Microsoft: Pretty please make Windows Phones based on our design

BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft wants to make it a lot easier for companies to develop Windows Phones.

The software giant on Sunday unveiled plans to release a reference design based on its mobile operating system and using Qualcomm hardware. Basically, that means anyone -- from established handset vendors like HTC to PC makers like Hewlett-Packard -- can build phones relatively quickly and cheaply. If the companies want, they can essentially slap their own branding on the device from Microsoft.

"We're open for business on Windows Phone to anyone who wants to build a Windows Phone," said Nick Parker, the … Read more

Facebook Messenger to arrive on Windows Phone 'soon'

BARCELONA, Spain -- Windows Phone users will finally be able to use Facebook Messenger.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said the app will come to Windows Phone in the next few weeks.

"Facebook Messenger is probably one of the most requested individual apps we have our customers asking for," Belfiore said during a press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Windows Phone has received praise from reviewers, but that hasn't equated to blockbuster sales. Last year, handset vendors shipped 33.4 million Windows Phone devices globally, giving the operating system a market share of 3.3 percent, … Read more

Windows 8.1 update coming in spring, to improve controls, allow lower end hardware

BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft plans to provide an update to Windows 8.1 that it hopes will address the concerns that early adopters have expressed with the operating system.

The update will improve the non-touch user interface controls, expand the options for hardware makers to create more affordable devices, and include compatibility for use in schools and large business.

The update will come in spring, according to Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems for Microsoft.

Windows 8 originally focused on pushing touch screen as a primary method of control. But people used to the typical mouse and keyboard control were frustrated … Read more

Microsoft said to slash Windows 8.1 price on low-cost devices

Microsoft will implement a 70 percent discount on the price of Windows 8.1 for inexpensive devices, according to a report from Bloomberg. This follows a similar report last year.

Device makers will be charged $15 "to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50," according to Bloomberg.

A similar report emerged from Asia last year. But that report cited size and device-type restrictions. That will no longer apply, however, said Bloomberg. (Other reports last year also cited discounts.)

Some observers see this as … Read more

Nokia's Here Maps to expand to all Windows 8.1 devices

All Windows 8.1 users will soon be able to tap into Nokia's free mapping and navigation app.

Currently limited to Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet, Here Maps for Windows 8.1 will land in Microsoft's online Windows Store over the coming days, Nokia said on Friday. Starting its new journey in North America and Europe, the app will be free to download for any PC or tablet owner running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1.

Like other mapping apps, Here Maps offers navigation and directions, points of interest, and satellite and 3D images of any … Read more

Nokia at MWC 2014: Join us Monday (live blog)

BARCELONA, Spain -- Will Nokia finally go Android?

On the first official day of Mobile World Congress, Nokia is widely expected to unveil an Android-powered smartphone -- a departure from its previous decision to solely stick with Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The company will likely unveil a few Windows Phone devices as well, but an Android phone would certainly capture all of the headlines.

CNET senior editor Jessica Dolcourt, photographer Sarah Tew, and I will be bringing you all the details, photos, and commentary from the event. The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Monday local Barcelona … Read more

Nokia Lumia Icon goes on sale today at Verizon

Verizon's newest flagship Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia Icon, goes on sale today, Thursday, February 20. If you want to pick one up, head into a Verizon store or grab one off Verizon's Web site.

The phone will set you back $200 with a new two-year contract. For that price, you get a stellar 5-inch 1080p HD AMOLED screen, a 20-megapixel camera module and dual-LED flash, and an ultra-fast quad-core processor 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

Coinciding with the phone's launch, Nokia announced a promotion: if you purchase a Nokia Lumia Icon, you get $100 off … Read more

Bye XP, hello Windows 7: Yeah, the change made me nervous

I knew this day was coming. The portents were all there. Microsoft swore back in 2011 it would no longer offer support, patches, or fixes for Windows XP come this April. The company snarkily told customers they should move to a "modern operating system." A plague of locusts descended on my home office.

On a cloudy day last week, at 11:43 in the morning, I turned off my Windows XP-loaded Dell for the last time. It made a little whining, sighing noise as it powered down. All my important files were offloaded to an external hard drive and a brand-new custom-made Windows 7 desktop sat nearby, gloating about its ascendance with its shiny black case and complete lack of cat hair sucked into the fan.… Read more

Bitdefender doubles protection for half the price

Bitdefender's latest AV suite, Total Security, has already been touted as the Best Antivirus of the Year by AV-Test. It's sure to win you over with its balance of form and function as it did our security editor. Total Security's award-winning AV, unobtrusive interface, and lightning-fast scanner managed to garner an outstanding 4.5/5 star-rating on Starting this week, Bitdefender is offering the suite (normally priced at $79.95/year for three PCs) for the low price of only $39, for two years -- and up to five PCs.

You'll enjoy

The award-winning &… Read more

Google Chrome's shutdown glitch defies an easy fix

When diagnosing PC problems, sometimes it pays to take the easy route.

About every other time I open Google Chrome lately, an error message alerts me that the browser failed to close correctly. I'm then prompted to click the Restore button to reopen the tabs that were active when Chrome last closed.

Who's got the time to figure out what's causing the browser to hiccup when it closes? Just go the restore route or start the browsing session afresh. No big deal, right?

Having nothing better to do over a holiday weekend, I decided to look into … Read more