Microsoft and Sony cut prices to sell unwanted tech

Windows RT
Can Microsoft make a case for Windows RT?

New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody's talking about... cuts!

And we don't mean cuts of the austerity variety, we mean price cuts that deliver gadgety goodness for considerably less cash.

First up is Microsoft, which is reportedly slashing the cost of Windows like the owner of a sports shop that's going out of business: it has quartered the price it wants to charge per PC for Windows 8 and Office.

The big discounts only apply to little kit, though: eligible computers must have screens smaller than 10.8 inches to get the full discount.

Will that be enough to save Windows RT? It certainly doesn't look too clever at the moment: this week, key partner Samsung decided to pull its RT tablets out of Europe. At least Europe got them for a while: Samsung didn't even launch its RT tablets in the US. The problem?

As Dan Grabham points out, RT tablets are expensive and "people are walking out of stores with RT devices, confused about what they can and can't do."

Cheaper Windows is a start, says Gary Marshall, but it's not the only problem facing Windows RT: "Consumers are still confused, the licensing is odd - 'here's Office! Hahaha, no, you can't use it for work!' - and manufacturers clearly couldn't give a toss," he says.

Microsoft isn't just cutting prices. It'll probably have to cut back on sweeties and cakes too, because the EU has just fined it $731 million (£485m / AUS$712m) for not giving 15 million people a choice of rival web browsers.

Apparently the EU wanted to fine Microsoft even more, but it cut the fine down because Microsoft was being nice.

Samung Ativ Tab

It's hello and goodbye to the Samsung Ativ Tab

Microsoft isn't the only tech giant offering price cuts. Sony is too, and since it sliced a third off the price of the PS Vita sales have quadrupled. That's only in Japan, though, and the UK and US price hasn't changed: as Chris Smith reports, "Sony apparently has no plans to spread the love beyond its own borders".

While Sony's cutting prices in Japan, Spotify's cutting deals in Europe: this week the deal is with Volvo, which is going to put the music service into its new cars' dashboards. The bad news is that you won't be able to get it until May, but the good news is that you'll be able to retro-fit it to some recent Volvos too.

The S4 is imminent

You can expect some good price cuts on the Samsung Galaxy S3 too, we reckon: the launch of the new one, the cunningly named Galaxy S4, is mere days away. Given that Samsung is one of the few firms generating Apple levels of expectation, it's only fitting that it's also attracting Apple-style speculation and leaks - including what appear to be screenshots of the S4's software.

Not everything is what it purports to be, however: the first bunch of supposedly leaked screens came from a Galaxy S3. One of the most interesting leaks suggests that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be controllable with your eyes.


Is this a screenshot from the S4?

Virgin slows down

While price cuts are generally welcome, other cuts aren't. How annoyed would you be if your broadband speed was massively reduced for no good reason?

You'd be lots of annoyed, we reckon - and so are the unfortunate customers of Virgin Mobile in the UK whose 3G data speeds have been cut to 2Mbps. "Oh yeah we totally did that and forgot to tell anybody about it," the firm more or less said when customers complained, telling us that the move was a trial. How long will it last? Nobody's saying. Can customers opt out? Apparently not. So much for "truly unlimited" mobile data.

And that brings us to the end of this week's episode. Cut!

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