I may be generous with my criticism of Microsoft, but I'll also acknowledge when it does something right. And in two very different instances this week, Microsoft has done the right thing.
First, the company dropped all of the DRM restrictions on the Xbox One. All of them. There will be no daily check-in required, and trading with friends will be allowed. All of this is detailed on the Xbox One site. The one area of concern not addressed was Kinect, but from what I've read, that's more a case of perception over reality.
The decision came after a horrendous E3 at which the company was flat out humiliated by Sony, which wouldn't hesitate to rub Microsoft's nose in the mess it had made. The Navy was very critical, both because of the global regional locking and the mandatory check-in, which was not possible from Navy ships, nor a good idea in general.
And, in one week, Microsoft reversed course. Comical headlines announcing the decision read "Xbox 180," a pun on the name and decision. But I'm not here to heap on the ridicule. I'm glad they did it. It was the same shut-up-we-know-what-we're-doing attitude that ruined Windows 8 when it could have been fixed before launch. Instead, they've reversed course and all will be forgotten by the November launch.
The result of Microsoft changing course before launch is a revival. According to Boy Genius Report, Xbox One sales have vaulted past PlayStation 4 on Amazon in the days since this announcement. Just a week ago, if you went onto the Xbox page on Facebook, people were spamming ASCII art of an extended middle finger. Microsoft still has to convince people that Kinect won't record them having a private conversation, and there is the $100 price difference, but I suspect they can overcome that, since Sony doesn't have a comparable product to Kinect.
So, you see, there's no shame in admitting to a mistake and changing it; only in clinging to it long after everyone else has realized your mistake. That's why Steve Sinofsky is out of a job and the Xbox unit head Don Mattrick may have saved his.
On to more laudatory news. Earlier this week Microsoft announced it had taken down another massive botnet that had taken over at least 2 million PCs worldwide, which were used to steal more than $500 million from bank accounts around the world.
Richard Boscovich, assistant general counsel with Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, told Reuters that 2 million was "a conservative estimate," and that the vast majority of infected machines were in the United States, Europe and Hong Kong.
Microsoft and the FBI worked with authorities in more than 80 countries to take down 1,400 computers that were part of a Botnet command and control network known as the Citadel Botnets. With these C&C machines down, the 2 million machines that were pumping out malware had their connections severed, thereby cutting off updates and effectively turning the PC quiet.
The ringleader, who goes by the nickname Aquabox, is still at large. Boscovich said he suspects Aquabox is in Eastern Europe.
Nicely done, guys.