Some Windows Phone 8 devices get updated and more Microsoft news of the week

Some Windows Phone 8 devices get updated and more Microsoft news of the week

Summary: In this Microsoft news roundup, we talk 'Portico' for Windows Phone 8; features deprecated with Outlook 2013; HTC Windows RT tablet rumors; and new Windows Azure updates.


Microsoft, carriers dance around 'Portico' update details


Some Windows Phone 8 users have been getting the first update to their devices over the past week-plus.
That update, believed to be codenamed "Portico," includes a fix for rogue phone reboots, issues with Bluetooth connectivity, and being incorrectly routed to tethering upsell pages when browsing, among has other updates.

Up until this week, Microsoft was deferring all questions about the timing and features in this update to carriers. Microsoft officials wouldn't even say when and if Nokia Windows Phone 8 users -- along with HTC 8X users -- were going to get Portico.

Nokia came clean this week, telling its Windows Phone 8 users on AT&T and Rogers that they'd get the update this week. For some reason, Lumia Windows Phone 8 users on all other carriers won't get Portico until February 2013. Meanwhile, HTC 8X users in Europe have been reporting they're geting Portico delivered over-the-air. But here in the U.S., it seems only T-Mobile users are getting the first HTC 8X update, at least so far.

Microsoft has set up a Windows Phone 8 update history page as of this week, which is a positive step. But why all the secrecy around this first update? If it's a case of needing to roll out slowly so as to monitor the impact of the update on phone performance, why not simply indicate that?

By the way, those Windows Phone 8 users still having problems with automatic brightness settings even after applying Portico, you might want to try a calibration trick about which Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Richard Hay blogged earlier this week.

Microsoft goes public with features cut from Outlook with 2013 release

Meanwhile, speaking of going public with not-so-happy information, the Outlook 2013 has done just that with a new blog post this week listing the features that are being deprecated with the coming Outlook release.

The one that got the most attention from bloggers this week was Microsoft's decision to drop importing and exporting support for its own legacy .xls and .doc file formats. (These are file formats used in Excel 97 through 2003 and Word 97 through 2003.)

But the deprecated feature I've gotten the most mail about is the decision to no longer provide search results for mail and calendar items in Windows Explorer or via the Start Menu. This change probably is somewhat less surprising to Windows 8 users, who are expected to search within apps. But to those using the new Outlook on older versions of Windows, the lack of the ability to surface mail and calendar searches without doing so inside Outlook itself has proven jarring, according to some from which I've heard.

Microsoft is slated to make Outlook 2013 generally available in early 2013, when it launches its Office 2013/New Office product family. (I'm hearing the likely date is the end of January 2013.)

New 7-inch (and 12-inch) Windows RT tablet coming from HTC?

Bloomberg reported this week that HTC is supposedly working on two Windows RT tablets: a seven-inch and a 12-inch model. Both are said to be on track to launch in the third calendar quarter of 2013 -- which could/should mean Windows "Blue" would likely be the preloaded version of Windows on them, if all rumors end up aligning.

The other Microsoft partner supposedly working on a newWindows RT tablet for 2013 is Nokia, which, along with HTC, is one of Microsoft's flagship Windows Phone allies.

The seven-inch form factor is one from which Microsoft itself seems to be shying away. When I've asked whether there might be a Surface Mini in the wings, I've heard from my contacts that Microsoft isn't convinced that a PC (which is what the Softies consider tablets to be) is a good form factor for creation and consumption.

The other part of Bloomberg's report that's intriguing is supposedly the two new rumored HTC tablets will be able to make phone calls. I'm wondering if this simply means they'll preload Skype.... Mostly I'm hoping for a little more differentiation in whatever new Windows tablets come to market next year.

Microsoft delivers Azure updates across mobile services, Web sites, Store and more

Microsoft rolled out a number of incremental updates to Windows Azure on December 21. On the short list, according to a blog post by Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie:

  • Mobile Services (job scheduler support, Europe Region Support, Command Line Support)
  • Web Sites (scale improvements, integrated source control)
  • SQL Data Sync (support in the new HTML portal)
  • ACS Management (support in the new HTML portal)
  • Media Services (job and task management, blob storage support, reserved compute)
  • Virtual Network enhancements
  • Subscription Filtering Support

All of these updates are available immediately, Guthrie said.

Topics: Windows Phone, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia, Smartphones, Tablets, PCs, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Carriers delaying updates....

    I'm sorry to see them repeat the same delays in releasing fixes as I had with the disappearing keyboard issue with my focus. Microsoft had a fix in January and by October I got so tired of the keyboard disappearing 1-3 times every time I sent a text I paid the early termination fee and got a Galaxy S3. Android isn't much better about updates, maybe even worse but with all the carrier delays in releasing updates and fixes I'm considering going back to a tracfone until they become more timely.
    • Re: Carriers delaying updates....

