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Apple and Microsoft’s Rivalry Had Cooled; Now It’s Back and Getting Testier

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At a virtual product launch in November for Apple’s Mac reboot, actor John Hodgman appeared in a nerdy, ill-fitting suit before a white backdrop. “Stop, hang on, wait, one more thing, hi, I’m a PC,” he said, reprising the popular Mac vs. PC television commercials of a decade ago that not so subtly telegraphed the idea that Apple was cool and Microsoft wasn’t. 

The event was held to let Mac fans know the new machines were getting a processor with more sizzle. But the subtext was unmistakable: Apple’s old rivalry with Microsoft was back.

For several years, the two companies had found reason to collaborate. Microsoft’s Office and other apps began appearing on the iPad and iPhone; Apple even invited Microsoft to a product launch. Apple recently made it easier to use Xbox game controllers on Apple devices, while Microsoft made its products compatible with such new Apple features as the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard. Last fall, Apple even put its TV app on the Xbox. 

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But around the time the PC character reappeared, Microsoft began bad-mouthing Apple to regulators, saying the company’s App Store was anti-competitive. The Redmond, Washington, software giant had thrown in its lot with Epic Games, which was suing Apple for booting its Fornite title from the App Store and accusing the iPhone maker of monopolistic behaviour. A Microsoft executive has since testified against Apple at the trial, now in its second week, telling the court that Apple’s tight control of its App Store had hurt Microsoft’s own gaming efforts.

The tensions are unlikely to ease once a verdict comes down because Apple and Microsoft are both looking to dominate the next big things in tech—from artificial intelligence and cloud computing to gaming, tablets, custom processors, and mixed-reality headsets. 

The renewed antipathy between Apple and Microsoft started about a year ago. Microsoft had developed a cloud gaming service for iPhone devices and iPad models called xCloud. One app would let users pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud. The service was supposed to do for gaming what Netflix did for video, appease gamers and turn Apple devices into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, one of the hottest names in the industry. 

But Microsoft never launched the service in its intended form, having failed to persuade Apple to loosen App Store rules forbidding all-in-one gaming services. Originally, Microsoft was barred from launching any cloud-based games at all. But a few months after concerns over the ban on streaming apps went public, Apple tweaked the rules. Microsoft can now launch a cloud gaming service, but each game must be downloaded separately, defeating the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Now Microsoft is rolling out the service on Apple devices via the Web, a much less optimal experience than a real app. 

Around the same time, Microsoft President Brad Smith began urging US and European antitrust regulators to examine Apple’s practices. “They impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created,” Smith told a Politico reporter. He added that he considered Apple’s behavior worse than the actions that landed his company in the antitrust hot seat more than 20 years ago.

What might have remained a resolvable dustup escalated instead once the Epic trial got underway. Lori Wright, Microsoft’s vice president of business development for Xbox, testified that Microsoft is being stymied by Apple’s rules when it comes to gaming, backing Epic’s claims that Apple is an antitrust violator. Apple fired back, saying Microsoft earns $600 million (roughly Rs.4,400 crores) to $700 million (roughly Rs. 5,130 crores) a year from its relationship with Epic and is simply defending the game maker because it’s good for business.

Apple argued that Microsoft’s Xbox download store has similar rules to Apple’s, taking a 30 percent cut, requiring its own payment system and banning alternative digital marketplaces. Apple also said Microsoft, as an iOS developer, stands to benefit if it’s forced to revamp the App Store.

“We clearly disagreed with Apple’s refusal to allow game streaming via the App Store,” Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw said in an email. “But that disagreement won’t keep us from collaborating with Apple on other topics, as we do with Microsoft 365 on iOS and Mac devices.”

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Perhaps, but there is potential for other clashes. In the booming personal computer market, where the companies compete head to head, Mac sales doubled in the first quarter, according to International Data Corporation, more than twice as fast as sales of PCs, which largely run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. While Apple holds only 8 percent of the computer market, its upgrades are popular with the legions of Americans who are expected to continue working from home after the pandemic subsides. 

