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Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s most recent ex-CEO, announced yesterday that he would be retiring from his duties on Microsoft’s board of directors. Ballmer’s motivation for leaving were for personal reasons and other commitments he has made to other pursuits, notably lecturing at various colleges, studying in his spare time and running a basketball team called the Los Angeles Clippers. Ballmer announced his resignation from Microsoft as CEO in 2013 and has previously said that he’d only ever leave the company completely once his children were off to college. Ballmer is currently the biggest individual shareholder in Microsoft’s stock and has a net worth of around US $15 billion.

“Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off,” Ballmer said in his letter to current CEO Satya Nadella and the rest of the board.

Source: Microsoft

So if you’re updating Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 today, make sure you untick and hide MS14-045, a which is a group of security updates that patch a few vulnerabilities inside Windows to improve multi-language support and/or security. This applies to KB2982791, KB290228, KB2975719 and KB2975331, all updates that appear on Windows 7 as well. Once installed, a large number of users have reported seeing blue screens and occasionally a corrupted installation. In the case of KB2982791, uninstalling it fixes one of the blue screen errors. If you encounter issues with any of the other updates, this may require repairing Windows using a disc or, in some severe cases that I’ve seen online in several forums already, a complete reformat.

Microsoft says they are working on the issue and hope to have an update soon about the situation. In the meantime, it’s probably better to hold off on automatic updates for now.

Sources: Computerworld, Microsoft Community, Microsoft Support

Windows XP Virtual Desktop

One thing that I can clearly remember dabbling with back during the Windows XP era was the Virtual Desktop Manager. If you’re not familiar with it (or are using XP to read this right now) it is/was available as part of Microsoft’s PowerToys pack, which never again saw the light of day in other versions of Windows (Vista’s pack was complete crap). The software gave you four virtual desktops, but they were all separate – you couldn’t, for example, send an open application to another window like you can in Linux, or OS X spaces. According to some recent leaks on NeoWin, though, it seems that Microsoft is ready to revisit having multiple desktops with Windows 9.

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Occasionally, Microsoft takes someone from their gaming department like Phil Spencer or, in previous years, Marc Whitten and ask them to proclaim that they’re still focused on the PC market and dedicated to PC gamers. But since Spencer last mentioned this, not much has been done about it. Until now! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… *drumroll*

Microsoft Halo 3500 mouse (1) Microsoft Halo 3500 mouse (2)

The Halo-themed Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 with 2.4GHz Wireless connectivity, 1000DPI sensitivity, a BlueTrack laser, a battery life up to eight months long and a three-year standard warranty, all for just US $29.99. You’re welcome. Enjoy playing Halo 2 from 2004!

Source: Techpowerup

halo_nightfall_characters_photo

Director Ridley Scott is producing the live-action series Halo: Nightfall. It’s meant to bridge the gap between the events of Halo 4 and upcoming Halo 5, which releases in 2015. Because the San Diego Comic-Con is currently underway and is billowing voluminous amounts of unadulterated geekery into the atmosphere, we get this first trailer for Scott’s Halo series.

Halo: Nightfall takes place on a colony world where the discovery of a shard from the original Halo structure is causing all sorts of political tension. That shard of the Halo will eventually take on a “dark and malevolent” vibe as the series continues. Nightfall’s main character is Jameson Locke (played by Mike Colter), and the miniseries will double as his origin story. Locke, 343 Industries has confirmed, will be a playable character in Halo 5.

Halo: Nightfall will be made available to Xbox LIVE members on 11 November. It’ll also be bundled with the Halo: The Master Chief Collection when it ships for Xbox One on the same date. Hit the jump for the trailer.

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windows 7 desktop

Gaze upon yonder picture, little ones. It may be the last time that you ever see a fresh install of Windows 7. Microsoft very quietly and very sneakily ended retail sales of Windows 7 last year, warning users that stock of the OS licenses on shelves would be returned on 30 October 2013, despite it being officially the most popular desktop operating system on the personal computer.

Now it’s time to remind you that 2014 is the year that Microsoft kills it off in the consumer space for good.

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Google Chromebook header

Google Chrome is known for being one of the faster and more fluid browsers out there, regularly showing up the more established competition like Microsoft and Mozilla. However this speed comes at a price and it’s been known for a while that Chrome is a system resource hog – it regularly chews up gigabytes of RAM on my system and it uses the GPU as much as possible to accelerate the UI and certain content shown in the web page. But according to Forbes, Chrome has long been a hog for a different reason altogether – they pin is as the source of a lot of unnecessary battery drain. Hit the jump to find out more.

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microsoft_france_offices

We already know that Microsoft is embarking on a job-cutting rampage now that new CEO Satya Nadella is at the helm of the company. Last week we saw these job cuts resulting in the closure of the just-opened Xbox Entertainment Studios and the ending of Xbox Originals planned TV series. Now, however, the job cuts have hit across the pond from Microsoft’s US home.

Website MCVUK is reporting that Microsoft will be axing 75% of their EMEA workforce. For those perhaps unfamiliar, Microsoft’s EMEA teams look after the company’s presence in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The remaining 25% of the jobs available to EMEA teams have been vacated, with those applicable staff members being asked to reapply for those positions.

Most of the time the EMEA teams are the companies the local gaming media deals with when heading overseas for assignments. Insofar as consumers are concerned, a Microsoft spokesperson has said that these cuts will not affect the release schedule for the Xbox One in EMEA territories.

Source: MCVUK

xbox_originals

There’s a major shake-up currently underway at Microsoft. New CEO Satya Nadella is wasting no time in making changes to the company, and this is resulting in the loss of 18,000 jobs over the next twelve months. Yikes.

One of the first listed casualties is the newly formed Xbox Entertainment Studios. Cast your minds back to the initial Xbox One reveal and you’ll remember the massive song-and-dance Microsoft made about the future of TV on Xbox. They were planning on heading down the same path that Netflix has in developing their own TV content that would then be made available exclusively through Xbox LIVE. To aid that, at the beginning of 2013, Microsoft set up Xbox Entertainment Studios under the leadership of ex CBS Television executive Nancy Tellem.

Xbox Entertainment Studios was poised to develop a collection of original TV series collectively known as Xbox Originals. Both the studio and Xbox Originals are now dead.

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Microsoft Surface 2 running Windows 8.1

Earlier today I reported that Microsoft would be stemming Windows 7 development from 13 January 2015, putting the ageing, but still ever-popular OS into extended support, with Windows 8 mainstream support not far behind. Given that many consider Windows 8 to be the Modern equivalent of Vista and although it hasn’t failed in the same way Vista did, it didn’t make nearly the impact that Microsoft had hoped for in the consumer space. Windows 9 promises to fix up many of the issues that users have taken with the OS and I was really looking forward to it.

That is, of course, until I read rumors from a reliable leaker about the new activation system said to come in Windows 9.

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