Microsoft has just made the Xbox One console a bit more interesting by announcing a new subscription service called the Xbox Game Pass, which will give access to over 100 games for US $9.99 a month, when it launches later this spring.
The Microsoft Xbox Game Pass will include over 100 games, like Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and SoulCalibur 2. Unlike other similar subscription based services, Xbox Game Pass will allow users to download available games and buy them with a 20 percent discount if they decide to keep the game. This also means that users won’t have to worry about streaming, bandwidth or other connectivity problems.
Add-ons for those games will be available for purchase with the same exclusive discount for Xbox Game Pass members as well.
While it was initially announced as a service that will only be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 devices, the Windows 10 part was later removed from the official Xbox Game Pass site, but it is still possible that it will be coming to the PC later this spring.
Microsoft announced that some big game publishers have already signed on including 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, Sega, SNK Corporation, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft Studios.
Currently, the Xbox Game Pass is available in an alpha preview stage with a limited number of games so we are certainly looking forward to what it will look like when it launches this spring.
Due to AOL’s deals over the past year, the company has decided there are a number of areas that need consolidating in order to “improve operations and limit the amount of hand-offs in our business processes”. According to CEO Tim Armstrong, most cuts will be focused in the company’s corporate units while resources are shifted towards mobile, video and data-related products.
Last October, the company added 1,500 jobs after it acquired Millenial Media for $238 million in a deal to expand its mobile advertising presence. The company is currently split into two major segments consisting of media and platforms. Major news brands such as HuffingtonPost and TechCrunch are included under media while its advertising efforts are part of the platforms group.
“The layoffs are related to a 2017 strategy where we will add to our business,” he said. “These are super-targeted by area, and we will be re-growing, especially in video and mobile.”
Last May, Verizon agreed to purchase AOL for $4.4 billion, and later in July agreed to purchase Yahoo’s operating business for $4.83 billion with a goal of merging the two acquisitions into a single company that can compete with other digital media brands.
The Yahoo deal is expected to close in Q1 2017, but now Verizon is asking for a $1 billion discount after a dark web sale occurred containing 200 million customer accounts, along with disclosure of a previously unpublicized server breach containing personal information and unencrypted passwords from over 500 million customer accounts.
While Verizon and Yahoo continue discussions, AOL and Yahoo are expected to discuss integration strategies and determine leadership positions for several executives.
“Our planning process was built around [our] strategy and around the best way to operate that strategy,” said Armstrong in a memo to AOL staff. “Each area within the company was reviewed through the lens of our strategy and while we will be reducing some areas for 2017, other areas will add headcount and resources.”
Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.
The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.
Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.
The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.
The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.
Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.
Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.
“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.
“To ensure we can deliver the integrated search experience designed for Windows 10, Microsoft Edge will be the only browser that will launch when you search from the Cortana box,” said Ryan Gavin, general manager of search marketing, in a post to a Microsoft company blog.
The Cortana search box — at the lower left of the Windows 10 desktop — relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Gavin defended the move by saying that “some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana.” When that happens, Gavin said, users get a “compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable.”
While Gavin didn’t name names, Mozilla’s Firefox modified Windows 10 so that when that browser was made the operating system’s default, Firefox’s selected search provider generated results from in-Cortana queries, with the ensuing pages appearing in Firefox, not Edge. Other browsers, such as Google’s Chrome, did not go that far, but third-party extensions available in the Chrome Web Store did.
The changes won’t affect the basic functionality of non-Microsoft browsers, Gavin pledged: Chrome, Firefox, Opera and others will continue to work as before and will still default to their set search providers when queries are made from within those browsers.
But the Cortana search box is now Bing-and-Edge-only territory.
Microsoft has good reason for staking out Cortana as its exclusive turf, and not simply because of the disruption to Cortana’s delivery of personalized results that Gavin mentioned. The Redmond, Wash., company has bet that Windows 10 will generate revenue outside the traditional licensing fees that OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) pay.
Not only does Microsoft want to push users toward Edge as much as possible, but it’s expecting new revenue from increased use of Bing, which is tightly integrated with Windows 10. The Cortana-Bing scenarios that Gavin cited — buying concert tickets, clothes and pizzas — presumably produce revenue for Microsoft.
The European Union’s digital chief wants search engines such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft’s Bing to be more transparent about paid ads in web search results but ruled out a separate law for web platforms.
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who is overseeing a wide-ranging inquiry into how web platforms conduct their business, said on Friday the EU executive would not take a horizontal approach to regulating online services.
