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It seems the fashion these days is to test expensive gadgets to destruction. CNET posted the above video of the Microsoft Surface running the gauntlet, which included putting it in a freezer, using it as a skate board, baking it a 250 degrees and frying an egg on it. The brave device was eventually killed by a glass of wine, having taken much more than can really be expected of any non-military gadget. Do our readers think the tablet proved itself? Let us know below. Via Neowin.net ...

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Want to get an early start on Black Friday, without leaving your sofa?  The Microsoft Store is offering deep discounts on popular Xbox 360 games. The brand new Forza Horizon is only $14.99, 75% off. Dance Central 3 also clocks in at $14.99, while Borderlands 2 comes in at $24.99, NFS: Most Wanted also $24.99, and Dishonored $24.99. See more deals at the Microsoft Store here. Via Joystiq.com ...

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Telecompaper reports the Xbox Live TV service in the Netherlands has been considerably bulked up, with console owners how being able to watch films and TV from Pathe Thuis, Eredivisie Live, RTL XL and other providers Live TV will also soon be available, pending on-going negotiations with suppliers. Microsoft has been positioning the Xbox 360 as the premier living room video service, with 40% of US owners using it on a weekly basis to watch streaming video. ...

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Speaking at the London Games Conference 2012 Microsoft’s marketing lead  Andrew Webber  has revealed that there are currently only 1,421 games in the Windows 8 Store. Noting that there were only 13 games in the Racing category, he called it a great opportunity for developers to take advantage of the digital store while numbers were low. These numbers are set to rise soon, but the apps released in the early stage will not have any problem trying to compete for attention. At present it is estimated that there is more than 20,000 apps in the Windows 8 Store, according to store watcher Win App Update. Today’s totals: 20,610 apps worldwide in the Windows Store (broke 20,000 on Tuesday, I believe). 17,958 of those are free (87%). — Win App Update (@WinAppUpdate) November 22, 2012 Via Develop-online.net ...

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According to Phil Harrison, the vice president of Interactive Entertainment at Microsoft, Microsoft Studios are now not just making games for the Xbox 360, but also for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Giving a keynote speech at the London Games Conference yesterday he confirmed the division was now no longer just targeting Sony and Nintendo, but was also going after Google and Apple and their casual gaming empire. "We are now really a multiplatform studio," he said. "We are not just building games for Xbox 360, we’re building experiences for Smartglass, we’re building dedicated games for Windows Phone 8 and for Windows 8." He revealed Microsoft Studios have already shipped 30 titles developed in-house for Windows 8. “We think this expands our competitive map. We’re no longer just competing with the traditional console companies, but our competitive landscape includes the likes of Google, the likes of Amazon, it includes ...

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Lenovo has finally brought the IdeaPad Yoga to UK retail, with the device being sold for £999 (around $1600) by electronics chain Currys. The device was launched with the above ad on national TV. Despite the steep price the convertible laptop has promptly sold out online. In fact it seems UK does have a taste for new form factors, with the HP Envy X2 for £799 also selling out, as did the HP Spectre XT According to rumours Microsoft blamed tepid early sales of Windows 8 on disappointing products by OEMs.  It is nice to see the market responding to the more innovative form factors. Hopefully the same OEMs can address the unnecessary premium which will also work against better sales. ...

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If you buy a Microsoft Surface bundle (Surface + Touch or Type Cover) on Black Friday weekend, Microsoft is offering $50 off an additional Touch or Type cover, allowing buyers to experience both input devices at a discount. The deal is part is just part of a massive haul of Microsoft deals for the American shopping holiday, which can be seen below: Black Friday Deals from Best Buy: Lenovo – 15.6" Laptop – 2GB Memory – 320GB Hard Drive – Black for $187.99. Lenovo – 23" Touch-Screen All-In-One Computer – 4GB Memory – 500GB Hard Drive for $599.99. ASUS – 11.6" Touch-Screen Laptop – 4GB Memory – 500GB Hard Drive – Steel Gray for $449.99. Acer – Aspire 15.6" Touch-Screen Laptop – 4GB Memory – 500GB Hard Drive – Silky Silver for $529.99. Toshiba – Satellite 14" Touch-Screen Laptop – 4GB Memory – 500GB Hard Drive – Champagne Silver for ...

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Technet reports that the Kinect has found a use outside of simply games. Alex’s place, a Miami clinic treating children with cancer and blood disorders, is using the gadget to run interactive screens to entertain and distract children, and also help with their assessment. "As soon as they walk in, technology is embracing them," said Dr. Julio Barredo, chief of pediatric services at alex’s place in The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Health Systems. Created by Snibbe Interactive, Character Mirror’s goal is to help reinforce patients’ mind-body connection with engaging play and entertainment, as well as to potentially reduce their fear of technology and the treatments they face. As an added benefit, nurses can observe a child’s natural range of movement during play and more easily draw out answers to key diagnostic questions. "I find the gestural interactive experiences we created for alex’s place in Miami among the ...

