Summary: News from E3 suggests that Microsoft has done nothing substantial to rescue its gaming business, which continues to disappoint
AS E3 starts, Microsoft must show the audience (including journalists) something new. Xbox 360 has been having a crisis and Microsoft’s latest peripheral/gadget for it, Kinect/Natal, is receiving some bad reviews including predictions of doom from Dvorak.
Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 is Doomed to Fail
This all seems like Microsoft’s answer to the clever Wii controller, with its built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers. But when all is said and done, game consoles were invented with game controllers in mind. The Wiimote is a modernized game controller. The Kinnect is a gimmick, and as gimmicks go, its popularity will be brief, unless the most compelling game in the world arrives built around it. And I do not see that happening.
When it comes to hardware issues, Microsoft is just covering up the problem:
Microsoft fixes Xbox RROD… by removing the red light
One interesting factoid is the decision to remove the red lights from the console. Effectively making it incapable of showing the dreaded ‘red ring of death’ should your new slim Xbox 360 decide to overheat and crap out on you.
Microsoft removes the symptom, a bit like kicking it under the table or sweeping it under the rug. “Xbox 360 slim can’t red-ring by design,” says another headline:
The absolute impossibility of the red ring isn’t by virtue of the console being failure-proof–that has yet to be determined. It’s because the new console has no red LEDs at all. According to a spec sheet obtained by gaming blog Joystiq, the new console has only green LEDs in the ring on its front.
Another common complaint (leading to a lawsuit even) is the scratching of discs by Xbox 360. Microsoft ‘resolved’ this by warning users, not by actually addressing the issue. As The Register puts it in the headline, “New Xbox 360 said to ‘still scratch discs’”
The crucial point here is that the Xbox currently – and will presumably continue to – come with a sticker warning punters not to move the machine while a disc is spinning. Microsoft acknowledged the problem in 2008, but so few folk feel the need to knock their consoles around while playing games that the issue has affected a relatively small number of people.
“Of course they are not going to fix disc destruction,” Oiaohm explains, “Microsoft gets paid per disc sold.”
A few days ago we showed that Microsoft bribed journalists to increase the likelihood of positive Xbox 360 reviews. Here is spin from IDG:
Is Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Slim Press Giveaway a Bribe?
It just seemed so very strange, watching everyone clapping, cheering, leaping out of their seats, as if we were all on Oprah, and she’d just announced that everyone in the viewing audience was getting a brand new car. Except this wasn’t Oprah, and we weren’t the “viewing audience.” We were there to absorb and critique Microsoft’s announcements and claims. Is this where we’re headed? Game shows with prize giveaways?
“With all the bribery going on,” explains Chips B Malroy, “expect the reviews of the newer slim Xbox360 to be generally favorable.”
According to AP, shows Malroy, “Microsoft fancied to unveil Kinect, the name of its new Xbox 360 motion-control system, with a lavishly bizarre invite-only Cirque du Soilel performance Sunday night that required attendees to don white satin ponchos.”
“With all the bribery going on expect the reviews of the newer slim Xbox360 to be generally favorable.”
–Chips B Malroy,As Malroy puts it, “So is that Wine and Dine, bribery, plus a show as well?”
In summary, Xbox 360 shows that Microsoft is continuing its usual bribery of journalists, who are carefully being selected based on their dispositions. That won’t save Xbox 360, which resolved none of the major issues in a revised model; the issues are being concealed rather than eliminated.
In the words of this new blog post’s headline, “Good bye Microsoft!”
It seems that Microsoft is slowly fading from its dominant position and loosing its monopoly. Only through innovation will Microsoft be able to defend its place but it seems that this is very unlikely. Microsoft has become too big and sluggish. It is time to bid Microsoft good bye and embrace the up and coming alternatives.
It is premature to say “good bye” to Microsoft, but either way, there are other dangers to people’s rights and freedoms in computing. In Techrights we perceive the ACTA, for example, as a danger that impacts more than just technology. We’ll write about it tomorrow. This site depends neither on Novell nor Microsoft as fights for freedom are perpetual, history teaches. █
“The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.”
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“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”
–David Kappos (currently head of the USPTO) speaking about patents
Summary: In Re Bilski decision is imminent and the problems with the USPTO are meanwhile made more apparent, thanks to Acacia and Amazon
EVERYONE keeps asking where the Bilski decision is. It will definitely be released this month [1, 2, 3, 4] and Red Hat’s Fontana says that “Bilski is only remaining SCOTUS case to be decided from November 2009 sitting. Next day for opinions’s Monday 21 June.”
