Wiley | 978-0-470-88659-5 | Datasheet | Wiley Windows Phone 7 Secrets

Chapter 1
1
AL
Pre-Flight Checklist:
What to Do Before You
Get Your Windows Phone
RI
In This Chapter
Creating and managing a Windows Live ID to have the best Windows Phone experience
33
Connecting your ID to the social networks and online services you use
33
Joining Zune Social
33
Connecting with Xbox Live
33
Picking the right phone
TE
D
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TE
33
GH
Be fore you even set foot in a store and start thinking
about which Windows Phone you want to buy, you need to do a bit of legwork. Don’t
RI
worry, it’s not painful. But if you put the right pieces in place before you buy a device,
PY
you’ll have a much better experience with Windows Phone.
CO
The first step is to create and cultivate a Windows Live ID. Strictly speaking, you
don’t need a Windows Live ID to use Windows Phone. But you’re going to want one
regardless, because the Windows Phone experience is dramatically better when you
do have such an account. Windows Live provides an amazing variety of services, including integration with the social network and online services you really do care about,
and integration with Microsoft’s numerous online services, including Hotmail, Zune, and
Xbox Live.
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C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Next, you need to understand which hardware features come with every Windows
Phone, and which do not. By understanding what’s available, you can make more intelligent choices about the type of phone you’ll eventually buy. So bone up on the basics and
then hit the stores better educated, and ready to get exactly the phone you want.
Windows Live ID: One Online ID to Rule Them All
Way back when the Internet was dominated by gray web pages with blinking text,
Microsoft created a single sign-on service called Windows Live ID. The point behind
the service was that you could create a single account, with a username and password, and use that one account to securely access multiple web sites. That way, you
wouldn’t need to create and maintain multiple accounts, one for each web site.
NO TE ​ ​W indows
Live ID, like a certain underworld denizen, has gone by many
names. When it was originally announced in the late 1990s, it was called Microsoft
Wallet, because the software giant hoped it would prove popular with the budding
e-commerce sites of the day. But it went through a series of other names over
the years, including Microsoft Passport, .NET Passport, and even the awkward
Microsoft Passport Network, before it settled on Windows Live ID.
Like many good ideas, Windows Live ID was a better theory than reality. Thirdparty web sites—that is, those sites not created and owned by Microsoft—ignored
Windows Live ID for the most part, and while there are a few exceptions, this system
is today used almost exclusively by Microsoft’s own web sites and services, such as
Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live, Xbox Live, and Zune.
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33
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While a single web-wide sign-on would be nice, being able to access Microsoft’s
many services via a single account is still pretty convenient, even more so if you’re
heavily invested in what I call the Microsoft ecosystem. And if you’re going to be buyID ing a Windows Phone, this single sign-on, or Windows Live ID, is the key to having
the best experience. And while I hate to ruin the ending, this simple fact is arguably
the most important secret in the whole book.
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Here’s why. After many fits and starts, Microsoft has recast its Windows Live service
as a central hub of sorts, a way to “keep your lives in sync.” So instead of competing with
the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, Microsoft is instead providing a way to link
to third-party services, allowing you to access the third-party (read: non-Microsoft)
accounts you already use, from Windows Live.
3
Windows Live ID: One Online ID to Rule Them All
If you think about it, this is a sneaky way to achieve the original goal of
Windows Live ID. That is, since the world didn’t come to Windows Live ID, Windows
Live ID has instead come to the world. Using that single sign-on, you can simply
access all those wonderful third-party services from Windows Live. All you need to
do is create an account—though you may already have one—and then configure it
to access other services.
Every Windows Phone user should take the time to configure a Windows Live ID. And
this is true even if you have no interest in using any Windows Live services directly. By
creating such an account and configuring it properly, you will be able to turn on your
new phone on day one, sign on with your Windows Live ID, and watch it automatically
populate with all of the information that’s tied to that account. This means e‑mail, contacts, and calendars. Photos and news feeds from you and your friends and family, no
matter where they’re found online. And, as you will soon find out, so much more. This is
the key to a killer Windows Phone experience.
NO TE ​ ​Yes,
you can use Windows Phone without having a Windows Live ID, but
I don’t recommend it. And while this book does document how to configure your
phone with other account types, I am assuming that you have a Windows Live
ID. It’s that important. So please don’t skip the Windows Live ID creation and
configuration steps if you want to get the most out of your Windows Phone.
Creating a New Windows Live ID
If you don’t have a Windows Live ID, you will need to create one. Note, however, that
you may already have such an account. Any e‑mail address ending in hotmail.com,
msn.com, or live.com is a Windows Live ID, for example. If you’ve created an Xbox
Live account or a Zune account, that’s a Windows Live ID too. So if you have such an
account, skip ahead to the next section. If not, it’s time to make one.
NO TE ​ ​It’s
possible for any e‑mail address to be used as a Windows Live ID, so
if you don’t want to be stuck with one of Microsoft’s domain names, you can also
use your own (including competitor accounts from Gmail, Yahoo!, and elsewhere).
Many educational institutions also use Windows Live services on the back end, so
if you’re a student, it’s possible you have a Live ID already as well.
There are many avenues for reaching Microsoft’s Windows Live ID sign up page,
but the easiest, perhaps, is to just navigate to live.com. When you do so, you’ll see
the screen shown in Figure 1-1.
4
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
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Figure 1-1: Here, you can begin your new online life with Windows Live.
