Here’s an APPortunity to Go Mango!


Microsoft has a really cool new promotion running that I thought I’d let everyone know about.

It’s called GO Mango!, and it’s designed for you phone developers out there to design and develop apps for Windows Phone 7.

For every app you submit, you’ll receive an entry to win a Samsung Series 7 Slate, and for every five apps you submit, you can win free advertising for one app of your choice.

If you have not developed for Windows Phone before, here’s a link to the Windows Phone SDK,

To participate in this promotion, you need two things. The first, an app that you’ve developed, and the second is the ever important promo code. For this promotion, the code is 8UCVN.

Fill out the form located at, include the promo code, and submit your app today!

Imagine Cup 2011–Day 1–Opening Ceremony

Imagine Cup 2011 – Day 1

Tonight in New York City, Steve Ballmer along with Jon Perera, General Manager of Microsoft Education, Arthur VanderVeen, CEO of the Office of Innovation at the New York Department of Education, Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare officially opened the 2011 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

The energy in the room was electric. The passion and the excitement from the students here is incredible. As soon as Ballmer’s name was announced the noise level in the room intensified. It was crazy.

IMG_0086Ballmer talked to the students about how they are in a business that is constantly working to change the world. He talked about the importance of the cloud and the impact it is having on the world and the students’ projects by enabling real time collaboration, commerce, and social interaction. Ballmer also talked about how devices of the future would be dynamic, faster performing, and include more sensors and do more things. Ballmer also mentioned that Natural User Interfaces would open up new possibilities and enable even more people to use computers.

IMG_0149IMG_0124To close out his remarks, Ballmer gave the students three key pieces of advice. The first is that ideas matter. When you come up with an idea make note of it. Stick with it. The second is to be passionate about what your idea and what you do. The third is to be tenacious. Don’t give up. Stick with it and see the idea through until the end.

IMG_0154Jeffrey Sachs then came to the stage and talked to the students about how the world has changed and there are many challenges that we face. These challenges range from strain on world food supplies to population growth, climate change, hunger, and others. He told students they were being given a lifetime homework assignment, and that this assignment was to find ways to better the world and to solve these tough challenges.

To close out the evening, Dennis Crowley came to the stage and talked to the students about IMG_0186sticking with their ideas and seeing them through. He talked about his experience with startups and said that Foursquare’s success is “built off of 10 years of failure.” He told students to never give up on their ideas and that even if the present wasn’t the best time for their idea, it could be a year from now, two years for now, or even ten years from now, but to be persistent and stick with it.

Tomorrow the competition begins.

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple

I’ve arrived in New York City for the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup. For those of you just joining us, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is the premier student technology competition. I tend to tell people that it’s the Olympics of technology.

At the Imagine Cup, the top students from around the world come together to compete against each other in categories such as Software Design, Game Design, Embedded Development, and the Windows Phone 7 challenge just to name a few.

I’ll be here covering five teams and their progress throughout the Worldwide Finals. My teams are as follows:

The Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals begin this Friday, July 8th and end Wednesday, July 13th.

For more on Imagine Cup please visit, or search for #ImagineCup on Twitter. You can also follow me on Twitter, @tziegmann, to follow along this week as well.

Suddenly being a tattle-tale is cool

tattletale-imageRecently, a friend and fellow Microsoft enthusiast, Robert McLaws, had gone to an AT&T store to check out Windows Phone. Much to his dismay, the demo unit was in a location out of sight and wasn’t even plugged in. When he spoke with a sales rep, that individual tried talking him out of Windows Phone and into Android.

Not happy with this, McLaws began to talk with different people only to find out that they were having the same type of experience. He decided that there needed to be a way for people to share their experiences in hopes of Microsoft and the mobile carriers taking notice.

He created Windows Phone Tattletale, a website where people can post what happened to them when they inquired about Windows Phone from their carrier or nearest reseller.

As a proponent of Windows Phone myself, I think having a website like this can be a great catalyst for change. Already Microsoft has admitted to retail sales not being in good shape and goes on to use the excuse that things should improve when Nokia begins selling Windows Phone. Their statement makes me want to say, “Shame on you Microsoft. Shame on you. You’re doing your current partners and potential customers a disservice by saying that things won’t improve until Nokia joins the party.”

When it comes to the success or failure of Windows Phone, there is a shared responsibility. Microsoft, the mobile carriers, the hardware partners, and the independent retailers all play a role. Microsoft needs to improve its efforts to get people past the stigma of a) “Windows” (people hear it and think Windows running on a phone), b) the Kin disaster, and c) Windows Mobile. The mobile carriers need do to more to train their direct sales people on Windows Phone and provide better marketing and visibility of the platform. The hardware partners need to do better quality assurance on their hardware (see Samsung Focus), and the independent retailers need to provide better training for their employees.

If you’ve had an experience (good or bad) at retail with Windows Phone, I strongly recommend you share it over at Windows Phone Tattletale. The more data that can be gathered the better, I say.

Why you should consider Windows Phone

In talking to different people about why they should own a Windows Phone, I did some research and have found that no one has written a post on this topic.

