La-France! Microsoft enabled me to see the world and I’m grateful for that.

Someday we’re going to have a Project42 reunion party. Or not.

Tracy Sharpe once worked for me. One day his office was cleared out. I asked HR “Where’s Tracy?” “Oh, he moved to the Xbox team weeks ago.” Oh, that’s how that works.

Charlie: “Hey Chris (Jones) & David (Cole), we should build a Neptune Home Server! We’ll call it Ybox!”

Chris & David: “Charlie, shut the eff up and get back to work.”

Working on Windows Millennium is where I met Dave Alles.

The Connected Home Business Unit had this guy who drove a black Hummer. One day we put a “Yes, my penis is small” bumper sticker on it. Sorry about that Kevin Eagan.

Bedrock and the bBox demonstrated that a group could have all the technology and a great user experience and still not know how to spell “business”. BXT folks. BXT!

CHBU begat eHome. The first version of Windows Media Center was to be called “Windows Remote View”. Really.

When I think about my time as BobMu’s TA I’m reminded of the scene in Blade Runner, where Roy says “I’ve seen things you people could only imagine.” Did I mention that I learned everything I know from Bob Muglia?

You know why Quattro was named Quattro? My fourth attempt at building a home server product at Microsoft. Best. Team. Ever.

I’ve had some great managers (and some not so great ones). Chris Phillips the best manager I ever had. I learned everything I know from Chris.

To the people that helped build Windows Home Server: Chuck Norris doesn’t leave Microsoft. Microsoft leaves with Chuck.

Yamanote! Istvan, Friedbert, Bob, Drew, Tudor, Kevin, Akhil, Ron, Scott, and a slew of others: They doubted, but we fraking did it. Together. 27,000 apps and counting. Someone once gave me the advice “The first rule of dependency management is to not have any dependencies.” I call BS on this and we proved that cross-group collaboration CAN work at Microsoft.

The real reason I’m leaving Microsoft: At the last partner meeting Dave Alles didn’t ask SteveB a question.

To the Windows Phone team: I may stop using some Microsoft products now that I’m out of here. But not Windows Phone. The BEST product Microsoft has ever built. Do not let up!

To my wife: Thank you for putting up with “Microsoft Time” (“Honey, I’ll be home in an hour.” Four hours later…). I’ve learned everything I know from Julie Kindel.

To my kids: No, just because I don’t work at Microsoft anymore you many not use Google. Remember, every time you use Google, a puppy dies.

Back in 1990 I assumed I’d work here for 3 or so years. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and every few years I’d lift up my head and look around. I never had the need to look outside Microsoft because I kept finding one challenging opportunity after another.

21 years later I have finally decided I need to do something different: I’m leaving to start a new company here in the Seattle area. I’m sure you’ll hear about it.

There has been one constant in every job I’ve had at Microsoft: People way smarter than me. Microsoft has always enabled me to “play up”. It has truly been an honor working with all of you. Thank you for helping me grow as an engineer, a manager, a businessman, and as a person.

Stay in touch and keep changing the world!

-cek

Charlie Kindel is the man. I hope/expect to hear more from him soon. Good luck.

Posted in Windows Phone | 5 Comments

Microsoft delivers pre-release build of Mango to developers … After RTMing the product?

So with Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” completed and sent to manufacturing, and Microsoft subsequently announcing a new build of Mango for developers, you might be forgiven for believing that Microsoft is, in fact, providing the RTM version of Mango to developers.

But they’re not.

As Cliff Simpkins explains in a blog post, that’s because the pre-release build we are now getting (build 7712) corresponds to the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 “Beta 2 Refresh” that’s also being released today. So it all makes perfect sense. :)

The process to update your phone with build 7712 is pretty straight-forward:

  1. Make a copy of the backup you took when you updated to the Mango Beta 2 pre-release (which I’m sure you did) and put it in a safe place, if it isn’t in one already
  2. Return to Connect.Microsoft.com (we’re using the same program you were invited to join last month) and download the freshly posted files, which includes a new Zune client and a new UpdateWP executable
  3. Head to the Control Panel and uninstall the Beta 2 software (Zune client and UpdateWP) and tools (WPSDK) that you installed last month
  4. Install the new software and tools that you just downloaded from Connect
  5. Fire up the new Zune client beta (4.8.2134.0) to check for the new update
  6. Zune will then update your phone from 7661 to 7712

For those who may be inspired by this release and update their phone for the first time, you’ll notice a much more streamlined experience from the one we rolled out last month. Based on the feedback (and support tickets) from developers participating in the program, the process has been improved in two places. First, we’ve updated the server logic in the first update (739x -> 7401) to better account for ‘Walshed’ phones and phones that had the support tool run incorrectly on them. Second, the Zune client has been updated to link your updates into a single update run. The new Zune client automatically checks for new updates after it completes an update – meaning you only need to start the update process once and Zune handles the rest until you arrive at your final destination build (in this case, 7712).

