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August 13, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Xbox Live Launch Set for November 15
- IE Bug Deemed Serious
- Real-World Tips and Solutions Here for You
- Become Part of Our MEC 2002 Focus Group!
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Microsoft will launch Xbox Live, its Xbox-based online gaming service, on November 15, the company says. The late 2002 release date corresponds with plans announced last year when Microsoft launched its Xbox, a powerful video-game console whose sales have lagged behind competition from Sony and Nintendo. Xbox Live will use broadband Internet connections to let gamers join other players on the Internet and match their skills. Unlike other video-game systems, the Xbox includes the hardware required to make an Internet connection. However, Microsoft will require customers to purchase a $50 starter kit, which includes the necessary connection software, a 12-month subscription to the service, and a headset microphone for voice discussions with other players.
To support the service, Microsoft has built an underlying network of game servers and supporting infrastructure, which the company will begin testing externally later this month. Microsoft says that 10,000 Xbox gamers will participate in the Xbox Live beta program, although the service can support many more users.
Microsoft's biggest challenge with the new service is getting the Xbox's most popular games on board. For example, Electronic Arts (EA), makers of popular sports-games titles, has yet to commit to the service, and Microsoft says that only six games will be available for Xbox Live on November 15, including NFL Fever 2003 and Unreal Championship. The company says that up to 10 more Xbox Live-compatible titles will ship by the end of the year, with about 50 more arriving in 2003.
In related news, in late August Sony will begin selling some new multiplayer games and a $40 adapter for the market-leading PlayStation 2 console. The adapter will let players use modem or broadband connections to interact with other players. And later this year, Nintendo is releasing a similar $35 adapter for its GameCube device.
A rogue programmer recently announced the discovery of a serious new security flaw in Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft's popular Web-browser software, which could compromise the technology used to make secure online transactions. The vulnerability has been present in IE for up to 3 years, during which time users made millions of online transactions with the compromised technology. The bug is in IE's implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol for encryption and authentication and could let intruders launch "man-in-the-middle attacks" in which an intruder poses as the e-commerce site and obtains credit card information and other personal data.
"If you ever typed in credit card information to an SSL site there's a chance that somebody intercepted it," said Mike Benham, the programmer who discovered the flaw. However, no known attacks have yet occurred, and Microsoft has criticized Benham for irresponsibly issuing information about the flaw without contacting the company first. Benham said he was "frustrated" by Microsoft's response to other security flaws in the past, which is confusing because the company has responded quickly to such flaws all year.
Microsoft says that it's investigating the flaw, which affects IE 6.0, IE 5.5, and IE 5.0, and notes that several mitigating factors reduce users' risks, including the complexity of spoofing e-commerce sites. The company agrees that, if real, the flaw is potentially severe. IE users can expect to see a Critical Update for Windows Update and Auto Update if the flaw pans out.
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
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If you're attending MEC 2002 and work at a company with more than 3000 employees, join our focus group on October 9, 2002. We'll give you a free lunch and $100! To be considered for this focus group, please email us at mailto:[email protected] by August 23. Please include your full name, job title, and email address.
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