China to allow game console sales across whole country, report says

Microsoft's Xbox One at ChinaJoy.
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Chinese authorities have decided to allow the sale of video game consoles across the whole country, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. If it enables full adoption of the machines for gamers in the world’s largest game market, then it could be a significant boost for the entire game industry.

After a 14-year ban, China had previously begun allowing the sale of game consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox One and the Sony PlayStation 4 last year. But sales were restricted to Shanghai’s economic development zone.

Microsoft launched its Xbox One in Shanghai in the fall, and Sony waited until earlier this year to launch the PS4. But a lack of local game content and limited distribution led to poor sales.

I’ll be headed to the ChinaJoy game trade show next week, where 250,000 people are expected to converge on Shanghai. The consoles will no doubt be a major topic of conversation.

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Xbox Live down for many gamers today

Xbox Live is experiencing problems.

Microsoft’s online infrastructure is not working properly for everyone today.

Xbox Live is having connectivity problems for many people on Xbox One and Xbox 360, according to a number of complaints from people on social media. This is preventing people from accessing the servers for games like Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and more. Many people are also having troubles starting multiplayer parties and using other network features.

We’ve asked Microsoft for an update, and we’ll update this post with any new information from the company. But the company has updated its Xbox Live status website to confirm the errors.

“Are you running into issues creating or joining multiplayer matches,” asks the status page. “Additionally, are you having trouble joining parties or sending party invites? We’re aware of the issue and hard at work to find a fix.”

These kinds of problems don’t always affect everyone equally, and if you’re online with your Xbox Live account right now, avoid getting offline. Most of the issues seem to hit people trying to boot up their system for the first time today.

This is just the most recent of a number of outages for Xbox Live. The service has gone down a number of times this year — although it isn’t alone. Sony’s PlayStation Network has definitely had a ton of problems of its own. Microsoft’s online system has gone down at least twice this month while PSN has had more than four major outages in July.

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Microsoft launches lightweight email app ‘Send’ for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone

Send: Microsoft
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Microsoft has announced a new standalone email app today called Send, available only for iPhone-users the U.S. and Canada for now.

Send: Microsoft

Above: Send: Microsoft

Image Credit: Microsoft

Rumors first emerged of such an app back in May, though it was originally believed it would be called Flow. Send is the latest in a long line of apps to emerge from Microsoft Garage, the software giant’s lab for experimental tinkering.

It’s clear that Microsoft isn’t looking to cannibalize its main Outlook email app with this new app — no, the company says it’s looking to targe those situations when you just need to send snappy messages to co-workers. Kind of like an instant messaging (IM) app, but with email addresses.

 


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Xbox boss says Xbox One keyboard-and-mouse support isn’t ‘far away’

Will this work with Xbox One. Maybe some day.
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For this round of consoles, both Sony and Microsoft went with internal chip architecture that behaves much more like a traditional gaming PC. But a potential addition to the Xbox One may make it almost indistinguishable from a computer.

Microsoft’s gaming boss Phil Spencer implied on Twitter that the Xbox One is getting keyboard-and-mouse support. Really, that means the system will work with a USB mouse because the system already has keyboard support. Sure, a few companies like Th have released adapters for systems like the PlayStation 4 to enable you a way to plug in a keyboard and mouse setup, but Microsoft is talking about adding official support.

We’ve asked Microsoft if this means you can use the keyboard-and-mouse setup to play games or just navigate the interface. We’ll update this post with any new information.

Spencer brought up the possibility in response to the idea of streaming a Windows 10 PC to the Xbox One. Right now, in preparation for the release of the newest operating system later this month, the Xbox team is working on enabling gamers to stream their Xbox One on a PC. That feature will go live when Windows 10 goes live.

But Spencer says he’s interested in doing it the other way as well.

“Still finishing Xbox-to-Win10 streaming right now,” he said. “I like the idea of Win10 to Xbox One streaming but don’t have a plan yet.”

Obviously, in order to use Windows 10 on an Xbox One, you’re going to need to support the most common input devices for PC.

“Mouse is what we’d need to add,” said Spencer.

The Xbox One is on an update schedule that sees Microsoft release a patch about once a month. The aforementioned Windows 10 streaming is the big feature for July, but in previous months Microsoft has used this monthly improvement cycle to add features like screenshot capturing.

It’s possible, with these rapid additions, that we could see official mouse support on Xbox One before the end of the year.

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Microsoft releases Ninjacat desktop background images ahead of Windows 10 launch

Ninjacat!
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Microsoft today made available a bunch of quirky images for people to download in celebration of the launch of Windows 10 on July 29, just eight days away.

All of the new images, in various resolutions and available for a wide range of devices, feature a courageous blue-eyed cat named Ninjacat. Different images depict Ninjacat riding atop various animals, including a unicorn.

