Thurrott Daily: January 16

Posted on January 16, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Microsoft Surface, Xbox One with 0 Comments

Thurrott Daily: January 25

Good morning.

1/16/2016 11:36:22 AM

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft appeal in Xbox case

This one is interesting. And Microsoft is in the wrong.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider Microsoft Corp’s bid to fend off class action claims by Xbox 360 owners who contend that the video game console has a design defect that causes game discs to be gouged.

I mean no offense. But the Xbox 360 clearly has a design defect that causes game discs to be gouged and rendered unusable. I witnessed this terrible and common issue as recently as this past Tuesday night. I love the Xbox 360, but that original white console is absolutely the most unreliable consumer electronics product that has ever been sold, period.

Microsoft to provide more details about Skylake hardware that will work with Windows 7 and 8.1

You may be aware of the drama concerning Microsoft’s unprecedented decision to only support Windows 7 and 8.1 in very limited ways on Skylake PCs. There are many questions concerning this event, but key among them is which PCs Microsoft will support. So the software giant offered up a short statement on this topic.

For enterprise customers on Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft will deliver a list of specific new Skylake devices it will support to run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This approach ensures our customers can upgrade now to new devices their employees will love while preparing for a Windows 10 upgrade. We will post this list next week and it will continue to be updated as we work closely with our partners.

Here’s a preliminary list provided by Microsoft:

Dell Latitude 12
Dell Latitude 13 7000 Ultrabook
Dell XPS 13
HP EliteBook Folio
HP EliteBook 1040 G3
Lenovo ThinkPad T460s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Lenovo ThinkPad P70

I spoke with two PC makers about this issue on Friday and while much of these discussions was confidential, I think you’ll be surprised by how many PCs will in fact be supported, at least from those PC makers that serve businesses. This may turn out to be somewhat of a non-issue, or at least a smaller issue than originally feared.

Netflix is going to start blocking VPNs and proxies … and, sorry, but that is not OK

Netflix revealed this week that it will soon start blocking proxies and VPNs, which its customers use to view US-based Netflix content while in other countries.

If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in … but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.

Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.

This is not OK. We pay for a VPN service when we do our home swap each year in Europe. The reason? My son is deaf and he needs closed captioning on Netflix’s content. When you access Netflix from another country normally, much (certainly not all) of the content we expect to see is now available, a nice change over the past few years. But closed captioning, especially in English, usually isn’t. So we pay for the VPN service so he can actually enjoy the content. Because, again, my son is deaf.

No offense to Netflix or the silly licensing rules that require this stupidity, but my son’s need because of his deafness trumps any of Netflix’s pointless concerns. We are US residents, we pay for Netflix, and we should be able to access that legally licensed content no matter where we are arbitrarily located in the world, especially temporarily. This is stupid, plain and simple.

1/16/2016 11:12:56 AM

Here are the tidbits I meant to publish yesterday, before Friday afternoon turned into a dumpster fire. I will have many more soon.

Microsoft announces Xbox One Tom Clancy’s The Division Bundle bundle

I’ve written about the success Microsoft has had with its Xbox One bundles, and that the firm recently introduced two new bundles for 2016. Well, we can add a third to the list. Major Nelson reports:

Today, we’re pleased to announce the Xbox One Tom Clancy’s The Division Bundle – the ultimate next-gen experience that brings the RPG into a modern military setting. The bundle features a 1TB hard drive, giving you added space to play and store more games than ever, and a full-game download ofTom Clancy’s The Division. In addition, fans in the U.S. that pre-order the bundle will also receive guaranteed early access to the upcoming closed beta launching on Jan. 28.

The Xbox One Tom Clancy’s The Division Bundle will be available in the U.S and Canada starting on March 8, and will retail for $399.

Four ways to improve Surface Pro 4 battery life

Brad Wardell offers up what looks to be some great advice for improving Surface Pro 4 battery life.

The [battery life] issue with Surface Pro 4 seems to be related to the power management of Windows 10 combined with the Skylake CPU.

Essentially, Windows 10 is having a difficult time knowing when to use (or more accurately, not use) Intel’s Turbo Boost feature. Turbo Boost is a feature that allows CPUs to go beyond their rated frequency for short bursts in order to maximize performance.

Presently, there is no cure. Microsoft must adjust the power management in Windows 10 to make more intelligent use of the Skylake’s Turbo Boost feature … There are, however, a handful of effective strategies we’ve employed that have drastically reduced the issues for most of our users.

Be sure to read the article for his four tips.

EA Access to be free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers next week

Microsoft announced this week that all Xbox Live Gold subscribers will gain free access to the EA Access Vault next week, from Tuesday, January 19 to Sunday, January 24.

If you have Xbox Live Gold and own an Xbox One, you can play more than a dozen of EA’s greatest games. Explore, lead, and battle in Dragon Age: Inquisition, hit the streets in Battlefield Hardline, be a Titan in Titanfall, and feel the game with FIFA 15 — and that’s just the start.

EA games now in The Vault include Battlefield Hardline, EA Sports UFC, Battlefield 4, FIFA 15, Madden 25, Dragon Age: Inquisition, NHL 15, Titanfall, Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, Need for Speed Rivals, NBA LIVE 15, Peggle 2, FIFA 14, and Madden 14.

Xbox Live Gold members can get started by downloading the EA Access Hub App by clicking on the Gold Member area on the home dashboard.

After Free Play Days, you’ll have the option to become an EA Access member for $4.99 (USD) per month, or $29.99 (USD) for a full year, and can continue playing your favorite Vault games right where you left off. You’ll also get to keep your Gamerscore and achievements earned while playing.

Xbox One won’t get background audio until this summer

I’ve been thinking about jumping the gun on a presumed “Xbox One S”Microsoft entertainment box and just getting another Xbox 360 or Xbox One for the living room. This news doesn’t exactly help my decision.

When asked when Xbox One would support background audio—so you could do things like play music in Groove while displaying a photo slideshow in another app—Microsoft’s Phil Spencer tweeted the following:

Won’t be before summer sorry to say.

Ah well.

iOS 9.3 public beta is now available

And if you don’t mind living on the edge a bit, you might actually want to get this one as it introduces a very nice “Night Mode” feature that cuts down on blue light at night (among other improvements). You can find out more at the Apple Beta Software Program web site.

Speaking of which…

As many of you know, the notion of cutting down on blue light at night isn’t new, and PC users have benefited from the f.lux app, which provides this functionality to Windows and Mac. And as you might imagine, they’re not too happy that Apple denied them an iOS app and then just released the functionality into the OS.

We’re proud that we are the original innovators and leaders in this area. In our continued work over the last seven years, we have learned how complicated people actually are.

Today we call on Apple to allow us to release f.lux on iOS, to open up access to the features announced this week, and to support our goal of furthering research in sleep and chronobiology.

 

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