Tag Archive: Microsoft


Almost exactly a month ago, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 11 as part of the Windows 8.1 preview and today, it is also launching a developer preview of IE11 for Windows 7.

Sandeep Singhal, Microsoft’s group program manager for IE, told me earlier this week that IE11 for Windows 7 will bring all of the advances of IE11 for Windows 8.1 to users of Microsoft’s older operating system. One area Microsoft has focused on with this release is speed, including a much-improved JavaScript engine and a stronger emphasis on GPU hardware acceleration for 2D and 3D content, including fonts, JPG images and WebGL-based experiences.

IE11 is Microsoft’s first browser to embrace the WebGL standard for accessing the computer’s GPU for rendering advanced 2D and 3D experiences. As Microsoft’s senior program manager for IE Frank Olivier told me, his team has worked hard to ensure that WebGL in IE (both on Windows 7 and 8.1) is as safe as possible and can’t crash the system (it does, after all, allow very low-level access to your hardware). Indeed, Olivier showed me a demo that stressed IE11 s WebGL implementation to the point where it crashes. IE11 handles this situation gracefully and simply restarts its WebGL core as needed.

To show off IE11 s WebGL features, the company teamed up with GlacierWorks, a site that aims to raise awareness about the effect of climate change in the Himalayas, to add more WebGL content to its site.

Fast, But Not SPDY On Windows 7

All of these features will also be available to Windows 7 users and Singhal expects the Windows 7 version to offer virtually the same performance as on the new operating system. One feature Microsoft doesn’t bring to Windows 7, though, is support for Google’s SPDY networking protocol.

As for Windows 8, Microsoft tells me that it will ship IE11 with the free Windows 8.1 upgrade. Microsoft clearly expects most Windows 8 users to upgrade to 8.1 and it doesn’t look like it plans to make IE11 available as a standalone download for 8.

With today’s update for Windows 7, Microsoft is also updating modern.IE, its site for tools and resources for developing for IE. The site now features virtual machines for testing IE11 on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, as well as a new screenshot tool that lets you see how your sites look across different browsers and devices. For a limited time, Microsoft is also offering developers a 25 percent discount on Parallels for Mac so they can run these virtual machines. IE11 itself, it’s worth noting, also includes a number of updated developer tools.

Some of you running Windows Phone may have noticed that the YouTube page that the dedicated application launches was down yesterday and it appears that the reason was Google being hard at work making it recognize Mango’s IE9 and treat it accordingly.

If you run a beta or the RTM version of Windows Phone, once you access YouTube via the application or directly from the browser, you will be greeted by a new, nicer and cleaner look. It seems like YouTube is now reading and recognizing the IE9 user agent and thus employs HTML 5, which is fully supported by Internet Explorer. Those running Windows Phone NoDo or below will not see these changes as the platform doesn’t contain Internet Explorer 9 with HTML 5 support.

Xbox Boredom Controller

Heart rate, temperature, respiration, and perspiration: These are our autonomous functions-our core physiological processes-that signal stress or arousal and can betray our otherwise cool exteriors. Stanford researcher Gregory Kovacs is reading these signals through a modified Xbox game controller. By adding a new, sensor-laden back plate, he can measure heart rate, blood flow, rate and depth of breath, and how hard and fast the user shakes the controller. In response to these measurements, Kovacs has designed a game that can maximize excitement by adding more stimulus (like bad guys or explosions) whenever a gamer’s heart rate drops. Or it could do the reverse, ramping down the zombie factor for someone who wants to take it easy (but insists on playing zombie games to do so).

Read the full story at Fast Company Design.

Including 4oD

Xbox Live is set to get a major televisual revamp before Christmas with all the major programming players in the UK due to launch Xbox based entertainment services.

Everything from 4oD and the BBC to Lovefilm and even Blinkbox and Channel 5 will be arriving on Xbox Live. This brings a total of more than 40 entertainment providers now involved globally with Xbox.