Click the Sign Up button to continue. The Create Your Windows Live ID page will
appear. As shown in Figure 1-2, you will need to fill out a form listing information
about yourself and pick a Windows Live ID, which will take the form of name@live.
com or name@hotmail.com. This ID will also be used for a Hotmail e‑mail address.
Figure 1-2: You can check the availability of the name you want before proceeding.
In the Windows Live ID field, experiment with different ID names to find one that
is available. Note that common names, such as Paul, were taken long ago, so you may
need to get creative. The form will make suggestions or provide an advanced search
box, shown in Figure 1-3, if you pick an ID that’s already taken.
5
Windows Live ID: One Online ID to Rule Them All
Figure 1-3: Windows Live will help you find a good ID.
When you find an acceptable ID, the form will tell you that it’s available and you
can proceed (see Figure 1-4).
Figure 1-4: Once you find a name you like, you can move on.
Already Have a Non-Microsoft E‑mail Account?
If you already have an e‑mail account with a different company, you can turn that
into a Windows Live ID as well. There is one important difference between using a
preexisting e‑mail address and creating a new one with Windows Live, however:
You won’t be able to use Hotmail for e‑mail, contacts, or calendar management.
Note, too, that when you configure an existing e‑mail account as a Windows Live
ID, you will need to create a password for this ID that is separate from the password you use to access e‑mail from that account. I recommend just creating a
standalone Windows Live ID and not using an existing e‑mail account because it’s
very easy with Windows Phone to access multiple accounts in a seamless way.
6
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Fill out the rest of the form, paying particular attention to the password, which
should be complex if possible and rated “strong” by the form. (It will rate your password
as you type.) According to Microsoft, a strong password contains 7–16 characters, does
not include common words or names, and combines uppercase letters, lowercase letters,
numbers, and symbols.
TIP ​ ​T here
are some excellent tools online to help you create complex passwords for web services. I use and recommend a free tool called Last Pass
(lastpass.com), which provides a plug-in for all major PC-based web browsers
(IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari), allowing you to securely create, store, and
manage the passwords for all of the services you use online.
When you’re done, click the button labeled I Accept. Windows Live will work for
a bit and then display the Windows Live Home page (live.com), this time logged on
with your new ID. This is shown in Figure 1-5.
Figure 1-5: It’s pretty sparse right now, but your Windows Live ID is up and running.
As initially configured, there’s not much going on with your new Windows Live
ID. But that’s easy enough to rectify, and there are a number of things you can do to
make this ID more valuable. You can start with the basics: initial Windows Live ID
configuration.
7
Windows Live ID: One Online ID to Rule Them All
Initial Windows Live ID Configuration
On that initial Windows Live Home page, you should see a link titled Edit Your Profile.
Click that, or, if it’s not present, click the Profile link in the upper right of the page.
Either way, you’ll be brought to your Windows Live Profile page, where you can configure
your new ID. This is shown in Figure 1-6.
Figure 1-6: Windows Live Profile.
TIP ​ ​You
can return to your Windows Live Profile at any time by visiting
profile.live.com.
If this is the very first time you’ve visited this page, there will be a handy—and
important—box with the title "Welcome to your new profile." Here, you can very easily
configure your privacy settings for Windows Live. You can of course change this later,
but I recommend taking a moment to get this right before proceeding. Fortunately,
Microsoft has made it simple with just three basic choices:
33 Public: Everything you do—what Microsoft calls your activities—is available
publicly on Windows Live, even to those people with whom you have no formal
relationship. Furthermore, anyone can find you by searching on Windows Live
and can view your profile. I’m not a privacy nut, but I don’t recommend choosing
this setting, unless, of course, you’re a reverse voyeur. (They’re out there.)
8
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
33 Limited: This is the default setting and the least restrictive option I think
you should consider. Configured this way, only your friends—those people
you’ve explicitly “friended” on Windows Live—can see what you’re doing via
the service. But as with the Public setting, anyone can find you by searching
on Windows Live and can view your profile. This is the setting to choose if you
are concerned about privacy but do want others to be able to find you online.
33 Private: With this most restrictive setting—and, for whatever it’s worth, the
one I use—only your friends can view what you’re doing online, and only your
friends can search for you or view your profile. This is the option you’ll want to
pick if you’re concerned about privacy and don’t want other people to find you.
Once you’ve chosen a setting, click Save.
W ARN IN G ​ ​If
you are at all concerned about your privacy online—and you
should be—this isn’t enough. Please be sure to visit the Windows Live advanced
privacy page (profile.live.com/Privacy) and then click the Advanced link to
see a comprehensive form for really fine-tuning your privacy settings, as shown
in Figure 1-7.
Figure 1-7: Spend the time to get your privacy settings exactly right. You can’t be
too careful online.
9
Windows Live ID: One Online ID to Rule Them All
From here, there are a wide range of options you can configure for your Windows
Live ID. (Or not. Remember, it’s your choice.) Some of the more important ones include:
33 Personal information: Click the Details link on the left side of your Profile
page to access a page where you can edit your personal information, including
your name, personal photo, contact information, work information, general
information (gender, occupation, location, interests, and more), social information (relationship status, relationship interests, hometown, places lived,
humor, fashion, and favorite quote), and education information.
33 Status: At the top of the Profile page is a conversation balloon with the text,
"Share something new." This is where you can type a personal note, similar to
a Twitter post (or “tweet”) or Facebook status post.
