Xbox One Sign Out Trolling

The Xbox One Sign Out troll pretty much nails everything wrong with voice control in the way that Microsoft has implemented it with its Xbox Kinect. The troll sets his Xbox username to “Xbox Sign Out”, then tricks people into saying his name which will then bring up the Xbox Sign Out screen for that user.

The Kinect on the Xbox 360 has this problem in spades. If I’m watching Netflix and my daughter says something like “I hope they stop him him in time,” the idiot Kinect complies by stopping the video.

In fact, there’s a whole host of words that you can’t say around the Xbox, including words that might sound like a control word. We’ve managed to inadvertently interrupt our Netflix viewing by saying pop, pencil, claws, and similar words that sound close enough to stop, cancel and pause to the Kinect.

Xbox Live Hoaxes

Microsoft is warning people about a hoax that promises people free Xbox Live points if they call up Microsoft and wish the company a happy birthday—the company was founded on April 4, 1975.

Of course there’s a much more common hoax involving Xbox Live. In this hoax, unscrupulous retailers in cahoots with a company with a history of legal problems attempts to sell Xbox owners a completely useless service, claiming it will enhance their Xbox experience.

Typically, the scammers call this service Xbox Live Gold. Often it will come sold even in supermarkets (presumably unaware that Xbox Live Gold’s services are a hoax) on scratch-off cards that look like this.

Xbox Live Gold

It is a shame that Microsoft doesn’t do more to alert consumers that Xbox Live Gold is just another ripoff too.

Microsoft’s Problems In A Single Steve Ballmer Quote

AllThingsD highlights an interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in which Ballmer says,

I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting. You can go through the products from all those guys … and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point.

This is Microsoft’s problem in a nutshell. Ballmer thinks everyone wants their tablet to act like a laptop or desktop, and—if Windows 8′s Metro is any guide—their laptop or desktop to work like a tablet.

But not everything has to be a Swiss Army Knife. I don’t expect or want my $400 tablet to do everything my $1500 laptop does. Microsoft doesn’t seem to get it that the Apple, and to a lesser extent Android, succeeded where Microsoft failed in its Tablet PC efforts.

As one of the commenters on the AllThingsD story put it, Ballmer is complaining here that nobody is making refrigerators with built-in toasters. Yes. And, of course, there’s a reason for that.

Microsoft’s Shady Practices on XBOX Live Subscriptions

Gamasutra has the details on a class action lawsuit against Microsoft over its shady XBOX Live subscription billing practices,

Graves explains that in his own particular case, he let his Xbox Live subscription expire by declining to update his credit card information; when he renewed his account several months later with a new credit card, Microsoft charged him for both a new subscription and the subscription that had previously expired.

According to the court filing, Microsoft told Graves that the issue was “not a mistake,” and said he would receive two years of Xbox Live service, as the charges covered both his manual service renewal, and his pending automatic renewal from the previous subscription.

Microsoft did something like this to me last year, though not quite as bad as this guy. My XBOX Live membership was set to expire in a month. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t want them to bill my credit card, so I bought an XBOX Live subscription card, entered the code and extended my membership. And a month later, despite the fact that my subscription had 6 months to go before expriing, they billed my credit card for the renewal, and just added the time to the length of my subscription.

Stupid f—s. I canceled the card I had on file with them (there’s no way to remove all credit cards, as far as I could tell) and refuse to ever again give them anything but a temporary credit card number.

XBOX Live Arcade Sales Increase After NXE Release

Xbox 360Gamasutra cites statistics from Microsoft suggesting that sales on XBOX Live Arcade increased by as much as 300 percent following the release of the New XBOX Experience back in November.

Hmm . . . so, in theory, if you replace a shitty looking, almost unusable interface with a pretty looking one that actually makes sense and sales increase.

Nah, that’ll never work.

What’s amazing is just how bad the XBOX 360 interface was for so long.  It’s almost like Microsoft didn’t have any clue how to create a usable interface so they just swiped Sony and Nintendo’s best ideas.

Nah, that would never happen.

Microsoft Screwed Vista Customers to Placate Intel

Personally, I’ve been using Windows XP on the numeours computers I have to use, and I don’t plan on ever using another Microsoft OS. Ubuntu’s Good Enough(TM) without all the bullshit like this that Microsoft is constantly pulling,

A new court filing reveals disputes at Microsoft’s highest levels leading up to Windows Vista’s release — including CEO Steve Ballmer describing former Windows chief Jim Allchin as “apoplectic” over a move to lower the standards for the “Windows Vista Capable” logo.

. . .

Allchin, who has since retired from Microsoft, took the opposite view [over whether Microsoft should give the "Windows Vista Capable" logo to machines running the Intel 915 chipset]. The filing quotes from one of his e-mails:

I’m sorry to say that I think this plan is terrible and it will have to be changed.

I believe we are going to be misleading customers with the Capable program. OEMs (computer makers) will say a machine is Capable and customers will believe that it will run all the core Vista features. The fact that aero won’t be there EVER for many of these machines is misleading to customers. …

We need to meet on this. Please set this up ASAP. We need something simpler in my view. I know we don’t want to hurt the OEMS, but end-customers must be the top priority. We must avoid confusion. It is wrong for customers. And we probably will have to change your current plans.

Of course Allchin was overruled by Ballmer. What’s a little misleading of consumers between MS and Intel? Allchin resigned from Microsoft the same day Vista was officially released.