Thurrott Daily: May 21

Posted on May 21, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Microsoft Surface, Mobile, Windows 10, Windows Phones, Xbox with 0

Thurrott Daily: May 21

Tech tidbits from around the web.

5/21/2016 12:23:12 PM

Microsoft is bringing Minecraft to China

Microsoft announced this week that it has reached an agreement to license Minecraft for Pocket and PC to a company in mainland China, meaning that they will finally be able to sell the game in the world’s largest economy. So this is clearly a big deal.

“We’ll always embrace opportunities to bring Minecraft to new players around the world, widening our community, and giving us a new perspective on our game,” said Jonas Martensson, CEO of Mojang, creators of Minecraft. “NetEase understand our long-term vision for Minecraft and support Mojang’s ideals, so we’re delighted to have them on board. We look forward to welcoming China’s builders and adventurers to the world of Minecraft.”

And then there’s … this. A bizarre video in which the makers of Minecraft imitate the culturally insensitive Kung Fu b-movies of the 1970s. For some reason.

Ah boy.

Interesting comparison of Windows Phone, Android and iOS game downloads

As I first mentioned on What the Tech about 10 days ago—and confirmed by more recent Gartner numbers—Windows phone’s market share has slipped well below 1 percent. (It’s actually less than .1 percent, but why quibble?) So there’s one way to put this platform in perspective.

Here’s another.

Over on Windows Central, you’ll learn that Monument Valley for Windows Phone generated just over 30,000 downloads in its first year. That sounds OK, right? But if you look at the Google Play Store, you can see that the same game has been downloaded between 1 million and 5 million times through Google’s store. Or, you can look to the developer’s blog, where they break it down like so:

The game was installed on over 26 million devices: 11.8 million on iOS, over 13 million on Android, and over 235,000 on Amazon Kindle Fire devices. So even Amazon outpaces Windows phone by a factor of almost 8 to 1. Seriously. (Heck, the game was downloaded 8.1 million times on iOS in a week in which the game was given away for free.)

Looking at just revenues, 73 percent of the $14.4 million the developer made came from iOS, 17 percent came from Google Play, 3 percent came from Amazon, and 1 percent came from Windows phone. A category called other accounted for 6 percent.

So in this debate around whether Windows phone is “dead” or whatever, the thing to say is that Windows phone is irrelevant.

Surface Phone? Hopefully not. But how about Surface Mobile?

Mary Jo has an interesting take on how Microsoft could ship a Surface-branded device that runs Windows 10 Mobile. Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about this thing as Surface phone.

If Nadella and the management team deem any kind of new phone/mobile device line, which will likely be branded as “Surface,” as something differentiated enough to help Microsoft sell more software and services, I believe Microsoft will announce that new Surface device family around the spring of 2017.

If Microsoft makes Continuum and remote desktop services the centerpieces of any future Surface mobiles, the company might have a device family that would both appeal to business users and not be constrained by a lack of apps. I’m guessing a Microsoft Surface phablet might share some similarities with the coming HP Elite x3, which will be able to use Microsoft RemoteApp or Citrix app virtualization to run existing business apps on a variety of screen sizes.

I think the chances of a Surface phone (or whatever) actually happening are about 50/50 right now. And that the more time that goes by, the less sense it makes. But this is a chicken/egg thing, of course: New hardware isn’t enough to drive app volume, but if the UWP app picture can improve enough over the next several months, maybe—maybe that can justify the investment in new hardware.

All we have to do is wait, of course.

“Why Microsoft Corporation Sold Its Feature Phone Business”

Simple. It was losing money and it wasn’t working as a stepping stone to its Lumia smart phones … which Microsoft isn’t interested in selling anyway. The only real question here is why they waited.

Dropbox UWP gets a big update on Windows 10

Dropbox 4.3 for Windows 10 shipped this week, adding a number of new features:

Cast your videos to a other screen using Miracast.

Advanced comments notifications that let you reply directly to comments from the Action Center or toast without needing to launch the app.

Save your time and export/save many files at the same time using asynchronous downloading.

New UX for file actions lets you right click on a file/folder to display a flyout menu so you can share/manage your files.

Improved full screen mode for images and videos that actually uese the entire screen.

You can download the Dropbox UWP app from the Windows Store.


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