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Four Hot Microsoft Rumors, and Fresh Info About Google's Latest Project


The ups and downs of the Nokia partnership, and new hints about Project Glass

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL With the chatter surrounding rival Apple's (AAPL) newest announcements beginning to subside, Minyanville has collected several new rumors about Microsoft (MSFT) and its new projects, while our independent investigation hints at the future of Google's (GOOG) Project Glass.

1. Microsoft will charge OEMs $85 for Windows RT.
Microsoft will offer Windows RT, its ARM tablet operating system, to manufacturers at a rate of $80-$95 per license, according to the latest consensus among traders at the COMPUTEX Taipei expo as reported by VR-Zone. While the most common estimate of $85 falls under the $90-$100 range suggested last month, it's 100% more expensive than the free license for Google's tablet version of the Android OS. At this rate, observers agree that upcoming Windows ARM devices will be unable to compete with similar Android and iOS hardware in terms of price.

Optimistic predictions place the floor for Windows slates at $550, venturing up to $800 for the standard issue and $900 for the premium models. Though not far above the well-established iPad, such a range would surpass the cost of Android offerings by a few hundred dollars. One can only surmise that the Redwood giant is banking heavily on quality over quantity.

2. Windows Phone 8 will include Nokia (NOK) 3D maps and HD camera, as well as Skype.
Hot on the heels of Apple's announcement of an in-house 3D navigation app that will supersede Google Maps on iOS6, a leaked report from the director of the Windows Phone project details several new features of Windows Phone 8, including a competing vector-based, flyover navigational app from partner Nokia to replace its own Bing Maps. The new mobile phone (also known as "Apollo") will also feature a high definition PureView camera from the Scandinavian partner.

We also have effective confirmation of the long-rumored Skype integration into the Microsoft mobile: Leaked screenshots obtained by Nokia Innovation reportedly show the Skype application in action, predictably adapted to the Metro aesthetic Microsoft has been pushing on all its latest products.

3. Microsoft doesn't want to buy Nokia, but it will anyway.
Earlier this week, various tech outlets featured a story by The Register that stated that Microsoft had been considering a buyout of Nokia in late 2011, but promptly bailed upon learning the dire situation of the target's finances. Added on to the disproved rumors from last Friday of a purchase by rival Samsung (SSU.SG), we might expect a good deal of uncertainty in Nokia's future.

It now appears, however, that while Microsoft may have preferred to keep things casual, it has bought so much Nokia milk that it may be forced to buy the telecom cow as well. Considering all the Nokia technology wrapped up in Windows Phone 8, trouble for the Finnish firm could risk the viability of the device. To ensure the stability of its new mobile phone, Microsoft may find a buyout to be the safest option after all.

4. Bloatware will compromise the simplicity of Metro.
While every new version of Windows has delivered its share of graphical updates and shininess enhancements, the integration of the colorful tile-based Metro design language marks the biggest shift in UI since the ill-fated Microsoft Bob. Though Metro shows more promise than that infamous cartoonish disaster, CEO Steve Ballmer has nonetheless acknowledged that the new style of interface is the company's riskiest venture in recent memory. Tom Warren of The Verge suggests that the greatest obstacle to the success of Metro is outside Microsoft, with its various manufacturers. The unwanted 30-day trials and clumsy antivirus software familiar to PC owners may prove especially obnoxious in minimalist Metro environment. If not properly managed, these bloatware bundles could subvert the goals of Microsoft's design, introducing friction and frustration into an already controversial change.

Bonus Minyanville Original: Potential delays for Google's Project Glass.
Back in January, the Web overseers at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers opened applications for creation and ownership of new generic Top-Level Domains (a.k.a., gTLD -- think .com, .net, .org). June 13 was "Reveal Day" when the Internet oversight group published a list of top-level domains with pending applications for ownership.

Business proceeded as expected for many companies in the spotlight. Apple applied for .apple, Cisco (CSCO) applied for .cisco, and Microsoft applied for .microsoft and 10 other domains. Google, meanwhile, wants over 100. Through alias "Charleston Road Registry Inc.," Google called dibs on dozens of generic terms, such as .tech, .movie, and .search, as well as the names and variants of many of its brands and trademarks, including .android, .chrome, and .hangout.

Conspicuously absent from the Mountain View firm's final list, however, was any mention of Project Glass, the augmented reality glasses announced this past April. Besides the obvious .glass itself, Google also failed to register any possible variants or synonyms, including those of potential codenames such as GoogleEye or Wingman.

Strange, especially considering that Google recently released into the wild several hundred new Project Glass prototypes. This may mean that Google simply has not decided on a final name for the high-tech headband. Considering the reluctance of cofounder Sergey Brin to commit to a 2013 release in a recent interview near the end of the gTLD registration period, however, this may be an early sign that Project Glass is further out than most of us would hope.
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