Nokia Lumia Icon is among the last Windows Phones to receive a software update to Windows Phone 8.1, despite its flagship credentials. But this shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, Lumia Icon features Verizon's logo. And we all know that big red is not exactly quick with updates.
In fact, despite being a Verizon exclusive, Lumia Icon is long gone from the carrier's portfolio. Talk about support there! The only Windows Phones Verizon sells now are HTC One (M8) for Windows and Samsung ATIV SE. Still, Lumia Icon will at least get Lumia Denim, which is based on Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, quite possibly before any other high-end Windows Phone in US.
There is no doubt in my mind that Microsoft really wants to make Windows 10 available for as many Windows Phone 8.1 devices as possible. The software giant envisions a future when "the idea of asking 'What version are you on?' will cease to make sense" -- that can only be achieved by getting existing users on board through software updates.
However, it would seem that hardware limitations are getting in the way. The vast majority of smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 are low-spec devices, packing just 512 MB of RAM. Their meager hardware may not be able to handle all of Windows 10's features, according to Microsoft's Joe Belfiore.
The latest figures published by Kantar Worldpanel show that US sales of iOS devices are outpacing those of Android handsets. Just. Buoyed by the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple saw sales figures rising across Europe, the US and in China, with the smaller of its two smartphones proving to be the best-selling handset in the US.
Overall, iOS devices accounted for 47.7 percent of smartphone sales, just managing to edge ahead of Android which dropped slightly to a 47.6 percent market share. The holiday period was key to this switch in popularity, as the iPhone 6 proved the most popular gift in 2014. But it's not just in the US that Android is losing its grip on the market.
We're gradually moving towards the official release of Windows 10, but in the meantime we have the Technical Preview to work with -- Build 9926 specifically. As we're only at the preview stage, it is to be expected that there will be a few issues here and there.
The good news is that Microsoft is working on fixing these problems, not just for the eventual RTM release of Windows 10, but also the preview builds. Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 owners complained about problems with stability when watching videos, and this has been addressed with a driver update.
Samsung is no longer the leading smartphone vendor. According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, Apple caught up with the South Korean maker in Q4 2014, thanks to a record number of iPhone shipments totaling 74.5 million units. The two players now share the top spot on the podium.
How did it come to this? Well, it's simple. Apple's shipments increased from 51 million units by 46.07 percent year-over-year, while Samsung's shipments decreased from 86 million units by 13.37 percent, each converging to 19.6 percent market share. Thanks to the strong performance shown by iPhones, iOS' market share rose also, to 19.6 percent from 17.6 percent a year prior, while Android's market share dipped slightly to 76.7 percent from 78.3 percent.
Microsoft has released its earnings report for Q2 FY2015 (that's Q4 CY2014 for everyone else), revealing figures that closely match analyst expectations. The software giant achieved $26.5 billion in revenue, with operating income coming in at $7.8 billion. Gross margin and diluted earnings per share were $16.3 billion and $0.71, respectively. However, in after-hours trading, Microsoft's shares dropped by $2, or 4.28 percent, to $45 per share.
Microsoft has delivered some good news through its earnings report concerning its Devices and Consumer part of the business. Surface revenue reached $1.1 billion at the end of the quarter, which translates to a healthy increase of 24 percent over Q2 FY2014. Lumia sales topped 10.5 million, which, again, is better than the same quarter from a year prior as well as the previous quarter, Q1 FY2015. And the list goes on.
Microsoft told us a lot about Windows 10 yesterday (it's free!), as well as the future direction of some other interesting projects such as HoloLens and the Spartan browser. We did get a brief glimpse at the touch-friendly versions of Office apps for Windows 10, but today Microsoft also reveals more about the next desktop release -- Office 2016.
In keeping with Microsoft's latest vision, the focus with Office moving forward is "mobile-first, cloud-first". We'll be able to try out Office for Windows 10 very soon as the universal apps are due for release for Windows 10 Technical Preview very soon, and the final version will be pre-installed -- for free -- on phones and small tablets. Some of this we knew yesterday, but talk of Office 2016 is new!
Windows 10 is shaping up to be the best Windows yet. I am still wrapping my head around it, but after going through most of the changes I think there are a ton of things to like about it, which is an astonishing achievement. Microsoft really managed to surprise me, and I didn't expect that, to be perfectly honest.
