News: moves out of preview mode with multimillion-dollar ads aimed at Gmail users

Microsoft first introduced back in July as a preview service designed to replace Hotmail. Starting this week, the company plans to aggressively market it as an alternative to Gmail and other web-based email services in a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign. “ is coming out of preview,” says Microsoft’s Dharmesh Mehta, senior director of “We’ll take the preview tag off.”

From today onwards Microsoft is spending millions of dollars across many countries to advertise on TV, radio, online, and elsewhere. The campaign will start in the US and gradually move to other countries in the coming weeks. Microsoft’s new email service might be ready for the masses with the company marketing it in a big way, but it’s not doing it as aggressively as the recent “Scroogled” ads. “They’re actually highly targeted, there’s a small number of people out there that are seeing them, but it’s much smaller,” explains Mehta, noting that the direct Outlook marketing will be broader.

The switch to a full service follows months of preparation by Microsoft’s team, readying infrastructure and servers for an influx of new users. “To date we’ve got over 60 million people actively using the service,” says Mehta. The team has been tweaking and fine tuning and scaling up its backend to handle the hundreds of millions of Hotmail users that will start to transfer across. “We didn’t expect to grow as fast as we did in the preview,” explains Mehta. “It even strained some of our systems on the backend more than we thought it would.”

Ubuntu for tablets arriving on Nexus 7, Nexus 10 this week

Canonical today is unveiling Ubuntu for tablets, a touch-based interface supporting screen sizes of anywhere from 6″ to 20″, and use cases targeting both businesses and the home.

The announcement is hardly a surprise given Canonical’s recent unveiling of Ubuntu for smartphones, with the first handsets expected to ship in October. Canonical hasn’t told us when it expects hardware vendors to ship tablets running Ubuntu, but it’s possible Ubuntu smartphones and tablets are on the same schedule.

As previously reported, a developer preview of Ubuntu for phones is scheduled to be released on Thursday of this week. That phone preview can be installed on the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4. It turns out the developer preview for tablets will also be available the very same day, and it can be installed on Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 tablets. A software development kit that supports phone app development will be updated to support the creation of tablet apps.

“Installable images and source code will be available from,” and Canonical employees will install Ubuntu on your phones and tablets in person if you visit their booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, the company said. A Canonical spokesperson told us that the code coming out Thursday is an early build and “not ready” for in-depth reviews and tests.

It’s Too Soon to Write Off the PS4 Controller Prototype’s New Functionality


Should you be doubting the authenticity of the photo, sources have confirmed to IGN and Kotakuthat this is the real deal. It is, mind you, a prototype, meaning it can and is likely to change, both in terms of feature set and looks. What matters, though, is that Sony apparently has real plans on including both a touchpad and a PlayStation Move sensor in the PS4′s controller.

Knowing all this, will the PS4 controller additions be worth the trouble? The Penny Arcade Report‘s Ben Kuchera doesn’t seem to think so. “Sony has a long history of throwing a bunch of technology at problems it doesn’t understand,” he wrote. “… If you don’t know if gamers want standard controls, touch controls, or motion controls, why not just jam all of them into a single Frankenstein controller? The problem is that a lack of vision from the console’s manufacturer leads to muddled, unfocused games where all this technology is used in annoying ways.”


It’s entirely possible those are the types of games we’ll get by Move and a touchpad being put into the PS4 controller. I have no doubt we’ll see many PS4 launch games that make obnoxious, superfluous usage of them, as Golden Abyss did with the Vita’s various capabilities. And I’m not in the least bit looking forward to dealing with any of these applications whose justification for existing is essentially “just because.”

That the touchpad is just that — a touchpad, and not a touchscreen — limits its usefulness. Kuchera notes you’d have to use it while looking up at the TV, a solution that is less ideal than having a screen on the controller to look at. Such a move would undoubtedly generate cries of “copycat” from those think it’s aping the Wii U’s GamePad, but if the pad were instead a touchscreen, that would make it a lot more interesting. It wouldn’t be able to provide the same sort of experience that’s possible on a GamePad because of its size, though the idea of a relatively standard-sized controller with some kind of touchscreen in the middle has a lot more potential than one with a touchpad.

An additional picture of the PS4 prototype controller surfaced late last week along with claims that it did, in fact, have a single-touch screen and not the multi-touch pad we’ve been hearing about. This doesn’t gel with previous reports, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility altogether. I’m not inclined to believe this is accurate, though I would be interested in seeing what kind of applications developers could come up with for what could function almost like a new-age VMU.

Ultimately, the controller is but one aspect of the new system, albeit a very important one. That’s no guarantee it’ll be among the subjects Sony dives into at this Wednesday’s event. As we officially know nothing, the company has a lot of ground to cover. E3 is less than four months away and it presumably won’t be a rehash of what we learn this week, in which case there will be a lot we don’t know after Wednesday. Whenever it is that we do learn about the controller, it should tell us a lot about Sony’s approach to gaming in the next generation.


HTC’s ‘One’ phone to rule them all: Meet its latest flagship

HTC gets another shot at a turnaround with its One smartphone.

The company unveiled its latest smartphone today in a global launch that included simultaneous events held in New York and London.

HTC is getting even more serious about its push to streamline things. Following up on last year’s vow to trim its product lineup, the company unveiled one device, simply called One. There will be no variation on which carriers get which phones, 150 wireless service providers will sell it, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile USA in the U.S.

President Jason MacKenzie, who kicked off the New York event, said that the company saw a massive opportunity to bring some excitement back to phones. He added that the One isn’t a set of incremental improvements but is about taking a bold step forward for something new and fresh.

The 32 gigabyte version of the One will retail for $199.99 with a two-year contract, while the 64 GB version should sell for $299.99, although HTC is still hashing out the final details with its carrier partners. HTC would only say that the phone would hit stores in March (please update if there’s more specific info).

Simplicity also dominates the look and feel of the phone. On the software side, HTC completed revamped its trademark SenseAndroid skin, getting rid of the retro flip-clock and other widgets for a cleaner, more modern look. Rather than focus on a screen full of apps, the One’s home page is dominated by “BlinkFeed,” a Flipboard like collection of news stories, social status updates, pictures, and other information that a user can scroll through.

On the hardware side, the phone is constructed entirely of aluminum in a process it calls “zero-gap construction.” The antenna employs part of the metal back to send and receive signals. The company hopes the premium feel of the phone will turn some heads.

Few of the specifications are surprising because of the numerous leaked pictures and stories, which spilled much of the details. The phone, codenamed M7, comes with a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.7 gigahertz quad-core process, 2GB of RAM, a 2,300 mAh embedded battery, a 2.1 megapixel front-facing wide-angle camera, and will run Android 4.1,2, also known as Jelly Bean, and the latest version of Sense (which dropped the numbering scheme but is technically the fifth iteration).


Geek This Week:

Aaron: Picked up Torchwood again and watched ep4 last night. Was quite good!

Ponied up for 20gb of iCloud space for $40/year.


Gozer: Beat Xcom. Signed up for gamefly


The Geek’s Choice:  1 Second Everyday

An awesome way to catalog your daily life and not be intrusive!


Featured Segment:  NEAT Desktop Organizer


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