Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Microsoft Acquires Indie Video Game Publisher ZeniMax Media

Microsoft just purchased ZeniMax Media, a large independent game publisher whose studios have produced some of the video game industry’s most notable titles: id Software, which developed “Doom” and “Quake”; Arkane Studios, responsible for “Dishonored” and “Prey”; Tango Gameworks, developer of “The Evil Within”; and Bethesda Game Studios, home of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout.” With regulatory approval expected by the second half of next year, Microsoft paid $7.5 billion in an all-cash deal for the publisher. Continue reading Microsoft Acquires Indie Video Game Publisher ZeniMax Media

Apple Reveals a Number of Changes to Its App Store Rules

In response to complaints from developers, Apple tweaked rules surrounding in-app purchases for iPhone and iPad games that stream directly from the Internet. The company is not changing the 15 to 30 percent fees for app downloads, in-app purchases and subscriptions — a major bone of contention for many developers — but is applying the fees to fewer situations. This change and several others, however, does not impact the existing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, and Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney criticized Apple’s latest move. Continue reading Apple Reveals a Number of Changes to Its App Store Rules

Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Following a series of leaks, Microsoft has now confirmed the existence of another new game console, the Xbox Series S, which it dubs the smallest Xbox ever (60 percent smaller than the Series X). The company said the “slim, white console” will debut “soon,” provide “next-gen performance” and be priced at $299. Reports suggest that Series S and Series X will be available for purchase on November 10 and hint that many Series S features are similar to those of Series X, but with less disc drive and less powerful CPU and GPU. Microsoft stated that the Xbox Series X “will be four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.” Continue reading Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft reported that sales rose 13 percent to $38 billion in its fiscal Q4, for a net profit of $11.2 billion. Largely due to continued demand for its Azure cloud-computing services, both figures exceeded Wall Street expectations. Microsoft’s revenue from the commercial cloud division “surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever in the latest fiscal year.” The company is also the target of a complaint Slack filed with the European Commission, accusing it of using its market power to crush rivals. Continue reading Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Less than a year ago, Microsoft’s Xbox unit signed two very popular streamers to its Mixer video game streaming platform: Ninja (Tyler Blevins) and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek. But their presence didn’t build the huge global fan base for Mixer that Microsoft hoped for. It’s therefore no surprise that Microsoft is shuttering Mixer, but more surprising, perhaps, that it will partner with Facebook on its xCloud mobile game service. From July 22, visitors to Mixer will be diverted to Facebook Gaming. Continue reading Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Microsoft: Remote Work Needs Outpace Supply Chain Issues

Microsoft expected the original $10.75-$11.15 billion Q1 forecast for its personal-computing business to be negatively impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, yet the company reported that its PC group generated $11 billion in sales as consumers continue to stay at home. The PC group benefited from an increased demand for remote work and education solutions, as well as a 2 percent rise in Xbox sales, a solid increase from a drop in the previous quarter. Microsoft’s PC business includes licensing revenue from PC sales, its Xbox video-game platform and popular Surface laptops. Continue reading Microsoft: Remote Work Needs Outpace Supply Chain Issues

Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google is offering free gaming on Stadia, which ordinarily costs $130 for a game controller, Chromecast streaming device and game access, opening access to millions of people in 14 countries. With most people now confined to their homes, gaming has shot up, and even the World Health Organization has gotten into it, supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether. By making Stadia free, Google may also gain ground in cloud gaming against its competitors Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft rolled out its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, to be available April 21. The plans, which will replace and enhance current Office 365 plans, are priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) plans and $9.99 per month for Family (up to six people) plans. Both of the new plans include Office and access to a Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers, both of which will debut later this year. Other new features will continue to be unveiled over time. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New 365 Personal/Family Plans This Month

Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft is debuting DirectX 12 Ultimate, giving developers access to the hardware features on the Xbox Series X and PC. As its next-gen DirectX gaming APIs for Xbox and Windows, DirectX 12 Ultimate enables several methods for improving performance and visuals and brings together Microsoft’s latest development and hardware features while retaining backward compatibility with older consoles and GPUs. Among the improvements are new capabilities for ray tracing, variable rate shading and sampler feedback. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

According to Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer, the company will introduce its xCloud game streaming service, integrated with Xbox Game Pass, in 2020, with price and launch date to be determined. Microsoft will also bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs, making it likely that PC games will be streamed there in the future. Microsoft head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry noted the lack of mouse and keyboard support for Xbox games streamed via xCloud to a PC, but said there will “be more types of content” in the future. Continue reading Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Immersed in a virtual world, the user can be at risk for bumping into real-world objects, such as walls and coffee tables. Microsoft has filed a patent application for a technology to address this issue. With its “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the user has a designated safe space to explore, with so-called fiducial markers that help the VR headset recognize the mat as well as the possibility of pressure sensors in the mat. Some VR players have used their own rubber mats as a physical cue to be safe. Continue reading Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

In partnership with Amazon, Discovery Inc. is introducing a video-streaming app in late October called Food Network Kitchen. The new app will feature on-demand programming, recipe videos, interactive classes and Alexa support. For $6.99 per month (or $59.99 annually), subscribers will be provided the opportunity to attend up to 25 live, interactive cooking classes each week led by celebrity chefs such as Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Ina Garten and Martha Stewart. “It’s our mission to delight, inspire and, of course, teach our millions of viewers everything we know about food and cooking,” explains Food Network. Continue reading Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

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