Looks like I’ll be busy again today. :)

Posted in Developer, Windows Phone | 15 Comments

First Windows Phone "Mango" Handset Unveiled

Fujitsu Toshiba Mobile Communications on Tuesday announced what it says will be the first handset based on Windows Phone “Mango,” the next generation Windows Phone OS that Microsoft finalized this week. And in keeping with the next generation theme, this device, the IS12T, is a monster, with a dual core processor, a 13.2 megapixel camera, 512 MB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, and a waterproof design.

fujitsu_tosh_mango_devices

Fujitsu Toshiba says the IS12T will ship in “September or beyond,” in Japan, and if this is truly the first shipping Mango device, it’s safe to assume that other devices will begin appearing other markets, including the US, later that month or in the months following.

The device appears to be based on the Fujitsu Regza T-01C, an Android-based handset with nearly identical specs. It features a 3.7-inch LED screen, a 1 GHz Qualcomm processor, dual radios with both CDMA and GSM support, GPS, six-axis motion sensing, Wi-Fi B/G/N, and Bluetooth. The case is waterproof and dust resistant, and there is a micro-USB expansion port.

The IS12T will ship in multiple colors too, including yellow, pink, and black. However, it will only be made available in Japan.

Note: This post was cross-posted from the SuperSite Blog.

Posted in Windows Phone | 12 Comments

Microsoft releases Windows Phone 7 “Mango” to manufacturing

So much for that August stuff :)

From the Windows Phone Blog:

I wanted to drop into the Windows Phone Blog briefly to update you on an important milestone. Earlier this morning, the Windows Phone development team officially signed off on the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of “Mango” – the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system. This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations. Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process. The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall, and of course will come pre-installed on new Windows Phones.

In May, we officially took the wraps off of Mango, a release including hundreds of new features that create a smarter and easier approach to communications and apps, while delivering the best web experience.

We can’t wait to get Mango in your hands so you can experience all the new features for yourself and give us feedback on where to go next. As we reach additional milestones we will be back to share more but until then, thank you for your support of Windows Phone.

-Terry

Posted in Windows Phone | 27 Comments

Microsoft challenges Dilbert creator to try Windows Phone

This one is fun. Dilbert creator Scott Adams recently blogged about his dissatisfaction with the various smart phones he’s used, and he’s tried all the big players so far (Blackberry, iPhone and then Android). But as the logical sort, he’s tired of the smart phone BS that Apple acolytes in particular just accept without questioning, like poor battery life and horrible phone call quality.

My Android phone works most of the time for voice calls. But I’m afraid to actually use it because the battery life is about an hour and it’s no good to me with no power.

Now I only think of my phone as an emergency device, like my first brick-sized cell phone. I wouldn’t use it to make a social phone call. My battery wouldn’t last. And I wouldn’t often use it for email because the keyboard sucks and the battery drains then as well.

Yes, I have researched all the many ways to save battery life. I have apps that kill other apps. I turn off Wi-Fi and 4G and Bluetooth until I need them. Nothing seems to keep my battery from draining like a frat boy’s bladder on a Saturday night. Result: I leave my Android plugged in all the time, whether I am at my desk, near my bed, or in the car.

Thank you Google for inventing a corded phone. I can’t wait for your next innovation: the butter churn.

So Microsoft Windows Phone developer evangelist Brandon Watson has contacted Adams and challenged him to use a Windows Phone. If he doesn’t like it, Watson will donate $1000 to the charity of his choice. (The challenge comes via a comment in the blog post cited above.)

Scott -

My name is Brandon Watson and I am responsible for the developer platform on Windows Phone. Since your readership has a high probability of cross over with our developer base, how about I make you a deal with one of the phones we reserve for developers. Take Windows Phone for a spin. I’ll send you a developer phone with the new Mango OS on it. Give it an honest run, and if you don’t love it more than either of your iPhone or Android experiences, I’ll make a $1000 donation to the charity of your choice. You can’t really lose on this deal.

Do we have 500K apps? No. Do we have 25K, growing as fast as iPhone did, and 2x as fast as Android? Yes. Do developers love the dev environment? Uh huh. Do we have the only phone that puts people and communications first? You bet. If Androids dream of electronic iSheep, people dream about people – and that’s what you will get with Windows Phone. Keep in constant contact with those most important to you with Live Tiles, groups, messaging threads, and native Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And no special instructions on how to hold the phone to make calls. Oh, and the battery lasts a long time.

I can be reached at ThePhone [at] microsoft. You can call me if you want – 425-985-5568. Windows Phone devs will tell you that’s the right contact info, because it’s shared with every one of them.

I hope you take me up on this one…there’s no reason to hate your phone.

So. Bravo to Mr. Watson for this one. And if Adams has any credibility at all, he’ll take up Microsoft on this offer.

Posted in Windows Phone | 26 Comments

A preview of coming Windows Phone handsets

Zunited—which is a great name, by the way, has published a nice overview of the next-generation, Mango-based Windows Phone handsets that we expect to see in the market by the end of 2011. As the blog notes, some of these may be legit, some not, but it’s a pretty comprehensive list given the lack of official information so far.

Profiled phones include the Nokia “Sea Ray,” HTC “Ruby,” “Bresson,” “Eternity,” and a fourth mystery device, the LG “Fantasy,” a Samsung next-gen handset, a Fujitsu next-gen phone, the Acer “W4,” and a ZTE next-gen handset.

Posted in Windows Phone | 5 Comments