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XBox (Games)

Microsoft Closes Gap Between Windows 10 and Xbox One With "Crossplay" Plans 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes In its attempt to make console gaming more accessible, Microsoft has announced that it will be developing universal apps which can run across Xbox One and Windows 10, as well as smartphones and other mobile devices using the upcoming OS. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco yesterday, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's video games branch, said that the end-goal was to allow people to play games wherever they are over whichever platform they wish to use. Microsoft also announced that an adapter was currently being developed to hook up wireless Xbox One controllers to PCs. This latest move from the tech giant shows its push to grapple back its position in the mobile computing revolution, as the booming smartphone and tablet market shadows its longstanding desktop and laptop business.
Displays

Developers Race To Develop VR Headsets That Won't Make Users Nauseous 152

Posted by timothy
from the or-nauseated dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged the public for patience as they strive to create virtual environments that don't make people physically sick. "We're going to hang ourselves out there and be judged," says John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus, describing what he calls a "nightmare scenario" that has worried him and other Oculus executives. "People like the demo, they take it home, and they start throwing up," says Carmack. "The fear is if a really bad V.R. product comes out, it could send the industry back to the '90s." In that era, virtual reality headsets flopped, disappointing investors and consumers. "It left a huge, smoking crater in the landscape," says Carmack, who is considered an important game designer for his work on Doom and Quake. "We've had people afraid to touch V.R. for 20 years." This time around, the backing for virtual reality is of a different magnitude. Facebook paid $2 billion last year to acquire Oculus. Microsoft is developing its own headset, HoloLens, that mixes elements of virtual reality with augmented reality, a different medium that overlays virtual images on a view of the real world. Google has invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company developing an augmented reality headset. "The challenge is there is so much expectation and anticipation that that could fall away quite quickly if you don't get the type of traction you had hoped," says Neil Young. (More, below.)
Japan

Paul Allen Helps Find Sunken Japanese WWII Battleship Musashi Off Philippines 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the davy-jones'-locker dept.
mpicpp writes with news about the discovery of a sunken Japanese battleship by Paul Allen and a team of researchers. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen and his research team have found a massive Japanese World War II battleship off the Philippines near where it sank more than 70 years ago, his representatives said Wednesday. The apparent discovery of the wreckage of the Musashi, one of the largest battleships in history, comes as the world marks the 70th anniversary of the war's end. Allen and the team aboard his superyacht M/Y Octopus found the ship on Sunday, more than eight years after their search began, Allen's publicity agency Edelman said in a statement. Detailed images captured by a high-definition camera mounted on the underwater probe confirmed the wreckage as that of the Musashi, it said. Japanese experts said they were eager to study the images to try to confirm the ship's identity. Allen's team found the battleship in the Sibuyan Sea, using an autonomous underwater vehicle in its third dive after narrowing down the search area using detailed undersea topographical data and other locator devices, the statement said. "The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction," Allen said.
Cellphones

Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough 435

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-sure-this-time dept.
jfruh (300774) writes At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, handset manufacturers are making all the right noises about support for Windows 10, which will run on both ARM- and Intel-based phones and provide an experience very much like the desktop. But much of the same buzz surrounded Windows 8 and Windows 7 Phone. In fact, Microsoft has tried and repeatedly failed to take the mobile space by storm.
Transportation

US Air Traffic Control System Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-you-shouldn't-read-before-your-flight-today dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A recently released report (PDF) by the U.S. Government Accountability Office has revealed that despite some improvements, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still needs to quash significant security control weaknesses that threaten the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system (NAS). The report found that while the "FAA established policies and procedures for controlling access to NAS systems and for configuring its systems securely, and it implemented firewalls and other boundary protection controls to protect the operational NAS environment [...] a significant number of weaknesses remain in the technical controls—including access controls, change controls, and patch management—that protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its air traffic control systems."
Microsoft

What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft? 207

Posted by timothy
from the hypthetical-or-not dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft spent billions purchasing Mojang, the studio behind the game Minecraft, and while it's unlikely to start work on a sequel anytime soon, rather than continue development of the game, it's worth considering what a Minecraft 2 will look like. After all, as a public company with revenues to justify, it doesn't seem beyond unreasonable a few years down the line, especially since a Minecraft-like game was one of the stand-out tech demos shown for the software giant's HoloLens augmented reality headset. As the author points out, Microsoft will have to tread carefully, tackling issues like whether greater graphical fidelity is actually what players will want ever — and whether to continue to support Minecraft on PlayStation."
Cellphones

