Mark Wilson

Watch Game of Thrones for free on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One

Watch Game of Thrones for free on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One

The wait is now over for fans of Game of Thrones. After a slight break, the first episode of season five aired last night and there were plenty of ways to watch it: HBO NOW for Apple users, or Sling TV to name two legal options, or you could opt to grab a torrent of the first four episodes after they leaked online.

For anyone who wants to see the first episode for free, while staying on the right side of the law, there's another option. Microsoft has announced that the Season 5 premiere is available free of charge to Xbox Live members. There's extra content available too, but you'll have to be quick as S05E01 is only available for a few days.

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Unlock a secret dark theme in Windows 10 with a registry hack

Unlock a secret dark theme in Windows 10 with a registry hack

Build 10056 of Windows 10 Technical Preview -- which leaked online in the last few days -- has a hidden dark theme. If you have grabbed a copy of this particular build, you'll have noticed that there are a few tweaks here and there such as a resizable Start menu and a redesigned system clock.

But if you're happy to tinker with the registry, you can unlock a whole new look for the operating system, taking Windows 10 to the dark side. It brings to the desktop version of Windows 10 a theme option reminiscent of Windows Phone. Pull on your registry editing pants... we're going in.

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Fujitsu and Microsoft announce IoT and M2M partnership

Fujitsu and Microsoft announce IoT and M2M partnership

Much of the focus of talk about the Internet of Things surrounds what the IoT can do for home users. A clever cooker is great, but move up the scale a little, however, and things start to get really interesting. Now teaming up with Miele, Microsoft today announces that it is also partnering with Fujitsu.

The two companies will work together to create IoT based devices to improve the manufacturing of other products. By harnessing the power of IoT and the M2M (machine to machine) platforms, Microsoft and Fujitsu aim to improve production efficiency and help drive down costs.

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Microsoft and Miele team up to cook up an IoT revolution

Microsoft and Miele team up to cook up an IoT revolution

When people talk about the Internet of Things, there are often semi-joking references to fridges that know when you've run out of milk and ovens that know how to cook whatever you put in them. Forget the jokes; this is now a reality. We've already seen a generation of smart appliances, and Microsoft wants to be part of what happens next.

At Hannover Messe today, Miele -- of oven, vacuum cleaner and washing machine fame -- announces it is working on a new breed of appliances based on Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) services. What does this mean? Ultimately it means you'll be able to find a recipe online, have the ingredient list and preparation instructions sent to your mobile device, and your smart oven will be automatically configured with the correct settings.

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Microsoft looks after the environment and your wallet with Xbox One energy saving

Microsoft looks after the environment and your wallet with Xbox One energy saving

Anyone setting up an Xbox One will be presented with the option of enabling the console's energy savings. At the moment, it is the Instant-on feature that is enabled by default, and few people delve into settings to change this later on.

By being upfront with the feature during the initial setup phases, Microsoft gives gamers the opportunity to reduce power consumption and lower electricity bills. As well as easing the impact console ownership has on wallets, it also helps to minimize its environment impact.

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Apple thinks Apple Watch customers are completely stupid

Apple thinks Apple Watch customers are completely stupid

Today Apple started taking orders for Apple Watch, and the world is agog. It's online only this time around, so there are no amusing articles about nutters camping outside Apple stores for six months living on noodles and coffee just to be first through the door -- people are, in many cases, buying blind. We've already baulked at the price of the Apple Watch Edition, but today Apple released details of its AppleCare+ extended warranties and, my god, do they make for interesting reading.

There has already been much said about the pricing of the various Apple Watch models -- not least the Apple Watch Edition -- and Apple is sure to make quite a markup on the precious metal version. Not content with raking in the cash through its sales of wrist-bound hardware, Apple is trying to squeeze every last possible cent from its customers. If something goes wrong with your Apple Watch, even if you are covered by the extended warranty, it's going to cost you a pretty penny to get things fixed. If you were foolish (er... lucky) enough to invest in the Edition, the costs are absolutely astronomical.

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Windows 10's unified Store includes apps, movies and music for all devices

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As we get further and further down the road to Windows 10, Microsoft today reveals there will be a major overhaul to the Store. A single unified Store will be used to deliver apps, music, TV shows and movies to everything from desktops and laptops, to mobile devices and Xbox platforms -- the Internet of Things even gets a look in.

Fire up the Store in the Windows 10 Technical Preview and you should now see a Movies & TV section (or Films & TV depending on where you are in the world). This has been present in the beta version of the Store for a while now, but now it actually works. The recently released Music and Video apps will soon be integrated with the Store, and there's more to come.

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Microsoft announces integration between Dropbox and Office Online

Microsoft Office

Back in November, Microsoft and Dropbox joined forces to bring Office editing capabilities to iOS and Android users. Now the two companies have taken things to the next level, bringing the same capabilities to the web.