What started as an odd rendering on DeviantArt ended up turning into “a fun little internal joke” at Microsoft, Gabe Aul, Microsoft’s general manager for the operating system group’s data and fundamentals team, wrote in a blog post today.

Microsoft’s take on Ninjacat, including a flag commemorating Windows 10, has taken off among early users of the forthcming operating system — Windows Insiders, for the uninitiated. Now Microsoft has come out with a slew of new images of the Ninjacat for Windows enthusiasts to enjoy and remix.

You can find links to the ZIP files containing the images here.

Yeehaw! Ninjacat!

Above: Yeehaw! Ninjacat!

Image Credit: Microsoft
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Microsoft has agreed to buy cloud security startup Adallom for $320M, source says

Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., in July 2014.
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Microsoft has signed an agreement to pay $320 million in cash for Adallom, a startup with software for monitoring the use of cloud-based services, a source familiar with the matter told VentureBeat.

All 90 of Adallom’s employees — 30 of them in the U.S. — will function as an independent unit of Microsoft and handle everything related to cybersecurity for Microsoft, including Office 365, the source said.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Israeli media outlets Calcalist and Globes originally reported on the deal over the weekend, with subsequent reports coming from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft has been making cloud a top company-wide priority, with chief executive Satya Nadella last month declaring that building “the intelligent cloud platform” was one of three areas of investment going forward. Cloud security is paramount as the company shifts its focus to Internet-based applications. Revenue and usage of Office 365 for consumers were both on the rise in the first quarter of 2015, and surely Microsoft wants to keep that up.

Data security is a sensitive subject for Microsoft, given its reported cooperation with the National Security Agency. Microsoft announced the acquisition of security company Aorato in November.

Adallom’s service monitors usage of cloud applications like Amazon Web Services, Ariba, Box, Dropbox, Google Apps, Office 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Microsoft’s Yammer. After it figures out typical usage, it alerts admins to anomalies that could signal security issues.

Adallom started in 2012. It has offices in Palo Alto, California, and Tel Aviv, Israel. As of April it had raised a total of $49.5 million. Investors include Hewlett Packard Ventures, Rembrandt Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures. Customers included HP, Jive, LinkedIn, Netflix, Orange, Safeway, SAP, and TriNet.

Adallom’s competitors include Skyhigh Networks, Elastica, and Netskope.


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Microsoft issues patches for critical OpenType vulnerability affecting Windows 7, 8, 8.1, Vista, RT, Server

Windows Cheon Fong Liew Flickr
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Microsoft today disclosed a security vulnerability that could lead to remote code execution — someone taking unwanted control over a PC or server — affecting several versions of Windows.

The security issue affects Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT, Windows RT 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

“The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted document or visits an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts,” Microsoft explained in its security bulletin on the disclosure. Adobe and Microsoft jointly work on the OpenType file format.

Patches for the vulnerability are available and will be rolled out to most Windows users who accept automatic updates. For those who don’t have that option turned on, Microsoft has several workarounds available.

Usually Microsoft comes out with fixes to security issues on Tuesdays — hence the term Patch Tuesday. This one’s falling on a Monday.

The news comes just a few days before Microsoft launches Windows 10 on July 29.


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Windows 10 will get automatic updates for 10 years

At the Build developer conference in San Francisco on April 30.
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In an update to its Window’s Lifestyle Fact Sheet, Microsoft says it will offer support for Windows 10 for 10 years.

The post notes that it will offer “mainstream security” support until 2020 and “extended security” support until 2025. The support lifestyle cycle is in keeping with both Windows 7 and 8.1.

That means that consumers with Windows version 7 and 8.1 who upgrade within the first year of Windows 10 will continue to receive security updates and fixes for free until 2025. Microsoft promoted the free upgrade earlier this year, saying it would keep the registered device current for the duration of the Windows 10 support life cycle. Updates to Windows will be free — no subscription fees.

The reason that early adopters are getting such a sweet deal is because Microsoft is changing the way it reports revenue for its software. Earlier this year Microsoft announced Windows 10 as Windows-as-a-service. Rather than forcing customers to pay for updates and fixes at specific times throughout the year, Microsoft will push updates as they come and businesses will pay an annual subscription fee. This will allow Microsoft to issue fixes a lot more quickly when problems arise.

To issue those fixes, Microsoft needs to know there’s a problem and that’s where this free deal comes into play.

Past versions of Windows haven’t always gone over so well, forcing Microsoft to give updates away for free to keep people invested in the platform. So now, rather than having to back-peddle with free updates, it’s offering them upfront. The deal serves to keep diehard Windows users invested with a free upgraded operating system. In return, Microsoft gets feedback for upgrades it can push out fast. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for both parties.

All this to say, users who upgrade to Windows 10 this year cash in big.

Via: The Ed Bott Report

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