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Short Takes: December 12, 2014

Short Takes: December 12, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including the next milestone for Windows 10, Xbox One finally out-sells the PlayStation 4 but at what cost, Ford drops Microsoft from in-car tech, Microsoft supports Bitcoin for some online purchases, EU antitrust regulators move so slowly you need to speed up the film to see it, and Google News to shut down in Spain.

Windows 10: The next chapter

Microsoft will reveal more information about Windows 10 at a press and analysts meeting on January 21, 2015, the company said this week. Sources tell me that this information will include the consumer-oriented features that Microsoft plans for this next major Windows release, and, more important, how a newly combined Windows for phones and tablets will work. The main presentation will be webcast live, but I'll be in Redmond for that entire week for a deeper dive into what's happening. Can't wait, as it's been a while since I've visited Microsoft's mother ship.

"Instagram Now Has Over 300 Million Users; More than Twitter"

All those photos. Ruined.

Xbox One finally wins one

After a year of steady monthly sales defeats at the hands of Sony's PlayStation 4, the Xbox One was finally the best-selling video game console in November 2014, a full year after both consoles originally launched. And all it took was a year of price cuts, special deals, and what can only be money-losing console bundles that see consumers getting as many as four free games (normally $60 each) for going to the dark side. Ah, victory. Has it ever been so sweet? Microsoft says it sold 1.2 million Xbox One consoles in November, which I assume is its best month ever. But as I've noted before, this loss-leader strategy is the one Microsoft should have pursued from the start: Xbox One will never succeed if it's more expensive than the PS4.

"Microsoft's Xbox One outsells PS4 and Wii U in November"

What's a Wii U?

Ford dumps Microsoft from its in-car tech systems

Ford's Sync and MyFord Touch in-car systems have been Microsoft powered for years. But the software giant has been unceremoniously dumped for the next generation of these in-car technology solutions due to constant customer complaints. That's bad, but this defeat is even sourer than it would otherwise be because the company that is replacing Microsoft in Ford vehicles is so freaking laughable it will have your head shaking: It's Blackberry. Yep, the smart phone maker that can't sell any smart phones will be designing a system Ford calls Sync 3, using a simple, smart phone-like user interface. Microsoft's ouster from Ford had been rumored for months, so that's no real surprise. But Blackberry? You may as well announce you're using Be OS or the Amiga.

"Should Facebook have a 'dislike' button?"


Microsoft announces support for Bitcoin

I know, it reads like an April Fool's headline. But Microsoft announced this week that it will let customers pay for "content in the Windows Store, or in stores that house Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video" using Bitcoin funny money. So you won't be buying a new Xbox One from Microsoft with Bitcoin any time soon, but one has to wonder if that day isn't coming too. For now it's basically a test, and allowing Bitcoin payments for online content makes some sense, Microsoft says, because "the demographic of people that are using Bitcoin today overlaps to a certain extent with folks who are purchasing games and other digital content from our marketplace." I can't wait until they start accepting Monopoly money. I have a ton of that lying around.

"Sony PlayStation 4 will go on sale in China from January 11"

Just in time for the holidays!

EU antitrust regulators finally reach out to Google competitors

When new EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager took office last month, she vowed to quickly get up to speed on the Google antitrust case by first reaching out to the companies that complained that the search giant's initial settlement agreement was too lenient. But this is the EU, so these things happen slowly, and Ms. Vestager revealed Thursday that she has formally requested "fresh information" from these firms. She also plans to meet with them in person to get "a first-hand idea about how they see the case." No word yet on whether these plans include a meeting with Google, but presumably that will happen as well.

"Facebook Chief Says Secret of His Success Is Making Lots of Mistakes"

I think we can all agree that stealing the idea for Facebook from the Winklevoss twins was probably the real secret of his success.

Google News to shut down in Spain

Thanks to a new copyright law there, Google announced that it will be shutting down the Google News service in Spain by January 1, 2015. It will also be removing Spain-based news services from Google News worldwide. What egregious new Spanish law could possibly cause such an unprecedented shut down? As it turns out, it's aimed specifically at Google, which Spain and other European nations view (somewhat correctly, of course) as a freeloader that steals information from other sites and presents it on their own sites. So the law will requires Spanish publishers to charge news aggregators and other online services for showing even excerpts or snippets from their articles. Since Google News is free (and actually doesn't display advertising), Google says it can't justify paying for the content it delivers. But on the flipside, these Spain-based publications will suffer major traffic downturns since they won't be featured on Google. And this will be especially damaging to smaller outfits. This is what you get for poking the bear, I guess.

"This Apple Computer That Steve Jobs Sold Out Of His Parents' Garage Just Went For $365,000"

Wait until the buyer hears that it wasn't actually made in, or sold out of, Steve Jobs' parent's garage.

Buy the books!

I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Microsoft Band Field Guide (free), Surface Pro 3 Field Guide, Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide and Xbox Music Field Guide (free). Coming soon: Windows 10 Field Guide.

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