The UpStream (Page 199)

Microsoft Brings Bing Inline With the One Microsoft Philosophy

posted Saturday Sep 21, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Brings Bing Inline With the One Microsoft Philosophy

Over the past year, we have watched as Microsoft has redefined itself. From a completely redesigned Windows, to an entry into hardware and a corporate reorganization, topped by CEO Steve Ballmer's retirement, it is a completely new Microsoft. The one thing that has been the staple of the new One Microsoft philosophy is a central branding.

Starting with a new Windows logo to a redesigned corporate logo, and of course the evolution of the Xbox logo with the introduction of Xbox One, every major Microsoft brand has had a redesign, save for one: Bing.

Microsoft fixed that this week, unveiling a new Bing logo and showing off the future of the Bing brand. The logo, seen to the right, certainly matches the look and feel of One Microsoft: simple, clean lines that align to the Microsoft grid design. The primary color has been altered, from a darker blue to the corporate orange-yellow from the bottom-right corner of the logo, retiring the blue entirely. The font is, expectedly, an altered version of Segoe, which is the font used in all currently Microsoft marketing materials, as well as Windows 8.

One fear with a major redesign like this is that the brand image will be lost. Luckily, the thing that has always been associated with Bing, the beautiful, colorful photography on the homepage, is not going anywhere. In fact, Bing has emphasized their commitment to beautiful full-bleed photography throughout the Bing universe, even including a branded photo in their announcement message.

One of the things that I thought was interesting about the new brand is what Bing calls the Searchlight graphic. Essentially, they took the new Bing takeaway symbol and extended all of the lines towards infinity and, using colors and transparencies, created a truly beautiful graphic. I have absolutely no idea where or why it could ever be used, but I love the look of it.

You can check out all of the information about the branding at Bing, and can see all of the new Microsoft logos within context after the break.

EA Names Internal Employee Andrew Wilson New CEO

posted Wednesday Sep 18, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Names Internal Employee Andrew Wilson New CEO

Six months ago, EA's CEO, John Riccietiello, stepped down from his position as leader of the gaming company, putting former exec Larry Probst back at the helm while Electronic Arts hunted down a new chief. Well, EA has now found the right person for the job, Andrew Wilson.

In a blog post on EA's site, Probst speaks on not only the search process, but also on what Wilson brings to the team.

The rigorous search conducted by our Board included several talented executives from both outside the company and from within EA. Andrew's appointment is a clear demonstration of the deep bench of management talent at EA, and reflects our fundamental belief that EA is on track to become the global leader in interactive games and services.

For Wilson, he signed on to the company back in 2000 and was heavily involved in the South Korea studio for EA. He first started with the company as Executive Producer of FIFA and most recently was the Executive Vice President of EA SPORTS and Origin. Probst said that during Wilson's time as EVP of EA SPORTS, he discovered that the new CEO showed "an exceptional ability to identify and develop talented people and teams."

Wilson also posted on the EA blog. He spoke on his goals moving forward with the company, outlining exactly what he's going to do.

I envision EA as the World's Greatest Games Company. This is not about what we are aiming for or what we will become. Rather, it is about an unfaltering commitment to what we will be every day. This is an attitude that must drive our culture as one team.

In the short term, our mission is crystal clear: We are 100 percent focused on delivering our FY14 business plan.

Looking ahead, my focus will be on three things:

1. Continued transformation for our digital future;

2. Delivering amazing games and services across platforms; and

3. Instilling a culture of execution that will drive profitable growth.

For now, Probst will remain on with the company for an "indefinite period" of time as Executive Chairman, while he helps Wilson transition into his new role as CEO. The new leader of EA also said that in the next few weeks we should see a full detail of his operational plan, which will contain information to turn his three bulleted goals into a reality. For EA's sake, and for the sake of gamers everywhere, let's hope Andrew Wilson will start turning EA into a more human company again, and I'll wish that he steers the gaming studio and publisher away from the bottom-dollar-focused, no-accountability, micro-transaction-ladened world we're currently seeing EA live in.

Samsung CEOs Push to Bring Tizen to TVs, Everything Else

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Samsung CEOs Push to Bring Tizen to TVs, Everything Else

Long time fans of our show will know that LAPTOP Magazine's Avram Piltch, Scott and I talk about Samsung's operating system, Tizen, occasionally. It's Samsung's in-house OS and the company has been looking to expand it as it tries to transition from a stock Android experience in various ways. At IFA in Berlin this past week, Samsung continued to push Tizen and will now be introducing the experience to the company's TVs.

In an interview with a German publication, co-CEO of Samsung Boo-Keun Yoon said that this would allow Samsung to have more direct control and say over how its devices function and are deployed. Samsung had its own operating systems on TVs already, however it is fragmented and sometimes doesn't communicate easily to the rest of Samsung's line of electronics. Introducing Tizen should make a fully Samsung life better and easier.

Tizen is going to be used on some of our smartphones just like on our TVs and on home appliances. This way we create an ecosystem in which we are able to connect all Samsung devices.

