Well, that was quick — after just a few weeks in preview mode, the revamped MSN homepage is rolling out to everyone. You should see Microsoft’s simple, desktop-like web portal in your browser sometime within the next three days. If you’re using Windows devices, you’ll also see updated Bing and MSN apps that draw on the site’s many services; the Food & Drink app will keep track of your recipes, for instance. Windows Phone users get a few perks on their lock screens in the process. The Health and Fitness app will show pedometer stats if you’re using a Lumia 630, 635 or 1520, while Weather will show your local forecast. You’ll still have to wait for MSN apps on Android and iOS, but all the other pieces of Microsoft’s grand vision are otherwise in place.
Source: Official Microsoft Blog
Surprise, surprise: the government doesn’t take kindly to being hacked. The United States Department of Justice announced today that four members of an international hacking group have been indicted for stealing over $100 million of software and intellectual property, and two of the accused have already pleaded guilty. Using a mix of SQL injection and stolen passwords, the group reportedly hacked into internal networks owned by Microsoft, Epic Games, Valve, Zombie Studios and the U.S. Army. Their target? Video games and specialized pilot training software.
In addition to collecting data on company employees and internal dealings, the group is said to have stolen source code and technical specifications for the Xbox One, pre-release versions of both Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3, as well as an Apache helicopter simulator designed for the Army by Zombie Studios. The DoJ says the group is accused of conspiring to sell the proprietary information. “The American economy is driven by innovation,” explained Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “But American innovation is only valuable if it can be protected.”
Hacking happens all the time, but the DoJ says this case is a little unique– marking what may be the first conviction of a foreign hacker for stealing business trade secrets. Even so, the defendant isn’t that far away: David Pokora, who is pleading guilty, hails from Mississauga, Ontario in Canada. He hasn’t specifically been convicted yet, either — but a guilty plea pretty much secures that, doesn’t it?
Source: Department of Justice
Instead of announcing the next version of its iconic operating system in front of a massive crowd of thousands, Microsoft chose an intimate venue with 50 or so reporters to launch the new Windows, which it’s calling Windows 10. The company looks at the new number (yes, it skipped a number) as an indication of the direction it’s taking with the OS; Microsoft says it’ll be “the most comprehensive platform ever,” featuring a full range of products that’ll be placed under the Windows 10 umbrella as part of “one tailored experience.” Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore showed off an early beta version of the new Windows on stage, which looks very much like the leaked screenshots we saw not too long ago; Belfiore says that they wanted to bring the familiarity of Windows 7 and combine it with the functionality of Windows 8.
The new Windows will look very familiar if you’re used to either of the the last two versions, though Win8 users will notice that the Modern UI is nowhere to be seen at first. Instead, the series of Live Tiles can be found in the Start Menu off to the right side, with the usual Win7-style set of pinned and frequent apps on the left side, along with web and app search underneath. It also comes with a refreshed taskbar that comes with a new “task view,” which essentially lays out all of your running apps. You can also tile up to four apps on the same screen. Additionally, Windows 10 also gets a nice improvement to the command prompt: Now you can use keyboard shortcuts, as well as copy and paste.
The Charms Bar is still there, though it may not look exactly the same when the final build comes out — Microsoft says that the UI is still not final and it expects to change it between now and then — and there are plenty of touch elements and gestures carried over from Windows 8.
With Windows 10, Microsoft also plans to adjust the user interface depending on the mode you’re using it in; for instance, it’ll look different if you’re using it for touch versus if a mouse and keyboard are detected. The Modern UI shows up as a “large Start Menu” in addition to a back button on the taskbar when you’re in touch mode, whereas you’ll get the traditional desktop look and feel if you’re using a keyboard and mouse.
The team only showed a few bits of Windows 10 today, but they’ll continue to add more pieces to the puzzle over the course of the next year as Microsoft prepares for a late 2015 launch. For instance, we’ll see more of the system at the company’s Build conference next Spring. That said, Microsoft will be launching an Insider Program tomorrow, which is designed to give the initial Win10 experience to folks who have a deeper knowledge of the OS. Belfiore insists that the new Windows will give full functionality for everyone from beginners and novices to advanced users once it launches, however.
Apparently, Microsoft Research is working on a forecasting methodology based on data and not on the fevered dreams of precogs or Nostradamus-wannabes. In the past few months, the project’s researchers have been relying on the data they’ve collected (such as outcomes from past events) to accurately predict several political races and game matches. But now Redmond wants the help of humans to improve its predictive powers, so it has launched a new website called Prediction Lab, where anyone can register and vote on various topics such as who’d win a congressional seat or an NFL match. Unlike ordinary polls, users can vote repeatedly, though they’d have to back up their choices by betting virtual points. This apparently leads to more accurate votes, since people have something at stake, and that could improve the accuracy of Microsoft’s algorithms.
