Microsoft Releases Statement on Xbox neXt Rumor

Yesterday, we reported on a rather interesting development regarding an undisclosed project entitled Xbox neXt. This information was acquired from David Gardner’s LinkedIn profile, the Visual Design Leader at Xbox. Of course, whenever any evidence comes to the forefront, it’s important to not jump to conclusions and wait for official confirmation. This hasn’t taken long and a Microsoft spokesperson told IGN:

“Xbox neXt was an old internal team name for a group that worked on releasing Xbox One and is not related to a future console,”

“We have nothing further to share.”

This clearly debunks any suggestions that the Xbox neXt is a recent phenomenon and Microsoft’s attempt to create an updated Xbox One with enhanced power. Saying that, just because the Xbox neXt refers to an early phase in the Xbox One’s development, it doesn’t mean Microsoft isn’t working on new hardware. Whenever a console is released, research and development starts on designing the next console. Phil Spencer has clarified Microsoft’s intentions to stick with the Xbox One, and release a big update in the form of a brand new system. It’s unlikely that they’ll offer a hardware revision apart from redesigning the fairly clumsy housing and opting for a slimmer frame.

On another note, Sony is apparently producing the PlayStation 4.5K due to the technical demands of virtual reality. The company is really wanting to push PlayStation VR and the current PlayStation 4 isn’t powerful enough. In contrast to this, Microsoft hasn’t really shown any interest in virtual reality technology for this console generation. Perhaps, this is due to the incredible Hololens or they believe it’s going to be a considerable amount of time before VR becomes affordable. Whatever the case, at least Microsoft has clarified the situation in a very clear manner and addressed concerns regarding the Xbox neXt project.

The Fine Brothers Rescind “React” Trademarks

The Fine Brothers is an incredibly popular YouTube channel with almost 14 million subscribers and gained popularity with a series of “react” videos. The concept is quite simple and revolves around of the idea of filming people’s reactions to viral videos, old technology and film trailers. Unbelievably, brothers Benny and Rafi Fine caused outrage by trying to trademark the word ‘react’. Not only that, they had the nerve to launch content ID claims against people making react style videos without their approval via the ‘React World’ license. Rightfully, people voiced their disgust and couldn’t believe the duo’s egotistical behaviour. Thankfully, after a great deal of media scrutiny and public disdain, the brothers have decided to release an official statement which reads:

“Hello,

We’re here to apologize.

We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong. We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them.

We have decided to do the following:

1. Rescind all of our “React” trademarks and applications.*

2. Discontinue the React World program.

3. Release all past Content ID claims.**

The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time. It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward.

This has been a hard week. Our plan is to keep making great content with the help of our amazing staff. Thank you for your time and for hearing us out.

Sincerely,

Benny and Rafi Fine

*This includes “React,” “Kids React,” “Elders React,” “Lyric Breakdown,” etc. Please note: It takes a while for the databases to update, but the necessary paperwork has been filed.

**Content ID is YouTube’s copyright system that automatically flags content that looks like or sounds like copyrighted content. This mostly flags videos that are direct re-uploads of our videos (which is what the system is built for), but if you know of a video that has been claimed or removed incorrectly, please email us with “false claim” in the subject line.”

Clearly, this is just damage control after seeing the hatred directed at the Fine Brothers. Either they’re stupid for not expecting this or so arrogant that they honestly believed it was possible to trademark a word in the English language.

Microsoft Will Not “Force” Consumers to Upgrade to Windows 10… Or Will They?

Microsoft has been somewhat pushy concerning the adoption of Windows 10, from the many “forced upgrade” attempts, relentless hidden updates to the secretive file downloading system which launches an installer without explicit user acceptance, the tech giant has clearly overstepped its remit. Well, apparently no, no it has not, if a statement from the corporation is anything to go by.

“Windows Update is trusted for important updates through an official channel, while Windows 10 has been added in order to facilitate an easier way to find an upgrade to your system, you will receive a significant prompt before you choose to continue” said Microsoft.

Sounds reassuring, unfortunately, many users have found their systems being upgraded to Windows 10 without permission.  Microsoft has also found workarounds regarding third-party tools which aim to disable pop-up ads through the system tray, by automatically re-enabling any upgrade prompts. Furthermore, reports have been circulating concerning changes to the update system that will classify Windows 10 as a “recommended Update” from early 2016; this means users who think they will be installing a regular update will, in fact, be downloading the latest OS.

