In wake of Trump slump, fans nurse conspiracy theories

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You knew it would happen: Trump barely beating Rubio for second place in the Iowa Republican Caucus means that something must be up. The Washington Post reports on the conspiracy theories emerging from Cruz's unexpected victory. Top of the list: Microsoft, a major Rubio donor.

theorists pointed to failures of the Microsoft system during the night as evidence that something was funky. Because if Microsoft wanted to turn a 10 into a 20 on behalf of its favored candidate, it would need to shut down the system to do so.

By far the weirdest part of the conspiracy theory, though, is that Rubio still came in third. Rubio was predicted to come in third; Rubio came in third by less than was predicted. The theory appears to be that Microsoft switched votes from Trump to Rubio to make Trump not come in first -- but then why does that help Microsoft if they want Rubio to win? "Momentum," colorful eggs on Twitter reply, willfully ignoring that Rubio had momentum before Microsoft theoretically intervened.

The #MicrosoftRubioFraud hastag is a blast. Read the rest

EA reveals the Xbox One sales total that Microsoft prefers not to

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Microsoft long ago stopped saying how many XBox Ones it had sold, but figures released by Electronic Arts expose numbers far short of rival Sony's Playstation 4.

On a financial call with reporters, CEO Blake Jorgensen said the combined install base of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was about 55 million units. With Sony boasting of 36 million PS4s shifted, that makes for 19 million Xbox Ones.

The numbers tally with rumors, but both machines are doing well given that we're still only 2 years into the current generation of hardware. The big loser this time around is Nintendo, thought to have sold only about 11m Wii Us. Read the rest

Bill Gates sold rights to the Tiananmen 1989 pictures to a Chinese company

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The photos went as part of the deal that sold Corbis Entertainment's licensing arm to Visual China Group. Read the rest

Microsoft's patent on a UI slider is EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month

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EFF has awarded its coveted Stupid Patent of the Month prize to Microsoft for D554,140, a design patent on a slider widget for a UI. Read the rest

Windows 10 covertly sends your disk-encryption keys to Microsoft

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There's no way to turn off the "recovery" feature that sends your disk encryption keys to Microsoft by default, without notice -- though you can (and should) ask Microsoft to forget the keys later. Read the rest

Glitchlife: Gallery of public Blue Screens of Death, including a world-beater

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This gallery of public Blue Screen of Death crashes on screens is a great reminder that, as Vice's Rachel Pick says, "life is a farce." Read the rest

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others join to create royalty-free video codecs for all

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The group plans to develop a new generation of royalty-free open source digital media formats for video, audio, and still images.

Windows 10 automatically spies on your children and sends you a dossier of their activity

Kirk writes, "This weekend we upgraded my 14-year-old son's laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10. Today I got a creepy-ass email from Microsoft titled 'Weekly activity report for [my kid]', including which websites he's visited, how many hours per day he's used it, and how many minutes he used each of his favorite apps." Read the rest

Windows 10 defaults to keylogging, harvesting browser history, purchases, and covert listening

By default, Microsoft gets to see your location, keystrokes and browser history -- and listen to your microphone, and some of that stuff is shared with "trusted [by Microsoft, not by you] partners." Read the rest

Watch Minecraft become holographic in Microsoft Hololens E3 demo

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Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.

Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.

From PopSci:

“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.

Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.

Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.

No HoloLens release date yet.

More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD: “The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

[Kotaku on YouTube]

Read the rest

Windows 10 announcement: certified hardware can lock out competing OSes

Microsoft has announced a relaxation of its "Secure Boot" guidelines for OEMs, allowing companies to sell computers pre-loaded with Windows 10 that will refuse to boot any non-Microsoft OS. Read the rest

NSA can wiretap Skype wholesale

Another gem from the latest Der Spiegel NSA leaks: the NSA can listen in on all Skype traffic and read Skype messages, because Microsoft hands over its keys. Read the rest

How Microsoft hacked trademark law to let it secretly seize whole businesses

The company expanded the "ex parte temporary restraining order" so it could stage one-sided, sealed proceedings to take away rival businesses' domains, sometimes knocking thousands of legit servers offline. Read the rest

Microsoft to acquire Minecraft for $2.5bn

Tech giant Microsoft is to buy Mojang, creators of Minecraft, for $2.5bn, reports the Associated Press.

Launched in 2009, Minecraft is a sprawling, endlessly-replayable "sandbox" game that dumps the player in a randomly-generated abstract world. By exploring, gathering materials, crafting items and equipping their avatars, players can set about surviving hostile fauna, launching expeditions deep into ore-filled caverns, and constructing anything from huts to palaces, and even vast machines.

The phenomenal appeal and success of Minecraft -- just check our archives over the last few years! -- is hard to define, but it's been downloaded more than 100 million times since its inception. Created by Markus "Notch" Persson, Minecraft remains the most popular game on Xbox, and the most popular paid game on iOS and Android, according to the AP.

Yet that word hardly scratches the surface of the blocky world-simulator's Lego-like possibilities, though: a fact hit on by Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, who said that it was "more than a game."

"It is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," Nadella was quoted as saying in the press release. Microsoft expects to close the sale by the end of 2014, and break even by the end of 2015.

Microsoft also committed to keeping Minecraft available on all the platforms on which it is available today, including Sony Playstation and cellphones running Apple and Google-based operating systems

"Yes, the deal is real," wrote Mojang's Owen Hill at the company's official blog. Read the rest

Microsoft's 1994 home page

Microsoft has recreated its first home page, from 1994. From Microsoft's The Fire Hose blog:

In 1994, among the reasons Microsoft started a website was to put its growing Knowledge Base online. At the time, the company managed support forums for customers on CompuServe, one of the earliest major Internet dial-up service providers.

“We had started to build up a community there; people would answer questions for each other,” recalls Mark Ingalls, a Microsoft engineer in 1994 who would become Microsoft.com’s first administrator. He was also the only website employee at that time, other than his boss. But the staff doubled early on, when Steve Heaney was hired to offer vacation relief, Ingalls says.

In terms of “Web design,” the notion, much less the phrase, didn’t really exist.

“There wasn’t much for authoring tools,” Ingalls says. “There was this thing called HTML that almost nobody knew.” Information that was submitted for the new Microsoft.com website often came to Ingalls via 3-1/2-inch floppy disks.

“Steve Heaney and I put together PERL scripts that handled a lot of these daily publishing duties for us,” he says. “For a while, we ran the site like a newspaper, where we published content twice a day. And if you missed the cutoff for the publishing deadline, you didn’t get it published until the next running of the presses, or however you want to term it.”

Read the rest

Windows Phone 8.1 surprisingly great

Windows Phone 7 was Microsoft's belated entry in the smartphone wars, ushering in cool new design trends without making a huge impact on the business. Windows Phone 8 was a disappointment. But the first major point version is a big surprise, packing all the new features expected in its predecessor: "a magnificent smartphone platform," writes Peter Bright. Read the rest

Executive shakeup begins at the new Microsoft

Kara Swisher learned that some high-ups at Microsoft at leaving the company following the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella. On one departing exec: "Good for him not to have hung around twiddling his thumbs ... as often happens far too often at Microsoft and elsewhere." Read the rest

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