Originally filed in 2005, Microsoft has now been granted US Patent No. 7,536,726. More specifically, the software giant now owns the patent for intentionally crippling your PC until you cough up the cash for that pirated OS.
Navigating through the legalese, the patent paves the way for "making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer. Additionally, various techniques can be used to remove or reduce the functional limitations of the computer."
The snarky side in us says not to worry, because Microsoft will only hold your system ransom until you pay an "agreed upon sum of money." And the rational side says, really, don't worry, because this should only effect pirates anyway, and even then, Microsoft appears to be softening its stance.
A couple of announcements surfaced today, one each for both of the smartphone heavyweights - Apple's iPhone and T-Mobile's G1. If you own, or are considering, one or the other, keep reading.
Amazon Updates Kindle App for iPhone
Score a win for iPhone owners, who now have an improved Kindle app to mess around with. Now in version 1.1, the updated release addresses a few customer complaints, one of them being that users can now read in either portrait or landscape mode. And to make reading easier, you can now change the background and text color combination. Other changes include tap support for turning pages, and multi-touch pinch to zoom in on images.
G1 'Cupcake' Update Pushed Back Until June
G1 owners who have been anxiously awaiting the much anticipated 'Cupcake' update (Android 1.5) will have to wait a little longer. What was originally supposed to be an "early May" release looked like it was finally going to start trickling out this week in the U.S., but word has come down that the update has been delayed at least one more week.
"We are working diligently to get Android 1.5 out as soon as possible, while aiming to ensure a consistent, positive experience for our customers," a T-Mobile forum moderator announced. "We're finalizing this build this week to ensure optimal functionality and smooth delivery. Therefore, the rollout schedule has been reset by approximately a week, and we expect all G1 customers will have the update by early June."
Barring any last minute changes, Android 1.5 will add on-screen keyboard support with auto-correction, text prediction, user dictionaries, and third-party keyboard layouts, live folders, folder shortcuts for YouTube favorites, starred contacts, MPEG4 and 3GP video playback, stereo Bluetooth, a new Linux kernel, browser enhancements, and several other goodies.
It took a bit of waiting, but those Catalyst 9.5 downloads that started appearing on the web days ago are finally available direct from AMD. For those of you who grew impatient and snagged the download from an alternate source, they should be the same ones now appearing on AMD's site.
Catalyst 9.5 promises a handful of performance improvements, including:
Performance gains of up to 11 percent for single GPU and ATI CrossFireX configurations with AA enabled in Unigine Tropics DX9
Up to a 10 percent boost in Company of Heroes
Up to a 10 percent boost in BattleForce for CrossFireX configurations
Several bugs have been squashed in the new release, a handful of which apply to Windows 7. Win 7 owners should no longer see dropped frames while playing certain Blu-ray interlaced content, and moving a video clip across an extended desktop should no longer cause the system to flicker or for the media player to stop working.
Glossy case paint jobs can sometimes cost more than the components they're holding, but on IBuyPower's new Chimera series, the fiery exterior comes standard. In this case, standard starts at under $1K and includes a customized NZXT Guardian 921 enclosure. An "exclusive glossy flame exterior" and unique side panel window make this unlike any Guardian 921 you've ever seen before. Three 120mm cooling fans keep the interior from getting as hot as the exterior looks, which you can tabs on with an optional front-panel thermal readout display.
IBuyPower offers the Chimera in both AM3 and Core i7 trim. Pricing for the latter starts at $1300 and includes an Intel Core i7 920 processor, MSI X58-Pro motherboard, 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory, Nvidia GTX 275 videocard, 750GB hard drive, 22X DVD burner, 700W power supply, and Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
For $300 less, the AMD configuration comes equipped with a Phenom II X4 910 processor, Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UDP5 motherboard, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, ATI Radeon HD 4870 videocard, 500GB hard drive, and same DVD burner, PSU, and OS as above.
The Chimera is available now and you can knock another 5 percent off with coupon code 'IBUYPOWER' during checkout. Free games and other current promotions can be found here.
Intel isn't getting much sympathy from its rivals over the record-setting $1.45 billion fine imposed by the European Commission for alleged noncompetitive practices, and given the heated public exchanges between Intel and Nvidia in recent months, you might assume the GPU maker would be frothing at the mouth to file an antitrust suit of its own. You'd be wrong.
Surprisingly, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said his company has no such plans, as least not right now, though he did complain about Intel's pricing structure for its Atom platform. According to Huang, the price of a standalone Atom chip sits at $45, almost twice as much as Intel charges for a three-chip bundle, which costs $25.
