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Posts tagged ‘Microsoft’

18
Nov
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‘Dragon Age: Inquisition': The Joystiq Review


Dragon Age: Inquisition is an immense fantasy epic, a sprawling adventure across the many landscapes of Thedas, unapologetically mature in its exploration of politics and brazen in its combat. Inquisition is also developer BioWare’s redemption song. It’s everything that a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins should have been, and time will slip by as players enjoy the hundred hours of escapades it delivers.

The end of Inquisition‘s spectacular first act gave me chills. The last time I can recall that feeling is when the Normandy was reintroduced in Mass Effect 2. It’s the chill of being at the beginning of a grand story and anticipation for what’s to come.

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Source: Joystiq

17
Nov
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Nokia wants other companies to pay for its iconic brand


Nokia may have sold its smartphone line to Microsoft, but it held on to one of the crown jewels: its brand. The Finnish company has the world’s 98th most valuable name at around $3.2 billion and plans to profit by licensing it to other companies, along with its technology and patent portfolios. In a presentation (PDF) Nokia Technologies President Ramzi Haidamus said that the company is free to lend its name to any non-phone products, as long as “the brand is relevant.” There was no mention of the companies it may work with, but Haidamus said that the product would need to look like it was made by Nokia.

Because of its deal with Microsoft, Nokia is restricted from using its name on feature phones for another ten years, but is free to brand smartphones after 2016. Meanwhile, Microsoft stopped using the Nokia brand in favor of Lumia starting with the new Lumia 535. However, Nokia said that it has no plans to enter that market directly. Instead, it would license its brand to third-party smartphone companies and work with them to make the best use of it. Nokia also wants to market its technological expertise along with its extensive patent portfolio — for instance, it added 914 new patents in 2014 alone.

Haidamus was quick to point out that while the Nokia name is valuable, he’s keen to capitalize on it soon, as its lustre will diminish rapidly. If he’s right, we may soon see that Microsoft left the most valuable part of the company on the table — the Nokia name itself.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Nokia (PDF)

16
Nov
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Skype now available in a web browser without downloading any apps


skype_bannerSkype has announced that they’re finally detangling the video chat service from its traditional Windows or OS X desktop program and offering it in beta through a web browser.

Skype for Web will let you quickly sign into the service on Skype’s web page and immediately begin making video calls without having to download any apps or programs. According to the Skype page, you can get the service started on any modern web browser, but it specifically mentions Chrome for Windows. That’s good news for Chrome users, but the wording of the support page makes it sound like Chromebooks are going to be excluded. 

Skype isn’t currently officially available for Chromebooks, but it looks like this might be the first step towards bringing the service to Google’s laptop lineup. Of course, with Skype being owned by Microsoft, that might not happen in the immediate future. Fortunately, Google Hangouts makes an excellent cross-platform alternative.

source: Skype

Come comment on this article: Skype now available in a web browser without downloading any apps

15
Nov
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You’ll soon be able to make Skype calls in your browser


Microsoft has just announced that you’ll soon be able to make video and voice Skype calls from just about any computer with a web browser. Skype for Web (beta) calls will work on Chrome, Safari, Firefox and of course, Internet Explorer, with the addition of a “small plugin,” at least for now. Microsoft said that it’ll eventually work natively on browsers without plugins or downloads once WebRTC is more widely implemented. That’ll be especially handy for users with no access to the dedicated app who may want to chat with or message friends from, say, an internet cafe in a foreign country.

It’s arriving to “a small number of existing and new users” in a limited beta on Skype.com. If you don’t see an invitation next time you log into your Skype account, that means you’re not on that list for now.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Skype Blog

15
Nov
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Playdate: We’re livestreaming ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ on Xbox One! (update: game over!)