      If you remember, when Windows Phone was first announced, Microsoft said it would supply all updates directly.

      That was just the first of many promises about Windows Phone to be broken...
  • What WP8 needs to fix is maps and music and skype. These are way

    more important than BT. However I guess camera fixes if there are any are good to get out before the holidays. And no adding skype isnt the same as adding phone calls, which it what HTC may do. MS needs to get a handle on it's own apps too. Did skype not get the memo that WP8 was shipping a month ago? Photosynth? How about the barely there XBOX music? Can you say gapless? What about playlist? Video?
    Johnny Vegas
    • I experienced the BT issue.

      I'm glad to see they've, hopefully, fixed it. It was quite annoying. I agree the maps application needs to be fixed. The default app can't seem to find any intersection...despite the claims that it can do so (it's in the help). I downloaded gMaps which works great.

      Not sure what issues exist in music or Skype (I don't use the latter, haven't had a problem with the former). Can you expand on these issues?

      BTW...I did receive the update on my 8X yesterday.
    • Did skype not get the memo that WP8 was shipping a month ago?

      Since Microsoft Owns Skype, it speaks volumes.
      Troll Hunter J
      • Skype was released

        a week or two after Windows Phone 8 devices really hit the shelves. It wasn't long. I have had Skype for a while.
      • I know. I said the same thing about Apple

        and some of their things that weren't ready in time for the shipping of the iPad.

        You're right, it sure does speak volumes.
        William Farrel
    • Re: What WP8 needs to fix is maps and music and skype.

      Why did they need to be "fixed"? We were told that WP8 would be backward-compatible with WP7. Turns out that was a big fat lie.
  • Windows Phone OS for tablets?

    It sounds like HTC may use the Windows Phone operating system on the new tablets?

    The new tablets can be used as a phone, and the smallest tablet will have a screen that Microsoft thinks is too small for a PC. Thats. too small for Windows RT?

    Since the launch is scheduled for the third quarter of next year, perhaps these devices come with Windows Blue, and Windows Blue will be the one operating system for all form factors.
    • Re: It sounds like HTC may use the Windows Phone operating system on the ne

      Not a chance. Not after Microsoft has spent millions of dollars carefully segregating its phone and tablet product lines with separate OSes and separate licensing agreements. It would mean throwing away all that work and starting again.

      Windows Mobile 9, anybody?
  • 404

    "features that are being deprecated with the coming Outlook release"
  • Updates are Androids Achilles heel !!!

    Since smartphones are nothing else than small computers software upgrades for reasons of security and for getting rid of faults have become absolutely crucial. Unfortunately due to its diversification it's quite hard to give Android based phones a proper and timely update. Contrary to iOS and probably WP. Microsoft is well aware that fact and will take precautions to not run into the same problems as Android did.
    That said, even over the long term the update problem on Android phones will never be really solved giving an advantage to Apple and Microsoft.
  • Windows Blue - Yet More Confusion for Developers and Consumers

    I guess Microsoft needs to fill the 7" space, with a 1024 pixel resolution which WP8 cannot (yet) handle, but not enough for that slly Windows RT desktop/

    So now we are gettting WP8, Windows Blue, Windows 8 Rt and Windows 8. Four Platforms come the spring 2013 !

    What a mess Sinosfky left behind him. No wonder Developers and Consumers are really confused about Microsoft platforms and are leaving the Micorsoft Eco systems in droves. (We stopped WP developement last month)

    Just Bite the bullet, and Upscale WP8 to 1028resolutions to suport 7 inch Form Factor (replace that dreary old WP Apps list with a Panoramic Apps Start List) and Dump Windows RT. So we just have to concentrate on two MS Platforms not four !
    • I've decided

      not to support either Windows 8 or WP8 in my development, mostly because of the mess that is VS2012.
  • I've never searched for Outlook items in the Start Menu

    It's an utterly dumb way of finding an e-mail, the Start Menu isn't exactly large. It's makes much more sense to search for e-mails from within Outlook.

    If I've imported it's 100% been using PST or CSV files. Most programs let you export to CSV anyway.
    • The Real Point

      Specific storage locations are being abstracted. A application should know which of its files are or aren't in the cloud. The search as a system service seems inadequate for the new modes.
    • Tridus

      What if you don't know it's an email you're looking for, but you just remember "something about X"? The Start Menu was great for that because it could search the entire system, emails and all.

      Now I'll get to repeat the same search in multiple places until I happen to figure out where it was. This is going backwards, not forwards.