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Microsoft has released the NPD figures for Xbox 360 sales this past November in USA, and once again the Xbox 360 ruled the roost as the most popular console, selling 1.26 million devices. Major Nelson reports: Xbox 360 sold 1.26 million units in November, maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S. for the 23rd consecutive month. Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in November (hardware, software and accessories) reached $1.2 billion, the most for any console in the U.S. During the month of November, Xbox 360 held four of the top 10 console game titles including: “Halo 4,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” “Assassin’s Creed 3,” and “NFL Madden 13.” While the headline numbers are very good, it is of note that Xbox 360 sales are still 25% down from last year, when 1.7 million Xbox 360s were sold, clearly indicating that this generation, which the ...

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Microsoft has continued its offensive on Google Shopping over the Christmas season. The charge centres around Google Shopping being based solely around paid placements, while Bing is based on natural search, meaning consumers can never be clear if there are not cheaper deals available which were simply not included because they did not pay the Google tax. While the Google-friendly anti-Microsoft media have laughed off the accusation, I certainly did not know before that Google Shopping was paid ads, and would trust it a lot less than before, suggesting to me that this is an important piece of information to pass on. Via Neowin.net ...

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AllThingsDigital reports that  Facebook is in negotiations with Microsoft about acquiring advertising technology that could allow Facebook to displays ads on other websites, much like Google does now. The product in question is called Atlas Solutions, acquired by Microsoft as part of their $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive in 2007. The sale is expected to net Microsoft only a few tens of millions of dollars, and is more significant for what it represents – Facebook, the internet’s biggest destination, taking on Google head to head in what is their only cash cow. The clash of the titans will focus Google’s mind on what’s really important, and distract them from their side businesses which have been subsidized by the river of cash generated by AdSense. Facebook and Microsoft representatives declined to comment. Via Dailynews.com ...

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Microsoft has announced with the advent of Halo 4 the company has now sold more than 50 million copies of the game in total, and that the game has seen more than 5 billion hours being played on Xbox Live. The game racked up these numbers over the last 11 years and 8 editions, with the first release of  Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. The latest edition, Halo 4, has generated $220 million revenue at launch on launch day, and $300 million in its first week. Microsoft’s new 343 Industries label has taken over the series, and is currently working on  Halo 5 and Halo 6. To celebrate the achievement  Microsoft today announced a new free-to-enter Halo 4 tournament. The "Halo 4 Infinity Challenge" begins December 17 and tasks players will competing on global leaderboards across the game’s War Gamess and Spartan Ops modes for a chance to win prizes. ...

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While we recently had an indication that Facebook is not in fact in the process of building a Facebook app for Windows RT, the above Surface ad certainly suggests such an app is in the offing. While the large Facebook live tile in the top left is suggestive, we must recall that on at least one occasion Microsoft used the logo of an app without any app being in development, that being when they used the Angry Birds logo without Rovio’s permission in a WP7 promotion. We do think in the end Facebook will have make an app for the Windows Metro environment, and they might as well come around sooner rather than later, but the tile in the ad is likely not evidence enough. Via Neowin.net ...

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  Microsoft has blamed slow initial Windows 8 sales on poor delivery by OEMs of new hybrid Windows 8 PCs with touch screens with Tami Reller, chief marketing and financial officer for Windows, saying last week that there are "not enough" touch devices were on store shelves. Now two analysts have confirmed to CNET that touch screen Windows 8 PCs are in fact in high demand, with stores have difficulty keeping them on the shelves, while cheaper, older-style Windows 8 PCs are not. "Touch machines are actually selling above expectations," said Bob O’Donnell, a program vice president at IDC. "Some vendors are actually facing shortages because touch panels are in limited supply. Vendors are saying they can’t get as many touch-based machines as they would like to meet the demand that they’re seeing." The view was confirmed by Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS iSuppli. “We’ve talked to a number ...

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Facebook has been slow in their support of the Windows 8 Metro environment, with the company not currently planning an app for the user interface. "We are constantly evaluating our strategy for supporting new platforms … as the market and consumer adoption evolves," a company official has told AdAge. While this wait and see approach could hamper early growth of the Windows RT platform, which are unable to use legacy Windows applications, it should be borne in mind that Facebook was also very slow in releasing an iPad app, and likely sees apps as a hindrance to their revenue growth due to reduce advertising opportunities on mobile interfaces. Of course there are plenty of third-party Facebook apps in the Windows 8 Store, such as Facebook Touch above, and Facebook’s reticence may simply be those developer’s windfall. Via Softpedia.com ...

