Now we know why Xbox One backward compatibility took so long

Anyone who followed Microsoft’s gaming plans in 2013 knows how much the company’s confusing policies and public reversals regarding “always on” Internet connection and used game restrictions on the Xbox One damaged the company’s image.

Now it sounds like the turmoil surrounding that launch also delayed the rollout of Xbox 360 backward compatibility on the system. This resulted in pushing a planned launch-day feature to its actual late 2015 debut.

That nugget comes from a wide-ranging behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft’s backward compatibility efforts posted on IGN this morning. Amid quotes from an array of Microsoft employees involved in the backward-compatibility development and rollout, writer Ryan McCaffrey includes this tidbit (emphasis added):

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Cray supercomputers coming to Azure cloud

Microsoft will add Cray supercomputers to its Azure cloud computing service to handle the needs of those with high performance computing (HPC) workloads.

Cloud computing systems like Azure can be used to build large cluster-like machines for high performance distributed workloads. Combined with FPGAs and GPUs, this makes them competitive, some of the time, with traditional supercomputers.

But sometimes, a workload really does need the high performance, low-latency interconnects and storage that are the hallmark of “real” supercomputers. That’s why Microsoft is adding Cray XC and Cray CS supercomputer clusters along with ClusterStor storage to its Azure lineup. The machines are intended for tasks such as analytics, climate modelling, engineering simulations, and scientific and medical research. The companies envisage customers combining Cray HPC with Azure workloads to offer better performance and greater scaling than either Cray or Azure can offer alone.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Cortana for iOS Gains New Look, Faster Reminder Creation and Improved Performance

Microsoft today updated its Cortana app for iOS, improving the way the AI assistant works on iOS devices. Designed to compete with Siri, Cortana is a personal assistant that can do things like set reminders, schedule calendar appointments, answer queries, and offer up information you’re interested in through machine learning techniques.

Today’s iOS app update introduces a revamped look that Microsoft says offers a simpler, better user experience. It’s easier and faster to create reminders using the new interface, and there’s a redesigned profile and settings page for managing preferences.



Cortana features improved performance when it comes to page transitions and app responsiveness, and there are also general bug fixes.

We are bringing major updates to make Cortana a better assistant for you:

– A fresh new look with a simpler and improved user experience

– It’s now easier and faster to create reminders to help you stay on top of things

– Redesigned profile and settings page to easily manage your preferences

– Improved performance particularly faster page transitions and app responsiveness

– Regular bug fixes and performance improvements

The Cortana app for iOS devices first launched in December of 2015. Cortana is built into Windows devices as well, so customers who use Windows and are accustomed to Cortana may prefer to use the iOS app for reminders and other tasks.

Cortana can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Discuss this article in our forums

Native American tribe sues Amazon and Microsoft over patents

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has filed patent lawsuits against Amazon and Microsoft, using patents it acquired from a company called SRC Labs, according to reports in Reuters and CNBC.

Until recently, the patents were owned by a holding company called SRC Labs, which is a co-plaintiff in today’s lawsuit. The lawsuits against Amazon and Microsoft are the second and third lawsuits filed by patent-holding companies working together with Native American tribes. Patent-holding companies, sometimes derided in the tech industry as “patent trolls,” produce no goods or services and make their revenue from filing lawsuits.

At least two patent-holding companies have chosen to give their patents to Native American tribes, seeking to benefit from tribal “sovereign immunity” that could avoid certain types of patent reviews at the US Patent Office.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft Claims Upcoming ARM-Powered Laptops Offer Multi-Day Battery Life

Microsoft and Qualcomm have revealed they hope to release ARM-powered laptops by the end of the year, with the two companies promising multi-day battery life from the new machines (via Trusted Reviews).

At its annual 5G summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm revealed new details about the PCs it is developing in partnership with Microsoft. Known as “Always Connected PCs”, the laptops are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor and rely on an ARM emulation layer to run x86 Windows 10 desktop applications.



ARM processors require fewer transistors, which enables a smaller die size for the integrated circuitry. Their smaller size and lower power consumption are two reasons why they can be found in iPhones and iPads, but the increasing performance and efficiency of the chips is making the step up to laptops a realistic proposition.

Microsoft said it is already testing “hundreds” of the ARM-powered laptops internally on a daily basis, with battery life in particular exceeding expectations.

“To be frank, it’s actually beyond our expectations. We set a high bar for [our developers], and we’re now beyond that. It’s the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don’t take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It’s that kind of battery life.”

Bernard added: “I would consider it a game-changer in terms of the way people have experienced PCs in the past.”

The first round of Always Connected PCs are said to be coming from the likes of Asus, HP, and Lenovo, but they aren’t expected to be cheap. Qualcomm said more affordable Windows 10 Always Connected PCs should become available once the portfolio expands.

Apple is reportedly looking into using ARM-based core processor chips for future MacBooks, which would reduce the company’s dependence on Intel. Industry sources claim that Apple would instead build its notebook chips using ARM Holding’s technology, a British company that designs ARM architecture and licenses it out to other companies.

Discuss this article in our forums

Microsoft never disclosed 2013 hack of secret vulnerability database

Hackers broke into Microsoft’s secret, internal bug-tracking database and stole information related to vulnerabilities that were exploited in later attacks. But the software developer never disclosed the breach, Reuters reported, citing former company employees.

In an article published Tuesday, Reuters said Microsoft’s decision not to disclose details came after an internal review concluded the exploits used in later attacks could have been discovered elsewhere. That investigation relied, in part, on automated reports Microsoft receives when its software crashes. The problem with that approach, Reuters pointed out, is that advanced computer attacks are written so carefully they rarely cause crashes.

Reuters said Microsoft discovered the database breach in early 2013, after a still-unknown hacking group broke into computers belonging to a raft of companies. Besides Microsoft, the affected companies included Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. As reported at the time, the hackers infected a website frequented by software developers with attack code that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Oracle’s Java software framework. When employees of the targeted companies visited the site, they became infected, too.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: Lots of small changes—and maybe the revolution

It has arrived: Windows 10 version 1709, build 16299, the Fall Creators Update. Members of the Windows Insider program have been able to use this latest iteration for a while now, but today’s the day it will hit Windows Update for the masses.

As with the Creators Update earlier this year, the Windows Update deployment will be slow to start off with. After a spate of issues around the Anniversary Update, which shipped in 2016, Microsoft took a more measured approach with the Creators Update. It took about five months for the previous update to reach two-thirds of machines, as the company rolled the operating system out first to systems known to be compatible, then expanded its reach to an ever larger range of hardware and software, and finally opened the floodgates and offered it to (almost) any Windows 10 machine.

Again like the Creators Update, anyone who is impatient and wants to forcibly install the new version will be able to do so with the Update Assistant and Media Creation Tool when they get updated, presumably at some point today.

Read 39 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft looks to iOS and Android for its path forward in mobile

 Between the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Edition and the announcement of a new Surface Book, today’s Microsoft news was firmly focused on the desktop. But as the company works to build its future ecosystem, it’s keenly aware that no play in the space is complete without a mobile strategy. What shape that strategy will take, however, has been pretty unclear in the wake of… Read More