Importing Contacts from Other Services
After you’ve completed filling out your Windows Live ID, you may want to import
contacts from other services, especially if you intend to use this account for e‑mail
or to communicate with others using Windows Live services and applications such as
Windows Live Photos (photo sharing), Windows Live Spaces (blogging), or Windows
Live Messenger. To do so, click the Add Friends to Your Profile link on the Profile page.
(Or just navigate to profile.live.com/connect.) From this page, shown in Figure 1-8,
you can add individual people to your contact list or import them from other e‑mail
accounts and online services.
Figure 1-8: Windows Live helps you import contacts from other services.
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10
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
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While adding single contacts at a time is pretty straightforward, it’s also monotonous, so I want to focus on importing. After all, you probably have contacts elsewhere, in an e‑mail application (like Outlook), on a competing e‑mail service like
Gmail or AOL, or on other online services such as Facebook or MySpace.
To import contacts, click the appropriate service or application. While the options
vary slightly depending on which one you pick, there are three basic types of integration here:
33 Facebook and MySpace: Thanks to deep integration with Windows Live, Facebook and MySpace contacts importing works quite differently from the other
choices. In fact, these services are so special that I’m going to examine them
separately in the next section, so hang tight. (Or skip ahead.)
33 Manual import: Many of the other services, including LinkedIn, AOL Mail,
Hyves, Google (Gmail), Hi5, and Tagged require you to log on to that service
before you can import contacts. So when you select one of these options,
you’ll see a page created by that service where you can log on in order to
authorize the contacts copying. A typical screen of this type is shown in
Figure 1-9.
Figure 1-9: Services such as Gmail require you to log on so
you can transfer information to Windows Live.
33 Outlook and another Windows Live account: To import contacts from Microsoft’s corporate-oriented e‑mail and personal information management application, or from Windows Live, you will need to first export them in a format
Windows Live can understand.
11
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
N O TE ​ ​Interestingly,
these options can be used to import contacts from
Outlook Express (Windows XP), Windows Contacts (Windows Vista), Windows
Live Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Gmail as well, as shown in Figure 1-10. Note
that in any of these cases, you will need to have exported your contacts into an
acceptable format first.
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Using Windows Live ID to Access Your
Social Networks and Other Services
Once your Windows Live ID is properly configured, you can begin connecting it to the
other online services you’re already using.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the fact that
there are very popular services online, most of which aren’t made by Microsoft. (I
know, it’s shocking.) In fact, you almost certainly use many of these services yourself: Facebook or MySpace for social networking; Pandora for music; Hulu for online
TV shows; Flickr for photos; and many more.
There are literally dozens of valuable online services, but they all exist, in isolation, separate from each other. Each requires its own username and password, and to
access content from each service, you need to manually visit each separately.
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12
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
That’s where Windows Live comes in. Yes, some parts of Windows Live compete with
some of these other services. Windows Live Photos is a direct competitor with Flickr, for
example. But by making Windows Live open and extensible to other services, Microsoft
has also made it possible for Windows Live users to utilize the service as a hub, of sorts,
for their other services. It gives you a single place to access information from Facebook,
Flickr, and Pandora (or whatever), without having to manually visit each place separately. And you can access not just your information, but also the information of your
contacts—that is, your friends, family, and other acquaintances—from those services.
Later on, you’ll be able to connect your Windows Phone to just one service—Windows
Live—but gain access to an unbelievable amount of content, instantly, thanks to these
connections. It makes Windows Live even more powerful.
Neat, eh? Okay, time to get connected.
Finding and Examining the Available Services
To find out which services you can connect to Windows Live, you need to visit the
Windows Live Services page. You do so by clicking the Add Web Activities link on
the Windows Live Home page (live.com) or by navigating directly to profile.live
.com/services. Shown in Figure 1-11, this page provides a way to access all of the
online services which you can connect to Windows Live.
Figure 1-11: Here, you’ll find the services that you can connect to Windows Live.
13
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
If you find the list too intimidating—it gets bigger all the time as more partners
come on board—then you can use the Categories list on the left to filter it down. For
example, you can click Movies and TV to only see video services.
Connecting an Online Service to Windows Live
For most of these services, you need to be a member—that is, have a user account at
that service—in order to connect it to Windows Live. I’ll use the Flickr photo sharing
site as an example of such a service since it’s very popular, but you can and should of
course connect with whatever services you use.
To select Flickr, click Photos in the Categories list and then click the link for Flickr.
You’re presented with a screen explaining what it means to connect to Flickr, as shown
in Figure 1-12.
Figure 1-12: Before making the connection, Windows Live will explain what doing so means.
When you click the Add Flickr button, you’ll navigate to the Flickr web site and
be prompted for your Flickr credentials. When you log on, the browser returns you to
Windows Live, notes that you’re connected, and explains what the privacy settings are.
(You can click the Change link to change this, of course.) Click the Connect button to
complete the connection.
You’re returned to the Windows Live Services page, where you can pick another
service to connect.
You’ll do that in a moment, but for now, return to Windows Live Home (live.com).
You’ll see a note about the connection in your Messenger social feed—a list of "What’s
new" items that carries across all connected services—and, if there are any new photos
posted to Flickr, a link to that new content as well. This is shown in Figure 1-13.
14
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Figure 1-13: As soon as you connect to a service from Windows Live,
content from that service appears in your Messenger social feed.
