Microsoft's hardware chief changes roles before Elop return

Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green announced Monday she is leaving her role as leader of hardware development to lead the My Life & Work team inside the Applications and Services Group.

Larson-Green, who announced the move in an internal memo obtained by GeekWire, also will serve as chief experience officer for the division, which oversees online services such as Bing,, MSN, and SkyDrive. She will report to Qi Lu, who runs the Applications and Services Group.

Before taking over development of hardware such as the Xbox and Surface last July, Larson-Green was tapped to lead all Windows software and … Read more

BlackBerry said to be replacing Microsoft in Ford's new cars

Ford has partnered with Microsoft for its Sync in-car infotainment system for years, but it's looking like the car giant may be switching to BlackBerry.

The automaker is swapping out Microsoft for BlackBerry for its next-generation in-car entertainment and communications technology, according to a Bloomberg report citing anonymous sources. Apparently, the car maker believes BlackBerry's system could be cheaper and more reliable.

Ford partnered with Microsoft in 2007 to create a fully integrated, flash memory-based system to enable drivers to call hands-free and to control a range of digital audio via voice commands and buttons mounted on the … Read more

Nokia's Elop on selling an Android phone that's not an Android phone

BARCELONA, Spain -- Nokia will have to walk a fine line when it comes to selling its recently unveiled Nokia X family of smartphones.

While Nokia X and its brethren will run on Android, they are far from Android phones. That could lead to customer confusion as the company has largely focused on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating for its primary line of smartphones, and its older Symbian operating system for its Asha line of starter smartphones.

"We're going to have to be deliberate," said Stephen Elop, head of devices for Nokia, in an interview with CNET … Read more

Why the Android-powered Nokia X is great for Microsoft

BARCELONA, Spain -- You would think that Nokia's first Android smartphone would make for the start of a tense relationship with soon-to-be parent Microsoft.

Well, you'd be wrong.

The Nokia X, alongside its brothers the Nokia X+ and the larger Nokia XL, may turn out to be a boon to both companies. The Android phones can be held up as a symbol of Microsoft's continued neutrality, even in the face of the pending acquisition of Nokia's devices business. Nokia, meanwhile, gets an even more competitive budget phone that it can serve up to emerging markets, an … Read more

Microsoft's OK with Nokia using Android. Kind of

BARCELONA, Spain--Things got awkward for short moment on stage when Microsoft executives were asked about the possibility of Nokia using Android.

Joe Belfiore, vice president of operating systems for Windows, looked to Nick Parker, who runs the world original equipment manufacturer group. Parker looked back, with both wanting to defer to the other.

Finally, Belfiore spoke up, reiterating Microsoft's strong relationship with Nokia. As Microsoft hasn't yet finalized its deal to buy Nokia's device business, he couldn't add too much, but he did offer up this amusing nugget:

"Some things we're excited about, some … Read more

Next Windows Phone update will allow for more low-cost devices

Microsoft wants Windows Phone to go global in an even bigger way.

The company spilled a few of the details from its upcoming update to Windows Phone, which will be released later this year. With the update, Microsoft is loosening the restrictions for devices, allowing manufacturers to create more affordable products for the emerging markets.

Microsoft also announced a number of new partners who will be supporting Windows Phone, including high-profile names such as LG, Lenovo, and Foxconn.

The update underscores Microsoft's attempt to go after the emerging market, the fastest growing area in the industry. Even as the … Read more

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