You’d think that ten years after Halo 2 launched, Master Chief saying, “I need a weapon” would have less of an impact. I thought that, anyway, and I was wrong. Like, super, super wrong. In Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft’s Halo studio (343 Industries) has made a decade-old game shockingly relevant once again. Halo 2Anniversary” (as it’s known) is gorgeous, it sounds dramatically better, and the cutscenes are completely re-made by the CGI masters at Blur Studio. But let’s not kid ourselves — unless you’re a hardcore Halo dork (like me), you’re here for the wealth of online multiplayer, right? Follow us below for a stream of both Master Chief Collection‘s campaigns and all that multiplayer.

[For the record, I’m playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection on an Xbox One, using a retail copy (disc) provided by Microsoft. I’m streaming the game over wired internet using Open Broadcaster Software and an Elgato Game Capture HD. All that to say, “This game will likely look prettier and run more smoothly on your home equipment. Streaming conditions vary!”]

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11
Nov
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Microsoft relinquishes the Nokia name for its low-cost Lumia 535


We were well aware it was coming, but today Microsoft finally says goodbye to Nokia branding for its Windows Phones. The first handset to omit the Nokia name is the new Microsoft Lumia 535, an entry-level device with two standout features: A 5-inch display and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Microsoft says it’s been designed as an alternative to the smaller Lumia 530, and will be targeted primarily at markets like Russia, India, China and other parts of Asia. It will also see a launch in Europe (including the UK) sometime in the future, but currently, we’re told there are no plans to release the phone stateside.

Although Microsoft ranges a bunch of Lumia devices with sizable displays, most of these are aimed at the top end of the market. The Lumia 535 is intended to fill something of a hole in its current line-up, being a more affordable smartphone that still has a decent-sized screen to poke at. The 5-inch AMOLED display is hardly worth bragging about, though, as it offers a miserly resolution of 960 x 540. Microsoft claims to have paid special attention to outdoor readability, and while our initial impression of the panel’s color temperature is favorable, the low pixel count is pretty hard to ignore.

The front-facing 5-megapixel camera includes a wide-angle lens with a 24mm focal length, just like the Lumia 730/735. It sounds like could be the perfect phone for selfie addicts on a budget, but the couple of shots I took during my brief time with the device seemed pretty average. Images appeared to come out dull, even in a well-lit room, but I was viewing them on the handset’s low-resolution display, so perhaps that had something to do with it. Microsoft was showing off prototypes with pre-final software, too, so it’s possible image processing will be improved.

The Lumia 535 runs on a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, with 1GB of RAM and a 1,905mAh battery. There’s 8GB of onboard storage, coupled with a microSD card slot for up to 128GB of extra capacity. The device is also 3G-only, which is understandable given it’s aimed at people who are unlikely to have a 4G data plan. The main camera is also a 5-megapixel affair, but with an LED flash, and like all Lumias, there will be several color options: Green, cyan, orange, black and white. These back plates are interchangeable and Microsoft will be offering flip covers in matching shades for those that like to give their handset a little extra protection.

The handset’s design doesn’t stray far from the typical Lumia formula, boasting a matte or gloss plastic back, rounded sides and softened corners. It sits comfortably in the hand and the button placement on the right-hand side — volume rocker up top and power button underneath — should suit right-handers’ thumbs perfectly. As for the Microsoft branding? It’s… fine. The logos are small and unobtrusive, especially on the front. It feels strange to pick up a Lumia without Nokia’s logo, but it’s a sensation I suspect everyone will get used to pretty quickly.

Microsoft says the Lumia 535 will launch later this month in Asia-Pacific territories, with Russia, India and China at the top of the list, ahead of Africa and Europe. The handset will sell for roughly €110 excluding taxes (around $135), although the price will vary between countries.

