So how did this all happen? How did Microsoft go from having a grand vision of the living room with new policies for how content would be treated to rolling back nearly all of those policies scant days later?
I’m no longer an industry insider, but I suspect it went a little like this.
Microsoft very likely wanted Xbox One to be an all-digital console. Everything would be delivered online, and discs would be a thing of the past. But I suspect that late into the development process, they realized it was going to be too soon. 10GB+ games still can’t be delivered online with reasonable download times. They were going to need discs. But since the console is expecting the game to be on the hard drive, we’ll need each game to be installed. But what would stop someone from installing a game and selling it? No worries, we’ll just make the game phone home when you want to play it and register the serial number on the disc with your Xbox Live account. Easy.
I suspect that was it. Nothing more nefarious than that. But along the way, I think they realized how badly this was going to play, so they started coming up with soft benefits to excuse the requirements. Created new features that the hard drive discless installation could enable. But the press saw right through this and got to the crux of the issue, which was that Microsoft was trying to treat discs like downloads … and the fact is that the public isn’t ready for that kind of change.
So today’s news, while unexpected, isn’t exactly shocking. Microsoft is just getting back to where we all knew they were going to have to be, particularly after Sony was so adept at using it as an attack vector. And while they’re announcing it today, Microsoft clearly hadn’t planned on it, since it’s going to require a day-one patch.
I got tired of people savvying me about the revelations of NSA surveillance and asking why anyone would care about secret, intrusive spying, so I wrote a new Guardian column about it, “The NSA’s Prism: why we should care.”
We’re bad at privacy because the…
To all the people that heard there was going to be a Fantasia game with current pop music, and said how this was an affront to all that is good and holy, and that Disney / Harmonix should be ashamed …
You were wrong. You were very, very wrong.
Fantasia: Music Evolved looks like incredible fun, and illustrates why Harmonix has figured out how to unlock the fun of both Kinect and music. All I wanted to do watching this video was jump into my monitor and start playing. It’s going to be a long wait for this game, but mercifully, it’s coming to Xbox 360 as well as Xbox One … because this may be the only game that could have convinced me to go against my principles to buy one.
But more to the point, not only is there some songs from Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 in the game (not shown here), but there the idea of exploring music was the central theme of Fantasia, and that’s what Harmonix is doing to gloriously with Fantasia: Music Evolved.
Microsoft is getting a lot of press, and very little of it good. But leave it to Sony to recognize the opportunity to slam the door Microsoft opened.
Been playing with iOS 7 on my iPhone since last night. It’s still an early beta and the design is clearly incomplete in places. Overall, I like the direction they’re going, but it definitely needs some additional iteration. they still have a few months, after all.
I did listen to iTunes Radio on my way to work this morning, and it was great. Just fantastic, probably the single best feature, and it’s free for everyone (and no ads for iTunes Match subscribers). Other things I like …
No app limit in folders any more. Folders are paged.
Tilting your phone to see around your icons is fun. Useless, but fun.
Multitasking is great. (It did take me far too long to figure out how to kill a running app, though. [Swipe up on the app card.])
Charging indicator at the top pulses slightly, just like the Mac power light.
Notification Center is really nice. Shows your day and a preview of tomorrow. Having that available at the lock screen is a big deal to me.
Control Center is very convenient. It’s one of those things I used to jailbreak my phone for, like the lock screen calendar.
Where the new design language works, iOS feels fresh and clean. It’s a vibrant change after years of the same core design.
Not so good yet:
Some of the default icons are downright ugly. I fully expect this to get fixed. At least one person has posted a mockup showing new icons that match Apple’s design language, but look far better. I hope they just ask him if they can use them. (The Settings icon is particularly bad.)
A bit sluggish on my iPhone 4S, but this is expected to improve in Beta 2.
The grey, slightly transparent background for app folders is really ugly when you have a lot of them on the same page.
Choosing really light weights of Helvetica leads to an issue where you can’t read the text on some backgrounds. Expecting shadowing to be added to solve the problem. Really apparent on the Lock Screen with music playing, it’s hard to read the clock.
Some text layout issues, particularly in the Voicemail list.
Clearly designed for the iPhone 5 taller screen, as it feels oddly cramped on my iPhone 4S. Even the home screen, which didn’t really change much.
It is clear that Apple pulled an Apple and “borrowed” features and design from popular apps and hacks for iOS. Mailbox, Calvetica, Sunshine, and many jailbreak apps all were victimized in order to make iOS better. But Apple always warns developers that if what they release is a feature and not an actual app, they run this risk that Apple will incorporate the feature at a later time. It doesn’t mean that I agree with their doing that (it really punishes innovators), but it does make iOS better.