Nokia 'Champagne,' Xbox dashboard preview and more Microsoft news of the week

Microsoft news round-up for this week includes a possible new Nokia Windows Phone, tidbits on the Xbox dashboard fall preview, new comScore search data and more.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

It's time for an end-of-week Microsoft news round-up -- including info on a couple "new to me" codenames. (Yes, I know I am woefully behind in publishing another update to my Microsoft Code Tracker. I hopefully will post a mega-catch-up update some time soon.)

There's a little something for every Microsoft watcher in this one, whether you care about Windows Phones, enterprise products and/or Bing.

Another new Nokia Windows Phone in the works? WMPowerUser.com reported this week that a Windows Phone handset known as the "Nokia Champagne" has shown up in the logs of the "I'm a WP7!" app. According to the site, whatever Champagne is, it appears to be running  Windows Phone OS 7.10.8711 -- something more recent than Windows Phone Mango. Could this be one of the first Windows Phone "Tango" handsets? Nokia is expected to bring a "portfolio" of phonese to the U.S. early next year. It's unclear if Champagne is one of these or if it's something targeted at developing/new Windows Phone markets.

HTC Radar 4G: This is what a Mango phone should look like. As I noted earlier this week, Microsoft has loaned me an HTC Radar 4G, one of the new crop of Windows Phone Mango devices that have launched recently. After a few days of use, I'm hooked. It's not just another black slab with a nice Metro interface. I really like the Radar's white/silver aluminum body. Battery life is good. There's a front-facing camera, tethering support, automatically customized ringtone volume (known as "Attentive Phone" functionality). Downside: It's T-Mobile only and I'm on Verizon due to their solid service here in New York City and elsewhere.

The private Xbox Live fall dashboard preview has gone to testers who signed non-disclosure agreements. More than a few folks have been living on the edge of their NDAs and have posted various tidbits about the update. The most interesting (to me) is what's in the expected new Xbox App marketplace. It's not just games, from what I'm hearing. Facebook, Twitter, Hulu and Netflix apps are in there, too. While on the topic of Xbox, it's worth noting that veteran Online Services exec Yusuf Mehdi is now the Chief Marketing Officer for Xbox, as Microsoft announced this week.

The System Center team is continuing its push to deliver the nine or ten new point products in the System Center 2012 family. This week, the team announced the near-final Release Candidate of System Center Operations Manager 2012, which allows public/private datacenter monitoring. In addition, tthe Softies also took the wraps off a codename I had been trying to crack for a month or so: "Andes." Andes is the System Center Cloud Service Process Pack from the Solution Accelerators team. It is out in beta form, as of this week. The pack is designed to offer "a self-service experience to facilitate private cloud capacity requests from your business unit IT application owners and end users, including the flexibility to request additional capacity as business demands increase." I learned another new Microsoft codename this week, too: The SQL Azure Labs "Data Explorer" tool that allows users to find, combine and publish daatasets? Its codename is "Montego" for all you other codename-curious folks out there.

New comScore search data is out, and unsurprisingly, MicroHoo isn't growing by leaps and bounds. Google's U.S. core search share grew slightly, to 65.6 percent in October. Yahoo lost share, and is now at 15.2 percent. Microsoft stayed mostly flat, with 14.8 percent share in October. Combined MicroHoo share in September was 30.2 percent in September, compared to 30 percent in October. While on the topic of search, I had something unusual happen this week when I was searching frantically for one of old my blog posts -- something I normally do in Google because I tend to get more accurate results. I searched using a whole bunch of different keywords for about 15 minutes for my post in Google to no avail. I tried Bing and got the correct match with my first search. Hmmm. Maybe Google's latest move to a new algorithm will be what it takes to get me to start "Binging it." Now if Bing could only shore up their not-so-current and accurate local search and directions results for New York City on Windows Phone...

Microsoft vs. Barnes & Noble (and Google): The accusations and legal filings fly. The Microsoft vs. Barnes & Noble Android patent dispute continues to wind its way along, with B&N continuing to beat the anticompetition drum (in the way B&N outlined earlier this year). FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller published Microsoft motion to compel Google to provide related information. (In case anyone's forgotten, Mueller, is doing a paid study for Microsoft around FRAND patents.)Mueller notes that "Microsoft's motion argues that 'Google is the leader of the Android Open Source Project' and "therefore can be expected to have evaluated whether, as Barnes & Noble claims, Microsoft's alleged conduct has had any business effect on Android distribution." Anyone going to Microsoft TechDays in Vancouver, British Columbia, next week? Microsoft Principal Program Manager and all-around-excellent Geekspeaker Scott Hanselman is keynoting on November 15, and I'm doing a Manager TechTalk Q&A on Microsoft futures the same day. I'm also going to be speaking at the Microsoft Vancouver Tech User Group on November 16 (registration here). Let me know if any of you "All About Microsoft" readers will be around!

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