Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows 8.1 in mid-October. The first major update to Windows 8 will arrive in New Zealand at 12am local time on 18 October. "Windows 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update for consumers on Windows 8 through the Windows Store," Microsoft said in a blog post. "Windows 8.1 will also be available at retail and on new devices starting on October 18th by market." Microsoft released a preview version of Windows 8.1 at its Build developer conference earlier this year. It will be available to manufacturers by late August, allowing OEMs to pre-load Windows 8.1 on devices that will be released ahead of the holiday season. Updates include more personalisation, Internet Explorer 11, search powered by Bing, built-in apps, an improved Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity with SkyDrive.
Customers in eight European countries will have to wait until 2014 for the Xbox One after they weren't included on Microsoft's "confirmed" list of territories that will get the console on launch. Microsoft confirmed that would-be customers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Russia will now get the console "as soon as possible in 2014." "While we wish we could launch Xbox One simultaneously in these markets, there are many factors that determine the timing of specific market launches. This includes work to localize the Xbox One dash, incorporate additional voice and languages, and build partnerships to bring apps and meaningful local content to each country," the company stated. The 13 markets that will still get their hands on the console in 2013 include the UK as well as Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States.
South-east England has taken almost 60 per cent of all government IT contracts since 2010, reports The Guardian, despite government promises of making IT procurement opportunities less London-centric. The contract stats comes at a time when the government is being criticised in some quarters for paying too much attention to Tech City in east London, instead of fully supporting tech clusters in places like Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol. After coming into power the government developed the Contracts Finder website, which since 2010 has listed all government procurement opportunities worth over £10,000. Of the 1,034 IT contracts listed on the site, says The Guardian, 587 (57 per cent) went to companies in the south-east, with 264 of them based in London. But other areas with sizeable tech clusters have been largely excluded, with Manchester gaining just 21 of the contracts, and Bristol winning only 22 deals.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has heavily criticised two of the world's biggest tech firms. In an interview with CBS this week, Ellison tore into Apple and Google, branding the former a has-been and the latter an evil-doer. At first, he sang the praises of late former Apple boss Steve Jobs, saying, "He was brilliant. I mean, our Edison. He was our Picasso. He was an incredible inventor." However, when asked about Apple's future without Jobs, Ellison's words weren't quite so positive. "We conducted the experiment," he said, referring to Jobs' period of absence from Apple between 1985 and 1996, during which the company suffered heavy losses. "I mean, it's been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs, we saw Apple without Steve Jobs, we saw Apple with Steve Jobs. "Now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs," he concluded, lowering his finger to indicate the demise of the firm. Ellison then rounded on the search giant – and Larry Page in particular. After confirming that he does not get along well with the Google CEO, Ellison said, "When you write a program for the Android phone, you write it. You use the Oracle tool, Oracle Java tools for everything. And at the very end, you press a button and say, 'Convert this to Android format'. We don't compete with Google. We don't do anything Google does. We just think they took our stuff, and that was wrong."