Sky already have a significant and highly successful presence on Xbox but expect the new 4oD and BBC offerings to offer some potential competition.

Channel 4 will launch a 4oD app for Xbox Live that will operate largely like its desktop client, allowing you to catchup on tv shows as well as watch older content.

The LoveFilm app should behave largely like that of the PlayStation 3 s, allowing members to stream on demand video to their console.

Microsoft went a bit entertainment partner mad, so much so that there are just too many to list here. If you fancy seeing a full list of Xbox Live entertainment providers then head over to the Xbox website.

ps4 xboxone 520x245 NPD November numbers: Sony says PS4 was the top selling console, Microsoft says Xbox One was fastest selling

Sony and Microsoft today both issued separate statements on how their next-generation consoles sold in November, based on data from market research firm NPD. Unsurprisingly, both companies spun the story to say they won.

Sony said its PlayStation 4 was “the top-selling console for November and PlayStation was #1 in sales overall for home consoles.” Microsoft said its Xbox One was “the fastest selling console on the market in the U.S.”

As always, the devil is in the details. The PlayStation 4 launched on November 15 while the Xbox One debuted on November 22, and these figures are only for one region, not worldwide.

Unfortunately, Sony didn’t share how many PS4s were actually sold according to NPD. Microsoft said the group found 909,132 Xbox One units were sold in the US in the console’s first nine days of availability, or an average of more than 101,000 consoles per day.

That doesn’t really tell us which console is selling better. Sony’s “top selling” angle means nothing because more console units will sell given more days of availability, so it’s no surprise the PS4 came out on top if it arrived earlier in the month. Microsoft’s “fastest selling” angle means nothing because more console units will of course sell closer to launch, so it’s no surprise the Xbox One comes out on top if it arrived later in the month.

All that we do know is that Sony has sold more than 2.1 million units of the PlayStation 4 while Microsoft has sold over 2 million units of the Xbox One.

The real question will be which console hits the next milestone, like say 10 million, significantly ahead of the other. December figures for the US will of course be highly scrutinized, given that it will be the first full month of sales for both consoles, but it won’t be the deciding factor.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to hear Sony’s and Microsoft’s PR teams battle it out with statistics about gameplay broadcasts and total hours played. The early winner, if there is one, won’t be revealed till 2014.

See also: PlayStation 4 review: Technical issues hold back Sony from greatness and Xbox One review: A multimedia extravaganza that also plays games

148459125 520x245 Microsoft debuts Bing Offers Card Linked test in Seattle, saves your credit card details for automatic discounts

Microsoft today launched a Bing Offers test in Seattle that aims to automate and simplify using and redeeming deals found through the service. The rather poorly-named program “Bing Offers Card-Linked” is a partnership with transaction processing leaders First Data, but more importantly extends to payment networks like Visa and MasterCard.

The Bing move is part of a broader initiative also announced today called the CardLinx Association. Founding members include Microsoft, Bank of America, Discover, Deem, Facebook, First Data Corp., Linkable Networks, LivingSocial, MasterCard, Affinity Solutions, CardSpring and Cardlytics.

Here’s the idea in a nut shell:

As the “offers” space has become more popular, consumers have often found it cumbersome to take advantage of the variety of offers, which has slowed growth in the industry. Card linked offers help solve that problem by giving merchants and advertisers the ability to deliver an offer or deal to consumers via their credit, debit or other payment cards without having to use a paper coupon, voucher or promotion code on their mobile devices. The mission of The CardLinx Association is to establish increased interoperability, eliminate friction and promote the growth of the card linked offers industry.

In short, Microsoft is trying to respond to Bing Offers feedback from users who do not want to pre-purchase deals that they might forget or not use due to inflexible redemption options. Furthermore, there are also frequent complaints about having to print up coupons or display QR codes to redeem savings.

