From Windows 1 to Xbox One

From Windows 1 to Xbox One
The launch of Xbox One dominated this week's news

If this week was a word, that word would be "Microsoft": where last week was all about the PS4, this week is all about the Xbox One and Microsoft's consumer products.

Microsoft's console drops today (Friday), and it's more expensive that its Sony rival. Is the Xbox One worth the extra cash? As Alex Roth points out, it's hardly getting off to the most spectacular start: it needs to "overcome the mixed messaging, the now-canned 24-hour online dependence and the other potholes that had it stumbling out of the gate," but "thanks to a strong launch line-up and more than a bit of damage control, the Xbox One is repairing its reputation."

Microsoft's ambitions are as massive as the console. The Xbox One is more than a console: it wants to be your home entertainment hub, your social networking hub and your one-stop shop for every conceivable kind of media. Inevitably some of the features are US-only - the cable TV integration won't be available in the UK at launch - and some key apps such as iPlayer aren't ready yet, but as a piece of tech it's certainly impressive.

So which should you buy, the Xbox One or the PS4? Matt Swider breaks down each console's key strengths, weaknesses and most important differences, but the smart buying advice might be much simpler: wait. Both consoles are brand new, are bound to encounter teething issues and will become more attractive as more games and apps become available.

Closing the app gap

Apps are arriving on Windows Phone too, albeit slowly: Microsoft says that it'll close the "app gap" between Windows Phone, Android and Apple by the end of 2014. Most of the big-name omissions are now available for the platform (for example Instagram arrived this week) but Microsoft's definitely playing catch-up and its rivals have an enormous head start.

How things have changed for Windows. Back in 1985, Windows 1.0 was cutting-edge technology. Screenshots show an entry for a "software shoppe" (which presumably sold things on "ye olde floppeye diskes"), and its promo clip was the first video appearance of a certain Steve Ballmer.

Successive versions proved to be quite popular, especially when Windows reached version three. But however many amazing things Microsoft has made, it wasn't cool in 1985 and it isn't any cooler now - and stunts like its horribly unfunny anti-Google mugs don't help. The Keep Calm parody ("Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data") has been widely mocked online, and deservedly so - but are we mocking the messenger instead of paying attention to the message? Gary Marshall thinks so.

"If you'd told us a few years back that going online would subject innocent UK citizens to indiscriminate US state surveillance, that faraway firms would track us around the internet and record every conceivable bit of data so they could sell it on, and that TV manufacturers would apparently think it was okay to spy on their customers, we'd have been marching down the high street with flaming torches. Instead, we're mocking Microsoft."

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