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10
Nov
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Making music in a Kinect-powered sandbox (video)


Tucked away under a tent at Expand 2014 was perhaps the coolest exhibition on the show floor: Sand Noise Device, a literal interactive sandbox experience. No, this isn’t a new Grand Theft Auto; it’s powered by hacked gaming tech, though, including an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor and a PlayStation Eye camera. Watching it in action immediately brought memories of Xbox 360 classic Geometry Wars to mind, actually. A ring radiates out from a center origin point, and when it hits the glowing, multi-colored pucks (that are tracked for position by the PS Eye), a series of particles start shooting outward.

From there, they bounce around a 4 x 3-foot sand table with physics-based reactions to changes in the substrate’s elevation and topography. Translation? The particles can get stuck in a depression you create — gaining speed as they reach the bottom — or follow a path left by raking a set of shallow grooves into the sand. You can even “catch” one in your palm and hold it there. Oh, and every movement produces sound too.

“It’s a generative music system, so you program a bunch of rules, feed it data and it creates music based on that data,” Jay Van Dyke, one of the project’s creators from The Green Cat Collective, told us. When the center origin wave hits the pucks, and the quasi-spaceships make their way outward (depending on how high or low the sand physically is), that’s how loud or quiet the sound will be (respectively). “The Kinect is basically the way we read the topography of the sand,” Van Dyke said. “It returns every frame of how people have manipulated the sand to us, and that becomes our environment.”

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That environment, according to Van Dyke, could be pretty big and humans could even be a physical part in it, standing in a pile of sand on the floor. That’d have made a mess at the Javits Center, though, so the team opted instead for a wobbly table that was rated to hold some 300 pounds of the pre-glass grains. And even with that precaution, by late Saturday afternoon the cement floor in and around the tent was already fairly gritty.

The idea stems from the frustrations of wanting to play an instrument but not exactly knowing how, Van Dyke said. He mentioned that someone might come along a piano and tap a few keys here and there, but the immediate sense of gratification (one of the reasons games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero were so popular) just isn’t there. Many want a quick fix in a fleeting moment, not the years of training it takes to traditionally make music.

“You can play around with it and learn how it works in a couple of minutes and have a really good time,” Van Dyke said.

Judging by the amount of Expand attendees that crowded around the sand table at any moment throughout the weekend, it’s safe to say Van Dyke and his team were pretty successful.

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Source: Sand Noise Device

10
Nov
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How would you change Nokia’s Lumia 925?


Like the kid who got picked on in school, Nokia’s Lumia 920 took some time out, got a chemical peel and returned a few months later as the Lumia 925. In fact, by ditching the bright colors and bulky frame, the 925 presented itself as a mature, refined device that separated itself from previous Lumias. When we reviewed it, we found that the better looks weren’t necessarily a perfect trade off against the 920’s bigger storage and wireless charging. Still, we’re sure that plenty of you leapt into the Windows Phone ocean with this device, so why not share with us how you found it? Head on over to the forum and spill your guts words.

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Source: Engadget Product Forums

9
Nov
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The top 9 tablets you can buy right now


The tablet market hasn’t seen the turnover that smartphones have enjoyed, but there’s still a steady stream of new and improved slates coming out. However, this time around we’ve only seen fit to add a couple of new devices to our buyer’s guide tablet listing — for the time being, at least. If you’re still in the market for one, or looking to trade up, we’ve still got you covered. You can peruse the entire list in our official guide or head on down to the gallery below for a quick tour of the best options on the market.

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8
Nov
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Xbox One update arrives with customization and Twitter tie-ins


Xbox One controller and system

Have you been eager to customize your Xbox One profile, or share your gaming escapades on Twitter? Now’s your chance. Microsoft has started rolling out its promised November update for its latest console, and it includes a ton of updates that let you both personalize your system and keep tabs on tweets. You can now customize your background with colors or achievement images, and post a bio that includes your location. If you’re a social sort, you can also tweet your favorite game videos and follow the Twitter buzz surrounding live TV shows. You can finally snap Internet Explorer to a smaller view, too. Fire up your system if you’ve been waiting weeks for any of these perks.

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Source: Major Nelson

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