Jose’s rant about the USPTO is sign of the unrest we’re seeing as patent trolls like Acacia continue to gobble up patents with which to attack companies that actually produce something. Here is the latest from Acacia, which Microsoft paid a lot of money last month.
Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Rights to Patents for Video and Software Technologies from a Leading International Research Institute
The patented technologies generally relate to the encoding of video and tracking of video objects as well as software covering operating systems and object-oriented development environments.
It’s not innovation, it’s trolling. Microsoft happens to be part of this and VirnetX recently got a lot of money out of Microsoft. Now it “Advances to Russell 3000 Index and Global Index” (yes, parasites are being rewarded in this ill system).
Another new sign that the USPTO needs a reform is this new patent from Amazon which Slashdot describes as follows:
theodp writes “After shelling out a reported $90 million to buy PlanetAll in 1998, Amazon shuttered the site in 2000, explaining that ‘it seemed really superfluous to have it running beside Friends and Favorites.’ But years later in a 2008 patent filing, Amazon described the acquired PlanetAll technology to the USPTO in very Facebook-like terms. And on Tuesday, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,739,139 to Amazon for its invention, the Social Networking System, which Amazon describes thusly: ‘A networked computer system provides various services for assisting users in locating, and establishing contact relationships with, other users. For example, in one embodiment, users can identify other users based on their affiliations with particular schools or other organizations. The system also provides a mechanism for a user to selectively establish contact relationships or connections with other users, and to grant permissions for such other users to view personal information of the user. The system may also include features for enabling users to identify contacts of their respective contacts. In addition, the system may automatically notify users of personal information updates made by their respective contacts.’ So, should Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg worry about Amazon opening a can of patent whup-ass?”
Legal firms* are counting patents (per nation) as though counting patents would give some indication of real progress rather than the level of vindictive protectionism. The USPTO ought to take pride in a system that has fewer patents (higher bar), not the opposite. That’s why the Bilski case is important. It is rare to see patentability scope being limited rather than extended at the USPTO. █
* At the bottom it says “Bird & Bird is a recognised leader in the field of intellectual property law in the UK.” In other words, they make money from patents, i.e. taxing technology.
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Summary: One of Microsoft’s closest allies in India is entering development of the main competitor of Microsoft’s cash cow
A FEW days ago we spoke about the “bad Novell” and the “good [formerly] Novell”. As time goes by, Microsoft and its MVPs (like Miguel de Icaza with his latest Mono Trojans [1, 2]) increase their presence and influence at Novell while projects like OpenSUSE lose direction and get scuttled.
“At this stage, Microsoft really needs to screw up OpenOffice.org and ODF.”One project that’s at risk from Novell is OpenOffice.org. It is plausible to assume that Novell waits for an opportunity to take control of the project from Sun/Oracle (Novell already maintains a fork and it has floated the idea of a foundation). About a month ago we showed that Thorsten Behrens from Novell was rejected entry into OpenOffice.org, but we are saddened to see Wipro — a pro-Microsoft company and close ally [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] — entering the project with Venkata Sudheer (it’s not clear to what extent the company is involved, but Wipro lobbied for OOXML, which means Microsoft Office). This may be a form of entryism which gives the Microsoft crowd more control over OpenOffice.org. It’s something to be aware of and highly vigilant about. Will Wipro insert features that further Microsoft’s agenda into OpenOffice.org? Like Novell put Hyper-V patches inside Linux [1, 2, 3]?
At this stage, Microsoft really needs to screw up OpenOffice.org and ODF. We explained the reason yesterday and Neil McAllister from IDG says that “Microsoft Office Web Apps [Are] Limited, Mediocre, Dismal” (original here). Harsh headline, strong words.
Many features were missing, however — most notably the ability to edit documents — so my ultimate assessment was reserved. Now that Office 2010 has shipped, I thought it high time to revisit the suite to see what Microsoft has actually delivered. Are the Office Web Apps a true competitor to Google Docs, a valuable addition to the Office product family, or merely a Web-based novelty?
Notice how they still don’t/hardly mention OpenOffice.org. That’s the main competition. █
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Summary: Detailed explanation of how Bill Gates hacked the system and found ways of making profit from monopolies he casts as humanist
“SO far Gates abuses the front of charity to push his politics,” argues a reader of ours, “using a war chest filled by his chief lobbyist, Buffett. If the pair going to actually walk the walk, that goes with all the talk, they could start with a 7+ digit, cash, no-strings-attached donation to the FSF (or FSFe) and another to the EFF.”
This is another post that helps explain how the Gates Foundation operates to increase its power and wealth.
