Windows Marketplace has left and died

That is, on the desktop website. Windows Marketplace was Microsoft’s ideal site where Windows users could find and discover software, applications, and IE add-ons for their Windows computer. I guess they didn’t do such a hot job, so now it directs visitors to the Microsoft Store, the Windows Vista Compatibility Center and Upgrade Advisor, and a host of other e-commerce sites, and partner sites.

Windows Marketplace wasn’t too bad of a site to find neat stuff for Windows, but it was heavily disorganized. I remembered seeing like percentage points displayed like 3,000% and I had no idea what it meant. The site was too busy looking, and the little Vista-like gloss they added didn’t help. They really needed to simplify it more.

It would be nice if Microsoft had one wonderful central store to download/buy and browse from (think the Microsoft Store + Windows Live Gallery + IE Addons + WMPlugins.com + Windows Mobile Catalog + etc.) than so many different and diverse sites. Unfortunately, it probably won’t ever be happening.

There will still be Windows Marketplace for Mobile (Windows Mobile) phones though. Strangely enough.

Windows Mobile 6.5 – What you need to know

Microsoft dished out some details about Windows Mobile 6.5 at the Mobile World Congress on February 16, 2009. Here’s a bulleted list of quick information:

  • Expected to be released to Q4 2009 (late 2009)
  • Mostly a minor update – A more jazzed up UI, some new services, and maybe a handful of new features. 6.1 to 6.5 isn’t a big leap after all…
  • “Windows Phone” – Microsoft is working with handset makers to make some more ‘signature’ type phones that will be labeled as ‘Windows Phones’. These phones will have a dedicated Windows logo button on it (not sure what it does yet).
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 ONLY available for Windows Phones – Seems Microsoft doesn’t want 6.1 users to upgrade. I don’t think that will stop XDA though…

So yeah, there is some new stuff, but not anything overexciting. Now about Windows Mobile 6.5 (as of now):

1. Updated home screen and application launcher – Actually, I think the new home screen really is the application launcher. Not entirely sure though. The icons are now arranged in hexagons, probably to help with touch screen support. (note: images might be pixelated)

2. New Lock Screen – Now displays information such as missed calls, voicemail, text, and whatnot.

3. New Phone Dialer:

4. Internet Explorer Mobile updated – Now renders in IE6 Desktop mode (IE6 on 6, get it?), actual zoom bar, choice of either rendering the plain “mobile” version or desktop version, and includes support for Adobe Flash.

 

There’s also two new services announced: My Phone (formerly Skybox) and Windows Marketplace for Mobile (formerly SkyMart):

1. My Phone – Skybox service allows you to back-up your phone’s data on the web. You can back-up Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Text Messages, Photos, Videos, Music, and Document via your Windows Live ID account. I still think it should be called SkyDrive Mobile, but at least it beats Apple’s pathetic $99 MobileMe. It should work with 6.1 from what I’ve heard.

2. Windows Marketplace for Mobile – “a rich and integrated marketplace for searching, browsing and purchasing mobile applications from Windows® phones or from a PC by simply using a Windows Live ID”. It ONLY works on Windows Mobile 6.5 devices. Hopefully there will tons of great applications, and I hope it won’t get too much of a bureaucracy like the App Store for Apple is. Users can add applications, with a “simple security and compatibility check” to make sure it works. Now I really, really hope the applications are really great quality, and it’s not just a bunch of similar rubbish with nothing cool or unique about them. No screenshots.

Microsoft has also something new called Recite. With Recite, you can take voice notes, and if you’re looking for a particular voice note, you can just simply say the exact words you remembered saying, and Recite will be able to find the most likely matches. It can be quite useful, compared to having to hunt around through each voice note to remember which one it was.

You can download it right now.

So that’s really pretty much all that’s new with Windows Mobile. Most people seem to have responded with disappointment, and I would too if I was a Windows Mobile user. There’s really not much beyond a few UI changes, a service, a store and an updated IE. Most people were hoping some more bigger changes within the OS, but not with 6.5.

Hopefully by the time Windows Mobile 7 gets out, it really will be something worth looking forwards too, and won’t be too far behind in compelling users to like it.

Here’s a video of Microsoft’s WMC Keynote:

<iframe src="http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/silverlightApps/videoplayer2/standalone.aspx?contentId=MobileWorldCongres_pressconference&src=/presspass/events/MobileWorldCongress/pageResources/playlist.xml&WT.cg_n=MobileWorldCongress&WT.z_convert=embed" width="400" height="334" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Below are some worthwhile links:

http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/02/16/microsoft-previews-windows-mobile-65#

http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2009/feb09/02-16MWCPR.mspx

http://mobile.microsoft.com/myphone/en-us/default.mspx

http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/02/17/microsoft-my-phone-first-impressions

Is Skybox now My Phone?

Rumors of three new services to debut with Windows Mobile 6.5 are about codename SkyBox, SkyLine, and SkyMarket. A basic rundown of each:

  • SkyBox – automatic backup and restore services, cloud syncing with your contacts, calendars, pictures and the like
  • SkyLine – like SkyBox but is targeted at small businesses. Mobile phone users will be able to set up their smartphones with Microsoft Exchange hosting under their own domain names. Employees who travel will be able to sync their mobile devices directly under their company domain name instead of using a third-party service
  • SkyMarket (now SkyMart) – mobile application store for just Windows Mobile

Someone has found out about My Phone, which seems very similar to what SkyBox is about:

  • Back up and restore your phone’s information to a password-protected web site
  • Access and update your contacts and appointments through your web account
  • Share photos on your phone with family and friends

    Backing up data? Syncing and sharing data? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot like Microsoft’s own SkyDrive/Mesh/Sync? Why not just call it SkyDrive/Mesh/Sync Mobile instead of the uncreative name My Phone?

    Someone on Microsoft’s branding/marketing team is still having a hard time grasping the notion that people may be turned off by something as simple as a name.

    Well I just really hope this service is simple to use, and actually works very well, compared to the likes of MobileMe.

  • Live Search homepage lets you see photo backgrounds in the past?

    I don’t know if anyone else has spotted this, but the Live Search homepage allows you to view daily backgrounds from the past.

    If I click on the left arrow, I get the other day’s background:

    Clicking on the right arrow will bring me to the next recent day’s page, which happens to be today’s page.

    The copyright icon tells you the source of the image.

    Anyone else notice this new feature?

    Where’s “Update Feeds” in Windows Live Mail?

    I use Windows Live Mail as my RSS feeder. An RSS feeder, if you don’t know, allows you to see new (or old) posts from your favorite blog or website that come updated every time you check.

    Windows Live Mail used to have this feature that allowed me to click “Update Feeds” so I could refresh ALL feeds when I needed to, but I don’t see this button ever since the last version. I’m a bit upset, because I don’t know how to update feeds, without it. Sure, Windows Live Mail automatically looks up for the latest feeds, but it hasn’t done so 2 days in a row, and I’m suspicious it isn’t working. I can’t even update it if I wanted to, since I can’t find the darn button.

    As far as I can tell, I can’t update any of my feeds. I could in IE7, but I’d have to do it manually one by one, and I like the way of viewing feeds in Windows Live Mail instead. I don’t know why they removed that button – there’s plenty of space on the toolbar. So I’m left trying to figure this out. Does anyone have any ideas on how to check for new feeds? Is there any other feature of Windows Live Mail that you miss?