Microsoft now faces a lawsuit over recent problems with its Xbox Live online gaming service.
Three Texas residents filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of themselves and others who have had trouble connecting to Xbox Live in recent weeks.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Houston, claims Microsoft's outages represent a breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation for which the software maker is liable. The suit doesn't claim specific damages, but notes the amount is in excess of $5 million.
In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that Microsoft should have known strong holiday sales would … Read more
Microsoft has been trying to work its way into the living room for some time. Now the company is trying to target the most easily wooed addresses: those belonging to its employees.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an interesting write-up on how Microsoft is letting some of its workers try out elaborate digital living room set-ups to get a better sense of how its technology plays inside actual homes.
It's a start. But, of course, how Microsoft workers enjoy their own technology is often vastly different than how ordinary consumers do.
Microsoft also does plenty of field testing of its … Read more
It's not the company's main focus these days, but Microsoft does still offer a paid service called MSN Premium, which offering services like a phishing filter and parental controls.
The thing is, most of the product's "premium" features are available for free in some form via Windows, Windows Live, or both.
Enthusiast site Windows Secrets thought it was time to point this fact out to the people who are paying Microsoft as much as $10 a month for MSN Premium. Of the 21 features Microsoft touts, Windows Secrets figures only one or two aren't … Read more
A new video streaming service called Qik has been getting some buzz lately. If you're familiar with UStream.tv, Veodia, and Comvu, the idea for Qik is similar: take a mobile phone with a video camera on a fast mobile connection, and stream video live for other people to watch. The service borrows a page from Kyte.tv and UStream in integrating live chat that allows broadcasters to interact with the users--although Qik steps it up a notch by letting the broadcaster simply reply using the phone's integrated microphone instead of having to type out text on the phone's keypad.
To compensate for network lag, the application will calculate the delay and show it in the corner of the screen. In testing over a 3G connection I got the delay up to about a minute, although if you're using the service over Wi-Fi, it's extremely nimble. You can also record videos for uploading later, when away from a data stream of Wi-Fi hot spot. The next time you connect, it'll automatically upload your video--which is a nice touch.
The beauty of Qik is that it's wonderfully simple to use and participate in. People viewing your video either via Qik.com or on a video embed can chat if it's live, and the second it goes offline, the player acts just like any other Web video, and turns the live chat into a comment thread. While the quality of the video leaves something to be desired when compared with Web video hosting services like YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo, it's limited to the mobile network connection and the often lackluster lenses found on camera phones. Qik's creators tell me there are plans to add a higher quality stream to the Nokia N95 and other high-end handsets in the near future.
The service is currently in private alpha, and limited to a range of Nokia phones on the S60 platform. The application itself is only a little over 300k, and downloads in seconds. We didn't get a chance to give it a spin over a slower connection like EDGE, but based on the 3G performance, you likely wouldn't want to. In the pipeline for future updates are mobile-to-mobile streaming (sending and receiving video), integration with social networking sites like Facebook, and additional handset support.
I've embedded an example of Qik after the break. You can also check out whoever's live streaming at the moment on the service's live page.
Sophisticated baby boomers and Gen Xers pride themselves on their ability to appreciate the finer things in life. They're wine snobs, crave gourmet food, drive exotic cars, buy 1080p high definition TVs, but for some bizarre reason think low-end speakers are just dandy. At a New Year's Eve party I polled perfect strangers about their hi-fi systems, and the three men and one woman all said that, sure, music was once really important, but now it's mere background. And they now owned very small systems, because "I can't hear the difference anymore."
Hmmm, I … Read more
I've always preferred prognostication to nostalgia, so rather than replay the best of 2007, I'll use these late December doldrums to make 10 predictions for the coming year. Some editors will warn you that this kind of list is suicide--it's too easy for everybody to look back a year later and see where you were wrong--but it hasn't hurt Cringely, so here goes. In no particular order.
It's intellectually lazy to divide the world into two types of people, but when it comes to using computers to create music, it seems to be true.
The first group are what I'd call digital music enthusiasts. They compose almost exclusively at a computer, using a MIDI controller and/or sounds from a wide variety of third-party digital sources--loops from a program like ACID, beats and virtual synthesizers from a program like Reason, short samples that they recorded themselves or spliced from another source.
I'm a member of the second group, the reluctant analog dinosaurs. We came … Read more