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A relatively easy hack has been uncovered which results in a free installation of Windows 8. The hack relies on the Windows Media Centre upgrade replacing an illegitimate key used to install the OS. First a pirate would install Windows 8 with any key and activate this using a key management system which accepts any key, which should result 180 days of Windows 8 use before the KMS is forced to call home and verify the install keys. Next our eye-patched user simply applies for the free upgrade for Windows 8 Pro that adds Windows Media Centre, which does not check if the current installation key is valid. The new key replaces the old, invalid key, and our pirate is home free. Of course one can ask what the point of all these shenanigans are, when Windows 8 costs as little at $39. Now seems the perfect time for long-time ...

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The landmark trial between Google subsidiary Motorola and Microsoft is over even before we realized it started. Much of the sensitive material the trial could have uncovered remains confidential, as the court was cleared for 2 hours of secret testimony. The stakes are high – Motorola contends Microsoft will make $94 billion from their Xbox game console by 2017, and that they deserve $4 billion of these, due to the use of their patents. Microsoft is only willing to pay $1 million per year. U.S. District Judge James Robart will deliver a decision by Spring next year of what constitutes a reasonable fee for a FRAND patent – the first time a judge had to rule on this, likely setting a precedent for the whole industry. If fees are set low enough it could result in an explosion of innovation as companies use standard-essential patents freely while paying nominal fees ...

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Whether accidentally or on purpose Lenovo has let slip a new, unannounced Windows 8 laptop, with a HD+ display (probably 1600×900) and 10 finger touch screen. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook has now disappeared from the site, but appears to be an updated version of the original ThinkPad Carbon, which Lenovo touted as the world’s lightest business-class 14-inch laptop. The original X1 Carbon packed an Intel Core i7 processor, Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, 128GB or 256GB SSD, and Dolby Home Theatre v4 sound, with pricing starts at $1,124.10. The Touch will likely command a premium over this. Are there readers who demand a ThinkPad, and will be getting this laptop due to both the brand and features? Let us know below. Via MaximumPC and Neowin.net ...

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It turns out the default Windows 8 lock screen pack are not just random pretty images, but are a hidden message from the Windows 8 dev team. Revealed at the  UX WEEK 2012 presentation, Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management, Windows User Experience, said the  default lock-screen images that shipped in every copy of Windows 8 are actually Easter eggs carefully picked by the design team. Jensen said , “every one of them was selected as an Easter egg to showcase one of the (design) principles. … Something no one’s going to notice, we’ve encoded the principles of our design language into Windows 8 itself.” The images mean: Bee hive / Win as one (internal motto) – bees working together to do something greater than just the sum of the parts Colored lines / Authentically digital – the idea of no ornamentation Train / Fast and fluid – beautiful train ...

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Besides improvements in Skype for Windows 8, the Microsoft subsidiary also announced  version 3.0 of Skype for Android. The latest version is optimized to scale to Android tablet’s bigger screen, so you can experience Skype at its best on both larger and smaller displays. Supported tablets include the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, the Google Nexus 7, Acer Iconia, Asus Transformer Prime, Motorola Xoom and Sony S. Skype also announced  a boost in audio quality. Skype for Android 3.0 adds support for  Skype’s wideband audio codec, SILK, which was designed to capture the richness of human speech. It copes well with the often varying speeds of Internet connections, ensuring that the audio quality is always the best it can be. That way, Skype will deliver the best possible audio on your tablet, even with a shaky connection. To hear the improvements in audio quality for yourself, see the video below. You ...

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We posted earlier about Germany’s Freiburg council fighting for a return to productivity and to be rescued from the suckiness of Open Office, which was impeding their workflow and ability to communicate with outside councils. In 2007 the council voted to adopt Open Document Format and standardize on Open Office. In practice to get any work done the council workers have been running Open Office and Office 2000 in parallel. In 2012 the failure of the project was clear, and an expert appraisal recommended the council switch back to Microsoft Office. The city council has now voted, and despite lobbying by Open Source Business Alliance, the Free Software Foundation Europe and the German Information and Communication Technology Federation sense won the day and the proposal to switch back to Microsoft Office won 25 to 20 votes, with 2 abstentions. The news was tweeted by Councillor Timothy Simms, a Green Party ...

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TuneUp’s Incredilock app adds about 400 themed wallpapers to your PC for free, but also has a pretty neat trick up its sleeve. The app supports widgets, which are displayed on your lock screen.  The first is the Sticky Notes one illustrated above, but they promise picture frames, weather information and many more will follow soon. Best of all the app is free and can be found in the Windows 8 Store here. ...

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As previously reported, Skype will be absorbing Microsoft’s Messenger service everywhere except China. An update to the app for Windows 8 has brought along some improvements, and now also allow Skype users to call their Messenger contacts. The update features: Search people and groups Call Messenger contacts Improved video call performance General bug fixes The app can be found in the Windows 8 Store here. ...

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