Posts Tagged microsoft

A rebuttal to the rebuff of the latest XBox One DRM decision

According to this article, Microsoft has switched feet on its foot-shooting escapade that is the XBox One. The short version of the story: Microsoft decided to roll back truly heinous DRM on its games, but in return users are giving up features that make the console a generation ahead of the PS4. Or something like that. Yeah…no.

The reason: if you want to lace a disc with heavy DRM that enables you to use the game in a not-disc way, you’re doing it wrong. As long as folks own physical media (and, like it or not, they own the metal and plastic wafer that the game is printed on to), they’ll have in their mind the concept of ownership. Right of first sale and all that. Which is why Sony’s 22-second “how to share a PS4 game” struck such a chord with folks.

Now let’s look at the downloadable game side of things. The expectation of playability anywhere is there, but is tempered by an expectation of DRM. Anyone who has downloaded a PC game from the likes of Amazon or EA Origin has seen this; you can pull the game however many times, but don’t expect to play it simultaneously on two different machines. Just like with a disc in a drive, it won’t work. Which makes sense…you’ve got to protect those bits somehow.

This begs the question of whether a game should be available in both disc and download formats, each with its own DRM scheme? My answer: absolutely. Build what the customer expects into the disc, and what you think the customer might want into the download. The author mentions that he has a fast, reliable ‘net connection. That’s great; that means you can buy a downloadable game and skip the disc once and for all.

The point of physical media (which can pack 20+ GB of content onto a single Blu-ray disc) at this point is to provide a fast-loading alternative to the slow average connection speed of Internet users at large. For them, downloading entire game is an ordeal, particularly if their connection is capped, throttled or slow all the time (not all of us have Google Fiber, FiOS or even Comcast available). And their friends may be in the same boat, so schlepping a disc from point A to point B isn’t a big deal, but dealing with on-disc DRM is. You don’t want another SimCity, do you?

tl;dr: Customers have spoken, and Microsoft did the right thing by rolling back its physical disc DRM. If you want more features at the expense of DRM, there is a solution: downloadable games (which should be doable with every single game). Locking down physical media isn’t.

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1TB for under 6¢ per GB…again!

Previously on, I found the shocking deal of a $54.99 1TB hard disk. Well, that deal is gone however that same drive, coupled with a new Newegg promotion, is nearly as good…better for folks who want to buy more than a single drive.

The super deal this time: Windows Live…er…Bing Cash Back. It’s how I got my Vizio VS42LF TV for about $490 (after $198 in cash back, a 10% PayPal discount and a few bucks in credit card rewards) and it’s how you can nab magnetic storage for under 5¢ per GB. In order to get this discount, just go here (a Bing search for “newegg”) and click the link next to the Bing Cashback icon.

Now you’re locked into a session that will give you 10% cashback (via Bing; you’ll have to get a Bing cashback account there but it’s not a huge deal) on pretty much whatever you buy on Newegg. You can now mosey on over here and grab up to five drives at the net price (once the limit-five-per-household rebate and the up-to-sixty-days Bing cash back are in) of just $57.49 apiece, or roughly 5.75¢ per GB. Solid.

Just remember to claim your cash back, to mail in your rebate(s) before the end of September and to grab the drives either by the end of this month or before they sell out again, whichever comes first!

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Re: The Case Against Apple

So Jason Calacanis wrote a newsletter/blog post yesterday about how Apple is becoming big, bad, evil, etc. He had some questions at the end. I emailed him my thoughts, but they probably won’t get published that way. So here they are, in reworked form.

Preliminary Notes

Verizon doesn’t use SIM cards. Neither does Sprint. While I think it’d be awesome to see a dual-radio network-agnostic iPhone (like the Blackberry Storm and some new HTC units) I don’t foresee that happening. As for a dual CDMA radio setup that would “bond” two networks together for fast downloads, not gonna happen. The engineering and billing logistics just don’t work out. The best that’ll realistically happen is either an LTE iPhone (I doubt it’ll come out for WiMAX unfortunately) or *possibly* an iPhone “world phone” with CDMA and GSM/HSPA a la the Blackberry Storm if Verizon gets the new exclusive.