"That seems pretty unfair," Huang said. "We ought to be able to compete and serve that market.
Intel sees it a different way.
"We compete fairly. We do not force bundles on any computer makers and customers can purchase Atom individually or as part of the bundle," said Bill Calder, a spokesman for Intel. "If you want to purchase the chip set, obviously there is better pricing."
While Huang indicated no legal action is looming, he didn't rule out the possibility, adding, "I hope it doesn't come to that."
Intel's Atom platform has been such a resounding success, one has to wonder what the No. 1 chip maker has planned for a follow-up. You don't have to wonder anymore, as Intel this week officially unveiled 'Pine Trail', the codename for Atom's successor.
The CPU used in Pine Trail, called 'Pineview,' moves the memory controller and GPU onto the same die as the CPU. This means Pine Trail will be a two-chip solution, one less than Intel's current netbook platform. In theory, this should result in cost savings and lower power consumption.
Pineview is being built on a 45nm manufacturing process. Intel hasn't said what type of memory controller it will use, though previous speculation pointed to single-channel DDR2. But what's most interesting is how the war between Intel and Nvidia is shaping up. Like Pine Trail, Nvidia's Ion platform is also a two-chip solution and will have had time to mature by the time Pine Trail debuts later this year. Performance looks to be better on the 9400M-based Ion as well, but Intel's price structure for selling standalone Atoms could put Nvidia at a disadvantage. Moreover, what chips will Nvidia use once Intel makes the move to a CPU+GPU solution?
If your parents always told you that wasting away your time with videogames would never make you any money, Adult Swim comedy show Robot Chicken must be quite the wakeup call. Those guys make money by playing with action figures. And now, they’re doing it with videogames too! It’s really not fair; if we try playing with the action figures on our desks while blogging about videogames, we just get thrown in MPC’s patented Pain Room – the horrors of which we aren’t at liberty to speak about.
“The campaign was conceptualized by Robot Chicken co-creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich and executed by the writing team including Matt Beans, Doug Goldstein, Mike Fasolo, Breckin Meyer, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, Hugh Sterbakov and Zeb Wells,” according to the press release, and includes such gags as “exploding poo, angry yetis, ruler yielding librarians and more.” Make of that what you will.
The DLC will be free with the upcoming Spore expansion Galactic Adventures, and is meant to show off the versatility of GA’s Adventure Creator tool. Based on some of the monstrosities birthed by Spore’s creature creator and the above description of this Robot Chicken DLC, we actually think this whole thing makes quite a bit of sense. Now whether that’s a good thing or not, well, we’re not so sure.
Tread softly and carry a big stick seems to be the motif of the Spy’s latest implement, and the self-described “cannon” sure seems to fit the bill. Nope – no subtlety here. Just big, loud, accurate lead. Oh, and your mom.
“There are two sorts of men in this world: the sort with blood pouring out of a hole in their heads, and the sort holding the Ambassador [hand cannon]. It has the ammo count of a revolver and the pinpoint accuracy of a sniper rifle, even at long range. (But remember, a gun that packs this much heat needs to cool off between shots, so make every shot count.),” says the Team Fortress blog.
The gun’s barrel – in keeping with Meet the Spy’s risqué twist – initiates its potent humiliation-death combo with an engraved picture of your enemy’s mother. And if your mom doesn’t (ahem) have it going on, well, the image actually can be unseen. The death part tends to take care of that.
Microsoft continues its quest to convince people to watch TV on their PCs with today’s announcement that Netflix subscribers can finally stream more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes through Windows Media Center. But there’s a catch; two, actually.
Reports have claimed that Microsoft is currently in the developmental process of creating a mobile platform that mixes many elements of the Xbox and Zune – earning it the nickname “xYz.”
The rumored handheld is reported to be “unlike anything on the market today … think of a mashup of the Sony Mylo, the PSP, and the iPhone… errr, the iPod touch; [the MS handheld] doesn’t need access to a phone network. Although the Microsoft handheld is definitely a converged device, this is not a Zune Phone. Microsoft won’t compete with its Windows Mobile customers.”
The device will supposedly be based off of Live Anywhere, for the most part. “There will be a single online marketplace; the lines between the Zune, Xbox Live and Sky marketplaces will blur when the handheld launches.”
Given that both Nintendo and Sony have strong footholds in the handheld gaming sector, it seems like a natural progression for Microsoft to move here as well. Let’s just hope that this rumored handheld takes less pages from the book of Zune and more pages from the book of Xbox.