Then there is the latest scenario concerning the “Upgrade Now or Upgrade Tonight” prompt within Windows update for Win 7 and 8 users, but there does not seem to be an option to refuse the upgrade altogether.

I do think Microsoft have overstepped the mark concerning its relentless pursuit of upgrading every system to its latest OS, consumers have a right to decline any major updates if they wish to through a clear and transparent scheme.  Sticking by an older OS is perfectly legitimate for a variety of reasons, hopefully, I say that word without expectation, Microsoft will see sense and leave consumers be, if not, I can see a backlash to the point where many consumers have no other option but to ditch the brand before migrating to a different OS altogether, whether that be Mac or a variety of Linux distributions.

On a sidenote, I do think it seems slightly odd concerning Microsoft’s current upgrade policy, there seems to be an unprecedented push for all users to install the latest OS, Why? Is it purely marketing or is there something else, such as tracking, privacy, etc.

CRYORIG Releases Official Statement Regarding Skylake PCB Concerns

Intel’s Skylake architecture is built on the 14nm manufacturing process and utilizes a thinner structure compared to previous generations which can make the chip flex under high pressure air coolers. When we originally covered this story,  there was some confusion about what high pressure actually refers to. Any flex or damage to Skylake CPUs is caused by hefty mounting hardware which pushes down onto the CPU with high pressure. It does not refer to liquid cooling with a high pressure pump. Nevertheless, this is a worrying development and seems to occur when a system is transported with the CPU cooler attached. As you might expect, manufacturers including Noctua, Rajintek, be quiet and more all conform to Intel’s recommendations. The latest company to clarify their position is CRYORIG, who sent a fairly length statement explaining the root cause and preventative measures they take:

“We at CRYORIG have the following information and statement to make, regarding the recent news and discussion regarding damaged PCB’s on Skylake CPU’s, which many in the industry believe is caused by abnormal heatsink mounting pressure during transportation of the PC system. First of all we want to assure users of CRYORIG products that currently no CRYORIG heatsinks have displayed this problem, either through media reports, third party sales channels or internal testing. CRYORIG heatsinks are fully compatible with socket 1151 processors, and follow specifications set forth by CPU manufacturers. But as a note of precaution we suggest users to lay their PC system flat (with the heatsink in a vertical position) whenever they are transporting their PC system.

Based on the information and testing reports we currently have at hand, although CRYORIG’s own products did not show this problem, we have derived the following suggestions and insight into the Skylake PCB damage problem. From our observation the cause of the bent/damaged PCB is caused by the combination of two factors.

A) High mounting pressure from the CPU heatsink mounting system, with no flexibility in the system.
B) Increased directional force created by the weight of the heatsink and movement of the PC chassis.

In the cases that have been reported by media, it holds true that these issues have only been observed in “Pre-Built” systems. These systems have the heatsink installed before shipping, which are subjective to both point A+B. Thus if a heatsink already has high mounting pressure with no system of flexibility, heavy weight and is tossed around during shipping, then the force of the heatsink is possible to bend at the softest point. In this case the softest point is the Skylake PCB.

What makes CRYORIG heatsinks safe?

In our own product line we have two different mounting systems. First is the MultiSeg on our heavier products, then there is the X-Bar and MultiSeg Light. The MultiSeg Quick Mount System uses a sturdy Medium Carbon Steel backplate. We chose the Medium Carbon Steel for it’s high tensile strength, which protects the mainboard from bending when using heavier heatsinks like the R1 or H5. In combination with a highly rigid backplate, the spring screw system is what provides the downwards-clamping mounting force. This combination of a tough frame and a relatively softer point of flexibility is the key to why CRYORIG products are not seen damaging the CPU PCB. When extra vector/directional force is exhibited on the heatsink (such as during transport), the softest point in the system always gives. In this case the spring screws will deform to absorb the extra external force, much like a suspension system.

In our lighter products, the X-Bar and MultiSeg Light mounting systems omit the rigid steel backplate for a 30% Fiber Glass PBT. The lighter weight of our H7/M9 and C7 heatsinks creates less stress on the mainboard, which is why the steel backplate is not needed. Also, using a Fiber Glass filled PBT has multiple benefits.

Material Modulus of Elasticity (The Higher the more Rigid)

  • 30% Fiber Glass PBT 15.0 GPa Max
  • Medium Carbon Steel 213.0 GPa Max

The Modulus of Elasticity for 30% Fiber Glass PBT is 15.0 GPa, while Medium Carbon Steel is 213 GPa. The combination of structural support and elasticity, allows these backplate system to still have a point of flexibility when extra force is exerted. The lighter weight of the product itself also makes it safer when directional force is exhibited.