Now that that’s off my, and Mike Rundle’s, chest…

Q: Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?

A: At worst, they’d be just as successful. They might be forced to compete a little more on features, especially on the Mac side (where there’s no Windows Media Player and thus no simple way to sync music with a non-iTunes-supported player). However the influx of people using third-party devices on iTunes would make up for any people who might pick a $30 other-brand MP3 player over Apple’s own. Not like those people would buy an iPod in the first place…

Read the rest of this entry »

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What Microsoft Needs To Do With Windows

Yes, it’s a ThePirateBay link. If you feel bad about downloading it, don’t do it unless you already have a valid Windows XP install on the computer on which you’re downloading this for. Tortured sentence structure I know, but it’s 3 a.m.

What Microsoft should do is take this torrent, tweak the ISO just slightly to improve usability (very, very small things like bringing back the SendTo menu and having the option in the context menu to open a command prompt at whatever location), then package it up and sell it to end users via download for $30-$50.

If users want more applications or features, Microsoft should bring back the “Add Features” control panel option, a la Windows 98. This time, however, features will be downloadable online rather than from CD. It’s a 21st century thing. If they want drivers, Microsoft has Windows Update…just get more manufacturer support so all the drivers are in one place. Speaking of which, control panels should be separate from basic drivers; a computer should have full capability to work with no third-party icons in the system tray. None whatsoever.

With a few optimizations, such an OS could run full-fledged in under 1GB of disk space. Well under, even. On top of this platform OEMs can slipstream drivers (required) and crapware (optional, just like the extraneous Windows features) as needed. At any time, aside from required drivers, consumers should be able to distill Windows down to bare-metal elegance.

If you want to complain about user choice and such, the easy way out is to allow for feature installation during Windows setup, which will otherwise be a very short process in such a small installation (five minutes in a virtual machine…more on that later). A la the usual in regular software setups, have “Standard” (regular WinXP if you must), Minimal (Performance edition) or Custom as installation size options on regular install discs, with OEM products built into the standard and available in the Custom profiles. For the $30-$50 version, standard becomes a non-option and custom doesn’t have as many options. Something akin to “Windows Anytime Upgrade” can be used later on if Microsoft wants to charge users to upgrade to a fuller experience.

In case you’re wondering, WinXP Performance Edition runs wonderfully in a virtual machine with 768 MB of memory…it’s fast enough that all but the most graphics-intensive activities feel like you’re using them bare-metal on a system that’s two-thirds the price of whatever you’re actually using. That is to say, absolutely usable, even speedy. This is on VirtualBox, Sun’s free virtual machine product. I have VMWare Fusion on my Mac and stopped using it…VirtualBox plus XP Performance Edition is significantly faster than either Parallels or VMWare running even XP.

The bottom line is this: I don’t thik I’m alone in wanting an operating system that just works. I do’t need bells and whistles, and the OS can look like Windows 98 for all I care (preferably Windows XP in Classic mode with search in the Start menu, however…P PE, but for the search box, does nicely). I just want something that will run any Windows app I throw at it, and that will run that app quickly and efficiently. If I need extra features, I’d like to be able to get them, but they don’t need to come standard. I want a cheap operating system that I can get legally. I want something that will fit on, and run perfectly from, a $10 USB drive.

XP PE pretty much is what I’m looking for, with one problem: it’s on the torrents rather than on Microsoft’s onlinestore page. I do use it anyway, but I’d love to pay for something even slightly more refined.

In conslusion, Windows 7 promises to be to Windows Vista what XP PE is to XP. It delivers on this promise, however that’s like saying your new product is much more enjoyable than a swift kick to the balls…you’ve got a low standard to rise above. Windows 7 is not as light as Windows XP, though it does run better than standard XP in a virtual machine, at least that’s what it seems like from here. In short, Win7 is a big step in the right direction after Vista (which isn’t bad, it just isn’t good enough to go out and upgrade to if you have XP in 99.99% of situations), no doubt. However Microsoft would do well to slim down Windows 7 until it has the same system requirements as Windows XP, or release WIndows 7 alongside “Windows LE”, aka a legit, low-cost, supported version of Windows XP Performance Edition.

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