he White House announced that a deal, including AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, had been reached to try to limit the display of advertisements on websites with content that infringes copyright and engage in counterfeiting. The voluntary measures taken by the firms is a bid to stem the flow of cash to websites that typically rely on advertising to make money.
Google, arguably the most important internet ad broker, said the “Best Practices for Ad Networks to Address Piracy and Counterfeiting” would “maintain and post policies prohibiting websites that are principally dedicated to selling counterfeit goods or engaging in copyright piracy from participating in the Ad Network’s advertising programs”.
Fred Humphries, VP of US Government Affairs at Microsoft said the takedown requests that form part of the proposed best practices have worked well for Microsoft in the past. He said, “It’s been our experience that a notice-and-takedown mechanism like the one envisioned by these Best Practices can be an effective means to address online infringement.
It seems the next-generation Kinect sensor that is required on the upcoming Xbox One will be used for more than just voice and movement-based game control. According to a recent interview with the Xbox Live advertising team, Kinect-based controls will also be integrated into the native advertising shown on the Xbox One dashboard.
“With the new Xbox One, the technology and Kinect have improved a lot,” an unnamed Xbox Live advertising technical account manager said in an interview with enthusiast site StickTwiddlers. “The voice recognition, the way you speak to your Xbox, and the transition between gaming and watching TV is a lot smoother, and hopefully we can transpire that into advertising that we do.”
The report doesn’t go into detail on just how Kinect will be integrated into the ad-viewing experience, but a Microsoft patent filed in 2011 and published in May could shed some light. The patent describes a system in which advertisers could provide “anything from digital gifts, like a score or some flair for your avatar, or promotional rewards from third-parties, like coupons or products” in exchange for watching ads or for “an action performable by the viewer and detectable by one or more sensors, such as a depth camera.” Sony has a similar patent application on camera-based interactive advertising for its consoles.
Microsoft has already experimented with Kinect-powered interactive advertising through its NuAds program on the Xbox 360. Those ads encourage users to speak or gesture at certain points to change the ad or take part in some interactive bit of it. Microsoft said back in January that 37 percent of viewers took the opportunity to engage with the first batch of these ads, using a Kinect-based poll option.
Responding to concerns that the Kinect might be able to give advertisers too much information about user actions, an Xbox Live advertising developer told StickTwiddlers that the ad team doesn’t have access to as much granular Kinect data as game developers do. “There’s the game producers who have a different API, so a different set of code and system that they use, and they’ve got a lot more control of the whole thing,” he said, “whereas, from the advertising point of view, we have a slightly more limited set, which is designed to protect the user. The company is very keen on protecting the user from any sort of abuse, so we can’t do certain things.”
Google, Facebook and Microsoft on Tuesday asked the government for permission to reveal details about the classified requests they receive for the personal information of foreign users, Claire Cain Miller reports in The New York Times.
They made the request after revelations about the National Security Agency’s secret Internet surveillance program, known as Prism, for collecting data from technology companies like e-mail messages, photos, stored documents, videos and online chats. The collection is legally authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which forbids companies from acknowledging the existence of requests or revealing any details about them.
Google for the first time publicly acknowledged it had received FISA requests and said it had complied with far fewer of the requests than it received. Facebook and Microsoft did not go as far as discussing requests they had received but, like Google, said it wanted to be able to publish information on the volume and scope of the government requests.
Some inexpensive Intel-based laptops and tablets will come with Google’s operating system, and others with Microsoft’s, according to sources and analysts.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini earlier this week said touch devices could debut at prices as low as $200, as CNET reported. But the cheapest devices may be based on a non-Windows operating system, according to sources — not necessarily Windows 8, as originally reported.
“There are design wins for Android tablets at that $200 price point. Intel will be participating in that market this year,” a source familiar with Intel’s plans told CNET.
A report in Digitimes on Friday said Intel is promoting “Android convertible notebooks” and that Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus will launch products in the coming months.
