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The 2014 Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia is being broadcasted by NBC in the United States, with streams into the living room, over the Internet, and on mobile devices. NBC teamed up with Microsoft, using the company's Azure Media Services video service platform that Microsoft powers with its own data centers.
Analysts believe Olympic viewers will watch and stream the Olympics for at least six hours per day, which was the average during the 2012 London Olympics.
"We are pleased to be working once again with Microsoft, and we are confident that Windows Azure Media Services will help us provide the most robust streaming experience ever for a Winter Olympics," said Richard Cordella, NBC Sports Group Digital Media GM, in a statement.
Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup, present a great opportunity for tech companies to test their cloud computing products. Microsoft Azure already powers around half of Fortune 500 companies, and working with NBC at the Olympics presents a great way to woo potential clients.
Newly appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to focus on mobile solutions and cloud computing during the early part of his reign as leader.
Nadella takes over for former CEO Steve Ballmer, as Ballmer leaves behind a 14-year-reign that has left many consumers and analysts disappointed. Nadella has served as the executive vice president behind Microsoft's cloud efforts, which doubled its growth last quarter.
The software giant has embraced cloud computing with success, as its Office 365 service is popular among businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions. However, disappointment with Windows 8/8.1 on the desktop and Windows RT and Windows Phone on mobile devices continues to frustrate users.
Microsoft will continue its attempt to migrate towards the mobile space, though has lacked appealing software to entice users. It's a shame because a seamless transition from desktop Windows apps to a tablet and smartphone would generate great interest from business users.
SteamOS would feel a little lonely right now, and quiet, but Steam Music beta is coming, very soon. Steam Music will allow gamers to listen to local music files within SteamOS, while playing games.
The closed beta is accessed by joining the Steam Music community, where you might get randomly selected. Valve has said that the beta testers will be "invited in waves" before the feature goes live for everyone.
AMD has just unleashed its new Catalyst 14.1 Beta drivers, which include the first proper look at Mantle in the public space. There is a download that you'll need for Battlefield 4 to enable Mantle, too.
Another Mantle-capable game is Star Swarm, which is available on Steam, and includes some bigger performance improvements when using a CPU-limited system. AMD is claiming a gigantic 319% performance improvement when running Star Swarm on its Extreme setting at 1080p, using their A10-7700K processor.
This is the very first release of Mantle, so we should only expect things to get better from here on out. You can grab the new drivers here.
NVIDIA has just posted its new GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers, which include a bunch of additions and improvements to its 3D Vision content. The usual tweaks and improvements across the board are also provided. This is what you can expect from GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers:
- Assassin's Creed Liberation HD - Created profile (download through GeForce Experience)
- Gas Guzzlers - created profile
- HeartStone: Heroes of Warcraft - created profile
- Assassin's Creed III - Rating now "Excellent"
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Rating now "Excellent"
- Battlefield 4 - Rating now "Good"
- BioShock Infinite - Rating now "Excellent"
- Far Cry 3 - Rating now "Good"
- Hitman: Absolution - Rating now "Excellent"
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted - Rating now "Good"
- Saints Row IV - Rating now "Good"
- Sniper Elite V2 - Rating now "Excellent"
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Rating now "Good"
- Total War: Shogun 2 - Rating now "Good"
- Warframe - Laser sight and shadows fixed
You can grab the new GeForce 334.67 Beta drivers right here.
NFL sponsor and tech giant SAP will help bring technology to the Super Bowl experience, providing updated, custom information for football fans. Both companies have provided real-time team and player stats throughout the season, and will continue to improve for future seasons.
Using its own NetBase analytics software, SAP is going to provide an interactive exhibit for football fans in New York City, running through next Sunday. The information provided is based on data collected from social analytics, compiled throughout the season, including positive and negative team sentiment, team support from fans, and social media buzzword tracking.
SAP and other big-money sports sponsors are getting creative to help boost return-on-investment and company brand exposure. The NFL uses SAP cloud computing software and both companies are in the second year of a multi-year business partnership.
TiVo has laid off its hardware team as the company continues to transition into cloud-based streaming services, while the home entertainment industry continues to evolve. The company didn't officially say the hardware staff was laid off, with company executives noted the employees were "reassigned," though didn't mention if they were given a new role.
"We continue to balance appropriate levels of staffing and expertise necessary to support our existing hardware business and continue our innovation in hardware platforms and accessories with the need to allocate resources where strategic growth opportunities exist - and there is no doubt that we expect growth in the cloud-based delivery aspects of TiVo's business," said Steve Wymer, TiVo VP of Public Relations and corporate communications.
During the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month, TiVo didn't announce any new direct-to-consumer products.
If TiVo is axing its hardware division, it's hard to imagine the company will continue on making set-top boxes and other hardware - even if company officials claim they plan to.
PC maker Hewlett-Packard will continue to sell Windows 7-powered PCs until Microsoft's tentative deadline of October 2014 to stop pre-installs, with options still available to interested consumers and business users. However, many OEMs are focusing more on promoting Windows 8 and 8.1, which provides better sales revenue from the touch-enabled devices.
Microsoft increasingly wants value-added resellers (VARs) and partners to push consumers directly to Windows 8 or 8.1 - but clients still have the option of downgrading from 8/8.1 to 7. However, customers not ready to embrace 8/8.1 are choosing the familiarity and stability of Windows 7, and that trend doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.
Spotify is on a roll lately, where last week the music streaming outfit made music free on the web, and now the company is allowing artists to promote and sell their merchandise through Spotify.
Band t-shirts, posters and all sorts of other merchandise can be sold to Spotify users through the artist's page. Spotify could be doing this to look better in the eyes of music listeners and investors, as it provides artists lower royalty payments. Artists need to sign up to a Topspin account, and link it to their social media accounts, or e-mail Topspin to confirm the account is genuine.
What do you think of buying merchandise through Spotify? Is this something you would do, or are glad you can now do through Spotify? Let us know in the comments below!
The Chinese government has unveiled its own custom software, the China Operating System (COS), which is aimed at competing against Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X. Based off Linux, COS is a government-funded OS co-designed by the Shanghai Liantong Network Communications Technology and the China Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS).
The OS clearly mimics the Linux-based Google Android operating system, which is extremely popular on smartphones and tablets.
Open source software isn't as prevalent in China, where the government wants to have better control of computer software. Other open source initiatives struggled to take off in China because user interface, input methods, application support, and speech recognition haven't been able to keep up with the demands of the country's estimated 564 million Internet users.
(Image: CCTV News)