“We will take a problem-driven approach,” Ansip said. “It’s practically impossible to regulate all the platforms with one really good single solution.”
That will come as a relief to the web industry, dominated mainly by big U.S. tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, who lobbied hard against new rules for online platforms and what they saw as an anti-American protectionist backlash.
“We praise the Commission for understanding that a horizontal measure for all platforms is practically impossible,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, director of the Computer & Communications Industry Association which represents the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“While a lot of online platforms enable economic growth, their business models differ widely.”
However Ansip said he was worried about how transparent some search engines are when displaying ads in search results.
The Commission is also looking into the transparency of paid-for reviews as well as the conditions of use of services such as Google Maps, Apple Inc’s IoS mobile operating system and Google’s Android.
“Maybe it’s not too much to ask for more transparency talking about search engines,” Ansip said.
The EU executive is looking into making rules on taking down illegal content clearer and more effective without making hosting websites such as YouTube directly liable.
“Now musicians ask, please, take it down and keep it down,” Ansip said. “We want to make those rules more clear.”
But the Commission will not change a provision where websites such as Amazon, eBay and Google’s YouTube are not held liable for illegal content that is uploaded on to their systems. They do, however, have a responsibility to take it down once they are notified of it.
The Commission will publish a communication detailing its plans on web platforms in June.
Microsoft’s Edge browser notched some gains in users and usage share last month, but the default browser of Windows 10 remained the choice of a minority of users — according to some sources, a very small minority.
Edge, the designated default browser for Windows 10, grew its user share — a measurement by American analytics vendor Net Applications that represents the portion of users worldwide who run a specific browser — by nearly five percentage points in February, climbing to 30.7% of those running the new OS. That’s up from 26% in January.
It was the first time since Windows 10’s July 2015 launch that Net Applications showed an increase in Edge’s share of Windows 10’s audience. Prior to February, Net Applications reported month-after-month of steady declines from the 36% user share it reported in August, the first full month after 10’s public debut.
Another source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) also portrayed an Edge increase, although it was smaller than Net Applications’ gain. DAP put Edge’s portion of the Windows 10 pool at 24.9%, a five-tenths of a percentage point increase over January.
DAP, which counts visits to more than 4,000 websites on over 400 different domains maintained by U.S. government agencies, is U.S.-centric, although some visitors access the sites from overseas.
StatCounter, an Irish metrics company, also put Edge’s U.S. usage share — a proxy for activity originating with a particular browser and thus a different measurement than either Net Applications’ or DAP’s — at slightly higher last month. For February, Edge’s U.S. share of all Windows 10 was 17.1%, a gain of three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.
Customers pay a relatively large sum for access to apps like Word and Excel, and once they have the functionality they need, there’s little incentive to upgrade. It makes sense from a consumer standpoint, but it means Microsoft isn’t making as much money as it could from the widespread use of Office.
That could be the impetus behind a promotion Microsoft announced Tuesday: Customers who have Windows 10 on their computer but are still running Office 2010 or earlier can now get a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription for $35. That’s half the price Microsoft usually charges for the Personal package, which lets users install its productivity suite on one tablet, one computer and one phone.
It comes the same day that Microsoft launched Office 2016, the latest update to its productivity suite. The update includes a variety of new features, such as integration with Bing search and a “Tell Me” search box that helps users find functionality inside the Office apps without having to comb through a maze of menus.
What’s more, the update enhances collaboration between Office users. One of the marquee features is real-time co-authoring in Word’s desktop app, which lets multiple people work on the same document at the same time and see the edits of other users in real time. The success of that feature relies on the use of Office 2016, which means it’s in Microsoft’s interest to get more people onto Office 365.
Of course, the promotion is only good for a year — users have to pay the full $70 for an Office 365 Personal subscription once their promotional period is up. It’s not clear when the deal will end, either, though it seems unlikely that Microsoft will keep it around forever.
Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.
The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.
Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.
The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.
“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.
Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.
Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.
Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Yahoo’s share gains since November from a partnership with Mozilla may be a clue about whether the search company can gain new users through the just-announced contract to change Internet Explorer’s and Chrome’s default search through installations of Oracle’s Java.
Although the news of the Yahoo-Oracle partnership got the lion’s share of attention, CEO Marissa Mayer also used last week’s shareholder meeting to mention the Mozilla pact.
The five-year contract with Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has boosted Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market, but growth has stalled for the last three months, according to measurement company comScore.
On Wednesday, Mayer asserted that the Mozilla deal — negotiated last fall — was “profitable,” but didn’t provide any numbers to back that up. Neither Yahoo nor Mozilla has disclosed how much the former paid to become Firefox’s default search engine in the U.S.
