Why Microsoft Was Trying to Buy Activision and ‘Look Big’ in 2022 (XBox Was Failing, XBox as a Whole Might Die Soon)

Posted in DRM, Hardware at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

XBox is far from the top, as shown below, and sales of XBox have collapsed in recent years (Microsoft keeps the recent numbers secret because it’s embarrassing)

XBox sales really bad

Summary: There have been several speculations online lately (we’ve also cited several) that XBox would be shut down if it carried on along the present trajectory; it also looks like the record-breaking takeover bid (Activision) was a last-ditch effort at comeback through exclusives (Microsoft fell way behind in this regard)

Further to this previous post and some recent Daily Links [1, 2], we’ve decided to belatedly study publicly-available data and charts, seeking to figure out what led to articles such as this one: (not the only such article so far this month)

Is Xbox Shutting Down in 2023?

We can now better understand this.

Comparing 2023, 2022, and 2021, it becomes apparent that the Microsoft’s XBox business reached somewhat of a standstill (layoffs had already begun as the debt-saddled Microsoft must reduce expenses). It wasn’t this bad half a decade ago, but contrary to what Microsoft lobbyists like Florian Müller focus on, we need to explore what happened to XBox, where many chiefs resigned last month in quick succession (they know how bad things really are; this is a matter of public record, not speculation). In 2021 Microsoft’s sales of consoles completely collapsed.

“When Microsoft refuses to reveal some numbers (e.g. number of active users of WSL) it always means the numbers are appalling and outright embarrassing.”“If Wikipedia can be considered even remotely accurate,” an associate noted, it does not look particularly good. “Jan 18, 2022 was when they made their bid for Activision,” the associate added, quoting this recent article (“PlayStation has 80% of the European video games market – 70% worldwide”) from the British media, Metro News. Here is the key part:

Given Microsoft refuses to release sales figures for the Xbox its impossible to verify these percentages…

And “there it is,” the associate said, “the XBox is a failure.”

When Microsoft refuses to reveal some numbers (e.g. number of active users of WSL) it always means the numbers are appalling and outright embarrassing.

“Nintendo’s stats are hidden too,” the associate said, citing this article:

It should also be noted that this already impressive figure does not take into account Nintendo game sales, as the publisher has always been weirdly prudish when it comes to revealing its own bottom line.

Microsoft’s gaming ambitions seem to be on their deathbed. No wonder Bill Gates-funded media (e.g. BBC) was lobbying against UK/CMA, basically giving a platform to “furious” executives who issue threats and try to blackmail Britain (via Gates-bribed outlets and the above-mentioned lobbyists).

“DRM issues set aside, “Linux” might be a big part of the console market in the future.”“Xbox was only ever a testbed for DRM on commodity hardware and was never meant to turn an individual profit,” the associate concluded, “though Microsoft would have wished for that benefit too.”

“Furthermore there some kind of “Steam” console on the market, too, also beating the Xbox.”

It runs Arch Linux with KDE. It’s the Steam Deck. DRM issues set aside, “Linux” might be a big part of the console market in the future.

Today’s games are mostly proprietary, many are cross-platform (unlike a couple of decades back), “but again,” the associate added, “the XBox was never about games but instead about working out DRM on the standard PC commodity hardware for later infection in the main OS.” This was said here many times before, for over a decade already [1, 2, 3, 4].

Sony Won the Console Wars a Long Time Ago

Posted in Deception, Hardware, Microsoft at 7:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is what it looks like based on Web access (not the best metric, but one Microsoft would rather hide):

Console Operating System Market Share Worldwide Feb 2022 - May 2023: XBox share very low

Summary: XBox has given Microsoft monumental losses and with the Activision deal falling through we can expect many more XBox layoffs (there were plenty such layoffs so far this year)


Newer is Not Always Better (the Case of Automobiles)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Hardware at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The car drives you!

Summary: Techrights recommends caution against ‘tech maximalism’; not everything that can be done with/on a computer should, in practice, be done that way; a careful balance is needed, taking stock of pros and cons

TODAY in IRC we had a lengthy discussion about the downside of supposedly “modern” or “smart” cars*. It’ll be in the IRC logs tomorrow. It’s very informal. It’s going way beyond aspects like cost and privacy — those two are commonly discussed these days. We did a series about it over a year ago.