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HP may be slow off the mark, but it seems they will eventually deliver some touch-centric Windows 8-based devices to the market. They latest device they demonstrated is the HP Elitebook Revolve, which is a familiar design for many years now, somewhat updated for Windows 8, and also somewhat more business-focussed. The device is constructed of Magnesium Alloy covered in soft-touch paint, weights 3 pounds,  has an 11.6 inch 1366×768 screen, 256 GB Flash storage, 4GB RAM which is user upgradable and either a Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. Lastly it sports NFC, TPM and a SIM slot supporting LTE in the US and HSPA+ everywhere else. An optional stylus can be purchased separately. The laptop is rugged up to MIL-STD 810G standard. The price has not been announced, but the laptop is not expected before March 2013. Via Engadget.com ...

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LivetechAustralia managed to have a hands-on with a non-working sample of the HP ElitePad 900, HP’s Slate successor. The HP ElitePad is powered by an Atom processor and has a number of accessories available targeted at the enterprise market. It offers the full serviceability, enhanced security and manageability found in HP Elite PCs, and military-grade durability for drops, vibration, dust, temperature extremes and high altitude. The device is expected to hit the market only in January 2013. ...

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  Ultrabook notebooks never really set the market on fire, but according to ABI Research all the slim laptops really needed was a good dose of Windows 8. “One of the biggest factors hindering ultrabook sales has been the awaited launch of Windows 8,” said ABI senior analyst Josh Flood. “However, with the launch of Windows 8, we may see a double whammy effect. A number of consumers have held off from computer purchases so they could purchase an ultrabook with Windows 8 during the year. Furthermore, with the abundance of new ultrabook model releases, older systems’ prices will reduce and this will entice purchases from the low to mid-range price segment.” ABI Research expects 21 million ultrabooks to be sold this year, with half to the North American continent,followed by the Western European and Asia-Pacific markets. The number is close to double Apple’s projected total Macbook shipments in 2012, ...

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Rhapsody has announced that its on-demand music service is now available on Xbox LIVE. The Rhapsody app features Kinect gesture and voice command integration, which will make it easy to quickly find and play your favourite music, with radio, new releases, popular albums and member playlists. Users have access to the entire Rhapsody catalogue, as well as featured editorial stations that are hand-crafted by Rhapsody’s staff. “Many families will be gathering around their Xbox this holiday season, and this year, Rhapsody can provide the soundtrack to those memories,” said Brian McGarvey, vice president, business development, Rhapsody. “People talk about social music as something that happens online, but there’s no better place to share music than with family and friends at home, especially this time of year.” Rhapsody on Xbox LIVE is available today, and is free for current Rhapsody members and Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers. Via Neowin.net ...

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Microsoft has updated their Bing it on contest for the holiday season.  The contest challenges browsers to compare Google with Bing results in a blind test and lets users decide which search engine results in better results. Bing has now launched the “Bing It On Holiday Search Challenge“ offering participants a “Microsoft Box of Awesome” (Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360 with Kinect, Windows 8 device) or a $10,000 paid trip to any place in the U.S. For the holiday challenge, Bing suggests searching for things like “how to make homemade eggnog” or “ice skating rink”. Read more about the contest  here. Via WebPronews.com ...

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BlueStacks, who make an Android environment for desktops which allows Windows 8 tablets to run Android apps, has suggested that they are considering bringing that environment to Windows RT. The news was in response a question asked on the Bluestacks support forum. While the Windows 8 store has tens of thousands of apps, this is little compared to the 700,000 Android apps, especially the more useful ones such as BBC iPlayer and other apps which companies have not been motivated enough to bring to the new Windows OS. Hopefully this development will happen sooner rather and later, and allow Windows tablets to access the full range of resources available to other tablets and smartphones. Via Surface-Evangelist ...

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MetroStore Scanner is a new website which scans the Windows 8 Store and makes it available in the web. At last count the 3rd party service found more than 25,500 apps in the store worldwide. The service lets one filter by country, category or search phrase, and open the app’s profile. You can also sort by newest to oldest, allowing one to keep an eye on new arrivals. See the site at at MetroStore Scanner here. Via Ghacks.net ...

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GamerAnx.com reports that a well-known gaming figure, Hector Martin or otherwise known as "Marcan," may have spilled the beans on at least one aspect of the next Xbox’s processor specs, noting the device “only” ran at 1.6 Ghz, half of the 3.2 Ghz of the current generation Xbox 360. The information was delivered in the context of disappointment in the 1.2 Ghz clock speed of the new Wii U, with Martin countering: If you want more evidence that MHz isn’t everything, a little birdie points out that Durango (Xbox 720) is specc’ed to have a 1.6GHz CPU. Food for thought. (And don’t bother asking me who that little birdie is.) Of course clock speed was more of an obsession with the last decade, and by 2012 we have now learned that clock speed is far from the be all and end all of performance. A larger number of dedicated cores ...

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