Short Takes: June 13, 2014

Short Takes: June 13, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including jail time for a Microsoft code leaker, the sad state of Microsoft Stores in New York City, no Windows games at E3, original Xbox One vision was the right one, a web site buys another web site, and good news/bad news for Intel.

Microsoft leaker gets 3 months of jail time

The Microsoft employee who inexplicably helped a French technology leaker steal Microsoft code and then attempt an ill-conceived scheme to create a product activation server through which they could illegally sell Windows product keys has been sentenced to three months in jail. He was also fined $100, though that fee was waived because the court felt he couldn't pay it, and prosecutors had been asking for $22,500 in restitution. Alex Kibkalo says he is considering writing a book about his experiences "so people can think about [his] mistakes and the result." That should be an interesting story, given that he doesn't even know all of the details about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the investigation that brought him down. Maybe someone who does have those details should write a book and explain what really did happen.

Attention, world: There is still no Microsoft Store in New York City

I think I'm going to tie a yellow ribbon around the tree in my front yard until this happens. It will at least trigger awkward questions from the neighbors.

PS: And no, specialty stores (aka mall kiosks) do not count.

Why no Windows games from Microsoft at E3?

The running gag this week is that Microsoft didn't have a presence at the E3 gaming convention this week; only Xbox did. And the reason this isn't really that funny, if you're a Windows-based gamer at least—is that the firm literally only talked about Xbox. "I'm head of gaming at Microsoft," Microsoft's Phil Spencer told Polygon when asked about this omission. And that's a weird thing to say when your title is in fact "Head of Xbox," and not "Head of Gaming" or whatever. "You could argue gaming on Windows has never been more healthy," he added. With no sense of irony, since someone else would of course have to make this assertion as Microsoft didn't mentioned it. "E3's a retail show," he continued. Keep trying there, buddy. "It's a console show," he added. Ah. "It didn't really feel like the right place for us to talk about Windows," he kept digging. Not talking about Windows is what felt wrong about it, Mr. Spencer. That's the problem. Actually, the problem is that Xbox exclusives are usually Xbox exclusives and not Microsoft (i.e. Windows/Xbox) exclusives. They really need to work on that. And based on this half-hearted explanation, one might argue that they still more generally need to work at communicating. Which is of course what sunk them last year.

Yusuf Mehdi: Original vision for Xbox One was the right one

Speaking of Xbox and communication, Xbox Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Yusuf Mehdi admitted to the Telegraph this week that the original vision for Xbox One—you know, the stuff they completely backpedalled on, like always-on internet, family sharing, digital game resales, and so on—was in fact "the right vision." "Where we missed was that we didn't give customers the choice if they wanted to sell or pass on their disc," he lamented. "If we had more dialog with our fans, we would have heard more loud and clear that this was important, and we would have delivered that future. If we had done that, maybe we would have gotten to a better place. Who knows, maybe fans would have said no, let's skip the disc and give me those features." I will say this. The way things have gone for Microsoft over the past, let's say, 5 years, there's no way they could have done anything right: Complaining about Microsoft has become a cottage industry. The thing that kills me about the Xbox One stuff from last year—aside from some of the ham-handed public flagellations, of course—is that the people who most vocally denounced the original Xbox One plans were never buying the console in the first place, and they most certainly didn't race to snap it up when Microsoft made all those changes. There's a big difference between listening to feedback and caving in to the mob. And in this case, Microsoft saw the pitchforks and torches and did the latter. That is the real shame of Xbox One.

Friends in low places: AT&T joins Verizon in supporting Microsoft's legal case against warrants for internationally-held data

Earlier this week, court documents surfaced showing that Microsoft is mounting an aggressive legal campaign to prevent the US government from serving warrants to look at customer data that is stored outside the country. At the time, we knew that Verizon Wireless and the Electronic Frontier Foundation supported Microsoft's efforts, and with the week coming to a close, the firm has a third corporate buddy that has it's back: AT&T has also filed a court brief supporting Microsoft. "This practice rests on an understanding that when it comes to data storage and privacy protections, location matters," the AT&T document notes. Just like real estate!

"Priceline to Buy OpenTable for $2.6 Billion"

Priceline is turning into the Viacom of appointment-based online services: It also owns and, by the way.

Good news for Intel: Strong PC outlook raises demand for chips

Here's the type of news we haven't seen in a while: Microprocessor giant Intel this week said that revenue in the current quarter would be about $700 million more than originally estimated because of better-than-expected PC sales. Likewise, its estimates for the year have changed to show year-over-year revenue growth; previously, Intel had said that revenue would be flat year-over-year. I know you're waiting for a punchline here, but let's be honest: After 8 straight quarters of declining PC sales, we can all use some good news.

Bad news for Intel: EU affirms $1.4 billion antitrust fine

You win some, you lose some. The EU General Court on Thursday rejected an Intel challenge of the $1.4 billion fine that was levied against the company by the European Commission five years ago. "The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels," the court ruling reads. And while that may seem concise and obvious enough, let's not forget that this document originated in the top-heavy EU: The ruling is 300 pages long. "The fine imposed is [not] disproportionate," the ruling notes. "On the contrary, it must be considered that that fine is appropriate in the light of the facts of the case."

But Wait, There's More

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