“If the pair going to actually walk the walk, that goes with all the talk, they could start with a 7+ digit, cash, no-strings-attached donation to the FSF (or FSFe) and another to the EFF.”
–Anonymous readerI recently started this discussion in USENET, which had Ian Hilliard argue: “Gates and Co. are lobbying government, hence the taxpayers, to finance development of new energy technologies, which will belong to the companies doing the development. The companies will then charge the taxpayers to use the technology.
“If the taxpayers are paying for the technology, they should also own it, hence the technology should go into public domain, so that those who paid for the technology also get to use it for free. We all know that that won’t happen.
“These people are lobbying the government in their own self interest, which comes back to my original statement: Politics is about pushing the agenda of a minority against the best interest of the majority.
“Gates now runs an investment company in the guise of a charity.”
The forum’s usual Microsoft trolls jump to Gates’ defence (ad hominem attacks on messengers), but in reply to them, argues Hilliard: “Of course Gates profits. He profits in the power that all that money in the Gates Foundation has to throw around. The fact is that the Gates Foundation only gives the minimum amount of money that it has to to remain a charity.
“Gates now runs an investment company in the guise of a charity.”
–Ian Hilliard“If you look closely, the Gates Foundation is investing in a lot of start up technologies. Unlike the government, Bill Gates is not a silent investor. Bill Gates is using his money to put himself in the middle of a number of emerging technologies and by claiming to be a charity, he does not have to pay tax.
“Bill Gates made is money by leveraging his control of the OS, handed to him by IBM, to kill off the competition and take over the markets that others had created.
“Gates is a great strategist. He knew to use his father’s legal skills, his mother’s connections and his friend, Steve Balmer’s marketing skills to pitch computing at the masses and then control it. He stopped the PC
manufacturers from being able to compete on anything but price and specs in order to force the price of hardware down. This meant that more computers could be sold and Microsoft could sell more software.
“Most of all, Bill Gates understood that you can control the end user by controlling their data. To this day, Microsoft fights against using real open standards and this relinquishes control of the data.”
We previously showed that Gates’ friend, whom he invests in heavily (the world’s largest patent troll), holds patents that relate to these energy projects Gates lobbies for. This same troll, Intellectual Ventures, also has investment in the pharmaceutical patents that Gates lobbies for, under the guise of promoting health. It’s lobbying, it’s an investment, and Gates employs a big army of PR people to hide this and to marginalise opposing views. He helps create a monopolistic vision that promotes just one path and sends billions of dollars. These dollars will be sent to him and his friends at taxpayers’ expense.
We are very disappointed to see that Slashdot is still publishing Gates’ PR pieces (maybe promoted by one of the PR agencies the foundation hired). It neglects Bill Gates’ investments in BP for example [1, 2, 3] and instead plays along with Gates’ latest lobbying (comparing Gates to Einstein even). As one commenter points out:
Einstein wrote of specific people and experiments. Gates does not.
Einstein warned of a horrible weapon. Gates is warning us that the most environmentally ravaged countries might be developing alternative energy (may god have mercy on our souls, lol).
Einstein acted alone and was not heavily invested in nuclear energy. Gates and his friends are heavily invested in alternative energy sources.
I’m no biographer of either but from what I know Einstein seemed to be motivated by things like the discovery of knowledge and genuine concern for mankind. Gates has (at least historically) seemed to be motivated by profit and money first above everything else with ideals similar to Einstein distantly following that primary motivator. Maybe he’s changed but Einstein has always held a more altruistic image in my mind. That tends to happen to people long gone who made staggering advancements. Who knows, maybe revisionist history will see Gates alongside Einstein? But as it stands now, my personal opinion is that the two are not even close.
Bottom line: Einstein was a scientist who made great discoveries. Gates was a businessman who made great sales.
I’m not sold on Gates’ motives. He sounds more like a lobbyist than a sage omen of caution like Einstein was.
In other news, Gates is still an apologist for Chinese tyranny and suppression:
Bill Gates’s limp defence of Chinese web censorship
Gates is not chief executive of Microsoft anymore, of course, and arguably not under any obligation to comment on industry issues. But he is in a position of power and influence and should be prepared to set an example. Whatever Google’s conveniently PR friendly reasons for pulling out of China, it is still right to take a stand against the mass censorship of the internet in China.
Gates’s soggy and safe generalisation about the internet as a great source of information is true, yes, but the value and democracy of that information is severely undermined when whole swathes of opinion and perspective are blocked.
It’s not the first time that he says it about China this year. As we showed before, he’s close to China and so is Microsoft. They have things in common. █
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