However, what seals the deal for me is how all the changes tie together. I can now say that there are clear benefits to using the latest Windows across all devices that support it. It makes total sense, for the first time. In fact, without even trying the new Preview release, I am sold on Windows 10. Count me in as one of the first to make the switch on all of my devices!
It is fair to say that Windows Phone still needs quite a few major titles in Store before the so-called app-gap can be considered a thing of the past. Take cloud storage services for example. You can embrace OneDrive if you want to stick with Microsoft services, or, as an alternative, use Box. But neither Dropbox nor Google Drive are an option. Both are hugely popular services, and their availability can be a deal-breaker for prospective Windows Phone users.
The good news is that at least Dropbox's availability on Windows Phone is no longer an issue, as the cloud storage service just launched its app in Store. It's undeniably a major win for the tiled smartphone operating system, which has consistently been criticized for lacking an official Dropbox client.
Windows Phone is the last major mobile platform to receive an official Mega app, following Android, iOS and even BlackBerry. It took quite a long time for the offering to make its public debut in Store, as the cloud storage service, which launched two years ago, first mentioned details surrounding its development in mid-2013.
Expectations are high, also taking into account the fact that Mega currently sits in Windows Phone Store as version 2.0. What does it have to offer? Well, let's take a look at the features it has, and should have.
No matter how much Windows Phone has progressed, it feels like it will always be held back by its app store. Lots of nice titles continue to be unavailable, despite claims of the so-called "app-gap" closing. It is not, clearly. When top developers eventually release their apps on the platform, they usually come long after their Android and iOS counterparts and are rarely updated. Let's not even talk about feature parity, which is a huge issue on its own. Of course, that is if those top developers can be convinced to support Windows Phone in the first place, which isn't always the case. It's not an easy thing to do.
Windows Phone Store is also not helped by the developers who decide to abandon or leave the platform altogether. The latest blow is dealt by Chase Bank, which has supported Windows Phone for more than two years. It just announced that it will take the latter route, packing its bags and leaving the platform in just a few days.
Twitter is my favorite social media site because it is easy to use. There aren't tons of privacy "gotchas" like on some other sites. I can log in, share my thoughts in 140 characters and be done. Best of all, the time line is basically chronological. On Facebook, I have no idea what the heck is going on -- the order of posts sometimes seem to be random.
So if I like Twitter for its simplicity, I should also want to Tweet without much effort too, right? Right. In a new update for Windows Phone, users can now send Tweets using Cortana. Will you use her to relay your social media communiques?
Microsoft has made lots of mistakes with Windows Phone. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the biggest screw-ups is the lack of an upgrade path from Windows Phone 7 to the next major installment, Windows Phone 8. The software giant basically shot itself, and its mobile platform, in the foot there. But let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?
The reason why I am bringing this up now is that there's chatter about Lumia 532 being "Windows 10 ready". And it's not just a rumor, no. Microsoft's own landing page for the Windows Phone advertises this, when doing a search for the device. Strangely enough, some are taking this with a grain of salt, like it isn't obvious. But it is. Lumia 532 will get Windows 10. Microsoft isn't going to make the same mistake twice, otherwise it will kill the platform for good.
For a while Windows Phone users complained about the lack of apps, one of which was Spotify. The music service is now there and things are improving in general for the platform. Now Spotify has a major new update for Microsoft's mobile devices, bringing it more in line with versions on competing handsets.
The big feature is the addition of Your Music. This option allows customers to better organize and browse their tunes, as well as create playlists and view cover art. If you find something to your liking, you can simply hit "save" and move on -- it will be there for you in the future.
I have a confession; I love Windows Phone. I must whisper this, as Microsoft's mobile operating system has fallen out of favor with the tech community. Well, it was never popular to begin with, but lately, even fanboys have been jumping ship. It's hard to blame them, as there are many limitations to the platform; most notably apps. With that said, I still enjoy it.
If you are like me, and haven't yet given up on Windows Phone entirely, you are in for a treat. Today, Microsoft announces that Lumia Denim is officially rolling out for more devices this month. What does this mean? If you have a Lumia handset, better performance and new features are on the way.