First, however, I want to clear up some common misconceptions that I hear in the marketplace.

    1. Windows Phone is NOT Windows Mobile. These are two completely different mobile operating systems, and Windows Phone has been redesigned from the ground up.
    2. Windows Phone can’t be any good because it doesn’t have as many apps as iPhone or Android. If you’re rating an entire platform solely based on the number of apps in its marketplace, you’re doing it wrong. All the platforms have really good apps and all the platforms have those apps that are full of epic fail.
    3. Don’t pay attention to what the sales reps at the carriers say. They don’t know of which they speak. I visited 10 T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon stores here in Phoenix, and only one guy from one carrier even knew what Windows Phone was and knew correct factual information about it.

Second, set aside all preconceived notions about a) Windows Phone and b) Microsoft.

Alright, now that the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

Peoplehub_US_webSo, what is Windows Phone 7? Here’s the answer. Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s new mobile operating system. Redesigned from the ground up with all new features and an innovative user interface, Windows Phone 7 is the newest entry in the ever expanding smartphone market.

Windows Phone 7 features a UI called “Metro.” Metro is designed to be a glance and go interface. By bringing the information that matters the most (unread emails, missed calls, unread text messages) to the forefront, users don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for information. A key part of Metro, is Live Tiles. Live Tiles take the tile for an application on the home screen and provide always update information. Some examples of this usage are The Weather Channel app which provides the current temperature on its tile and Beezz which will show you the number of unread tweets in your timeline. If you really want to dive in and learn more about Metro, I highly recommend reading Microsoft’s UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 document. It goes into a lot of detail about what Metro is.

What sets Windows Phone 7 apart from the pack are its features. Let’s look at those now.

  • Zune integration – Every Windows Phone is a Zune and has the ability to connect to Microsoft’s Zune Pass service. Unlimited music across your phone (on Wi-Fi and 3G), your computer, and Xbox 360. How cool is that?
  • Xbox Live integration – Many games available for Windows Phone tie into Xbox Live. ThisGameshub_US_web means that things like achievements, avatars, leaderboards, messaging and more are available directly in Windows Phone.
  • Cloud integration – Windows Phone integrates with Facebook, Google, Windows Live services like Hotmail and SkyDrive, and coming in the fall is integration with Facebook chat, Windows Live Messenger and Twitter. Contacts are automatically synced to Windows Live or Google, and pictures can be sent to SkyDrive as they are being taken.
  • Bing integration – Every Windows Phone is required to have a dedicated search button. This search button connects to Bing and provides an awesome search experience. Using the built-in GPS, Bing provides local search and can then provide driving directions to your destination. Bing also provides web and news searches as well.
  • Office integration – Windows Phone features native Office integration. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Outlook are all available on Windows Phone. This provides native support for viewing and editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go. For those in enterprise environments, access to SharePoint document libraries is also integrated.
  • Voice Search – With Windows Phone, you can use voice search commands to call someone, locate a business in your neighborhood, or open applications. My favorite part about this is that when you want to locate a business in neighborhood all you have to say is “Find a McDonalds in Phoenix” and it will open Bing directly to the local pane and show a map of the McDonalds near you. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s simple.

Microsoft has done a lot of things right with Windows Phone 7. They’ve provided deep rich integration with the services we all use on a daily basis, designed an innovative user experience, and with today’s announcement of what is coming in the next release of Windows Phone (available for all Windows Phone devices), have upped their game even further.

I strongly recommend that you visit your local cell phone provider and get hands on with a Windows Phone.

More Information:

Microsoft’s Windows Phone website –

Review: HTC Surround


The HTC Surround, introduced November 9th, 2010, is a Windows Phone 7 device for AT&T (US) and Telus (Canada). The device features 16GB of internal storage and is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 processor along with 448MB of RAM. A key differentiator for this device is the speakers powered by Dolby mobile technology and SRS. For photos and videos the device features a 5MP camera and the ability to record video at 720p.


The Surround is in my opinion, one stout phone. Weighing in at about 6 ounces, the phone doesn’t feel like it would fly out of your hand, but it is also not so heavy that it becomes a burden to hold to your ear while talking. The slide mechanism to uncover the speakers is not flimsy, but fairly tight. I haven’t used the phone long enough to determine if the slide weakens over time, but overall I’d say that the hardware itself is pretty solid. Because this phone is called the “Surround” I had to test the speakers. In my opinion, they aren’t the greatest mobile phone speakers. They are definitely louder than the ones on my HTC HD7, but the sound enhancements seem very gimmicky. If you are only considering buying this phone for the speakers, you’ll be disappointed. For video and camera quality, I was pleasantly surprised. The camera takes decent pictures, and for recording video, the quality is as good as it can be at 720p.