That said, IDC’s Bob O’Donnell told CNET on Friday that he has heard chatter about upcoming 7-inch Windows 8 tablets using Intel Atom processors priced as low as $299.
And IHS iSuppli’s Craig Stice doesn’t think $200 to $300 Windows 8 devices are out of the question.
“Spending [three times as much] on a PC vs. a $200 tablet is a big barrier that I feel has been a factor in the struggles the PC market endured the last year,” he said.
How, exactly, did Microsoft do it? It’s like a magician’s trick. The raw numbers for Windows revenue in Microsoft’s Windows division were very substantially up - from $4.633bn (£3bn) in the first three months of 2012, to $5.7bn in the same period this year.
That’s a 24% increase, at a time when we’ve been hearing that PC sales have slumped. How has Microsoft done this? Has Steve Ballmer invented antigravity?
Sadly, no (though it would make a great new business line).
Make no mistake: Windows is still incredibly important to Microsoft. In this quarter it generated 27% of revenues, and 45% of profits. But how is it doing so well when the PC business is so dismal?
Here’s the first part of what happened. In June, Microsoft offered a scheme where people who bought a Windows 7 PC could update it to Windows 8 for just $15. The scheme ran through to December, and only after that could all the money received in it be cashed in. That gave a $1.1bn boost in “deferred” revenue which was really earned in the preceding six months, but couldn’t be recognised then.
To welcome new users, Microsoft is financing what it believes to be the biggest marketing blitz in the history of email. Outlook.com will be featured in ads running on primetime TV, radio stations, websites, billboards and buses. Microsoft expects to spend somewhere between $30 million to $90 million on the Outlook campaign, which will run for at least three months.
The Outlook ads will overlap with an anti-Gmail marketing campaign that Microsoft launched earlier this month. The “Scroogled” attacks depict Gmail as a snoopy service that scans the contents of messages to deliver ads related to topics being discussed.
The Gmail ads are meant to be educational while the Outlook campaign is motivational, said Dharmesh Mehta, Outlook.com’s senior director.
“We are trying to push people who have gotten lazy and comfortable with an email service that may not be all that great and help show them what email can really do for them,” said Mehta.
As Microsoft continues its attempts to lure users away from Gmail, the firm says that after releasing Internet-based Outlook.com as a preview, millions of people have signed up to the service.
The Redmond giant announced on its blog that it was “humbled” by active users of the email service — which has grown from none to 60 million users in a six-month span.
Microsoft has taken Outlook.com out of its preview stages and it is now open to the public. In addition, users of Hotmail will be moved over to Outlook by summer automatically — although you can upgrade at any time — and you won’t be forced to change your email address.
Outlook.com’s final release features include the ability to send large files, address books that automatically update, approximately 60 percent fewer advertisements than Hotmail and the option to connect and update through social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Accessible via web browser, Outlook.com will work on Windows and Mac-based PCs, as well as Google’s Android through a downloadable application.
Introduced in July to try and compete with Google’s free Gmail service, Outlook.com is meant to bring together Microsoft’s existing domains, including MSN.com and Hotmail, as well as come with a bevy of features to make it a worthy contender against other popular services including Gmail and Yahoo.
Despite Microsoft having been warned of the issue, for more than two months Skype has been vulnerable to a bug that enabled attackers to easily hijack any user’s Skype account.
Details of the vulnerability were first published in August on an online Russian-language hacking forum. Tuesday, the same Russian hacking forum user posted an update, reporting that the flaw still hadn’t been fixed.
That finally led Skype Wednesday to acknowledge the security vulnerability and begin working on a fix. “Early this morning we were notified of user concerns surrounding the security of the password reset feature on our website. This issue affected some users where multiple Skype accounts were registered to the same email address,” wrote Skype Web quality assurance engineer Leonas Sendrauskas in a blog post. “We suspended the password reset feature temporarily this morning as a precaution and have made updates to the password reset process today so that it is now working properly. We are reaching out to a small number of users who may have been impacted to assist as necessary. Skype is committed to providing a safe and secure communications experience to our users and we apologize for the inconvenience.”