Microsoft’s big week…phones and lawsuits

It’s been a pretty good week, PR wise, for the company that calls Redmond, Washington it’s home. Indeed, it has. First, Microsoft showed off its own tablet family, based on Windows 8, then they show off Windows Phone 8 at the Windows Phone Summit and Motorola offers a settlement in its on going legal battles with Microsoft.

We’ve already discussed the Surface tablet, here, so I won’t rehash that.

I would like to talk, briefly, though, about that legal issue and then the phone.

Motorola is suing Microsoft over critical parts of the H264 video codec.  The patents in question are a fundamental part of H264 and Moto had agreed, early on, with the standards body that they would license the patents in a fair and equitable manner.  Well, Microsoft brought about a suit against Moto regarding syncing technology used in the companies Android products. This upset Moto who then sued over the H264 stuff. They wanted an injunction against the XBOX 360 and other relief. Congress critters along with companies like Apple wrote the ITC on behalf of Microsoft, imploring them NOT to ban imports of the console. Yes, Apple was aiding Microsoft here, as they have products that use H264 as well.  Fast forward to now, and Moto wants to settle and not have their products held up either. They have offered 33 cents per Android device to Microsoft and cut what they wanted from Microsoft to fifty cents (down from 2.24 percent of revenue per device family.) No one expects Microsoft to accept this, but it is a step forward and only adds to Microsoft’s perceived ‘wins’ for the week.

Microsoft unveiled the next version of its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 8.  The new version shares much of its underpinnings with its desktop overlords.  So much so that there is a ‘shared core’ and many apps can be ported to Win phone 8 with only ‘minor’ changes. Visually, what they showed was similar to Win Phone 7.5 except for the home screen. The tiles are customizable now.

Other features highlighted include NFC which allows for wireless sharing of data, files, credit card information and more.

The OS supports more screen resolutions now and better processors. It is a pretty decent step forward.

Microsoft did confirm that existing phones will NOT get an upgrade to the new OS. Instead, they get a point release update that gives them some, but not all of the new features.

I’m glad I have waited, I knew there was a reason.


MobileNoter for Android and a way to get your EverNote notes into OneNote with one click

As I have previously stated, I am a huge fan of Microsoft’s
OneNote note taking application.  OneNote is a terrific database whose sole
purpose is the art of taking notes. You can arrange your notes any way you wish
and you can include multimedia in them as well.  Handwriting recognition and
audio notation are included. The application, however, has one major drawback:
It is Windows centric.

Microsoft has released a somewhat limited iPhone client. While

MobileNoter for Android

MobileNoter for Android

it works, it is lacking in many features that make OneNote so great.

Last year, I wrote a mini-review of an application called MobileNoter. MobileNoter was an iPhone/iPad
application that also had a Windows piece that allowed syncing of OneNote
Notebooks with your iDevice.  The application worked very well.

MobileNoter now has two additional components: an Android
client and the awesome Ever2One converter.

First, the Android client works very much like the iDevice counterpart.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here on how it works. Click the link to go to
the product page for screenshots and a video.  Suffice it to say that it is a
tremendous way to get your OneNote Notebooks onto your Android device.

The second companion piece is more exciting for me
since I also use EverNote.  Ever2One is an EverNote to OneNote converter.  Once you
install the software, you give your EverNote credentials and then select your
EverNote notebooks to copy to your OneNote Notebooks.  While it is no speed
demon, it is a great way to your EverNote Notes into your OneNote Notebook. If Evernote to OneNote convertor
you are like me and use EverNote on the go but would like to incorporate them
into your OneNote repository, this is a godsend. My notes came over intact.  No
more manual copy and paste.  If you are moving from EverNote to OneNote, this is
the easiest way to do that.

MobileNoter does have a cost. The Android Standalone client,
which works directly with your OneNote files, is 6.99 and the standard
application is $15.00.  The Cloud Sync version is also $15.00. If you are a
heavy OneNote user, this software is a must.

Zune Hardware: RIP

While Microsoft has yet to officially acknowledge it, it appears that the Zune hardware family is now dead.  Bloomberg is reporting the device is dead and, in fact, a visit to the Zune.Net website seems to confirm this news.  The rotating graphic on the Zune.Net home page no longer features the Zune HD hardware. Instead, it shows the PC, Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox.

This should come as no surprise: Zune hardware has not exactly killed the iPod (any model) nor has it set the world on fire.  It does have a loyal following and the HD received very good reviews. It is a nice device, far and away better than any other similar device on the market.  The Zune Marketplace, however, has begun to catch on, thanks to the Xbox.

Xbox integration has been key to the service’s success. A recent report shows that the video rentals and purchases have outpaced any other service, including iTunes. 

Much of the Zune hardware functionality has been rolled into the Windows Phone 7 family.  Indeed, one look at the user interface and media player features of Windows Phone 7 will show just how much the Zune influenced Windows Phone 7.

While the loss of the player hardware is devastating to the platform, it does not spell the end of the Zune services. Those will live on as well as the hardware features which are now part of Windows Phone 7.  Microsoft did the right thing in killing the hardware. Why continue down that road when they have a superior phone platform? (thought a phoneless phone, like the iPod Touch, probably has some legs.) 

One thing is not clear: what happens to the name?  According to Windows guru, Paul Thurrot, the service will lose the Zune branding and become something else, likely with ‘Xbox’ in the title.  Since Xbox has more recognition than Zune, it is probably a good idea, though it could serve to confuse those who have started to use the service on the Xbox.

I will continue using my Zune HD until it does not work any longer or I get a Zune Phone, or, rather, a Windows Phone 7 phone.  See what I did there?