Holiday gadgets: Microsoft phones, Google gadgets
— CALLING ON WINDOWS
Microsoft Corp. released a new version of the Windows operating system on Friday, one that’s designed to work on both traditional computers and tablet devices. Desktops, laptops and tablet computers with Windows 8 started going on sale Friday.
Microsoft also released its own tablet computer, the Surface. It’s new territory for Microsoft, which typically leaves it to others to make devices using its software. Now, it will be competing against its partners.
One model will run on the same type of lower-energy chips used in the iPad. It will start at $499, also like the newest, full-sized iPads. A keyboard cover will cost another $100. Sales started Friday.
A heavier, more expensive version will run on Intel chips and be capable of running standard Windows applications. Microsoft hasn’t announced the date or price for that yet.
A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out this fall as well. Once-dominant phone maker Nokia Corp. has been struggling in the shadow of Apple and Android, and it’s counting on the new Windows system for a revival. Nokia, Samsung and HTC are launching eight Windows Phone 8 smartphones combined by year’s end, starting this weekend overseas and later in November in the U.S.
— NEW BLACKBERRYS
A year ago, Research In Motion Ltd. disclosed that it was working on a next-generation phone system for the BlackBerry, which now looks ancient next to the iPhone and Android devices. It was supposed to be out in time for this year’s holiday season. That won’t happen.
In June, RIM pushed the release of BlackBerry 10 devices into early next year, saying it wasn’t ready. That means RIM will not only compete with the new iPhone and Android devices out this fall, but it will also have to contend with the new Windows devices.
— PLAYING GAMES
Nintendo’s new Wii U game machine will go on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 18. A basic, white model will cost $300. A deluxe black version for another $50 comes with an extra game and more accessories. The GamePad touch-screen controller for it will offer new ways to play.
In ‘‘New Super Mario Bros. U.,’’ for example, players holding the old Wii controllers control Mario, Luigi and other characters. The person with the GamePad can help them along by using a stylus to create stepping stones for the characters or stun enemies.
Players can also turn off the TV entirely and play on the GamePad.
Nintendo Co. has been trying to drum up excitement for the Wii U, the first major gaming console to launch since 2006.
The company also announced new entertainment features for the console. Called Nintendo TVii, the service collects all the ways users have to watch movies, TV shows and sports. This includes pay-TV accounts along with services such as Hulu and Netflix. The GamePad works as a fancy remote controller and will let viewers comment on what they are watching.
TVii will be available Nov. 18 as well, at no extra cost.