Short Takes: November 15, 2013

Short Takes: November 15, 2013

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

Microsoft to Host Local Xbox One Events on Launch Day Next Week

If you're a Microsoft (or Xbox) fan who has looked longingly at the lines of lemmings in front of an Apple Store while you were on your way to an actual job, then next week's Xbox One launch might interest you. Microsoft is launching the console next Friday, on November 22, and it will be holding local events at 10,000 retail stores in 13 countries. These stores will be opening at midnight next Friday so that eager Xbox One fans can stay up all night wondering how in the heck Microsoft could release a new console without a new Halo game. (The company only had 8 years to plan this, duh.) The premier event in the United States is being held in New York City, which makes plenty of sense since that is one of the few big cities in the United States without a Microsoft retail store location, and will be broadcast live on Spike TV, and at, for those who have enough energy to stay awake but not enough energy to actually leave the house. Actually, that does sound like most Xbox fans. To find out more about local launch events, please check out this post on the Xbox Wire blog.

Google Prevails Over Evil, Greedy Book Authors

A New York judge this week tossed out a case alleging that online giant Google had improperly scanned the full contents of 20 million books without the permission of publishers or authors. Instead, Judge Denny Chin ruled that Google's wholesale stealing of this content constituted fair use and not copyright infringement, as one might logically and impassively assume. What really stinks here, honestly, is that when Google was sued over this in 2004, it settled for $125 million. But that settlement was tossed out by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) because the deal didn't require Google to track down the authors of orphaned works. So back to the courts it went and ... bam. Google won. What the frick? "Google Books does not supersede or supplant books because it is not a tool to be used to read books," the judge noted in his ruling. "Google does, of course, benefit commercially [from this effort] ... [but] Google Books serves several important educational purposes [too]." Unbelievable.

Suck It, Batman: Yes, It Does Look Exactly Like the Bat Cave

Microsoft this week revealed its state-of-the-art cybercrime fighting center, but it unfortunately seems to have spent more money on the presentation than on the actual center. (Seriously: What is the point of this website?) It shouldn't come as a surprise that Microsoft is spending big to help thwart cybercrime. After all, its billions of customers rely on personal computing technology every day, and anything that undermines that is a threat to its business. But Microsoft is also in a unique position to really help, given its footprint online. So hopefully this strange glass cubicle thing will help. Certainly, it looks like it could be ejected into space if everything really fell apart.

Nokia Turns to James Bond for Next-Gen Phones

In the movies, James Bond has used Sony smartphones thanks to his movie studio's ties to Sony, but I think we can all agree that a real-life James Bond would use the best smartphone in the world, a Nokia Lumia. So it's perhaps appropriate that Nokia is rumored to be using product code names based on names from the world of James Bond, though the choices—Goldfinger and Moneypenny—are somewhat odd. Goldfinger, of course, is the villain from the movie (and book) of the same name, and Moneypenny is the name of M's love-struck receptionist. According to @evleaks, these devices will be the first to run Windows Phone "Blue," aka Windows Phone 8.1, so the timing would be second quarter of 2014. Heck, maybe there will be talk of a new Bond movie by then, too. These things are getting spaced out too much lately.

Don't Stop Believin': Joe B. Turns Up in IE Group

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore, who has most recently worked on such products as Windows Media Center, Zune, and Windows Phone—Wikipedia also incorrectly and hilariously claims he personally created the Windows 95 Start menu and taskbar—is apparently going to be moonlighting with Internet Explorer (IE) now as well. He confirmed this week that he's still on the Windows Phone team but will now also be "adding" IE and Windows user experience to his job responsibilities. The move comes in the wake of longtime IE head Dean Hachamovitch's exit from that team to work on something new and mysterious at Microsoft. Not sure what this all means, exactly, although the merger of Windows and Windows Phone is certainly at the root of it. And that, folks, is a good thing.

Acer Drops the Price of Its Chromebook to $200

Just in case it wasn't obvious that these things are cheap in every meaning of the word, Acer this week dropped the price of its attractively named Chromebook C720-2848 to just $200, undercutting other similar devices. The Acer sports an 11.6" screen, 16GB of onboard storage, and 2GB of RAM, and runs on the Intel Celeron processor. That pricing puts the device firmly in mini-tablet territory, though I suspect most would agree that a Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, or Apple iPad mini still makes a lot more sense than a crippled laptop wrapped around a web browser. Just a thought.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free ebooks, Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone 8, Paul Thurrott’s Xbox Music, and the currently in-progress "Windows 8.1 Book," which I'm now writing—and publishing as we go—with Rafael Rivera.

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