We'll start this week with Windows Phone Mango, Microsoft's mobile OS update that will come out later this year. Developers can start creating apps for it this week. One new feature integrates a number of communications services into a single thread, so a user can switch between text messaging, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation, for instance.
Mango also will be the first version of the phone to include IE9, which the executives said will speed up browsing. They were eager to show off a phone running mango vs a number of competitors.
Mango will include an updated version of Office that includes new versions of Excel, One Note, PowerPoint and other apps. Multitasking is something else Microsoft touted in the OS update.
When CEO Steve Ballmer was speaking to a group of software developers in Tokyo earlier this week he said that Windows 8 will be coming next year. He told them "As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there's a whole lot more coming.
As we progress throughout he year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8." Microsoft quickly backpedaled and a spokesman said "It appears there was a misstatement. We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows."
Three workers died and 15 others were injured after an explosion at a Foxconn factory in Southwest China late last week. The accident occurred at around 7pm in a polishing workshop and appears to have been triggered by an explosion of combustible dust in a duct. Taiwan-based Foxconn is the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics products and local media said the factory was making Apple's iPad 2. Apple, without confirming the iPad 2 report, said it is working with Foxconn to discover the cause of the accident. The deaths will further highlight the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of Chinese who build the world's gadgets. While companies making Apple's high-profile products attract most attention, campaigners point out it's an industry-wide problem.
North Korea has started manufacturing three models of computers. The report, on the country's main 8pm evening news, took viewers inside the factory that's making the computers. The three computers consist of two for educational use and one for office use. The educational computers each run the same custom software and come in two versions: one is a netbook-sized laptop, and the other is a bland-looking box with a keyboard and mouse, that's designed to be connected to a television. The operating system was unclear from the TV images, but it didn't appear to be Windows. North Korea has developed its own version of Linux called "Red Star" and it's possible the computers are running that.
A research project from Sharp has made an 85-inch TV that packs 16 times the resolution of today's high definition TVs. That works out to an impressive 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels. You can see in this graphic here, the black box is a 1080p screen, while the surrounding gray box is the resolution on a Super Hi Vision TV. With such high resolution, the images are so good the viewer can feel immersed in a scene in a way not possible even with current 3D TV technology. Super Hi-Vision is being developed by NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, and the first trials are due to start around 2020. The organization is one of the few broadcasting companies to heavily invest in R&D. It began work on HDTV in 1964 and was the first broadcaster in the world to launch regular HD broadcasting. It's hoping to repeat that with Super Hi-Vision in the next decade.
NHK also showed off its latest progress towards thin, flexible screens that could one day make a roll up TV possible. The 5-inch flexible OLED panel is still a prototype and, as you can see, isn't perfect yet. There are a few dead lines and pixels on the screen, but overall there are far fewer than on a prototype shown in 2009. Look closely and you'll see the images are in color, although the stronger green pixels give the picture an overall green hue. There's no estimate on when such technology might reach commercialization, but the prototypes provide a tantalizing glimpse of what might one day be possible.
In just 2 weeks I'll be in Los Angeles for E3 where there will be plenty of gaming news, hardware, software and gadgets. To whet your appetite here's the trailer for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. The first person action series takes players to the US, England, France and Germany. It will be available November 8 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PCs. It costs 60 dollars and can be preordered now.
And rounding out our show this week are Angry Bird bots from the Beijing International High Tech Expo. They're of course modeled after the characters popular in the iOS and Android game from Finland's Rovio. The robots create their own wireless network allowing smartphones to connect to and control the bots. Developers said that products based on the wireless network control technology will be out this summer and will work with all the major phone operating systems. Other robots that attracted a crowd were able to dance in sync with each other and could do other stunts like this one that stood on its head. Each part of the robot could also be individually controlled by a PC.