Blackphone 2 Caters To the Enterprise, the Security-Minded and the Paranoid 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the press-p-for-privacy dept.
Mark Wilson writes While much of the news coming out of MWC 2015 has been dominated by Microsoft's Lumia 640, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and tablets from Sony, there's always room for something a little different. Following on from the security-focused Blackphone, Silent Circle used the Barcelona event to announce the follow-up — the Blackphone 2. The privacy-centric company has been working on the "world's first enterprise privacy platform" for some time now and the second generation Blackphone. As you would expect, there's a faster processor than before -- an 8-core beast -- as well as an upgraded 3GB RAM, a larger 5.5 inch screen and a bigger battery than before. Blackphone 2 has a $600 price tag and will be unleashed in July.
Education

Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook Press WA For $40M For New UW CS Building 102

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-build-10,000-garages? dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Nice computer industry you got there. Hate to see something bad happen to it." That's the gist of a letter sent by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Code.org, and other tech giants earlier this week asking the WA State Legislature to approve $40M in capital spending to help fund a new $110M University of Washington computer science building ($70M will be raised privately). "As representatives of companies and businesses that rely on a ready supply of high quality computer science graduates," wrote the letter's 23 signatories, "we believe it is critical for the State to invest in this sector in a way that ensures its vibrancy and growth. Our vision is for Washington to continue to lead the way in technology and computer science, but we must keep pace with the vast demand." The UW Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering profusely thanked tech leaders for pressing for a new building, which UW explained "will accommodate a doubling of our enrollment." Coincidentally, the corporate full-press came not long after the ACM Education Council Diversity Taskforce laid out plans "to get companies to press universities to use more resources to create more seats in CS classes" to address what it called "the desperate gap between the rising demand for CS education and the too-few seats available.
Windows

Microsoft Finally Allows Customers To Legally Download Windows 7 ISOs 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps dept.
MojoKid writes: It's long been a pet peeve of many end users that Microsoft has made it such a challenge to procure a legitimate ISO image of its various operating systems. It seems like the company should have no problem offering them in an easy-to-find spot on its website, because after all, it's not like they can be taken utilized without a legal key. Sometimes, people simply lose the disc or ISO they had, and so it shouldn't be such a challenge to get a replacement. Fortunately, with a new feature on the Microsoft site, you are now able to get that replacement Windows 7 ISO. However, it's behind a bit of protection. You'll need to provide your legal product code, and then the language, in order to go through to the download page. If you've somehow lost your key but are still using the OS that it's tied to, you can retrieve it through a few different third party tools. However, it does seem like not all valid keys work properly just yet, since some users are reporting valid keys throwing errors or not enabling a download for some reason.
China

Microsoft Closing Two Phone Factories In China 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-call dept.
randomErr writes: Microsoft is closing two factories in China by the end of March. About 9,000 people worked in these factories, and those jobs were cut a while back as part of the company's major restructuring after its Nokia purchase. Much of the equipment located in these factories from Beijing and the southeastern city of Dongguan is being shipped to Vietnam.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Goals For Their New Web Rendering Engine 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-from-mistakes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has put up a post about explaining what they wanted to accomplish when they started working on Project Spartan, the new web browser that will ship with Windows 10. They say some things you wouldn't expect to hear from Microsoft: "We needed a plan to make it easy for Web developers to build compatible sites regardless of which browser they develop first for. We needed a plan which ensured that our customers have a good experience regardless of whether they browse the head or tail of the Web. We needed a plan which gave enterprise customers a highly backward compatible browser regardless of how quickly we pushed forward with modern HTML5 features." They also explain how they decided against using WebKit so they wouldn't contribute to "a monoculture on the Web."
Operating Systems

The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguins-learning-to-rocket-jump dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's been over a year since Valve announced its Linux-based SteamOS, the biggest push yet from a huge company to bring mainstream gaming to Linux. In this article, Ars Technica takes a look at how their efforts are panning out. Game developers say making Linux ports has gotten dramatically easier: "There are great games shipping for Linux from development teams with no Linux expertise. They hit the 'export to Linux' button in the Unity editor and shipped it and it worked out alright. We didn't get flying cars, but the future is turning out OK so far."

