Thurrott Daily: March 21

Thurrott Daily: March 21

A few tidbits from around the web…

3/21/2016 9:23:24 AM

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This is what I do

In Reassessing the Sony PlayStation 4, I noted that I spend more time than people probably realize examining products, services and technologies that compete with Microsoft’s offerings and/or are not what I usually use. But based on some of the more ignorant comments I get, it’s pretty clear I should at least mention this more often. So on that note, I spent the weekend catching up with Apple’s Swift programming language, using both Udacity’s class Intro to iOS App Development with Swift and the iTunes-U-based Stanford class, Developing iOS 8 Apps with Swift. Well, and playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III on the PS4.

Why do this? Same reason as always: take off the blinders and make sure I’m up-to-date on what’s going on out in the world. Everything doesn’t begin and end with Microsoft.

Today: Apple event

I’ll be riffing on Apple’s special event today where the company will surprise absolutely no one by introducing a new 4-inch iPhone, a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and—seriously—some new Watch bands. Join me on Twitter, starting at 1pm ET/11 am PT for a bit of fun.

Microsoft lowers price of Lumia 950 by $100, to $450

And yes, that’s still at least $100 too expensive, but it’s at least a meaningful discount. I assume this is part of Microsoft’s Spring sale, so this pricing should be good for about a week. US (and Canada, I presume) only.

Microsoft Lumia 950 Unlocked at the Microsoft Store online. Thanks toNeowin for the tip.

(Any why isn’t the Lumia 950 XL similarly discounted? No idea.)

Microsoft is considering a buyback plan for digitally-purchased Xbox One games

While I have fully embraced digital-only game purchases on Xbox One (and elsewhere), dissenters who continue to rely on disc-based games make one good point: You can’t exchange or resell and digital game as you can a disc-based game. But according to a forum post on NeoGAF, Microsoft is sending out a survey now to see whether its proposal will solve this problem.

Here’s the relevant question in the survey:

lf the console digital games store for the console you owned offered customers the option to “sell back” their digital games to the store for 10% of the purchase price in store credit, would you be interested in such an offer

Yes, for many of my digital titles
Yes but only for a few digital titles I no longer play
Don’t know / Not sure

Microsoft adds OneDrive to its Bug Bounty program

A post on the MSRC blog notes that Microsoft has added OneDrive to its Bug Bounty program.

At Microsoft, we continue to add new properties to our security bug bounty programs to help keep our customer’s secure. Today, I’m pleased to announce the addition of Microsoft OneDrive to the Microsoft Online Services Bug Bounty Program.

This addition further incentivizes security researchers to report service vulnerabilities to Microsoft. As part of the Microsoft Online Services Bug Bounty Program, the payouts will range from $500 – $15,000 USD.

Xbox chief apologizes for unconscionable use of dancing school girls at gaming event

Microsoft got in a lot of hot water late last week, and deservedly so, for hosting an Xbox even at which scantily-clad young women in school girl outfits gyrated on mini-stages. Now, Microsoft has provided two internal emails with the press, one from executive vice president of human resources Kathleen Hogan, and one from Xbox head Phil Spencer. Here they are.

From: Kathleen Hogan
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2016 3:56 PM
To: Microsoft – All Employees
Subject: Microsoft Values & Commitment

I’m sharing Phil Spencer’s mail about the party Microsoft sponsored Thursday evening in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference. When we heard about this and saw the photos, the entire Senior Leadership Team was embarrassed and appalled.

This is unacceptable in terms of how we treat women and how we represent Microsoft, and it undermines the culture we are working so hard to cultivate – one that is diverse and inclusive and grounded in a growth mindset.

We are not going to tolerate this. I appreciate that we will be judged by our deeds, and not just our words. And yet every day, we see our people taking important and meaningful steps forward in our journey towards inclusion. As one example, at this same Game Developers Conference we had dedicated and passionate Microsoft employees sponsoring a Gaming 4 Everyone event.

I have heard from many of you individually and on Yammer that you can’t believe we let this happen. It is not a stretch to say that the company as a whole is shocked and upset, and that we all are determined that this is never repeated. In addition to what Phil says, Microsoft’s Employee Relations Investigations Team is involved to make sure we have a full understanding of what happened. And beyond this incident, we are strengthening our commitment to our diversity and inclusion efforts, while evaluating where we must take stronger action to show we are more resolute than ever to make progress and hold ourselves accountable.


From: Phil Spencer
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 12:01 PM
To: Xbox Team FTE Worldwide
Subject: TEAM XBOX Values & Commitment

How we show up as an organization is incredibly important to me. We want to build and reflect the culture of TEAM XBOX – internally and externally – a culture that each one of us can represent with pride. An inclusive culture has a direct impact on the products and services we deliver and the perception consumers have of the Xbox brand and our company, as a whole.

It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values. That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear – how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for. When we do the opposite, and create an environment that alienates or offends any group, we justly deserve the criticism.

It’s unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team – inside and outside the company. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards and we will do better in the future.


My commentary here is simple: The people responsible for this should be fired, as should the Xbox/Microsoft employees who attended the event and did nothing to stop it. At the very least the latter group should be punished and, among other things, forced to endure months-long sensitivity training. This is not OK.


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