Campaign add-on to Halo paced differently, highly regarded by fans
Microsoft game studio 343 Industries has spelled out a compensation package for users affected by the matchmaking flaws that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been plagued with since launch. The package includes Halo 3 adjunct title ODST, which was not expected to be released, a remastered multiplayer map, a month of Xbox Live service, and a character nameplate for use in-game.
Thirty percent of tech preview testers are 'highly active,' says company
Back in October, Microsoft launched the "Windows 10 Insider program, "where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops." As of December 17, 1.5 million users have joined the program, Microsoft has announced. In the December update for the forthcoming OS version, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said roughly 30 percent of Insiders, or 450,000 users, are "highly active" in the program.
Arcadia project proposes to stream games from cloud servers to Windows PCs
Microsoft is allegedly experimenting with streaming apps and games to Windows machines. An internal team is said to be working on "Arcadia," a codenamed project which would let software to run from Microsoft's Azure cloud services rather than on a local machine, streaming the app or game to PC users with lower-than-average specifications.
Apple, most big tech companies support Microsoft in Irish email case
This week saw the submission of ten amicus curae briefs filed from a combined 87 individuals, businesses, and associations in support of Microsoft's challenge to a US search warrant for an email stored on a data center in Ireland to the court. The fight between the US government and the Windows maker centers around US law's reach into a customer's private records when the records are actually stored in another country.
Changes in appearance, new apps shown in latest Windows 10 build
More leaks for Windows 10 have surfaced, ahead of an event planned to show off the Microsoft operating system on January 21st. The latest leak of build 9901 includes a more refined design for the Cortana virtual assistant than in previous reports, with the changes accompanied by a number of other tweaks and small changes to the Windows interface.
Move not indicative of any change in attitude toward Microsoft
Social network behemoth Facebook has removed Microsoft Bing search results from its pages in the last few days. The move, confirmed by Facebook officials, shifts the users' results to its own "Facebook Search" effort to help focus "on helping people find what's been shared with them." The move underscores Facebook's continued competition with Google. In parallel with the Bing excision, Facebook rolled out changes to "Graph Search" to return specific posts to searchers, instead of just results for people.
Windows 7 TLS, SSL implementation fix breaks driver installations
This week's Microsoft "Patch Tuesday," the regular scheduled day for updates and bug fixes from the Redmond giant, hit a few snags. While one problematic patch to Exchange 2013 has already been retracted and re-issued, a second patch -- this one addressing SSL and TLS authentication -- has rendered many Windows Update drivers, including video card drivers from Nvidia and AMD, uninstallable on Windows 7.
NPD claims 1.2M Xbox One consoles sold in US in November
Microsoft has beaten Sony for the first time in a long while, in terms of console sales. Sales data from NPD reveals that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the United States for the month of November, with the pre-holiday spending breaking a sales streak Sony has enjoyed since the launch of its console in the country last year.
Works with iOS, Android, Windows Phone: crash reporting, analytics, beta distribution to be unified
Microsoft has announced through a blog post that it has acquired HockeyApp, a mobile analytics and app-distribution service similar to Apple's Testflight. Originally launched as a web-only service in 2011 that allowed iOS, OS X, and Android developers to collect crash reports and manage beta distribution, the app now offers such services for Android, iOS and Windows Phone developers, and will continue to operate as Microsoft works on integrating HockeyApp into the Applications Insights service in Visual Studio Online.
Bitcoin payments into Microsoft Account performed by BitPay
Microsoft is embracing Bitcoin, by allowing users of its services to pay using the cryptocurrency. US customers are able to add funds to their Microsoft Account using a Bitcoin wallet, which can then be used to may payments in the Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox stores, as well as paying for subscriptions for Xbox Live and Xbox Music.
Health & Fitness syncs with HealthKit
Microsoft has launched a collection of new MSN apps for iOS, including News, Money, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, and Sports. A sixth, Weather, is due to go live sometime in the near future. News gathers feeds from websites like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Money tracks financial information, and provides some basic tools to go with it.
Desktop version of Cortana has similar functionality to Windows Phone version
The rumored desktop version of Microsoft's virtual assistant has allegedly resurfaced in video. A clip appears to show Cortana being used on a new build of Windows 10, and though some aspects are apparently non-functional, the video seemingly demonstrates how it could be used to contact other people, create appointments, and handle reminders.
Netflix tests original show marketing with reminder Twitter messages
Netflix is testing a new way to remind subscribers to watch their original shows. A custom card for upcoming show Marco Polo is being used on Twitter to promote the show, complete with a "Tweet Me a Reminder" button. According to The Next Web, the @MarcoPoloMP Twitter account will be sending a message to anyone who opts in to the service at 12:01AM Pacific Time on December 12th, with participants also receiving a custom video message from the cast.
