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Rumors have been swirling all week that Microsoft was set to make some significant cuts to its workforce. The rumors suggested that the layoffs could slash more workers from the Microsoft payroll than has been cut in years with many predicting over 5,000 jobs lost. Today Microsoft has made the job cuts official, and the numbers are huge.
Microsoft has announced that it is eliminating 18,000 jobs over the next year. Microsoft plans to strengthen its core video game business and is shedding things that aren't beneficial to that focus. Among the cuts is the entire staff of the Xbox Entertainment Studios that would have been responsible for original TV shows.
Reports indicate that the majority of the 200 people who work for the studio will be let go, exactly how many will remain is unknown. The upside is that the Halo series based on the incredibly popular Microsoft game lives on.
New York has become the first state to create regulations regarding bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, hoping to cut down on money laundering and other illegal activities. If implemented properly, legislators hope to better safeguard investors, especially with Wall Street firms and other businesses embracing bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Foundation is hesitant regarding the news, worried about whether or not separate regulations are necessary. However, other financial companies and bitcoin backers said they will comply with any official regulations.
"It's a comprehensive framework," said Benjamin Lawsky, the top financial regulator in the State of New York. "It's trying to get at the whole virtual currency ecosystem. We've tried to build some flexibility into these rules, so as these technologies change, we can bend to allow those innovations to continue."
Mobile phone providers want to have all the wireless spectrum they can get their hands-on. The catch is that wireless spectrum is very expensive making it hard to come up with the cash to get hands-on all the spectrum many firms want. That fact results in some odd bedfellows.
Such is the case with a planned partnership with Sprint and T-Mobile for the upcoming wireless spectrum auctions. The two are teaming up, despite being rivals in the wireless industry, to raise $10 billion that can be used to purchase wireless spectrum according to sources.
The spectrum that the two are eyeing is currently used by TV broadcasters. The auction will be held sometime in 2015. The funds that will be used in the spectrum purchase are part of the $45 billion SoftBank has put together to finance the Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, if the deal gets approved.
Google has announced that it has a new way to make money off its aerial images that you see on Google maps. The search giant is now offering to sell the images to businesses that want to see their assets on a map. Google is selling the images directly to users looking to use them for public service projects.
Those projects can include things like property evaluation, environmental impact studies, and others. These images were previously available to users via the Maps API, but users could only view the images and were unable to manipulate them.
"We hear from organizations that they want to own and have access to aerial imagery for their business," said a Google spokesperson. Satellite images are still not available for purchase, only the aerial images Google offers.
Not long ago Google began offering users in Europe the ability to submit links to content about them that is listed on the search engine and have those links removed. This is known as the right to be forgotten and is the result of a ruling made this year by the top court in Europe.
Microsoft has now launched a four part online form that Europeans can fill in to have content about them removed from the search engine. The form asks for the name and country of residence for the person and details of the pages that they want blocked.
The form also asks if the person is a public figure or is involved in a role that involves trust, leadership, or safety. Microsoft isn't guaranteeing that the content will be removed, but courts allow the person asking for the content to be removed to appeal legally if Microsoft refuses.
Amazon is trying something new to take over the digital book and audio book market with a new service called Kindle Unlimited. The service will cost subscribers $9.99 per month and has a library that has about 600,000 books to read.
Unlimited will also reportedly feature thousands of audio books for users to listen to as well. The service hasn't been announced officially just yet, it was uncovered when a cached link to the service page was rooted out.
One potential downside is that the test pages found for Kindle Unlimited didn't show any of the big five publishers including Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins. However, both of those publishers do offer content to a similar service called Oyster. Amazon owns Audible so the entire 8000 title catalog there could be included.
Apple has been in hot water and facing legal action for a while now over alleged ebook price fixing in the US. Apple is now near to making a settlement with 33 US states that accused the firm of hiking up prices of ebooks sold to users in collusion with publishers. The settlement is conditional.
Reports indicate that the settlement, if approved, would cost Apple $450 million. Attorneys in the case would get $50 million and the remaining $400 million would reportedly go back to consumers who purchased books at the inflated price.
The settlement will only go ahead if Apple loses an appeal from the 2nd US Circuit court of Appeals in New York. That appeal is from a case in 2013 accusing Apple of participating in a price-fixing conspiracy with publishers to raise the price of ebooks.
It's easy to forget that Netflix has DVDs at all. I've never had DVDs, but I watch the heck out of Netflix streaming in my house. If you are one of the hoards of user still getting physical DVDs from Netflix, you may not have noticed that the company stopped working on Saturdays.
Netflix no longer ships DVDs on Saturdays and is now working a five-day week. The company has been transitioning away from the old six day per week schedule for the last year and ended Saturday processing in early June.
Netflix says that part of the reason it stopped processing on Saturdays is that more people are streaming reducing the pressure to get discs out quickly. If you are a Netflix subscriber, have you noticed any shipment differences since June?
We mentioned yesterday that a rumor was going around that claims Microsoft is set to shed a significant number of workers in one of the largest rounds of layoffs in years. A new rumor suggests that a large percentage of the workers cut in this round of layoffs by Microsoft will be at the Finnish headquarters of Nokia. Microsoft acquired the Nokia HQ and all the workers Nokia had when the deal closed.
In that acquisition, Microsoft ended up with about 25,000 Nokia employees. The rumor suggest that as many as 1000 of those 4700 workers at Nokia HQ are going to be let go when Microsoft starts layoffs.
The layoff rumors suggest that overall Microsoft could be shedding more than the 5,000 workers that were terminated in 2009, the last major round of layoffs for Microsoft. Microsoft is also expected to close the Oulu R&D labs in Finland, which is responsible for developing software for feature phones.
Japan is known as the place to go if you want odd gadgets and other quirky items and Yahoo has a service that sounds like something you would find in Japan called Yahoo Ending. Yahoo Ending is a portal that has a place to go to get all your final affairs in order with the ability to deal with your worldly remains and delete your online data as well.
The new portal launched this week and a video that is making the rounds shows a family getting messages on mobile phones from a dad who just died. When Yahoo receives an official notification that someone has died, it deletes all the Yahoo Japan data, cancels all charges to the Yahoo digital wallet, deletes files from the Yahoo Box online storage, and sends out farewell messages to loved ones automatically.
Some of the services on Yahoo Ending are premium and require payment. Among the services is the ability to set up a memorial space with invitations to the funeral and the ability to send messages to family and friends, show personal movies, and share information on the deceased's favorite films and music. The service also offers full funeral packages costing up to $18,000.