NO TE ​ ​Messenger
social used to be called What’s New. I still think that was a
better and more descriptive name. Microsoft renamed it to Messenger Social
because this list is also available via Windows Live Messenger, the company’s
IM application for Windows.
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Blog RSS Feed connection. You can find this option at the bottom of the main Sersi m
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You’ll need the web site’s RSS URL (uniform resource locator, essentially its web
address) in order to make the connection. While each browser does this is a bit differently, most work similarly. In Internet Explorer, navigate to the web site and notice
that the Feeds icon in the Command Bar turns orange, indicating that a feed is available. To view the feed, click the button. IE will now display the feed provided by the
web site, as shown in Figure 1-14.
15
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
Figure 1-14: Web browsers can display RSS feeds, which you can connect to Windows Live.
The RSS URL, or address, can be found in the browser’s Address Bar. Select this
text and copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl+C works nicely). Then, paste it into the Blog URL
on Windows Live’s Connect Blog RSS Feed to Windows Live page and click Connect.
After a bit of churning, the web site’s feed will be added to your Messenger social feed
as well.
Getting Around the Blog RSS Feed’s Big Limitation
The Blog RSS Feed connection has one very serious limitation: You can only
connect it to one web site. That is, despite the fact that you probably have
multiple sites for which you’d like to receive updates, Windows Live only
lets you connect with one RSS (or Atom) feed. This is, of course, ridiculous.
Is there a way around this? Yes, but it’s a bit convoluted. Using an RSS aggregator service such as Friendfeed (friendfeed.com), you can connect to
all the web site RSS feeds you want, and then connect Windows Live to your
Friendfeed RSS feed. Silly? You bet.
16
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Be sure to spend some time and connect to each of the services you already use.
You can view and edit your connected services via the Connected Services page, which
you can access by clicking the Manage Services link on the Services page. (Or navigate
directly to profile.live.com/Services/?view=manage.) As shown in Figure 1-15, this
page lets you edit the settings for each connected service, including privacy, or remove
individual services you’re no longer interested in accessing.
Figure 1-15: Manage connected services.
Viewing and Interacting with Content
in the Messenger Social Feed
Once you’ve connected with all of your favorite services, it’s time to see why this is so
powerful. If you navigate to Windows Live Home (live.com), you’ll see updates from all
of your connected services appear in the Messenger social list. And that list could be
quite voluminous, especially if you connect to some of the “chattier” online services,
like Facebook.
What’s neat about this is that this list isn’t read-only. You can also perform certain
actions on each update without having to go visit the service from which it came. So if
you see a Facebook post, or a Flickr photoset, or whatever else you’d like to comment
on, you can do so, right from Windows Live.
To comment on an update, click the Comment link that appears next to the update.
When you do so, a new Comment interface opens up, as shown in Figure 1-16. You can
type your comment and then add it to whatever service it originated from.
You can also perform other actions. If you mouse over one of the updates, a small
gear icon will appear, as shown in Figure 1-17.
Click this gear and you’ll see a small pop-up menu (Figure 1-18). This menu lets
you mark the update’s poster as a Favorite—which I’ll explain in just a bit—or hide
updates from the service from which the update originated.
17
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
Figure 1-16: You can comment on updates from other
services directly from Windows Live.
Figure 1-17: A small options icon appears when you mouse
over individual updates.
Figure 1-18: Click the icon and a small menu appears with
more options.
There’s also a More Options link that brings you to a very interesting page where
you can manage the social updates from your friends or, more accurately, determine
which Windows Live services will appear in your Messenger social feed. (You can
manually navigate to this page by visiting profile.live.com/whatsnewsettings.)
This page, shown in Figure 1-19, also lets you hide individual users, which can be
very convenient. (Hey, we all have one of those friends, right?)
Perhaps by now the power of this system is obvious. But the real beauty of Windows
Live, and its connections to the outside services you already use, is that once you do
get a Windows Phone, you will simply log on to your Windows Live account, and all this
stuff will propagate around the phone as makes sense. So your Windows Live Hotmailbased e‑mail, contacts, and calendars will of course appear in the device’s Mail, Contacts, and Calendar interfaces. But updates from your connected photo services will
also appear in the phone’s Pictures UI. And your Messenger social feed will show up in
the phone’s People experience. And all you have to do is sign in once.
18
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Figure 1-19: Selectively remove users and Windows Live
services updates from this page.
TIP ​ ​T here
is a lot more going on with Windows Live, of course. And while it
doesn’t have all that much to do with Windows Phone, I do recommend that you
download and install Windows Live Essentials (get.live.com), a set of useful
and fun Windows applications that includes, among other things, the Windows
Live Messenger application that also provides access to your Messenger social
feed. It’s shown in Figure 1-20.
Music Lovers: Connecting to Zune Social
While setting up a Windows Live ID and connecting it to the third-party online services you care about is absolutely critical for anyone interested in Windows Phone,
there are a few Microsoft online services that are particularly interesting and relevant as well. And since these online services are tied to your Windows Live ID, and
can be used to populate your phone with content, it makes sense to get them set up
now, before you get your Windows Phone.
19
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
Figure 1-20: Windows Live Messenger provides PC-based access to your Messenger social feed.
The first is Microsoft Zune. If you haven’t heard of Zune, or simply have never tried
it, you may be in for a very happy surprise. Zune is an elegant and powerful digital
media platform that encompasses a number of interesting components. These include:
33 Zune PC software: This software can be used to organize and play digital
media content, including music, videos, and photos, and to sync this content
with various portable devices, including, yes, Windows Phones.