Apple is also planning to release a mixed-reality headset next year, venturing into territory Microsoft staked out years ago with the Hololens. Microsoft has explored developing chips for its line of devices, echoing an Apple strategy that has helped boost sales. The two companies are also competing for talent in AI and cloud infrastructure, two key future battlegrounds. Microsoft is even back to making its own phones, and, of course, they use an operating system from another Apple foe: Google’s Android

How bad could the animus get? If the past is prologue, pretty testy. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously likened the launch of iTunes on Windows to handing someone in hell a glass of ice water, while Apple routinely poked fun at Microsoft software and accused the company of copying Apple’s designs.

Microsoft recently started running commercials pitting its Surface hybrid tablet and laptops against the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. Hodgman, who plays PC in the Apple advertisements, could be hearing from his agent.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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What is the best phone under Rs. 30,000 in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Xbox Game Pass: Dates Revealed for Assassin’s Creed Origins, For Honor: Marching Fire Edition

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Assassin’s Creed Origins and For Honor: Marching Fire Edition were coming to Xbox Game Pass, we knew, but now we have the exact dates. The games were spotted under the ‘Coming Soon’ tab in Xbox Game Pass app with their debut dates. While Assassin’s Creed Origins will be available for play on June 6, the For Honor: Marching Fire Edition will be accessible on May 31. The news comes as other titles such as Hardspace: Shipbreaker, Sniper Elite 5, Cricket 22, and more are also joining Xbox Game Pass for the month. Seven games will be removed from Xbox Game Pass library on May 31.

Last week, Microsoft announced the list of new games coming soon to Xbox Game Pass for rest of May on its Xbox Wire blog. Now, there are two more games, Assassin’s Creed Origins and For Honor: Marching Fire Edition that have been seen under the ‘Coming Soon’ tab on the app, listed to be added to the Game Pass on June 6 and May 31, respectively. These games were not named in the May 17 blog.

For Honor: Standard Edition is already available on Xbox Game Pass. While Origins is coming soon to Game Pass, Sony announced last week through its official blog that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be added to the all-new PlayStation Plus game lineup. The game is available to PlayStation Plus Extra, Deluxe, and Premium members as part of Ubisoft Classics. Some games for the rest of May Xbox Game Pass roster will be available for Windows PC, Xbox consoles, and Xbox Cloud. Here’s the complete list of Xbox Game Pass titles for the rest of May:

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Xbox Game Pass May 2022 — new games

May 17

  • Hey Story — PC
  • Jurassic World Evolution 2 — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Skate — Cloud
  • Umurangi Generation Special Edition — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Little Witch in the Woods (Game Preview) — Console and PC

May 19

  • Farming Simulator 22 — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Vampire Survivors — PC

May 24

  • Floppy Knights — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker — PC

May 26

May 27

  • Cricket 22 — PC
  • Pac-Man Museum — Cloud, Console, and PC

Like every month, Microsoft is also removing games from the roster, as new ones are added to Game Pass. There are seven outgoing titles that gamers can retain by purchasing, offered at a 20 percent discount.

Xbox Game Pass May 2022 — games that will be gone soon

May 31

  • EA Sports NHL 20 — Console
  • Farming Simulator 19 — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Knockout City — Console and PC — EA Play
  • Resident Evil 7 Biohazard — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest — PC
  • Superhot Mind Control Delete — Cloud, Console, and PC
  • Yes, Your Grace — Cloud, Console, and PC

Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass is available in India for Rs. 349 per month on PC and Xbox consoles. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, that includes EA Play, Xbox Live Gold/ Xbox network, and game streaming in select markets, costs Rs. 499 per month in India. These new prices went into effect April 1.


What are the best games of 2021? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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New State Mobile May Update Live on Android, iOS; Brings New Map, Weapon, More

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New State Mobile May update is currently live on Android and iOS, the game developer Krafton announced on Friday. The list of new things the update adds include a new map, a new weapon, combat leveling system, action feature, and Survivor Pass. The new map is called Underbridge and can be found in the Round Deathmatch mode. A new combat leveling system is also being added to the Round Deathmatch mode. The new gun being introduced is a Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR). The update also brings the Survivor Pass Volume 7. The update also brings a slew of bug fixes for the mobile game with the update.