Android Wear search app spreads to mobile phones, adds more answer options
The Microsoft equivalent of Google Voice Search is now available on Android. Initially released from Microsoft Garage for Android Wear devices, Torque is a search app which provides card-style answers to questions in a similar manner to Google's own voice-controlled product, though instead of being triggered by a voice prompt, it starts up by shaking the phone.
Microsoft brings Cortana to France, Germany, Italy, Spain
Microsoft is bringing the Cortana virtual assistant to more countries in Europe. An update as part of the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program rolling out today will grant access to Cortana in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Released as an alpha version, Microsoft warns many of the advanced features will not be available, such as flight tracking and some reference data, but the team is working to add localized content for each language, along with a slightly tailored personality.
Buying back stake claimed to help separation of Nook Media from retail business
The commercial agreement between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble is ending, the retailer has revealed. The termination of the two-year partnership is said in the latest quarterly earnings report for the book retailer to help "further rationalize the Nook business and provide a clearer path for the potential separation of our retail and Nook Media business.
Sensui will retain manager position in US, two executives to jointly assume role
The troubles for the Xbox One continue in Japan, not only because of the continuing trend of low sales, but also due to the recent resignation of Head of Xbox Japan Takashi Sensui. Sensui stepped down from his role as general manager of the Xbox division for Microsoft as of November 30, making way for his replacements Yoshinami Takahashi and Nobuyoshi Yokoi.
Acompli purchase could help Microsoft with mobile Outlook app
Microsoft has revealed it has acquired Acompli, the developer behind mobile email apps of the same name for iOS and Android. Revealed early via a mistakenly-published blog post before being pulled from view, the acquisition gives Microsoft a mobile email client from which it could easily integrate certain aspects into work already carried out by Microsoft's Outlook team.
Leaked prototype photographs reveal possible Lumia device with PureView-style camera hump
Leaked photographs claimed to show a prototype Lumia smartphone may depict a previously-rumored device said to have Kinect-style gesture controls and a high-resolution PureView camera. The images, showing a device marked as a prototype from Microsoft Mobile, may in fact be a smartphone codenamed "McLaren" and may show what could have been the successor to the Lumia 1020.
China report indicates Microsoft will pay $16.2M per year in additional taxes
Microsoft's tax troubles aren't limited to the US, according to a report from a Chinese news agency. The software company is being accused of tax evasion in the country, after years of posting heavy losses in a Chinese-based subsidiary. As a result, Microsoft is paying the Chinese government $137 million in back taxes and interest.
Google mostly compliant, with exception of notifying publishers of removal
This week has been a busy one for Europe's "right to be forgotten" stricture. Not only have Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing launched the mandated efforts for users, but the European Commission has also issued guidance to the search engines on how to handle requests. The guidance is similar to what Google has implemented, but there may be some issues ahead, as the document published by the commission takes issues to search engines warning site operators when a page with information is delisted, potentially stirring up old issues and bringing more attention to the deleted content.
Report claims press event for launch taking place after CES
Microsoft may present what the final consumer version of Windows 10 will look like in late January, a report claims. The software giant is said to be holding an event towards the end of the month to showcase the consumer preview edition of the operating system, within weeks of the company presenting to attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas.
Profiles still suffering from CPU issues
Microsoft has released a minor update to Skype for Mac, v7.2. The software mainly copes with several bugs, including crashes caused by changing a profile picture, playing the test sound in the Welcome tour, and/or launching Skype with Ecamm Call Recorder 2.5.11 installed. It also deals with Call and SMS buttons not working on a contact's profile page.
Companies look to exploit end of Google contract
Yahoo and Microsoft are courting Apple in hopes of becoming the default search provider for the Safari web browser next year, a report says. Apple renewed a mapping and search partnership with Google in 2010, but that contract is set to expire next year, which could give other companies an entry point. Both Yahoo and Microsoft executives are said to have approached Eddy Cue -- Apple's senior VP for Internet Software and Services -- about a potential deal. So far, though, there's no sign that Apple has made a decision, and indeed it could choose to remain with Google.
Software company turns to court over unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act request
Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday, seeking information relating to the agency's probe into the software giant's tax records. The suit, filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, accuses the IRS of "unlawfully" withholding information that was requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
News from the video game industry for the week of November 9
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer an all-in-one report for some of the major happenings in the video game industry during the past week. In this week's edition, we look at the issues with the launch of World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor; the problems with Assassin's Creed Unity; Xbox sales numbers; Robotoki ditching the free-to-play model for Human Element, and Wildstar's content launch and raid size shrink.
Bulk data collection has cost industry foreign contracts, compromise user privacy
A new bill in the US Senate is being rushed through in an attempt to curtail NSA spying on Americans, and make federal agency requests for data more transparent ahead of the January takeover of the body by Republicans. The bill, known as the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685), has won the backing of the Consumer Electronics Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Internet Association and many of the major tech firms. Apple, Microsoft, Google and others, as members of the CEA, are pushing the Senate to pass the bill.