By comScore’s measurement, Yahoo accounted for 12.7% of all U.S. searches in May, the same share it controlled in both March and April. Although that was 2.5 percentage points higher than in November 2014 — before Firefox began urging users to accept Yahoo as the default — and represented a six-month increase of 25%, May’s share was down from the January peak of 13%.
From all indications, Yahoo has gotten as much out of the Firefox deal as it will likely get. The flip-side is that Yahoo has hung onto most of what it grabbed from Google — Firefox’s previous default — even as Google has tried to get users to return.
For May, comScore pegged Google’s share at 64.1%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. Microsoft’s share rose that one-tenth of a point to end May at 20.3%. Because Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, Microsoft’s technology accounted for 31.4% of all U.S. searches, still less than half Google’s 65.2%.
The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.
A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”
Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.
Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.
In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.
Bing has offered HTTPS encryption for the past year and a half as an opt-in feature, but now Microsoft will default to locking down everybody’s search queries.
Providing encryption gives a new layer of protection to Bing users and helps guard their traffic from snooping.
With this move, Microsoft catches up to its peers in the search market. In 2011, Google began encrypting searches by default for users who were signed in to their Google account. Starting in 2013, the search giant moved all search traffic through HTTPS. Yahoo, Microsoft’s search alliance partner, began encrypting search traffic from its homepage by default in early 2014.
With the switch to encrypted traffic, Microsoft is also changing the way that webmasters get information about searches that lead to their websites. The company will still offer a referrer string so that website operators and marketers can see that the encrypted traffic is coming from Bing, but won’t provide the exact search term that led people to a page.
Instead, Bing Webmaster Tools will continue to provide aggregated keyword and ranking data so that website operators can keep track of what draws users to their websites along with how they compare with the competition. Advertisers will be able to see what search queries triggered their Bing ads using the Search Query Terms Report, which also provides information on other performance metrics like clicks, impressions and conversions.
According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.
he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.
While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.
Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.
Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.
Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.
The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.
In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.
The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.
It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.
Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.
The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.
Microsoft Corp is will remove obstacles for apps written for rival Google Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS systems to work on Windows phones, in a bid to attract users to its unpopular mobile devices, the company’s operating systems chief said.
The move marks a radical shift in strategy for the world’s biggest software company, which still dominates the personal computer market but has failed to get any real traction on tablets and phones, partly because of a lack of apps.
Microsoft has found itself in a circular trap, as many developers will not build apps for Windows phones which have few users, and few people want the phones which have fewer apps than Android or Apple phones.
Getting apps built for Android and iOS onto its phones and tablets could be a shortcut to breaking out of that trap.
“Microsoft is making a major play to win back developers,” said Forrester analyst Michael Facemire. “They’ve opened up the once-impenetrable castle walls.”
Speaking at Microsoft’s developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Executive Vice President Terry Myerson said developers will be able to use the vast majority of their Android code to turn their apps into Windows-compatible versions, which will work on Windows phones running a special subsystem.
The apps will technically be Windows apps and available only through Microsoft’s online app store. The apps would automatically use Microsoft’s services such as Bing maps, rather than Google’s services, as an app would on an Android phone. That is a crucial distinction because Google gets revenue from ads on services rather than from the Android system itself.
Myerson also announced a surprise move to make it easier for iOS developers to make Windows apps, saying that Microsoft’s developer software will be compatible with Objective C, the main programming language used by Apple.
Microsoft, which bought Nokia’s handset business last year, has only 3 percent of the global smartphone market. By contrast, Android phones, led by Samsung, control 81 percent of the market and Apple 15 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.
Europe’s competition regulator is setting the stage to bring charges against Google Inc in the antitrust investigation over the next few weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The European Commission is asking companies that filed complaints against Google for permission to publish some of the information they submitted confidentially, the Journal said, citing several people familiar with the requests.
Antitrust experts said the requests were a strong indication that formal antitrust charges were being prepared in the case, the Journal said.
Google was not immediately available to comment.
The U.S. search giant has been engaged in a five-year-old antitrust investigation with the European Union that has stalled multiple times and caused a political uproar.
While European Union lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a motion in November urging anti-trust regulators to break up Google, the U.S. Mission to the European Union had suggested that politicians should not influence the inquiry.
A panel of experts appointed by Google to advise it on how to implement EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, had suggested in February that the links be removed only from websites in Europe.
European privacy regulators, however, want Internet search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing to scrub results globally, not just in Europe.