The Xbox Onesie is a kigurumi for gamer astronauts

Microsoft has announced an Xbox Onesie that looks like a cuddly spacesuit, and comes with pockets sized to fit game-controllers, forearm grips to prevent slippage at key moments, and roomy hoods that can accommodate enclosed gamer headsets. Read the rest

Illegal "Warranty Void If Removed" still ubiquitous: they're on the Xbox One S

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The tamper-evident "Warrant Void If Removed" stickers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which allows device owners to take their gadgets for service at independent depots without voiding their warranties. Read the rest

Microsoft will buy Linkedin for $26.2B

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The all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, and will be one of the largest acquisitions in tech business history. Read the rest

Amid education funding emergency, Washington State gives Boeing, Microsoft $1B in tax breaks

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Jeff writes, "Combined, Washington State is providing Microsoft and Boeing $1 billion annually in tax breaks. Cumulatively, Microsoft's state tax has saved its shareholders $8.6 billion in costs. While the company quietly surpassed $1 trillion in all time revenue, its home state faces emergencies in education funding, homelessness, heroin addiction and escalating crime." Read the rest

Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

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“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”

Read the rest

Microsoft video shows how a blind software engineer uses AI to 'see' the world

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Meet Saqib, a Microsoft dev in London who lost the use of his eyes at age 7. Here's a neat little profile of his artificial intelligence development work from Microsoft Cognitive Services:

Read the rest

Microsoft's neo-nazi chat bot rides again

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"Tay," Microsoft's attempt at creating an artificial millennial, returned to twitter. Nothing that chatbot said helped Microsoft's situation, and the world should question if this technology giant is allowed to continue mucking around with artificial life.

Via Ars Technica:

Microsoft today accidentally re-activated "Tay," its Hitler-loving Twitter chatbot, only to be forced to kill her off for the second time in a week.

Tay "went on a spam tirade and then quickly fell silent again," TechCrunch reported this morning. "Most of the new messages from the millennial-mimicking character simply read 'you are too fast, please take a rest,'" according to the The Financial Times. "But other tweets included swear words and apparently apologetic phrases such as 'I blame it on the alcohol.'"

The new tirade reportedly began around 3 a.m. ET. Tay's account, with 95,100 tweets and 213,000 followers, is now marked private. "Tay remains offline while we make adjustments," Microsoft told several media outlets today. "As part of testing, she was inadvertently activated on Twitter for a brief period of time."

Microsoft has apologized. Read the rest

Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

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Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

After Tay's very public crazy racist Nazi sexbot breakdown, Microsoft's like, 'Tay-a culpa, guys'

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Learning from Tay’s introduction,” a blog post dated March 25, 2016 by Microsoft Research Corporate VP Peter Lee:

Read the rest

Minecraft to become AI testbed

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Microsoft plans to turn Minecraft into a test suite for artificial intelligence research, reports the BBC. As a simplified but all-encompassing model of the world, it's perfect for tutoring 'bots.

…Microsoft suggests the open-ended nature of Minecraft makes it particularly useful because of the huge variety of situations it can simulate from first-person perspectives.

"It allows you to have 'embodied AI'," explained Matthew Johnson, the principal software engineer working on AIX.

"So, rather than have a situation where the AI sees an avatar of itself, it can actually be inside, looking out through the eyes of something that is living in the world.

"We think this is an essential part of building this kind of general intelligence."

Read the rest

Microsoft spams corporate users with messages denigrating their IT departments

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If your company hasn't "upgraded" your computer to Windows 10 -- a tendril of surveillance capitalism masquerading as a "free OS" -- you may start receiving messages from Microsoft telling you that your IT department is holding you back: "Your system administrator has blocked upgrades on this PC. Check with your system administrator about upgrading this PC to Windows 10." Read the rest

Bill Gates: Microsoft would backdoor its products in a heartbeat

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Bill Gates has joined Donald Trump in condemning Apple for refusing to backdoor its products at the behest of the FBI, promising that the company that he founded, a waning firm called Microsoft, would happily compromise its security on demand for the US government. Read the rest

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

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