Allows chats, video calls without dedicated client
Microsoft has launched a beta of Skype for Web, a clientless version of its communications platform. Users can make video calls, send instant messages, and manage contacts via a browser; at the moment though, the beta is invitation-only for a small group of people. Microsoft says it plans to expand access globally "in the coming months."
Microsoft takes .Net open source and cross-platform, adds new development capabilities with Visual S
Microsoft has open-sourced the full server-side of its .Net stack, a platform for running and developing applications, prioritizing cross-platform expansion for running on Linux and Mac operating systems. Microsoft also released Visual Studio Community 2013, a new free edition of Visual Studio that features access to its core toolset. Microsoft is providing the full .Net server stack in open source, including Asp.Net, the .Net compiler, the .Net Core Runtime, Framework and Libraries, thus enabling cross-platform building. The announcements come alongside the release of Visual Studio 2015 Preview and .Net 2015 Preview, which are built to support iOS, Android, and Windows.
All versions of Windows in last 19 years affected by Secure Channel bug
A 19-year-old vulnerability has been discovered, affecting every version of Windows dating back to Windows 95. The issue, discovered in May by IBM researchers, allowed for attackers to remotely execute code when a specific webpage is visited with Internet Explorer, bypassing a number of protection mechanisms in the operating systems.
Avalanche Studios developing open world sequel for next-gen consoles, PC
Swedish developer Avalanche Studios and publisher Square Enix revealed that they are working on the next entry in the Just Cause franchise. Just Cause 3 is an open-world action adventure game like its predecessor, making its way to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2015. Avalanche Studios Chief Creative Officer Christofer Sundberg said that it will be sold as in physical and digital versions, without hinging on free-to-play models or in-game transactions. After release, the studio intends to look into downloadable content.
Year-long subscriptions for Office 365 Home, Skype, Xbox Live, Xbox Music included
Microsoft has created a bundle for customers in the United States, collecting together subscriptions for the company's various online services. The Work & Play Bundle, sold through Microsoft Stores in the United States for a limited time, gives users an entire year of usage for its entertainment and productivity-related services at a discount.
Entry-level Windows Phone device replaces Nokia branding with Microsoft
As expected, Microsoft has launched its first Lumia smartphone without Nokia branding. The Microsoft Lumia 535 barely differs from the usual Lumia physical design, with the smartphone bearing a five-inch 960x540 IPS LCD screen and entry-level specifications held within a colorful polycarbonate body bearing the Microsoft logo on the back.
News from the video game industry for the week of November 2
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report on some of the happenings of the video game industry during the past week. In this week's edition, we take a look at Microsoft's purchase of Mojang finalizing, Blizzard's new expansions for Starcraft II and Hearthstone, Unity asset development payouts, Grand Theft Auto 5 first-person mode on next-gen consoles, and Electronic Arts terminating its multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, Dawngate.
Purchases made through the app may not be refundable
In the wake of Microsoft reversing course, and adding document creation and editing to all iOS users of its Office suite for iPad at no charge, the company is offering refunds for Office 365 subscribers who request it. The offer is limited, with significant restrictions: it requires proof of purchase, is likely not available to those who purchased through the app, and is pro-rated.
Lumia smartphone launch could be first without Nokia branding
Microsoft has started to tease what could be the first Lumia device without Nokia branding. Images appearing on the Nokia Facebook page and its Conversations blog advise of a probable smartphone launch on November 11th, with the "Big on experiences" comment and #MoreLumia tag strongly suggesting either a large display smartphone or one with a high-resolution camera.
Nintendo 2DS, 3DS get another 3D remake from Legend of Zelda's Nintendo 64 days
During the recent Nintendo Direct it was revealed that the company is updating another Legend of Zelda game for its 3D handhelds. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - which was originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 2000 - is coming to the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS in spring 2015. Majora's Mask 3D follows 2011's remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - another game that was originally for the Nintendo 64.
Basic editing now open to users without Office 365 subscriptions
Microsoft has updated its previously iPad-only iOS Office apps with iPhone support. Although the iPhone interfaces are said to have full feature parity with the iPad, Microsoft has made various changes to accommodate a smaller screen. Chief among these is the "vertical ribbon," designed to keep editing tools within thumb reach at the bottom of the screen. In addition, Microsoft has decided to drop the Office365 subscription requirement previously needed to do anything more with the suite than read Office documents.
Microsoft, Google fill out top three
Apple has grabbed first place in an annual Forbes ranking of the world's most valuable brands. The company's brand value rose 19 percent year-over-year, to $124.2 billion. "The Apple brand is worth twice as much as any other brand on the planet, by our count. The company sold 39.3 million iPhones in its latest quarter, and could sell as many as 60 million during the last three months of 2014 with the holiday selling season. Apple also moved 12.3 million iPads, and 5.5 million Macs last quarter," Forbes writes.
