With all the recent hubbub about DRM (seriously, we're getting tired of using that link), it was only a matter of time until some brave soul stepped forward to behead the "draconian" menace*. Fittingly, that someone is Stardock, whose handiwork birthed the Gamer's Bill of Rights.
"While Stardock doesn't put copy protection on its retail games, the fact is that most publishers are never going to agree to do that," Stardock CEO Brad Wardell said of one sticky stipulation in the Bill.
"So the publishers are telling us, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Why don't you guys develop something that you think is suitable that would protect our IP, but would be more acceptable to users?'"
"We're investigating what would make users happy to protect their needs, but also provide some security for the publishers. ... We're actually developing a technology that would do that."
Although Wardell's plan still has all four limps planted safely in the cradle, he does have one concrete idea. "We want that license to be yours, not per machine. ... It's not your machine buying the game. It's you," he said, voicing his hope for unlimited downloads of a purchased game.
When asked if his solution could be defined as DRM, however, Wardell was hesitant to slap the newborn plan with gaming's three scarlet letters.
"The problem with 'DRM' is that it's so loosely defined. ... Stardock's products use activation, and I wouldn't say that it's DRM," he emphasized. "We're just verifying if you're real customer."
All told, though, we think Wardell is really onto something. Now, with time out of the way, it's just a matter of how many bricks we'll have to chuck through John Riccitiello's window until he actually listens.
AT&T this week launched the Samsung Epix, the first smartphone with a built-in optical mouse, which sits above a QWERTY keyboard. The integrated rodent gets paired with a 320x320 touchscreen measuring 2.5 inches on the i907 Epix, giving users an epic amount of control over navigation. Other specifications include:
3.6Mbps HSDPA connectivity
2 megapixel camera
Video Share support
No surprises on the software front, as at the heart of it all sits Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. Storage duties are handled by a microSD slot with support for up to 32GB. Samsung claims up to 7 hours of talk time on the 4.4-ounce device, and up to 14 days in standby time.
Amazon has agreed to acquire casual web gaming company Reflexive Entertainment. The move marks the internet behemoth’s foray into casual gaming. Reflexive was constituted in 1997 and is stationed in Orange County, California. Reflexive is working on a game development and distribution service called Reflexive Arcade.
The Reflexive Arcade service will be restricted to only PC, Mac and web-based games. The true motivation behind this particular acquisition is not yet known. The two companies haven’t made the details of the transaction public.
SRI International, a Silicon Valley startup, has armed three online military communities with its social network analytics technology called iLink. The technology will allow the disparate set of users of these online military communities to share information in a more efficient manner than previously imagined.
The social network analytics technology intelligently summons relevant information - content, discussions, and other network members – for users when they want it. "iLink learns to deliver the right answers to the right people at the right time," SRI International's David Gutelius explained. The military is currently dwelling upon the various ways it can utilize this technology.
We don't claim to be businessmen, but even we have to say LucasArts' rationale behind Star Wars Galaxies' continued existence seems a little off. When asked whether the troubled Star Wars MMO would step down gracefully or take a lightsaber to the gut, LucasArts senior online exec Tom Nichols replied:
“We’re still committed to Star Wars Galaxies. A couple of things: a demonstration of that commitment includes a recent trading card game that we launched in August. It’s doing very well for us and we have a new expansion pack being planned for that."
“I think the market will definitely support [both Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Wars Galaxies]."
He also noted that the two games feature different mechanics, which he believes will attract different audiences.
But if you've never played either game, what can Galaxies throw your way to entice you to its shriveled up side of the force?
“Shortly we’re going to release a new Hoth encounter that recreates that classic battle in the Empire Strikes Back, and that’s exciting content for our Galaxies community, so we’re definitely committed to the product.”
A Hoth level. Added to one of the few Star Wars games in history that didn't already have one.
Galaxies fans, feel free to tell us why we're wrong/why we should die in a fire.
With Opera’s market share hovering around 1%, you might think that the Scandinavian browser’s developers would be feeling a little down. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as DailyTech has posted a lengthy interview with Jon S. von Tetzchner, the founder of Opera Software, and in it the Norseman seems as enthusiastic as ever about Opera’s prospects.
When asked about what makes Opera competitive, he responds “speed,” clarifying that he doesn’t just mean the software’s speed, but also the speed with which the user is able to accomplish things using the browser. He refers specifically to Opera’s mouse gestures, password wand, and the “Quick find” history-searching function as helping users browse faster.