“People are simply asked to buy the “latest” — no matter what Trojan horses are included (mandated) in these.”What compels people to blindly assume that newer is always better when it’s perfectly clear that users aren’t in control and products are tailored (over time) to better suit the manufacturers, the stores etc.? People are simply asked to buy the “latest” — no matter what Trojan horses are included (mandated) in these.

This subject keeps coming back. People who drive need to buy cars (occasionally) and there are many things they see which they strongly dislike.

“The one [new article] about cars can be motivation for revisiting cars/embedded systems and software freedom,” one person told us this week, suggesting it as a topic and stating that “the focus was in-house expertise vs outsourcing, in cars.”

To quote the portion we’ve already included in Daily Links:

I would argue relying too much on external software vendors and not seeing software as a first-class citizen is the root cause. But Volvo Cars is wisely moving away from that model by bringing software developers in-house. Google and Apple partner with vendors for commodities. Software and data just happen to be too key to treat it that way. As I argued in a previous post, the automotive industry needs to own their data and set up to make it to the mobility-driven phase.

Having someone from software-only companies tell Volvo how to do software is not that different from having someone from Foxconn coming to Cupertino telling Apple how to do hardware. Personally, I approach Volvo from a position of respect and will do my best for it to achieve its vision. And I’m not alone. There’s a whole army of us.

Having done this for more than 2 decades, I don’t buy the argument that “it’s rocket science, you do cars, pay us to do it for you”.

Cars have long been marketed and merchandised as tools of freedom (mobility) and independence (no public transport). But if entering a car means being spied on in all sorts of ways (by third parties!), then taking a long walk might be more emancipating an experience. As a teenager, when I drove my car I brought a laptop into it (for music; no need to touch anything while driving). Back in the 90s it was possible with universal ports. There was no DRM. I could take the laptop anywhere I needed it afterwards, so I wasn’t paying for a computer that only works inside the car.

“Cars have long been marketed and merchandised as tools of freedom (mobility) and independence (no public transport).”Tech maximalism typically results in tech fascism. It’s the misguided belief that everything should be digitalised, no matter what the extra complexity may entail. In the case of voting machines, it begets mistrust and uncertainty; media moguls are happy to exploit that to discredit entire elections. This morning at 7AM I went to vote (I was the first person at the polling station) and all I needed was my passport. They gave me a piece of paper, a pencil, and I put the paper inside a physical box. They didn’t mind me wearing a hoodie (whole head covered) and two masks. The passport is hard to forge and I knew how to answer questions when quizzed verbally (name, address etc.) so a bit of privacy is possible and society can function just fine this way.

I’m not against technology but as a passionate technologist I know where technology neither belongs nor is needed. There are companies trying to sell a bunch of useless “solutions” and councils/people eager to show it’s worth the money by imposing these “solutions” on unsuspecting users (maybe they even get kickbacks for introducing these “solutions”).

While we’re on the topic of ‘tech maximalism’, yesterday TechDirt said goodbye to Twitter. TechDirt kept defending TikTok from bans, but maybe TechDirt is coming to realise that social control media is a bad idea. Outsourcing communications to it is a mistake.
* An associate reminded us of the horrifying nature and worrying trajectory of such “smart” cars. Buyers ought to check the number of sensors in each new car. They have some kind of jargon name — ECU (Electronic Control Unit) — and six years ago there were 80+ microcontrollers in your average new car. Some other sites put that number at over 100 microcontrollers. The diagnostics codes are proprietary and there was a requirement that they be accessible but that law did not specify wireless connections so the car companies block non-dealers from accessing wireless diagnostics and have taken away wired diagnostics.


Microsoft’s Mass Layoffs Are Killing Many Microsoft Peripherals and Flagship Products

Posted in Finance, Hardware, Microsoft at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Days ago it was revealed that peripherals from Microsoft would end; the "official" spin from Microsoft-friendly sites was that those would "continue" under the "Surface" brand. Oh, well… about that one: (one hour ago from a Microsoft site)

Microsoft spin: The Microsoft Surface Duo is in trouble
“Surface” was named among the mass layoffs and discontinued products; so what would Surface-branded peripherals be? Vapourware? Distraction?