Updates arriving in 'the coming weeks'
Microsoft has announced a partnership with Dropbox that will bring the latter's cloud service into Office apps for iOS and Android. Integration is promised with updates in "the coming weeks" that will let people browse, edit, and share Dropbox files from within Office apps. Inside of Dropbox's proprietary app, people browsing Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files will see an option to edit them in the appropriate software.
Developer resume gives clues to the APU shrink from 28nm to 20nm
Gamers hoping for a slim version of the Xbox One with a reduced cost could be see something hit the market in the near future. According to a resume from a senior manager at AMD, the company has successfully shrunk the die size of the system-on-chip (SOC) that is included in Microsoft's next-gen gaming console. Based on AMD's roadmap and die shrinks for GPUs and APUs, it could mean a new Xbox One is on its way in 2015.
Court filing calls Microsoft direct hardware competitors after Nokia acquisition
Samsung is petitioning a court to allow it to invalidate its contract with Microsoft, an agreement that it has only belatedly paid patent license fees on for the last year. A late Thursday court filing declares that once Microsoft acquired Nokia, it became a significant competitor with Samsung. The Korean manufacturer claims that the buy puts the two companies on equal footing in the smartphone market, and continuing the contract thus would induce some problems with US laws. Samsung pays royalties to Microsoft on patents it owns that are used in Android and other software.
Next Office for Mac due in late 2015
Confirming recent leaks, Microsoft has announced a new version of Outlook for Mac, incorporating several significant changes. The update includes a "modern," revamped user interface, with touches such as better scrolling and switching between Ribbon tabs. The underlying engine has also been made faster and more reliable, thanks to improvements in threading and database code.
Microsoft OneNote updates for iPhone, iPad
Microsoft has released updates for its OneNote client, available for both iPhone and iPad. Considered a "digital notebook," OneNote documents can be shared with others and across devices. Adding support for new iOS 8 features, users can now password-protect sections of documents directly from mobile devices. Touch ID unlocking is now enabled for owners of iPhone 5s or newer, and users can insert files from a preferred cloud storage service with its new iOS 8 document picker. Pages can be reordered and moved, including subpages. OneNote is free to download, with some features requiring an Office 365 subscription.
Cross-platform Microsoft fitness tracker has claimed 48-hour battery
Microsoft has officially announced its fitness tracker, the day after images leaked via companion apps. The Microsoft Band is able to track the wearer's vital signs and physical activities, with some included sensors not typically included in such devices, with it also providing a number of smartwatch-style interactions using its customizable display.
Mac App Store shows images of rumored Microsoft fitness wearable
Microsoft's rumored wearable device has appeared earlier than expected, leaked within a companion app on the Mac App Store. The Microsoft Band is, as rumored, a device with a thin display similar to the Samsung Gear Fit, with the accompanying app screenshots showing it will apparently be capable of a similar level of monitoring of the user's actions as other fitness trackers.
Company cuts around 638 jobs in Seattle, 'almost all' of the jobs cuts completed
News of Microsoft's last large wave of layoffs hit today, with the company cutting an additional 3,000 jobs to reach its goal of 18,000. The final significant wave is larger than the number of positions released in September, but they continue to be spread across various parts of the company. Microsoft had set out to reduce its worldwide workforce by 14 percent with the layoff plan, beginning with nearly 12,500 employees of Nokia in July.
Leak identifies coming changes to Mac suite
Following up on an earlier glimpse at a new Outlook, Chinese site cnBeta has produced even more information on Microsoft's plans for Office on the Mac. Leaked presentation slides suggest that it will ship in the first half of 2015, and that all apps will include full Retina support as well as an aesthetic matching OS X Yosemite. At the same time, the suite should more closely hew to the "look and feel" of Office for Windows. One such change is the use of the Quick Access Toolbar throughout the suite.
Shows Yosemite styling, Notification Center support, more
Images claiming to be from a leaked copy of the next version of Outlook for Mac have appeared on the Chinese site cnBeta, which may hint at an impending release for the long-awaited update to the Microsoft Office suite. The program is said to be called "Outlook for Mac 16," and may suggest that the next major Office revision for Mac may be be released alongside a new Windows version. The program appears to take on the design language of OS X Yosemite, and is said to be more unified with the Windows version.
Spencer thinks unifying platforms is important, focusing on community needs first
Fans holding out for a Minecraft 2 after the Microsoft acquisition of Mojang could be in for some disappointment. In a podcast recording last week, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said that he doesn't believe that a second version in the franchise make sense. Even though the brand has room to grow, meeting the needs for the community is currently the most important job.