Of the competition, he says “We believe in giving users the tools they need. Outside of add-ons, Chrome, Firefox and IE all think the browser should get out of your way. We continually add and refine features to make browsing more productive, organized and efficient.”
He also discusses Opera’s strong showing in the mobile market, its relationship with Nintendo, and his thoughts on how Chrome is actually growing Opera’s market share.
If you’ve ever used or considered Opera, the interview is definitely worth a read, so check it out and let us know what you think.
Never ones to shy away from an uphill battle, Microsoft has recently been taking new steps to combat software piracy in China. They’ve launched a program, euphemistically called “Windows Genuine Advantage,” which blacks out users' screens if it discovers that they’re running pirated Microsoft software.
In China, a country where a large majority of computers are running pirated software, this move has, predictably, caused quite an uproar.
The China Daily quoted Dong Zhengwei, a lawyer, as saying “[Microsoft is] the biggest hacker in China with its intrusion into users’ computer systems without their agreement or any judicial authority … I respect the right of Microsoft to protect its intellectual property, but … They should target producers and sellers of fake software, not users.”
The quote references the fact that in China, a lot of the software sold commercially is actually pirated, meaning that users might be at risk of a blackout without even knowing it.
Is Microsoft just protecting their IP, or have they gone too far? Let us know after the jump.
As new netbooks continue to march into the market, it's typically the hardware that garners most of the attention. Some models sport solid-state drives (SSDs), while others keep it old school with a traditional hard drive. But all of them share two key characteristics - reduced screen real estate and gimped performance - that have opened up a market for specialized software.
Enter ThinkFree, who this week launched its ThinkFree Netbook Edition, a software solution encompassing an assortment of productivity applications designed for netbooks. Unlike standard office suites, ThinkFree claims its new software has been optimized for small screens and limited hardware resources inherent in Intel Atom chipset-based netbooks.
"Netbook users are demanding applications that are built to not only meet, but make the most of the unique characteristics of this new device category, (and) Netbook OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can now offer their customers just that by pre-installing a customized, device-tailored version of ThinkFree Netbook Edition," Su Jin Kim, ThinkFree's CEO, said in a statement.
ThinkFree Mobile: Netbook Edition is available now with support for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. And from now until October 31st, the company will give away a copy to anyone willing to fill out a short survey.
Today seems to be a pretty big day in the (previously small) world of touch-screen devices that you don’t actually touch. Microsoft has released a demo showcasing a technology called Touchless which allows an everyday webcam to emulate the functionality of an expensive multi-touch screen. They’ve also released an SDK for Touchless, allowing developers to start creating their own sorta-multi-touch apps.
Mike Wasserman, the creator of the Touchless, has released a video demonstrating the technology in action. The technique involves using the webcam to track the position of “markers” manipulated in the air or on the surface. In the video, Mike uses all sorts of things as markers, including stuffed toys and a lollipop, which makes it seem like anything sufficiently colorful can be used. The video shows off how Touchless can be used to manipulate photos, draw, and play some rudimentary multi-touch games like Pong.
So far, Touchless is just a neat demonstration of an idea. With the SDK released, though, we might see some very cool things built on the technology in the future.
Check out the video or try the demo for yourself and let us know what you think.
Evidently, software pirates have been passing up on Microsoft’s latest flagship OS, Vista, in order to get their booty plundering hands on a counterfeit version of XP, according to Bonnie MacNaughton, a senior attorney at Microsoft.
“Historically, counterfeiters tend to focus on the 'n-1' version of software," explained MacNaughton. "Because of the more robust antipiracy and security features in Vista, most sophisticated piracy rings still continue to focus on XP. But that's changing over time.” For the very same reasons, counterfeiters are only copying Office 2003, rather than Office 2007.
Given the current future of Windows XP, and the high possibility of its piracy it’s entirely likely that any copy of XP that you get after January 2009 (with the exception of downgrades available through HP and Dell) is pirated. Because of this, Microsoft is planning on rolling out a brand new ad campaign in early 2009 to remind people of XP’s demise, and this possibility. “We're planning [a campaign] in January or February to make sure our customers know what our rules and policies are about Windows XP," stated MacNaughton, "to make sure they understand what may be illegitimate and what may be legitimate. We want to make sure that the XP they might be getting is genuine.”