In all, although caution should always be exhibited when transporting delicate electronics, we want our consumers to feel safe about their CRYORIG product. Our finely tuned mounting kits are safe to use. Moreover, stationary PC’s do not have anything to worry about either.”

This is a very detailed and reassuring statement which helps to understand how the flexing process can occur. According to the research so far, all failures have occurred during transportation. As a result, it is recommend to remove the CPU cooler, or lay the system flat when moving the system.

Microsoft Responds to Advert Claims in Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows Insider members recently noticed an unusual suggestions bar embedded into the Start Menu. This appeared in the latest testing build and offered information about third-party applications. Some critics and users quickly reported these suggestions as adverts which is open to interpretation. According to Microsoft, the suggestions are simply designed to customize your user-experience:

“We will continue to offer Windows Ads in Apps on Windows 10. Beyond that, we do not currently have plans for advertising in Windows 10.

“Lock and Start content is programmed by Microsoft to help customers learn and discover new features and apps to enhance their Windows 10 experience; app publishers are not paying to be featured.”

While the suggestions tab isn’t overly intrusive, some might feel its a hidden way to embed adverts into the Start Menu. Additionally, Microsoft shouldn’t integrate loads of visual tabs or the user-interface will become a complete mess. Currently, the suggestions tab is incredibly small, and doesn’t detract from the core experience. In theory, Microsoft could insert adverts into the operating system as the majority of upgrades have been via the free promotion. However, this would be extremely foolish and I’m sure their strategic team is aware of this.

Do you think the promotions tab constitutes an advert?

Image courtesy of BetaNews.

Thank you The Inquirer for providing us with this information. 

Apple Defends CarPlay Safety

Apple has defended its CarPlay product, after a University of Utah study suggested that Siri was the most distracting of all speech recognition systems when used in the car.

Apple said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that the study only tested Siri alone, not the company’s in-car product CarPlay, which includes Siri Eyes Free.

“CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free intuitively use your vehicle’s native controls so you don’t need to pick-up and look at your phone while driving. These experiences are tailored so you only have access to iPhone apps that are optimized for the car and make sense for an in-vehicle experience.”

The study compared multiple in-car systems, as well as Apple’s Siri. However, it must be said that the researchers didn’t make it clear that they only used the standard version of Siri included with iPhones and iPads, not Apple’s CarPlay, which is tailored for driving.

Source: 9to5Mac

Crisis at Crytek Could Be Over

Over the past weeks we have heard rumours about Cryteks staff not being paid for months as well as employees quitting their job due to that and being swiped up by other companies. Even though the company dismissed the claims as rumours at first, it hasn’t stopped new ones from popping up.

In a new statement to gameindustry.biz on Friday, Crytek has given us the first official statement on the situation since the original denial of the problem. Crytek has been enduring a transitional phase as they are calling it, transforming from a developer to an Online-Publisher. The company also stated that it has secured new capital that should ensure both short and long-term foundation and added “We won’t be communicating further details about our developments and progress.”

In recent weeks, there have been repeated reports and rumors relating to financial problems at Crytek. Having already given an update to staff across all our studios, we are now in a position to share more details with members of the press and public.

Internally, we have acknowledged that the flow of information to employees has not been as good as it should have, however we hope you understand that communicating details of our plans publicly has not always been possible.

Like the games industry as a whole, Crytek has been in a transitional phase. Our evolution from a development studio to an Online-Publisher has required us to refocus our strategies. These challenges go along with an increased demand for capital which we have secured.

We can now concentrate on the long term strategic direction of Crytek and our core competencies. We kindly ask for your understanding, that we won’t be communicating further details about our developments and progress.

Ultimately, with our organization, capitalization, portfolio and technologies we have now laid the foundations for securing Crytek’s future – not just in the short term, but also long term.

Through this period of speculation, we are thankful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from our community and our partners, and for the contribution all of our staff have made. We remain committed to doing what we are best known for and trying to develop the best interactive experiences and technology possible for everyone who loves gaming.

We are confident that we will be able to share more positive news on Crytek’s progress soon.

These are a lot of vague words not really saying much, but they do tell us the future of Crytek and their popular CryEngine might have been secured for another round.

Thank you Gamesindustry for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Crytek.