33 Zune Pass: This subscription service allows you to browse, stream, and download all of the music you want, from Microsoft’s voluminous online collection
for a flat monthly fee. With Windows Phone, you can even perform these activities, over the air, right to the phone, with no PC required.
33 Zune Social: This online community provides a way to share your favorite and
new music with friends, family, and others. (And yes, of course it links up to
the Messenger social feed so you can share via your Windows Phone.)
33 Zune portable devices: Before there were Windows Phone devices, Microsoft
made dedicated digital media players, including the Zune HD, which could
harness the power of Zune on the go.
20
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
33 Zune Marketplace: This is Microsoft’s online store for music, TV shows, movies,
podcasts, and more. It’s available from the Zune PC software (on Windows-based
PCs), on the Xbox 360 (more on this later in the chapter), and, yes, on your
Windows Phone as well.
33 Xbox 360: Microsoft’s video game console includes Zune software for media
playback, including Zune Pass streaming, and can interact with portable
devices, including Zune players.
33 Bing music playback: Using Microsoft’s search engine (at bing.com), you can
find out more about your favorite musical artists. And thanks to an integrated
Zune player, you can even play entire songs by these artists as you search
around for more information. (If you have a Zune Pass, you get unlimited
streaming too.)
If this seems like a lot of information, well, it is. But that’s why I discuss much of
this in much more detail later in the book.
C R OS S R EF Check out Chapter 6 to see how you can use the Zune PC software with your Windows Phone. This chapter also includes a look at how the
Windows Phone’s Zune software works right on the device.
For now, you can get started by connecting your Windows Live ID to a Zune account.
You’ll use exactly the same underlying Windows Live ID, so it’s easy.
First, open your PC’s web browser, browse to zune.net, and click the Sign In link
at the top of the page. Since you already have a Windows Live ID, you can sign in
using that ID. And when you do, you’ll be prompted to create your Zune account,
which will be connected to that ID. It will look something like the screen shown in
Figure 1-21.
One of the options you’ll need to decide on right up front is whether you want to
be part of the Zune Social. As noted previously, this is Microsoft’s online community
for music lovers, and it provides you with a way to share your musical likes and dislikes with others online. If you’re unsure about this, just select Don’t Share; you can
always join the Zune Social later. The point now is just to get your Windows Live ID
connected to a Zune account.
When you complete this first part of the form, you’ll be prompted to create a Zune
Tag. This is a name that will identify you to others in the Zune Social and, if you join
Xbox Live as described in the next section, it’s the same name you’ll use for gaming
endeavors as well.
21
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
Figure 1-21: Here, you connect your Windows Live ID to a Zune account.
Think It Over
I recommend not getting cute here. While many people create nonsensical
Zune Tags, remember that this is the name you’ll use when you communicate
with others. So rather than be known as Flatulent Fred or whatever, try to pick
something that you won’t be embarrassed by later on.
A Zune Tag can consist of letters (A–Z, a–z), numbers (0–9), and single spaces. But
it can’t start with a number. And it can be up to 15 characters long, maximum.
My Zune Tag, incidentally, is Paul Thurrott. Yeah, it’s boring. But people instantly
know it’s me.
As with your Windows Live ID, your Zune Tag must be unique. That means you
can’t pick a Zune Tag that’s already in use by someone else. So Paul Thurrott,
obviously, is taken. So, too, I’d imagine, are names like Bob Smith. The sign-up
wizard will let you know if the name you want is available, as shown in Figure 1-22.
22
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Figure 1-22: And another classic Zune Tag is created.
When you’re done creating the Zune account, you can download the Zune PC software, join Zune Pass, or discover some of the other interesting and unique features of
the Zune platform, which I discuss in more detail in Chapters 6 and 16.
Gamers: Connect to Xbox Live
If you’re a video gamer, chances are that you’ve already heard of Microsoft’s Xbox,
which is known far and wide as the most powerful and capable video game platform
on earth. As with Zune, Xbox consists of a number of components. These include:
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33 Xbox 360: The premier video game console features HD graphics, surround
sound, and the best library of video games available anywhere. It also connects to an ever-growing library of online services, including Zune (music
and video), Netflix (TV and movies), Last.fm (music), Facebook and Twitter
(social networking), and more. The Xbox 360 isn’t just a video game console;
it’s also a central hub for entertainment and communications.
33 Xbox Live: In addition to making a killer console, Microsoft also supplies the
most popular video game service on earth. Xbox Live is available in a free version called Xbox Live Silver, and a paid version called Xbox Live Gold. Both
provide access to free game demo downloads, HD movies and TV shows (via
Zune), downloadable Xbox Live Arcade games, game add-ons, avatars (mini
cartoon characters that represent you online), in-game voice and text chat,
and photo sharing. But the Gold subscription adds online gameplay with
friends, Netflix streaming (though you must also have a Netflix subscription),
23
Using Windows Live ID to Access Your Social Networks and Other Services
Xbox Live Parties, video chat, Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm access, and
some other unique features.
TIP ​ ​Microsoft
also has a related service called Games for Windows – LIVE.
This awkwardly named service is essentially Xbox Live for Windows PCs, so it
uses the exact same Windows Live ID that you use for Windows Live, Zune, Xbox
Live, or Windows Phone. You can find out more at gamesforwindows.com/live.