The Surround runs Windows Phone 7, and comes stock with the original (what I call 1.0) release of the operating system. At this point, AT&T has approved the “NoDo” (Copy and Paste) update for the device, so updating the software through Zune was not an issue. For this particular device, there was an included update from HTC for the device as well, but no details were provided on what it fixes. For running Windows Phone 7, performance was very sub-par. Many times, the device would lag when a phone call was received and I had to pull the battery and reboot several times in my week of testing. I was around a few others who have also just received HTC Surrounds who were seeing these same issues. Because of this, I’m inclined to believe that the device is underpowered at 448MB. Other than these issues, the OS and apps installed on the device performed as expected with some lag due to the small amount of memory in the device.


In the interest of full disclosure, the device is designed for the AT&T network, but I SIM unlocked it for use on T-Mobile, so I was limited to the EDGE network, so I can’t accurately test the performance of the phone on a 3G network. However, call quality was very clear and very loud. I had no issues hearing what callers were saying and they had no issues hearing what I was saying.


In my opinion, the HTC Surround is fairly decent phone. However, it is does have issues. The biggest issue that I’ve experienced is the lack of performance with the OS. The freezing and the constant lock ups make the device near unusable. For being advertised as a phone with Dolby and SRS technology behind the speakers, it’s a gimmick. Sure, the speakers don’t sound tinny, but watching a movie from Netflix on the device won’t be a magical and memorable experience. I liked the photo and video quality of the Surround, which is a major plus. I like the overall size of the device. It’s not too big, not too small, it’s just right. If HTC, Microsoft, and AT&T can all work together to solve the performance issues, I see the Surround as a great device in the Windows Phone lineup.

My rating

I give the HTC Surround 3 out of 5 stars. I like Windows Phone 7, the size and weight of the device, and the photo / video quality. The speakers are too much of a gimmick and the performance issues are a concern.


Technical Specs (as tested)


GSM850/900/1800/1900 MHz


6 oz.


4.72″ x 2.44″ x 0.54″

Battery Life

Talk: 4 hours / Standby: 264 hours


3.8” LCD – 480x800px


Windows Phone 7 (updated to NoDo through Zune software)


16GB internal microSD storage



Hey students, want free Microsoft development tools?

dreamsparkIf your answer to the question is yes, than have I got a deal for you!

Microsoft has a program called DreamSpark. The DreamSpark program is a way for you as a student to gain access to Microsoft technologies that you can then use to create amazing applications for the PC, the cloud, and the phone.

Dreamspark includes some really amazing things such as:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3
  • Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools
  • Virtual Lab training for SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Visual Basic
  • IT Academy Student Pass
  • 1 Year free membership to the App Hub and Windows Phone Marketplace (Yes, FREE! There is no $99 fee for students to build and sell Windows Phone 7 apps.)

All it takes to join DreamSpark is sign up, get verified as a student, and download the software.

I highly encourage any student that wants to get hands on experience with Microsoft technologies to sign up for Dreamspark and start playing and creating.

To find out more about DreamSpark, visit

Attention Dell Venue Pro Owners

If you’re a Dell Venue Pro owner and you purchased your phone from a Microsoft retail store yesterday, then you’ll want to read this.

As you may or may not be aware, there is an issue affecting Dell Venue Pro phones where they are unable to connect to secured wireless networks. Also, if you look at the sticker on the battery it says “Engineering Sample.” (I’ve included a picture below.)


From information provided to me by the Microsoft Store, they are aware of both of these issues, and have been in contact with Dell. Apparently there was a mix-up and these phones labeled as engineering samples were shipped to the stores. Dell is sending new batches of phones to the Microsoft Store, and the stores will be contacting affected customers to arrange to swap out the defective phones for new ones.

I was told that the phones should be getting to the stores either by the end of the week or first thing next week and Microsoft will also be including a 1-year Zune Pass with the phone swap.

Please note, this is ONLY for those Dell Venue Pro users that purchased a phone at a physical Microsoft Store yesterday.

Windows Phone 7 Launches in the USA

Today Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in the United States. I went to my local Microsoft Store to check it out and purchase a Windows Phone 7 device for myself.

I arrived at the store shortly before 9am and it was fairly empty, although there were a couple small groups in the front and back of the store being shown demos of Windows Phone 7 and its features.

Towards the back of the store, there was a table set up with coffee, juices, water, and some breakfast items and store employees were eager to talk phones.

I was debating between the HTC HD7 and the Dell Venue Pro and after talking with one of the store employees I settled on the Dell Venue Pro. As I was checking out, it was explained to me that the Microsoft Store had only received six Venues and that the Microsoft Store and would be the only places to purchase the Venue Pro. I’ll have more on the Venue Pro in another post.

Setup with Windows Phone 7 was very easy. Asked to double check date and time settings, and then asked if I wanted to setup with the recommended settings or customize settings. I chose to use the recommended settings and within less then three minutes I was ready to go with Windows Phone 7.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting my thoughts and experiences with Windows Phone 7. So far, however, I am absolutely pleased with the OS and am anxiously awaiting the first update.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Windows Phone 7, you can visit the Windows Phone website, or if you are in the United States, you can also go to the T-Mobile and AT&T websites as well. I’ve included some photos below of the Microsoft Store and the Venue Pro.