So far, no announcements on availability have been disclosed but Samsung did say that would all be decided by if each market would be receptive to adopting Tizen. Last month, Samsung's other co-CEO JK Shin said that he wanted to see Tizen on every device Samsung puts out, and that he wanted it to happen sooner than later.

There are many convergences not only among IT gadgets, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, and cameras, but also among different industries like cars, bio, or banks. Cross-convergence is the one (area) Samsung can do best since we do have various parts and finished products.

I am very excited to see the potential of Tizen, not only for what Samsung can do with it, but to see yet another company detach itself from the grip of a Droid. Creating independence for a company brings several things to the market, like innovation and competition. Things have become a bit stale in the mobile space and if Samsung breaks off of Android completely and puts Tizen on TVs, phones, tablets, washers, dryers and stoves, you'd know when your clothes are done and when your eggs are spoiled - all while watching your favorite TV show and enjoying your second screen experience. I welcome Tizen with open-source arms.

Zynga Settles Trade Secret Case with Former Employee

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Zynga Settles Trade Secret Case with Former Employee

When former Zynga employee Alan Patmore left the company, he took with him 760 files through Dropbox. The files contained incredibly confidential information, including unannounced game design documents, company policy on how and why certain game mechanics are or are not included into a release, as well as the success and failure of particular new features for CityVille, the game for which Patmore was the general manager.

None of this would pan out for any former employee, no matter the circumstances. Patmore made a bigger mistake, though, in taking those documents to his new position at Zynga's competitor Kixeye. The complaint, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, claims that the data "could be used to improve a competitor's internal understanding and know-how of core game mechanics and monetization techniques, its execution and ultimately its market standing."

The case has been settled with both Patmore and Kixeye. Patmore said in a statement,

I accept responsibility for making a serious mistake by copying and taking Zynga confidential information when I resigned from Zynga. I understand the consequences of my actions and I sincerely apologize to Zynga and my former colleagues.

Now, this sounds less like the statement of a man that has been ultimately defeated in a major court battle and more like the apology of a tween to his little league team for pitching poorly. Zynga has asked for a dismissal of the case because of unconditional settlement. The details of the settlement are not known. The case had asked for injunctive relief as well as prevention of retention of data for both Patmore and Kixeye, so it can be assumed that both of those demands were met. It must feel good for Zynga to finally get a win.

AT&T Implements Anti-Piracy Termination Policy for Internet Service

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Scott Ertz

AT&T Implements Anti-Piracy Termination Policy for Internet Service

It has been 7 months since the federal Copyright Alert System, also known as the six-strikes system, went live, customers have been assured that permanent removal from the Internet was not a part of the system. According to new Alerts being sent out by AT&T, however, this does not seem to be the reality of the situation.

The letters include this verbiage,

Using your Internet service to infringe copyrights is illegal and a violation of the AT&T Internet Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which apply to all users of your account, and could result in mitigation measures including limitation of Internet access or even suspension or termination.

Other providers, such as Comcast, acquired by Ars, do not include language that talks about account suspension at all. Prior to the system being implemented, AT&T had assured customers that only under court order would they terminate accounts.

This is all important because in a lot of markets there is only a single Internet provider. For example, where I live, only my cable provider offers Internet access. If my account were to be terminated, I would be completely isolated from the Internet, something that the program was assured to not allow. If you are an AT&T customer, this might no longer be the case.

Obviously, the easy way to prevent this is to not transfer content that will get your account terminated. The big problem with that is that not everyone protects their networks. Imagine your parents, who might have a wireless router that, no matter how many times you tell them they need a password on it, refuse to allow you to set one. Their neighbor kid could hop onto the open network and torrent without knowledge. Then, the account gets shut down and your parents no longer have access to the Internet.

Clearly, as everything with the government, this was a plot that was not planned out well and implemented even more poorly. With such a clear, avoidable flaw, it is evident that the government's fear of technology is still rampant.

Michael Dell Wins Legal Battle Over Privatization

posted Sunday Sep 15, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Michael Dell Wins Legal Battle Over Privatization

In the 7 months since Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced plans to take Dell private, the pair has had a series of issues. He had to raise his bid because of loud major investors, plus the disaster that accompanies Carl Icahn's involvement in a corporation.

This week, the battle is over and Mr. Dell and Silver Lake have won their bid to purchase all outstanding shares for a total of $24.9 billion. The newly private company will look similar to the existing, or at least go faster down the path stockholders have been displeased with. The transition, according to Mr. Dell, is from a primarily personal computer manufacturer to a primarily software services company. Dell has said, however, that it will continue manufacturing hardware.

This transition is one that was announced by HP CEO Leo Apotheker, eventually leading to his termination. IBM also made a similar move, selling its computer business to Lenovo and immediately becoming irrelevant.

There are some companies in the industry who are having successes in both hardware and online service offerings. The biggest of these companies are Microsoft, Google and Amazon. The commonality between these three, however, is that they were offering online services first and got into the hardware business to support those services, not the other way around. This would indicate to me that corporate consumers are looking for a single stop for all of their technology needs.

Now, as a private company, there will be only one person that will answer for the decisions made: Michael Dell himself. Whether this transition is successful or not, we will know soon enough.

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