An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

Surface Sales Set to Scale

I can’t say too much about this, but within days, Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT tablets will be available far more broadly than via its current, limited distribution system (i.e., only via Microsoft’s retail and online stores). This was always going to happen in very early 2013, but the software giant has apparently decided to ramp up the speed and make it happen before the holiday selling season is over. That said, reports about Microsoft selling only 500,000 to 600,000 of these devices are probably incorrect—I’ve heard that they’re actually selling very well, given the “modest” distribution—and Surface sales represent one of the few bright spots in what is becoming an increasingly dire late-2012 launch season.

Droid Rage? More Like Windows Rage

Microsoft’s Windows Phone team has done pretty well with its various viral marketing campaigns, such as “Smoked by Windows Phone.” But a recent attempt on Twitter to get Android users to fess up about their problems with Android-based malware—which isn’t a ridiculous as, say, going after the imaginary “Mac malware” issue as some have done—has completely backfired. Rather than pipe in about their Android problems, Android users instead used this opportunity to take potshots at Windows Phone and Microsoft. “Whoops. Just activated another million devices today. Sorry bout that, @windowsphone.#DroidRage,” one tweet reads. “I wish my Android phone crashed more often like Windows. #DroidRage,” another notes. Many added the impromptu “#WindowsRage” hashtag to the tweets just to drive home the point. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Android is nothing less than the new Windows, and that cuts both ways.

Windows 8: Perfect Christmas Present … for People You Hate?

If you think the “#WindowsRage” thing doesn’t go far enough, you’ll enjoy this one: A blogger no one has ever heard of has been widely quoted for claiming that Windows 8 is a great Christmas gift … “for someone you hate.” The thing is, you can tell this guy’s an expert, so his opinion is valid. “Suppose that you are an expert user of Windows NT/XP/Vista/7, an expert user of an iPad, and an expert user of an Android phone,” he writes. “You will have no idea how to use Windows 8.” Interesting. Let’s recast those sentences a bit, shall we? “Suppose that you are an expert user of Windows NT/XP/Vista/7 … You will have no idea how to use an iPad or an Android phone.” In other words, the only advantage of those systems over Windows 8 is … wait for it … that he already learned how to use them. No offense, bud, but that’s ridiculous. And no, I’m not linking to that waste of time, just pointing out that those who do link to it have an axe to grind of their own, and they’re lying about it by pretending that this anti-Windows 8 post matters in some way. It doesn’t. (See also, "Windows 8: 4 Million Sold in First 3 Days").

Microsoft: Halo Franchise Has Now Sold More Than 50 Million Units

Microsoft likes big numbers, which explains why it won’t tell you that it has sold fewer than 4 million copies of Halo 4, the most recent entry in the Halo series. But it will tell you that it has sold more than 50 million copies of every single Halo game ever made: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, Halo Wars, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and Halo 4. I’m starting to wonder if Microsoft isn’t reaching the point of diminishing returns here, and recent rumors that the firm is considering purchasing Gears of War maker Epic—another long-in-the-tooth Xbox 360 exclusive—tell me, if true, that Microsoft hasn’t figured out a games strategy for the Xbox that actually makes sense. Put simply, the best games on Xbox can be played on other consoles, too. And that’s a problem.

Why Is the Video Game Market Tanking?

With Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 beating every sales record imaginable, and Microsoft launching Halo 4 on the Xbox 360, you’d be forgiven for thinking that November 2012 was one of the best months ever for video games. But that’s not the case at all: Instead, November followed the same trend as the rest of 2012 and delivered serious drops in sales of both video game hardware and software. Console and device sales were down 13 percent year over year, NPD reports, and software sales were down 11 percent. I get that many casual gamers are embracing smartphones and other touch devices. But this was arguably the strongest release month in a few years—heck, Nintendo launched the first next-gen console, too, the Wii U—and the best news that NPD could muster was that November represented “the smallest year-over-year decrease we have seen for dollar and unit sales so far this year.” Hooray? (See also, "Xbox 360 Owned Black Friday Weekend, Microsoft Says").

Apple and Samsung Battle Over Damages

Lawyers for Apple and Samsung spent this week in a federal court in San Jose arguing over the $1 billion in damages that Apple was previously awarded by a jury. Samsung’s argument is pretty simple: That number is too high, it claims, and isn’t based on any reasonable mathematical sense. Apple lawyers, humorously, argued that the number was too low, and that it was much less than it had asked for. But the real drama in this ongoing case surrounds alleged jury misconduct: Samsung says that the foreman of the jury that awarded Apple this astronomical sum is biased against Samsung and hid this fact when asked about his history. Apple hopes to gain injunctions on more than 25 Samsung products in the United States as a result of this case, but given the speed at which things are moving, it’s possible that both firms won’t even be selling the affected devices by the time its resolved.

Google’s “Also-Ran” Social Networking Service Now Has 135 Million Members

When Google announced its rip-off social networking service Google+, I noted that no one needed or was asking for such a thing. But today, the service now claims 135 million users, up from 100 million in September. Are people really using Google+? And if so, why? It can’t be Google’s irreverence—“Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever," Google SVP Vic Gundotra wrote in yet another too-cute Google blog post—and it certainly can’t be because it does anything that Facebook and Twitter don’t do. To be fair, Facebook has more than 1 billion users, and even services like LinkedIn have more users. But I don’t know anyone who uses Google+ seriously, and I’m curious why anyone would use it. The advertising? What?

Microsoft Releases Its Own Social Networking Service

It’s called Socl (and pronounced “social”) and no, I am never, never, never going to mention it again. This thing makes Google+ look relevant.

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