Category: Microsoft

If you are using more than one Microsoft product you may also have multiple accounts. Say, a Windows Phone account, one for Windows Live, one Xbox 360 account and maybe even a Zune account. And even if you are using the same log in information for these accounts, you until now had no option to manage those accounts in a central location.

That’s exactly what Microsoft wants to change with the launch of Microsoft Your Account, a newversion of the Billing Account Management portal. The service supports several popular Microsoft services, including Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows Live and Microsoft Office.

The service allows Microsoft account owners to view their purchases and subscriptions from Microsoft online Services, edit their payment options, and update their account information online.

Once you sign in to Microsoft Your Account you are presented with a list of your recent transactions. This includes for instance games purchased on Xbox Live. From there you can switch to the transactions menu to filter transactions by month, currency or payment option.

The subscriptions menu lists all active subscriptions under the account, with options to manage them or to view their history.

The profile menu displays profile information like the user’s name, email address or address. These can be edited right here.

Payment options finally can be used to add new payment options to the system. This can be helpful for users who would like to switch a payment option for a service they use, for instance to a new credit card.

Microsoft notes that not everything is yet supported by Microsoft Your Account.

You can find below all the items not covered yet:

Directed update: primary/secondary users.
Renew few MSN subscriptions with HIP validation.
Bundle purchases transaction history.
Payout billable account management.
Market support other than: USA, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Japan.

Probably the biggest restriction right now is the concentration on some markets only. Users who are not living in the US, UK, France, Spain, Germany or Japan cannot use the service right now.

Microsoft Your Account lacks management features that would make it a true centralized account management service. It is for instance not displaying information about free Microsoft products, or offering to manage them as well on the site.

The French arm of Microsoft has stated that there will be no new Xbox 720 console released before the end of the year.

The marketing director of Microsoft France, Cedrick Delmas says the Xbox 360’s life-cycle is not over and that it has no intention of rushing out a competitor for the Nintendo Wii U in time for Christmas.

When asked about the new Xbox for E3 rumors he told “We’re in an industry that talks a lot, that likes telling stories. I am not convinced that things will happen this year. The Xbox 360’s cycle is not over at all. The proof is that we haven’t price cut this year.

“Afterward, what will happen at E3, it’s still too early to say. What’s certain is that there will be nothing new in 2012. If we wanted to counter Nintendo, we would have to be in a position to release something immediately, and that is not at all the case.

“We’re not here to counter Nintendo and they’re not here to fight the other manufacturers. Nintendo has put itself in a different cycle, it’s going forward to its own rhythm, with success as we have seen with the Wii, and now it’s their turn to present their innovation.”

Clear run for the Wii U

Delmas’ comments suggest that Microsoft does indeed have something up its sleeve for the annual E3 expo in June, but will bide its time until 2013 before making the console available.

Nintendo recently promised to have the Wii U on sale by the end of 2012 and is likely to unleash a largely improved iteration of the device than that which was on show at E3 in 2011.

With no real rumblings of a PlayStation 4 launch, even in 2013, it looks like Nintendo will have a clear shot at the Christmas market with the console so crucial to its future prosperity.

Documentation published by Microsoft regarding the UEFI Secure Boot functionality to be used in Windows 8 suggests that ARM-based systems supplied with the OS, including tablets and laptops, won’t be able to run any third-party operating systems.

Microsoft’s plans for the UEFI Secure Boot got some attention late last year when it was pointed out that by mandating the use of Secure Boot – which requires any boot-time code to be digitally signed with a unique key – the company appeared to be looking to lock third-party operating systems, such as GNU/Linux, out of PCs entirely.
Microsoft was quick to hit back at such claims, stating categorically that OEMs would provide buyers with the ability to disable the UEFI Secure Boot mode for use with non-signed operating systems. Sadly, it appears that the company missed one vital point from its statement: the fact that ARM-based systems are excluded.
According to the company’s latest certification requirements document for Windows 8, while non-ARM systems – traditional desktops and laptops, in other words – will allow a ‘custom’ mode to be selected that prevents UEFI Secure Boot from blocking third-party unsigned code, the ARM build – for tablets and low-power laptops – must have this feature removed if manufacturers want to be able to put the Windows logo on their products.
‘On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enable [sic],’ Microsoft’s official certification guidelines state, buried on page 116 of a particularly lengthy PDF. ‘Disabling Secure [Boot] MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.’
Microsoft’s apparent volte-face on the Secure Boot issue has been met with anger by open-source and free market enthusiasts. ‘Unless Microsoft changes its policy, these may be the first PCs ever produced that can never run anything but Windows,’ Aaron Williamson of the Software Freedom Law Center explains. ‘It is clear now that opportunism, not philosophy, is guiding Microsoft’s Secure Boot policy.’
Thus far, Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment on the matter. But with the likes of Qualcomm already promising a range of ARM-based tablets and laptops, a locked-down future could be just around the corner for computing.
Are you disappointed in Microsoft’s decision to block open source operating systems, or is the company free to demand whatever concessions it feels like as part of its hardware certification programme? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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