Hardware drivers are still a problem, getting in the way of potential performance gains due to Linux's overall smaller resource footprint than Windows. And while the platform is growing, it's doing so slowly. Major publishers are still hesitant to devote time to Linux, and Valve is taking their time building for it. Their Steam Machine hardware is still in development, and some of their key features are being adopted by other gaming giants, like Microsoft. Still, Valve is sticking with it, and that's huge. It gives developers faith that they can work on supporting Linux without fear that the industry will re-fragment before their game is done.
Microsoft

Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10 514

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
jones_supa writes A lot of people got upset about the flat looks of Modern UI presented in Windows 8. Recent builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview have now started replacing the shell icons, and to some people they are just too much to bear. Basically, Microsoft opted to change the icons in search of a fresh and modern look, but there are plenty of people out there who claim that all these new icons are actually very ugly and the company would better stick to the previous design. To find out what people think about these icons, Softpedia asked its readers to tell their opinion and the messages received in the last couple of days pretty much speak for themselves. There are only few testers who think that these icons look good, but the majority wants Microsoft to change them before the final version of the operating system comes out.
Microsoft

Microsoft Translator Now Supports Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi Language 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the because-we-can dept.
First time accepted submitter BrianFagioli writes So, just how rare are these two languages? The Yucatec Maya language is spoken by less than 800,000 people, while the Querétaro Otomi is spoken by about 33,000. These are extremely low numbers in the grand scheme of things, which increases the risk of the languages dying out altogether. With that said, Microsoft's support of the languages in its translator software will essentially preserve it for posterity. Even if the languages end up fading away from actual use, it should live digitally forever.
Sony

Why Sony Should Ditch Everything But the PlayStation 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the quit-your-day-job dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, we were surprised by news that Sony was spinning off its game development studio. More recently, the company has been thinking about exiting both the mobile phone market and the TV market. An opinion piece suggests Sony shouldn't stop there, focusing more on the its PlayStation division and a few other areas — and giving up on the rest. "Continuing to concentrate on phones and other products actually makes the PlayStation experience worse for most people. Take the PS4's ability to stream games to mobile devices — a killer feature needlessly limited to the PS Vita and Sony's Xperia Android line. Why can't I play Destiny on my iPad when the TV's occupied? The iOS PlayStation app, meanwhile, is a confusing mess that hasn't even been updated for the iPhone 6. These sound like minor points, but imagine what Sony could do if everyone at the company were focused on making its most important product as good as possible. As Microsoft is learning with its recent iOS and Android experiments, you have to serve the customers where they already are."
Microsoft

How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the doing-it-smarter dept.
snydeq writes Yesterday's announcement of Azure Machine Learning offers the latest sign of Microsoft's deep machine learning expertise — now available to developers everywhere, InfoWorld reports. "Machine learning has infiltrated Microsoft products from Bing to Office to Windows 8 to Xbox games. Its flashiest vehicle may be the futuristic Skype Translator, which handles two-way voice conversations in different languages. Now, with machine learning available on the Azure cloud, developers can build learning capabilities into their own applications: recommendations, sentiment analysis, fraud detection, fault prediction, and more. The idea of the new Azure offering is to democratize machine learning, so you no longer need to hire someone with a doctorate to use a machine learning algorithm."
Cloud

Microsoft's First Azure Hosted Service Is Powered By Linux 66

Posted by timothy
from the linux-is-pretty-good-as-a-server dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Canonical, through John Zannos, VP Cloud Alliances, has proudly announced that the first ever Microsoft Azure hosted service will be powered by Ubuntu Linux. This piece of news comes from the Strata + Hadoop World Conference, which takes place this week in California. The fact of the matter is that the news came from Microsoft who announced the preview of Azure HDInsight (an Apache Hadoop-based hosted service) on Ubuntu clusters yesterday at the said event. This is definitely great news for Canonical, as their operating system is getting recognized for being extremely reliable when handling Big Data. Ubuntu is now the leading cloud and scale-out Linux-based operating system."
Privacy

Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs 130

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-like-you're-writing-a-letter dept.
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVslots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.
Google

Google Faces Anti-Trust Probe In Russia Over Android 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-good-look dept.
First time accepted submitter Mark Wilson writes Google has a new battle on its hands, this time in the form of a potential anti-trust probe in Russia. Yandex, the internet company behind the eponymous Russian search engine, has filed a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). Yandex claims that the US search giant is abusing its position by bundling Google services with Android. It claims that users are forced into using the Google ecosystem including Google Search, and that it is difficult to install competing services on smartphones and tablets. There are distinct echoes of the antitrust lawsuits Microsoft has faced for its bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.
Microsoft

Will Every Xbox Be a Dev Kit? 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-it-out dept.
jfruh writes There were a lot of rumored features of the Xbox One that vanished after public outcry — that it would need an always-on Internet connection, for instance. But another rumor from that era was that every Xbox One sold would include a dev kit that would allow anyone to create games — and it looks like this is one dream that might be coming true soon.