33 Xbox Live Marketplace: Microsoft’s online store for gamers provides a way to
purchase full games electronically, Xbox Live Arcade games (which tend to be
smaller than full games), as well as free game demos and other content, game
add-ons, and more. It’s analogous to Zune Marketplace, except that the focus
here is gaming instead of digital media. (That said, the two stores are merging
and a lot of Zune Marketplace content is available via Xbox Live Marketplace
as well. As you can imagine, having a single ID to access all this content is
pretty convenient.)
You don’t have to be a hard-core gamer to appreciate Xbox. In addition to expanding the audience for its gaming wares with the Kinect add-on for Xbox 360 (which provides Nintendo Wii–like motion sensing controls as well as voice control and opens the
door to a new generation of more casual games), Microsoft has brought its Xbox Live
service to Windows Phone as well. So you don’t even need an Xbox 360 to take advantage of Xbox Live. (I examine the Windows Phone gaming features in Chapter 7.)
To sign up for an Xbox Live account, visit xbox.com in your PC’s web browser and
click the Sign In link at the top of the page.
If you already signed up for a Zune account, you will simply need to accept a new
Terms of Use agreement. That’s because the Zune Tag you already created will be used
as your unique Xbox Live identifier, which is called a Gamertag. (I discuss this more
in just a bit.)
If you skipped the Zune account sign-up (and really, shame on you for that), you’ll
need to fill out a form and create what’s known as your Gamer Profile. This is essentially
your online game-playing persona.
This Gamer Profile consists of a number of attributes, some of which you’ll need to
specify right up front. These include:
33 Gamertag: This is essentially the name that will identify you to others while
you’re playing games on Xbox Live. (And that’s true whether you’re playing
games on the Xbox 360 console, a Windows-based PC, or via your Windows
Phone.) This Gamertag is identical to your Zune account, so check out the
24
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
previous section for information on the rules for creating this Gamertag and
my suggestions for not getting too immature about it.
33 Gamer Picture: Microsoft lets you use a small picture to graphically represent
you to others online. There are a number of built-in pictures to choose from,
and if you log on with the Xbox 360 console, there are more available (including some for purchase, believe it or not).
33 Gamer Zone: Microsoft provides four general gamer types from which you can
choose, including Recreation (casual gamers), Family (G-rated content only,
please), Pro (hard core but polite), and Underground (hard core, no rules). I know
you’re dying to know where I fall in this list. You may be surprised to discover its
Recreation. Don’t worry. I’ll still take you down online, given the chance.
Once you create an Xbox Live Gamer Profile, you can visit your Xbox home page,
where you can view information about this profile. (It’s at live.xbox.com if you can’t
figure it out.) Since you’re just starting out, your home page is going to be pretty
bare, as shown in Figure 1-23.
Figure 1-23: With your Xbox Live Gamer Profile created, it’s time to get online and get
beat up a bit.
There’s a lot more you can do from here: Edit your profile, privacy settings, contact information, and other preferences, add friends, or sign up for an Xbox Live Gold
account. (You are automatically given a Silver account when you create your profile.)
But I examine gaming and the various Xbox Live features thoroughly in Chapter 7. For
now, the important bit is just getting the account set up.
25
Picking a Phone
Picking a Phone
You may be surprised to discover that I consider properly configuring a Windows Live
ID a far more important task than picking a phone. But it’s true: We live in an age of
throwaway smart phones, and while you may choose to replace your phone every year
or two, your Windows Live ID will stay with you for many years to come. So it’s important to get that right.
But you are eventually going to move on to the next phase in your Windows Phone
adventure, and that involves picking the right phone. Of course, the phone that’s right
for you may not be the phone I’d pick, as we all have our own wants, needs, and requirements. And let’s be clear: Just as with any smart phone platform, Windows Phone is
going to evolve over time, and handset makers and wireless carriers will be coming out
with new devices on a regular basis. So it doesn’t make sense to recommend particular
phones. Instead, what I’ll do is highlight those features that will appear on all Windows
Phone devices, and those that will be optional, so you can survey the market for available devices and make an educated decision when the time comes.
Understanding the Windows Phone
Hardware Specifications
Microsoft’s previous smart phone platform was called Windows Mobile, and while it
did have a few things to recommend it, one of the problems with that platform was
the almost limitless number of hardware types and form factors that shipped from a
variety of device makers and wireless carriers. This diversification made the platform
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As for Microsoft, the software giant wanted to retain the good bits from Windows
Mobile but throw out the bad. So while it still allows multiple device makers and wireless
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26
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
carriers to sell Windows Phones—diversity is good in some cases—it has also fleshed out
a rigid set of hardware specifications for this platform. So if a device maker or wireless
carrier wishes to sell Windows Phone devices, they must conform to the specs.
What’s Included on Every Windows Phone
For now at least, these specs are liberating rather than confining, and at the time of
Windows Phone’s initial launch in late 2010, they together represent the makings of a
very high-end smart phone indeed. According to Microsoft, every Windows Phone must
include at least the following hardware:
33 Processor (CPU): All Windows Phones must provide at least a 1 GHz ARMv7
Cortex/Scorpion or better processor. What this means to you is that all Windows Phone devices will be able performers: In the mobile device world, 1 GHz
is still fairly uncommon beyond the very highest-end devices. And this positioning is important: Windows Phone is a premium smart phone platform.
33 Graphics: Windows Phones will ship with a DirectX 9–capable graphics processing unit, or GPU. This provides your phone with exactly the same graphical
capabilities—from a visual perspective—as is possible with Microsoft’s Xbox 360
video game console. The result is stunning visuals and the possibility of seeing
games ported from the console to the phone in full fidelity.
