Today in Tech News Digest, Netflix and Comcast do a deal, Windows Phone 8.1 leaks, Sony launches the PlayStation 4 in Japan, Microsoft cuts the price of Windows 8.1, WhatsApp goes down, the new Google Maps emerges from beta, LinkedIn introduces member blocking, and Silicon Valley gets its own TV show.
Netflix & Comcast Teaming For Streaming
Netflix paying Comcast for expedited data service is like red blood cells bribing the femoral artery.
— Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky) February 24, 2014
Netflix and Comcast have done a deal [subscription required] which means Comcast customers should be able to stream Netflix content without any issues related to throttling. Some have claimed this deal marks the end of net neutrality, which recently suffered a loss in court, but this isn’t entirely accurate.
The Netflix/Comcast deal effectively sees Netflix cutting out the middleman and paying Comcast directly for access to its pipes. Details of the deal haven’t been revealed, but Netflix should only be paying the market price and expecting a solid service in return.
Right now this deal isn’t bad for any party: Comcast gets paid, Netflix cuts out the middleman, consumers get a better service. However, this may have implications in the longterm by decreasing competition. Which is a worry.
Windows Phone 8.1 Leaks
An early version of Windows Phone 8.1 has leaked online. The leaks began a couple of weeks ago, with the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK being revealed by a developer granted early access. With more leaks following, Ars Technica has pulled together all we know about Windows Phone 8.1.
The changes are plentiful enough for Peter Bright to suggest Windows Phone 8.1 be named Windows Phone 9 instead, but then that would ruin the convergence between Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1.
That is the big takeaway here: Microsoft’s operating systems are slowly but surely being merged into one OS to rule them all, and Windows Phone 8.1 looks set to be the first iteration of that ideal. Which is likely to frustrate as many people as it pleases.
PlayStation 4 Launches In Japan
Sony has finally launched the PlayStation 4 in Japan, with its home territory having to wait three months longer than North America and Europe. The advantage of this was a lack of shortages on day one, with Japanese gamers able to buy a PS4 in-store without pre-ordering.
The purposeful delay was, according to Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, due to “the readiness of the software industry,” with Japanese developers not ready to switch up to the next-gen consoles. New games in the Yakuza, Dynasty Warriors, and Ambition series did make it out in time for launch, however.
Microsoft Cuts Cost Of Windows 8.1
— Justin Ma (@JustinHMa) February 23, 2014
Microsoft has cut the cost of Windows 8.1, but only for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) licensing the operating system for use on devices that retail for less than $250. An OEM would normally pay $50 for the “privilege” of pre-installing Windows 8.1 on a device, but that charge is dropping to $15 for devices under the $250 limit.
This is an obvious attempt to curtail the decline in PC sales. This decline is being driven by the success of tablets and Chromebooks, both of which (non-coincidentally) usually cost less than $250 to purchase. Will OEMs really take this bait?
WhatsApp Was Down For Hours
If you ask the Internet ‘Why is WhatsApp down?’, everyone – EVERYONE – will give you the same answer. pic.twitter.com/8ZSYDBdW9c
— James Whatley (@Whatleydude) February 22, 2014
WhatsApp suffered an outage lasting 210 minutes over the weekend. Outages happen, and this wouldn’t be news were it not for the fact that Facebook recently acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Cue much mocking and satirical sideswipes at both companies; the tweet above being a prime example.
New Google Maps Emerges From Beta
The new Google Maps is finally ready for use by the general public after emerging from its lengthy beta. The new Google Maps looks very different than the old, and has many shiny new features, some of which are discussed in our news article on the changes to Google Maps.
Member Blocking Comes To LinkedIn
You can now rid yourself of annoying contacts on LinkedIn using the business-oriented social network’s new ‘Member Blocking’ feature. Any decision to block someone on LinkedIn shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it’s a mutual disconnection, as discussed in our news story on new features in LinkedIn.
Silicon Valley Mocks Silicon Valley
And finally, Silicon Valley, where many of the biggest American technology companies reside, is getting its own comedy. The series, simply titled Silicon Valley, is set to air on HBO from April 6.
Created by Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, Office Space, Idiocracy) Silicon Valley tells the tale of software engineers trying to make it big, aided and abetted by a couple of duelling billionaires.
So, another of those TV shows all geeks should watch, probably. Unless it ends up being unfunny nonsense.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
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