Summary: Microsoft likes to claim that dead products aren’t dead (e.g. Silverlight, Microsoft Stores*, spinning layoffs as “replaced by AI” or “going online” or “working from home”); but the evidence keeps piling up that things aren’t rosy and now there are rumours about additional Microsoft layoffs in Latin America
* There were many additional dead things besides Silverlight and Microsoft Stores (we tracked them over a decade ago when there were far too many to exhaustively keep abreast of). It is worth recalling Christian Einfeldt’s observations of monopoly rents (which is where Microsoft made its money, not really software) and the tipping point was already approached back then — something to the effect that at around 85% (for Windows/Office) we could see the inflection point, below which there is no return for Microsoft. Some of our more recent articles suggest that Microsoft’s market share is far below 85% in enough places for it to matter even in the face of the recent US government bailouts.


No More Microsoft-Branded Peripherals After the Massive Layoffs

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 1:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As usual, they pretend to still have something instead (like the time they shut down all the Microsoft stores and decided to spin that as “moving online”)

Microsoft-made mice and keyboards aren't going away, but the Microsoft brand name is. The company told The Verge that it will stop selling Microsoft-branded keyboards, mice, and other accessories following a series of layoffs that affected its hardware division. The company will refocus its efforts on higher-end Surface-branded keyboards and mice, which represent just a tiny fraction of all the accessories Microsoft currently sells.

Microsoft’s webcams are being discontinued. Image: Microsoft

Summary: In spite of the epic (but very typical, in Gates-funded publishers) Microsoft spin, one of their old cash cows is going away; what’s left at the company anyway? The hardware units are all down sharply (about -30% in the past year)


LibrePlanet Talk About ARM and RISC-V

Posted in FSF, Hardware at 8:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The above LibrePlanet talk is a month-old physical presence talk and it was uploaded by the FSF 5 days ago (slides here; PeerTube link); From the official page: “The RISC-V architecture and ecosystem have undergone tremendous growth recently. We will take a look at the current state of RISC-V and its current deployment footprint. We’ll discuss where RISC-V may be headed and the role it may play in completely open and free datacenter servers, tablets, and cellphones. We will review the emergence of the ARM architecture and how in may be an important stepping stone to a free computing platform. We’ll discuss the differences between the ARM licensing model and the X86_64 architecture licensing model as well as the role of ARM processors in cell phones and cloud datacenters (such as AWS). Finally, we’ll take a brief look at some options for starting RISC-V free and open hardware development for both experienced FPGA programmers and newbies. We’ll explain options including physical RISC-V processors, FPGAs, and software emulation.”

Licence: CC BY SA 4.0


Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) Crushing Farmers

Posted in DRM, Hardware at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The above LibrePlanet panel talk from one month ago speaks about repairs of farm equipment; the panel includes Sick Codes, Kevin Kenney, Elizabeth Chamberlain, and Paul Roberts. The video was uploaded by the FSF less than 3 days ago (slides here; PeerTube link); From the official page: “Farmers large and small in the U.S. are being crushed under the thumb of “BigAg” equipment makers whose late model farm machinery combines sensors, always-on Internet connections, software and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to vacuum up and monetize proprietary farm data, while simultaneously preventing farmers from being able to service and repair their own equipment. Farmers who own late model equipment today are required to patronize “authorized” technicians at the expense of independent repair and are forced to pay astronomical prices for even routine maintenance. What’s needed is a way to free farmers from the grip of these monopolies with free software and usurious OEM-operated software ecosystems. This panel will bring together experts on farming and farm equipment, embedded device security and policy (e.g. right to repair) to discuss ways to liberate farmers with free software.”

Licence: CC BY SA 4.0


Denis Carikli on Taking Control Over the Means of Production: Free Software Boot

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Hardware at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The above LibrePlanet talk by Denis Carikli is a remote (not physical presence) talk; it talks about bringing freedom to the hardware level (or closer to it) and it was uploaded by the FSF a few hours ago (slides here); From the official page: “But there is also software running before the operating system is even started (like BIOS, UEFI, the Management Engine or the PSP operating systems). They give the hardware manufacturers an enormous amount of control over the computers used by users, even if users use FSF-approved GNU/Linux distributions like Trisquel and Parabola. That control is for instance often used by hardware manufacturers to give companies the ability to remotely control users computers through features like AMT, and that control is independent of the operating system running on the computer. After giving some background for less technical users, we will look from a user point of view why and how to avoid nonfree software in that area.”

Licence: CC BY SA 4.0

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