NO TE ​ ​A ll
Windows Phones use ClearType “sub-pixel rendering” technologies
for super-clear text displays. But Microsoft is only specifying a 16-bit color
screen as the minimum, so some higher color (24-bit) images might have visual
banding. If it’s advertised this way, consider a Windows Phone with a 24-bit
color screen for superior visuals.
33 RAM and storage: Each Windows Phone must include at least 256MB of RAM
(memory allotted for the operating system and running applications) and 8GB
or more of Flash memory (storage for content, including applications, digital
media, documents, and the like).
33 Hardware buttons: Every Windows Phone comes with a dedicated set of hardware buttons positioned in a consistent way around the device. These include
front-mounted Back, Home, and Search buttons (for navigating “back” as per
a web browser, returning to the Home screen, and launching the Bing search
experience, respectively); a dedicated camera button (with full and half press
support for launching the camera application, auto-focusing, and taking
27
Picking a Phone
photos); volume up and down; and power/sleep (with brief and full press support for dimming the screen, waking up the device, and so on).
The Back Button
The Back button is particularly interesting and useful because it works in different ways throughout the phone. You can use it to go back within an application (to a previous screen or experience), go back between applications (return
to the Home screen and then “go back” to the previously-used application),
close an open virtual keyboard, menu, dialog, or search experience, navigate to
a previous page, and more. This button, completely absent on the iPhone, is in
fact one of Windows Phone’s best features.
33 Camera: While smart phone cameras haven’t quite caught up to dedicated
digital cameras from a quality perspective, your Windows Phone should come
pretty close. Microsoft requires hardware makers to include at least a 5 megapixel camera with flash (and, as noted above, a dedicated camera button). You
can already find devices that exceed these requirements.
Taking Widescreen Photos and Video
The Windows Phone camera must take pictures in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is
non-widescreen. Some phone makers offer enhanced cameras with 16:9 or
16:10 widescreen photo (and video) capabilities. Some even ship devices with
a second, front-mounted camera for video conferencing. Note, however, that
this second camera is not natively supported by the Windows Phone OS, so the
phone maker will need to ship special software for that purpose.
33 Capacitive multi-touch display with four or more contact points: Like the
iPhone, Windows Phones are primarily touch-based devices with virtual keyboards, or Soft Input Panels (SIPs), that work in both portrait and landscape
modes. The screens offer touch and multi-touch, of course, with up to four
contact points. That means you could theoretically place four fingers on the
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28
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
screen, each doing something different, and the device could accurately
process that information and act accordingly. The Windows Phone screen
supports gestures as well. Of course, I will explain the use of this screen fully
throughout the book.
33 Onscreen resolution: Windows Phone supports two screen resolutions, 800
x 480 (WVGA) and 480 x 320 (HWVGA). The former is more common and more
appropriate for what will likely prove to be the most popular Windows Phone
configuration. But hardware makers are free to use the lower-resolution
screen type, and will likely do so in smaller devices, including those with
slide-out hardware keyboards.
33 Accelerometer: First popularized by the iPhone, an accelerometer is an internal component that can measure acceleration along multiple axes. What this
means to you is that a Windows Phone can detect, and respond to, the device
being tilted in different directions. The accelerometer is used in ways both
utilitarian—if you rotate the device, the display will rotate to accommodate
the new orientation—and far less practical—in a racing game, for example,
tilting the screen left to right as you play could steer the car.
33 Assisted GPS (A-GPS): Windows Phones ship with this latest GPS (global positioning system) hardware, providing quicker startup and better accuracy, the
latter of which is key to a U.S.-based requirement that will allow 911 dispatchers to find smart phone users in an emergency.
33 Compass: Windows Phones ship with an internal compass, which works in
concert with the GPS and other location sensors (including Wi-Fi and cellular
connection) to accurately find your location and supply information about the
direction you are facing.
NO TE ​ ​A s
originally delivered in late 2010, the compass hardware in Windows
Phone works only with the built-in Bing Maps functionality. Microsoft will provide
programming libraries to access the compass to developers later, however. So by
the time you read this, it is possible that third-party access to the compass will
have already arrived.
33 Light sensor: Thanks to the built-in light sensor, the Windows Phone camera
can accurately gauge illumination requirements for the flash and produce
accurate and clear low-light photos.
29
Picking a Phone
33 Proximity sensor: This sensor can detect how close other objects—such as
your face or a table—are to the phone. So the phone can know when you’re
making a phone call or when you’ve placed the device on a table. It can also
know that it’s in a pocket and thus not respond to button taps.
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33 FM radio tuner: All Windows Phones ship with an FM radio tuner, providing
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NO TE ​ ​T hese
specs are what Microsoft calls its “Chassis-1” specs. Presumably,
over time, there will be further updates to the requirements.
What’s Not Included on Every Windows Phone
If you’re an eagle-eyed technology follower, or are simply performing due diligence
for your next 2-year commitment, you may have noticed that the Windows Phone
hardware requirement list doesn’t include some hardware features that you believe
are important or even necessary in a modern smart phone. In some cases, these omissions are nothing to worry about: Hardware makers are free to exceed Microsoft’s
requirements and do bundle additional features with their phones. In other cases,
however, the lack of certain features is a bit more troubling, because the underlying
platform simply doesn’t support this hardware.
