Every year, Amazon.com provides a look at some of the best-selling products during the holiday season. As always, the information the secretive retailer provides is cherry-picked and incomplete, and in the case of technology products, more than slightly skewed. Still, it's an interesting roundup.
A hacker group launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network on Christmas Day, making the services inaccessible for millions of users. As of Friday morning, some users were still experiencing difficulties connecting to certain parts of the services.
Microsoft is now offering the controversial—and ridiculous—movie "The Interview" via its Xbox Video service for both rent and purchase, as is Google via YouTube and Google Play. The move comes after Sony Pictures halted a planned Christmas Day theatrical release of the film because of a cyber-attack and threats against movie-goers.
To accommodate customers who are upgrading from their well-worn Xbox 360 to a shiny new Xbox One this holiday season, Activision is extending a nice, one-time offer: You can upgrade your copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare—and your season pass and any other digitally purchased content—from the old console to the new one for free.
An often irreverent look at this short holiday week's other news, including a holiday break, Ireland supports Microsoft in email warrant case, Google and Microsoft team up to prevent hotel Wi-Fi blocking, Mississippi AG has it in for Google, and Sony relents on the overwhelming demand and will release the most eagerly-awaited film of all time on Christmas Day.
Microsoft has quietly released a Windows 10 Preparation tool for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 which ostensibly makes sure your PC is ready for the new OS. But I'm pretty sure all this tool does is alert users when the latest preview build is available for download in January.
I'm a big fan of device customization, and one of the neat things about newer Microsoft smart phones like the Lumia 830 is that you can often change the color of the device using a new shell. In the case of the Lumia 830 in particular, Microsoft sells a Wireless Charging Flip Shell that offers up a number of color choices, but also some protection for the screen.
In what might have been the first sign of US retaliation against North Korea's electronic attack on Sony Pictures, the totalitarian country dropped completely off the Internet on Monday for several hours with widespread outages continuing into Tuesday. At this time, it's not clear what triggered the massive outage. But it does seem like the "proportional response" promised by US president Obama, especially when you consider that North Korea's small Internet-accessible population is largely military or governmental in nature.
With 2014 winding to a close, it's pretty clear that Microsoft's "mobile first, cloud first" mantra is the most important trend of the year, one will look back on and remember as an inflection point of sorts between or on premises and PC-based past and this new way of doing things. That slow-moving Microsoft was able to reinvent itself is amazing in its own right. But the real story here is whether its massive customer base moves forward with it.
US president Barack Obama said this weekend that the North Korean electronic attack of Sony Pictures' computer systems and subsequent leaking of information was an act of cyber-vandalism, not war. This declaration effectively limits any potential response to the attack the United States, though what that response might be remains to be seen.
This past week, Microsoft announced that it now supports carrier billing for Windows Phone app purchases in the top emerging markets, a key component of its strategy to reach the "next 5 billion" smart phone users. This is complementary to the firm's affordable hardware pricing strategy and could help Windows Phone make headway against Android in price-sensitive markets.
For all the ways you could spend—and waste—money on technology this year, the best value to be had was a pair of affordable and value-packed laptops, the HP Stream 11 and HP Stream 13. Announced by Microsoft in July and greeted by stunned disbelief, these HP Stream laptops deliver on the promise that a Windows device can be affordable without being cheap. They aren't just good enough. They're great.
With Windows Phone 8.1.1 now rolling out to handsets around the world, it's time to step back and examine what it is we're getting in this important update. There are lots of new features, and if you're using a Microsoft/Nokia Lumia handset—as over 90 percent of Windows Phone users are—there are some additional benefits over the stock OS upgrade too. So here's a complete guide to everything I've written about Windows Phone 8.1.1 and Lumia Denim, with more to come.
It's been a while since the last What I Use, but there haven't been many major changes since late last year: Surface Pro 3 has become my go-to travel companion, I've added a third cellphone line for testing Windows Phone, Android and iPhone side-by-side, and have rotated through some new tablets and other devices. We've also switched from FIOS to Comcast and added to our set-top box collection....More
This has been a great year for Windows Phone users in so many ways. Not only did we just get a major, major OS update in Windows Phone 8.1, but Microsoft and a variety of third parties have been busy launching an unprecedented number of new and improved apps on the platform as well. With all that in mind—and with the understanding that this is just a slice in time—here's a peek at what I'm using on my own Windows Phone handset....More