Employees at the National Security Agency aren’t happy that we now know to look out for their trash-talking elves that they’ve created in World of Warcraft. The Washington Post reports that officials at the NSA are feeling depressed and demoralized by the constant stream of revelations being leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden and are also feeling hung out to dry by a White House that has spent most of its time trying to contain political damage caused by the Snowden leaks. Essentially, the Post’s sources say that the NSA thinks that it’s providing some of the most valuable intelligence in the United States’ battle against terrorism and that it deserves recognition for its efforts instead of calls for more restraint. More →
Calm down, Windows 8 haters: You may not have to rush out to scoop up Windows 7 after all. Microsoft caused a stir last week when it announced that it had already stopped selling box copies of Windows 7 and that it had instructed its manufacturing partners to stop using Windows 7 on new PCs by October 30th, 2014. Now Network World has noticed that Microsoft has backtracked on its Windows life cycle page and now says that sales of both Windows 7 and new Windows 7 PCs will only end at a date “to be determined.” Windows 7 extended support is still scheduled to last through January 14th, 2020. More →
As we noted last week, Windows 8 is a very polarizing operating system. While many Windows users find it much faster and more stable than earlier versions of Windows, other users simply hate the Metro UI and wish it would go away forever. Paul Thurrott reports some good news for desktop users who feel spurned by Windows 8 and aren’t satisfied with the changes made with Windows 8.1: Microsoft is working hard to appease them. More →
It’s no secret that most Americans really don’t like their Internet service providers and now Ars Technica has reached out to its reader base to get a better understanding of exactly why Americans hold their ISPs in such low esteem. What emerges, Ars finds, is consumers who are fed up with “high prices, data caps, absurd policies, and incompetence.” More →
By all accounts Microsoft’s Xbox One has sold very well so far but there have been some indications that it’s already fallen behind sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4. Forbes contributor Paul Tassi notes that after Sony announced that PS4 sales were up to 2.1 million last week, Microsoft responded by… talking about how many hours gamers have spent playing Xbox One games. Microsoft’s silence on the latest sales figures follows reports that the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One in the United Kingdom and polls showing that more gamers plan to buy a PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One during the holiday shopping season. More →
Don’t worry, procrastinators: You’ll be able to make the iPhone 5s a last-minute holiday gift. MacRumors notes that shipping times for the iPhone 5s have fallen to just 1 to 3 days, which means that you’ll be able to slip it under your Christmas tree as long as you order it on December 22nd. The improved shipping times come amid reports that Apple has shut down some of its iPhone 5c production and has shifted it over to iPhone 5s production in response to higher-than-expected demand. But while supplies of Apple’s flagship smartphone seem to have caught up with demand, you still shouldn’t expect to see the Retina iPad mini in stock until after the holiday season as Apple is still apparently having trouble producing enough of them.
Law enforcement officials legally need to get search warrants when they tap your phone or read your mail but they face no such restrictions on a federal level when it comes to electronic communications. With this in mind, both Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have started banging the drum for a campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to amend the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to make law enforcement officials get court-issued warrants before snooping on suspects’ email. Google and the EFF are both part of a larger coalition of companies that are urging an overhaul of the ECPA, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.
Samsung has seen Google and Amazon’s best efforts at selling super-cheap tablets and it’s apparently getting ready to do them one better. According to the latest rumors from SamMobile, Samsung is planning to release a new tablet next year called the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite that it will sell for a mere €100 (USD $135), making it by far the cheapest Samsung tablet ever released. There’s no information available yet on the rumored tablet’s specifications although SamMobile expects them to be “respectable” because Samsung is releasing both a Wi-Fi-only version and 3G cellular version of the device. No release date has been confirmed although it does sound like it would be a good candidate to launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Chromecast is a nifty way to get your web browser and other key TV apps onto your big-screen television but Google’s ambitions for the living room apparently go deeper. The Verge relays us the latest report from The Information that claims Google is working on something called Nexus TV, which will be its own Apple TV-style set-top box that it will release sometime in 2014. Like Chromecast, the Android-based set-top box will let users play content from Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube and it will also apparently give users access to select video games as well. There’s no information on pricing for the device yet but The Information’s source says that it should be ready for release in the first half of 2014.
If you’re looking to buy a new PC and you hate the idea of looking at Live Tiles, then you’d better get a new PC within the next year or so. As ZDNet points out, Microsoft has told its manufacturing partners that they can keep selling new Windows 7-based PCs through October 30th, 2014, which means that by this time next year every new PC that OEMs release will come preloaded with Windows 8. Microsoft has also announced that it’s officially stopped selling Windows 7 box copies at retail. More →
So it seems that Microsoft has put together yet another ad bashing Google’s line of Chromebooks. The Verge’s Tom Warren says this aggressive line of attack raises a key question: Why in God’s name is Microsoft actually worried about Chromebooks? I’ve tried to figure this out myself and I have not been able to come up with anything resembling a logical answer. More →
Sorry, Samsung: It looks like that additional $290 million still isn’t enough for Apple. FOSS Patents notes that Apple filed a motion this week asking Samsung to pay an additional $15.7 million to help cover Apple’s legal expenses, which the company says totaled more than $60 million over the duration of the patent trial. Samsung is already on the hook for more than $929 million in its patent dispute with Apple so from that perspective another $15 million doesn’t seem like all that much. More →
Like a good exorcist, the Federal Communications Commission looks set to drive back the merger sent from hell. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai says that the FCC is very unlikely to sign off on any proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable because the Obama administration has shown itself much less likely to approve major telecom mergers — such as the blocked AT&T-T-Mobile merger — than a Republican administration might be. A merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which are the two largest cable providers in the United States, would further consolidate an industry that is already uncompetitive in many major markets. In addition to Comcast, smaller cable provider Charter has also been rumored to be interested in buying up Time Warner Cable.