Here are some features that Microsoft—good, bad, or indifferently—does not
explicitly require its phone makers to include with a Windows Phone. When picking a
Windows Phone, it’s a good idea to understand which of these features are valuable to
you and choose a device according to which features are included.
33 Wi-Fi: Despite its absence from the hardware requirement list, you can expect
virtually every Windows Phone to include 802.11g (Wi-Fi G) or 802.11n (Wi-Fi N)
wireless networking capabilities.
33 Bluetooth: Ditto for Bluetooth, a separate wireless networking standard that
is most often used to connect portable devices with in-ear headsets, keyboards, in-car navigation systems, and other hardware.
NO TE ​ ​If
you’re a Bluetooth fan, you’ll be interested to know that Windows
Phone explicitly supports the following Bluetooth profiles: BT 2.1 + EDR; HFP
1.5 – Hands-Free Profile; HSP – Headset Profile; A2DP 1.2 – Advanced Audio
Distribution Profile; AVRCP 1.0 – A/V Remote Control Profile; and PBAP –
Phone Book Access Profile.
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30
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
33 Removable storage: Most non-iPhone smart phones (and virtually all popular
Android-based phones) ship with some kind of memory card slot so that you
can inexpensively expand the device’s internal storage (but not RAM). Today,
these mini memory cards typically range from 2GB to 32GB of storage, but of
course, technology improves as time marches on.
33 Ultra high resolution screens: At the time of this writing, the iPhone 4 supports a resolution of 960 x 640, which exceeds the highest resolution supported by Windows Phone. While there is little doubt that the Windows Phone
OS could handle higher resolutions, device makers are prohibited from selling
such a device at this time. As Microsoft evolves the Windows Phone hardware
requirements over time, this limitation will change.
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33 Gyroscope: While Windows Phone does support an accelerometer, it is lacking a gyroscope, a hardware component that is also found in the iPhone 4.
Speaking simply—because, let’s face it, this is complicated stuff—a gyroscope
simply provides a more accurate, or more sensitive, measurement of how the
device is being rotated in X, Y, or Z axis (or “directions”). Given the relatively
non-subtle hand movements that will be typical in human/phone interaction,
I do not feel that a gyroscope is a particularly important improvement over an
accelerometer and that its loss will not impact the Windows Phone experience,
gaming or otherwise.
33 Video recording: While Microsoft doesn’t specify that the Windows Phone
camera be able to record video, virtually all Windows Phones do, in fact, ship
with this capability. Expect VGA (640p) or HD (720p) or better video recording
capabilities.
33 Geo-tagging: Another neat camera feature, geo-tagging allows your camera to optionally “tag” each photo with location data so that you can later
discover exactly where the photo was taken on a map. This capability is
absolutely possible with Windows Phone, thanks to its built-in GPS and other
location sensors, and is in fact a feature of the built-in camera software. So no
worries here.
33 Headphone jack, microphone, and external speaker: While Microsoft does
not require Windows Phone hardware makers to include a standard headphone
jack, microphone, or external speaker(s) on their devices, most of course will
do so. Be sure to look for these features, however.
31
Picking a Phone
33 USB connection: While all Windows Phones will need to provide some way to
charge the device, Microsoft does not specify the type of connection that will
be used. The result is that different Windows Phones unfortunately will use
different power/charge connections, most of which are some variation of USB.
In conjunction with a compatible cable, you can charge your phone via a PC,
or with a USB power adapter, via a standard wall receptacle.
N O TE ​ ​O ne
useful feature that Microsoft is not supporting, let alone requiring, is the Zune dock connector that the company previously used on its line
of Zune portable media players. This connector worked exactly like Apple’s
popular dock connector, which provides iPod, iPad, and iPhone users with a
standard connector type. You will not find a Windows Phone with a Zune dock
connector.
You get the idea: Microsoft specifies some of the more important Windows Phone
hardware features in order to provide a consistent experience for users. But Windows
Phone also leaves a lot up to the device makers, so there will still be some variation between Windows Phones and, unfortunately, even some areas where Windows
Phones simply fall short, at least until Microsoft adds support for certain missing
functionality.
More Subtle Crapware
With Microsoft’s previous mobile platform, Windows Mobile, device makers
and wireless carriers were able to further differentiate their wares by adding
custom software solutions or by actually replacing the tired Windows Mobile
user interface with a UI “shell” such as HTC Sense. Microsoft does not allow this level of customization in Windows Phone, part of its effort to exert
more control over the platform and ensure that customers have a consistent
experience, regardless of which device they get. However, device makers
and wireless carriers are allowed to offer far more subtle customizations via
software applications, or apps, which run under Windows Phone. Except in
rare instances, these apps should not be considered true differentiators, and
can instead be ignored.
32
C h a p t e r 1 Pre-Flight Checklist:What to Do Before YouGet Your Windows Phone
Summary
If you’re as excited by Windows Phone as I am, you’re going to want to spend a bit of
time preparing for your new phone before you rush out to the store and spend your
money. There are two key things to do before buying a phone. First, you should establish a Windows Live ID and connect it with all of the online services to which you
belong, providing a central hub for your connections and relationships. Then, you
should understand which Windows Phone hardware features are required and optional,
allowing you to make a more educated buying decision. With these tasks out of the way,
you’re ready to head out to your local wireless carrier store or electronics retailer and
purchase your new Windows Phone. The next chapter explains how to best configure
this phone when you first take it out of the box.
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