Microsoft researcher David Rothschild (who predicted the 2012 Presidental Elections) put the new website to the test during the recent Scotland independence referendum. The morning when the result was slated to come out, Rothschild went on record to say there’s an 84 percent chance that majority of the votes will be a “No.”
Not only did we match the accuracy of major polling companies, but we also provided a lot of insight that they weren’t able to get, through the fact that we had people coming back again and again.
Since the project was meant to collect data and improve Microsoft’s technology, though, users will have to give the company some personal info such as their age and address. Also, some of the questions were apparently quite personal: PC World saw ones that asked the length of users’ commute, as well as their stance on abortion. If that doesn’t bother you in the least, or if you just really want to place some bets without losing your life savings in the process, head over to Microsoft’s Prediction Lab website .
Via: PC World
Fancy yourself a master of the Sonic Screwdriver? Well, in a few days you can put those skills to the test… in Minecraft, that is. Whether you’re a timelord fanperson or a Dalek-sympathizer, you’ll be able to show it off once the Doctor Who skin pack hits the Xbox 360 version of the pixely build-your-own-adventure on Friday. As if you needed another reason to look forward to this weekend, yeah? PlayXBLA (Microsoft’s official blog for Xbox Live Arcade news) still doesn’t mention any word of an Xbox One release, but considering that the company recently paid $2.5 billion for the game’s developer, Mojang, we expect to hear it break the, ahem, silence on that soon.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant comes in handy for lots of things — especially reminders. Now, thanks to a hand from SeatGeek’s ticket engine, Cortana will alert you when bands you listen to on the regular have a tour stop close by. As you might expect, in addition to date and venue info, the add-on will also provide you with ticket prices and a handy link to purchase. A Concert Watch option is rolling out to the Music section of Cortana’s Notebook, and toggling the option on will keep you informed about performances in your area. Google Now does something similar for the Android faithful, displaying concert dates based on artists from your search queries. If you’re unable to see the new feature, sit tight: it appears to be on its way to handsets.
Source: WP Central
Chinese gamers have just witnessed their first major console launch since authorities lifted their 13-year ban on most video game systems. Following a last-minute delay, Microsoft has released the Xbox One in mainland China; people in 37 cities across the country can now pick up a shiny new machine without having to resort to unofficial channels. There are only 10 government-approved games on offer from day one, including Dance Central: Spotlight and Forza Motorsport 5, but over 70 China-friendly titles are supposed to be in the works. As for Sony? It has yet to confirm just when the PlayStation 4 reaches China, but it’s doubtful that the company will be far behind — it won’t want to give Microsoft too much of a head start.
[Image credit: Microsoft]
Source: Microsoft China (translated)
Welcome, ladygeeks and gentlenerds, to the new era of gaming. The one where you get to watch, and comment, as other people livestream gameplay from next-gen consoles. Because games! They’re fun!
What do you do when there’s many hundreds of horsepower under your foot? Bounce on the pedal and put the devil to the floor, naturally. And that’s just what Microsoft’s latest racer allows you to do. We’re talking about Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One, of course. The game that lets you live out nearly any auto-fantasy you might have, so long as it includes picturesque European landscapes, pristine cliff sides and electronic dance music. We’re just kidding on the last part — you can totally turn the radio off. Join us right here at 7:00 p.m. Eastern / 4:00 p.m. Pacific as we bring you a taste of what you can expect from the open-world arcade racer when it hits store shelves (or your console) next week.
To the Brazilian government, favelas, often referred to as “the slums,” don’t portray an image they’re willing to share with the world. So much so, in fact, that during the past World Cup some favela residents were reportedly being forced to leave their homes behind, as Brazil officials were looking to polish areas surrounding the stadiums playing host to the most watched sporting event on the planet. In Rio de Janeiro, favelas make up roughly a quarter of the population, yet somehow they aren’t often found city maps, either physical or online. To help with the latter, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google and Microsoft have begun mapping Rio’s favelas, albeit both companies are doing so in separate initiatives.
Interestingly enough, the two giant technology companies are crowdsourcing the information; given the lack of cooperation from Brazil’s government, they are relying on the favela communities to gather data for Google Maps and Bing Maps. “Online presence is really important to opening them up and getting them integrated into the city,” Google Director of Marketing for Latin America, Esteban Walther, said to The Wall Street Journal.
[Image credit: Getty Images]
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Third-party developers have grown very fond of building neat stuff with the Kinect, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft itself would create projects using this technology. Enter the Cube, a five-sided, Kinect-powered box which can interact with people around it — the company describes it as a “canvas for a new kind of creative expression” and a “technological sculpture that’s a venue for new types of interactive art.” You can dance, or make other random body gestures, in front of it and the Cube will project that image onto one of its panels, in a rather colorful way, no less; think of it as what you would see on a game like Just Dance, but minus the layer of flashy outfits. Microsoft’s Cube isn’t all about the Kinect, however. Inside, there are also five computers and five projectors which, paired alongside a total of four new Kinects, are what make the magic possible. You can watch the Cube in action after the break.