There are a number of new additions in the New State Mobile 0.9.32 release. The new update brings a new map called Underbridge to the Round Deatchmatch mode. The map has been built for mid-to-long range battles and features two watchtowers so that players can spot the enemies from a distance. Care Packages will not spawn in the new map, unlike in the previous map Arena.

The Round Deathmatch Mode also gets a new combat levelling system in the update. In the new system, players can earn combat experience points based on the outcome of the Team/Round Deathmatch including win, loss, kill, and damage. Players who abandon the match and their team mid-game will not be eligible for the points. After reaching a particular combat level, players will receive a gun customisation kit for the Round Deathmatch preset.

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New State Mobile new update also brings a new gun to the game. The weapon, M110A1 is a new Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) that uses 7.62mm ammo. The developers claim that it has the fastest bullet velocity among DMRs in the game. “The M110A1 balances strong damage output with stable recoil and includes a diverse set of equipable accessories, including a scope, magazine, muzzle, and cheek pad slot,” added the developer.

Krafton has also added a new action feature called Piggyback in the game. This feature lets players piggyback knocked-out players and carry them to safety. Players can piggyback allies as well as enemies. While using the Piggyback action feature players will not be able to use other actions.

The May update also introduces the Survivor Pass Volume 7 with Paul Rubin from the New State faction coming to the mobile version of the game. Players will be able to earn Paul Rubin’s costumes and appearance by completing all the story missions that roll out each week.

New State Mobile is also getting slew of bug fixes in the latest update. The crash related bug fixes include an issue where a smartphone would shut down while waiting to enter the starting island in Troi, another issue where the game would randomly close after parachuting, and the issue where the client would force close while entering a vehicle. Other aspects of the game like the gameplay, sound, and graphics also received bug fixes.


What are the best games of 2021? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Epic Games Store Mega Sale 2022: Great Offers on Far Cry 6, Ghostwire Tokyo, and More

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Epic Games Store Mega Sale 2022 went live on Thursday and will last till June 16 at 11am ET / 8:30pm IST. There are discounts of up to 75 percent on over 1,600 games and add-ons. You will also get limitless Epic Games Store Mega coupons throughout the duration of this sale that will provide an additional 25 percent discount on games purchases worth $14.99 (roughly Rs. 1,160) or more. The Mega Sale 2022 also brings the Vault and Mega Deals that will refresh every week with new offers.

The Epic Games Store Mega Sale 2022 will last for four weeks and sees Ghostwire: Tokyo go on sale for the first time since its release on the platform. Here are some of the other great discounts currently available.

Epic Games Store Mega Sale 2022 best discounts

Tiny Tina’s Wonderland at Rs. 2,639.20 — 20 percent off

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Ghostwire: Tokyo at Rs. 1,649.33 — 34 percent off

Far Cry 6 at Rs. 1,499.50 — 50 percent off

Far Cry 6 Review

Red Dead Redemption 2 at Rs. 1,599.50 — 50 percent off

Cyberpunk 2077 at Rs. 1,499.50 — 50 percent off

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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Standard Edition at Rs. 1,199.60 — 60 percent off

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Review

Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition at Rs. 1,649.50 — 50 percent off

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

Riders Republic at Rs. 1,499.50 — 50 percent off

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Hitman 3 at Rs. 944.50 — 50 percent off

Kena: Bridge of Spirits at Rs. 610.35 — 35 percent off

Kena Bridge of Spirits Review

Mafia: Trilogy at Rs. 1,649.50 — 50 percent off

Mafia: Definitive Edition Review

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As mentioned earlier, there is also the Vault, which will open every week of the sale to offer a new free game. For the first week, Borderlands 3 has gone free till May 26 at 8:30pm IST.

Epic is also giving away free in-game items and more as part of the Mega Deals offer. Right now, you can grab exclusive items from popular titles like the HNY Inverted wheels in Rocket League. Furthermore, a legendary bundle is available in Warframe and Fortnite is offering the Volcanic Assassins Quest Pack.

Epic Games Store Mega Sale 2022 runs from Thursday, May 19 to Thursday, June 16.


What are the best games of 2021? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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