Microsoft thus figured the best way to address these problems is to link your credit card to all its offers. This may require more effort on your part to get started, but once you’re set up, the whole deal-savings business should be much easier.

Bing Offers Card-Linked is a three-step process:

  1. Sign Up. You can sign up by adding just 2 pieces of information (Microsoft Username/Password and Credit/Debit card) on the http://www.bing.com/offers website (1-time requirement). All available deals are then linked to your card and ready to use right away.
  2. Discover. You will be reminded about local deals on the Bing Offers website, via email subscriptions, and on a variety of Microsoft devices and services, such as Skype and Bing Apps.
  3. Shop & Save. When you use your card to make a qualified purchase at participating local business, just as you normally would at a retail store or a restaurant, you are immediately notified about your savings and you will receive the discounts directly on your card statement.

Microsoft says Bing Offers currently gives you access to more than 200,000 unique offers in over 14,000 US cities. The service assembles leading offers from sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Restaurant.com so you can see the best deals in your area all in one place.

Bing Offers Card-Linked aims to make the redemption part of the deal-hunting process easier as well, as long as you use a credit card for your deal purchases (and make sure it’s the same one). Hopefully the test works out, and Microsoft scraps the awful name by bundling this feature into all of Bing Offers.

Top Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images

When Microsoft co-founder and CEO Bill Gates handed the reins of the tech giant to his longtime comrade and right-hand man Steve Ballmer in January 2000, the path was fairly clear.


After some bumps, the company was finally transitioning into an Internet era, but the PC was assured of a prominent place, and its flagship Windows was still the king of the computing world.

Things are quite different 13 years later, as Ballmer announced his plan to step down in 12 months.

In fact, Ballmer is leaving whoever will eventually take over for him with a substantially weaker and less influential company, which has just made yet another organizational change to head down an uncertain path toward something Microsoft calls being a “devices and services” company.

It’s clearly not a very pretty legacy, mostly due to larger external trends that were impossible to resist, and stubborn management by Ballmer who tried too hard to resist them.

In fact, Ballmer was famous for discounting pretty much all of the products that have defined the recent computing age.

His comments about the iPhone in 2007 to USA Today distill it perfectly: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

The result of such thinking? The PC industry is tanking, and Microsoft’s longtime partners are struggling in an era where mobile devices – mostly made by others – are flourishing.

Windows 8 was a stab at redefining the company’s operating system for a world sure to be dominated by mobile devices. But, as shown by the tepid response to the software – and to the initial Surface tablet device the company makes itself – Microsoft has a long way to go in that effort.

It’s like that across the Microsoft empire, which too often feels like it is in its sunset.

In phones, Microsoft has thus far decided not to make its own products, casting its lot largely with Nokia, although the company is said to have some phone designs of its own in the back pocket, if not the front. But so far those efforts lag well behind mobile rulers Apple and Google.

In search, Bing has established itself as the only real rival to Google, but Microsoft remains a distant runner-up, without a clear path to significant profits.

Microsoft retains a key spot in core business software, but the dual trends of cloud services and the consumerization of corporate technology mean that many of today’s young companies are forsaking traditional software in favor of options from Google, Salesforce.com and others.

The continued strength in the business sector played to Ballmer’s own abilities and interests, of course. But in an era of fast-moving apps, mobile-first mentalities, and the need for nimbleness and speed over brute force, he had become the wrong leader for Microsoft.

Perhaps that’s why Ballmer recently tried to redefine the company as being “One Microsoft.”

In a memo to employees, Ballmer had written, “we are rallying behind a single strategy as one company – not a collection of divisional strategies,” and that the changes “will enable us to execute even better on our strategy to deliver a family of devices and services that best empower people for the activities they value most and the enterprise extensions and services that are most valuable to business.”

Later, in another memo, titled “Transforming Our Company,” Ballmer added, “as the times change, so must our company.”

Indeed, and just now the other shoe in that sentiment just dropped, perhaps as it had to and as it should have.


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