New integration between the ever-expanding Office Online and Dropbox means that it is now possible to create files in Microsoft's cloud-based office suite and save them directly to Dropbox. There's also the option of adding your Dropbox account to Office Online to allow for easy access to files ready for editing.

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Ad-free version of YouTube on the way -- for a price

youtube big

Google is on the verge of launching an ad-free option for YouTube users. An email sent out to 'YouTube Partners' (or content creators) reveals that the company has plans to unveil a paid-for version of the video service that enables viewers to avoid the irritation of ads.

For content creators, YouTube says the plans offer a new way to pull in the cash: "we'll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast growing advertising revenue". While there is yet to be an official public announcement, the news comes just days after Google came in for criticism for showing "unfair and deceptive" ads in its YouTube Kids app.

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Facebook Messenger breaks away into a brand new dedicated website

Facebook Messenger gets a brand new dedicated website

Today Facebook launches a new standalone website for its Messenger service. The separate interface means that it is now possible to chat with your Facebook contacts without having to visit the main Facebook website where you might run the risk of whiling away too much time reading through your timeline as well.

On mobile devices, Facebook has moved users to a dedicated Messenger app rather than allowing them to chat within the main app. By bringing the web-based version of the social network's chat tool in line with the iOS, Windows Phone and Android versions, Facebook has made chatting a distinct feature that can now be conducted completely separately in its own tab.

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Intel's RealSense 3D camera could be in your next smartphone

Intel's RealSense 3D camera could be in your next smartphone

Intel has managed to shrink its depth-sensitive RealSense 3D Camera to the extent that it could be used in the next generation of cell phones. This is about more than just 3D photography, this is about taking photographs and changing the focus afterwards, as well as bringing Kinect-like gesture support to mobile devices.

Talking at an event in Shenzhen, China, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich demonstrated a much smaller version of its existing technology. So far we have only seen the RealSense 3D camera in laptops such as the Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro, but the miniaturization means that it could be a feature of your next phone or tablet.

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Microsoft announces OTA TV Tuner for Xbox One-owning cord-cutters

Microsoft announces OTA TV Tuner for Xbox One-owning cord-cutters

These days Xbox is about much more than just gaming and it's a platform that is increasingly appealing to cord-cutters. Microsoft and its partners have gradually increased the number and variety of apps that are available for a diverse viewing experience, but now things have taken a new twist. If the likes of Netflix and HBO are not enough, there's now an over-the-air TV tuner available.

Live TV is something that Xbox One users have been asking for for some time, and Microsoft has teamed up with Hauppauge to come up with the goods. Anyone who is a member of the Xbox One Preview is able to buy the Hauppauge WinTV-955Q and gain access to a wealth of free networks such as NBC and CBS.

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Google is too slow at clearing crap from the Chrome extension store

Google clears (some of) the crap from the Chrome extension store

Malware is something computer users -- and even mobile and tablet owners -- are now more aware of than ever. That said, many people do not give a second thought to installing a browser extension to add new features to their most frequently used application. Despite the increased awareness, malware is not something a lot of web users think of in relation to extensions; but they should.

Since the beginning of 2015 -- just over three months -- Google has already received over 100,000 complaints from Chrome users about "ad injectors" hidden in extensions. Security researchers have also discovered that a popular extension -- Webpage Screenshot -- includes code that could be used to send browsing history back to a remote server. Google is taking steps to clean up the extension store to try to prevent things like this from happening, but security still needs to be tightened up.

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Microsoft and Getty Images bury the hatchet after legal action and form partnership

Microsoft and Getty Images bury the hatchet after legal action and form partnership

Late last year Getty Images hit Microsoft with a lawsuit for using its images without license in the Bing Image Widget. Getty had complained that Microsoft turned its images into "a vast, unlicensed clip art collection". In a bid to avoid trouble, Microsoft opted to take down the widget and now -- seven months down the line -- it seems that it may just have paid off.

Today, the two companies announced that they are forming a partnership to bring properly licensed images to products such as Bing and Cortana. Technologies from both Microsoft and Getty images will be used together to enrich services on both sides.

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Google reported to FTC for 'unfair and deceptive' ads in YouTube Kids

youtube_kids

A number of consumer groups have filed a complaint with the FTC suggesting that Google is targeting children with "unfair and deceptive" ads in YouTube Kids for Android and iOS. A letter signed by Children Now, Consumer Watchdog, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and others says that ads are displayed in a way that would not be permitted on broadcast or cable television.

The letter makes three main complaints about the app. The first suggests that Google mixes programming and ads, while another says that the relationship between Google and the manufacturers of advertised products is not clear. The groups ask for the FTC to take action to stop the advertisements.

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