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    ChatGPT is one year old. Here’s how it changed the world. / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 17:01 · 1 minute

A toy tin robot blowing out a birthday candle.

Enlarge / An artist's interpretation of what ChatGPT might look like if embodied in the form of a robot toy blowing out a birthday candle. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

One year ago today, on November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT . It's uncommon for a single tech product to create as much global impact as ChatGPT in just one year.

Imagine a computer that can talk to you. Nothing new, right? Those have been around since the 1960s . But ChatGPT, the application that first bought large language models (LLMs) to a wide audience, felt different. It could compose poetry, seemingly understand the context of your questions and your conversation, and help you solve problems. Within a few months, it became the fastest-growing consumer application of all time. And it created a frenzy.

During these 365 days, ChatGPT has broadened the public perception of AI, captured imaginations, attracted critics , and stoked existential angst. It emboldened and reoriented Microsoft, made Google dance , spurred fears of AGI taking over the world, captivated world leaders , prompted attempts at government regulation , helped add words to dictionaries , inspired conferences and copycats , led to a crisis for educators, hyper-charged automated defamation , embarrassed lawyers by hallucinating, prompted lawsuits over training data, and much more.

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    Microsoft’s ugly sweater for 2023 is Windows XP’s iconic default wallpaper / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 28 November - 16:30

Microsoft’s ugly sweater for 2023 is Windows XP’s iconic default wallpaper

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Windows XP was an actively supported Microsoft product for 13 years, including five years where it was the newest version available and another three years where it was vastly more popular than its successor . That longevity—plus Microsoft's total domination of personal computing in the pre-iPhone, pre-Android world—helped make its default wallpaper one of the most recognizable images on the planet.

Microsoft is returning to the Bliss hill once again with this year's entry in its now-traditional ugly retro-computing sweater series. Blue hemming at the bottom and on the sleeves evokes Windows XP's bright-blue taskbar, and in case people don't immediately recognize Bliss as "a computer thing," there's also a giant mouse pointer hovering over it.

Past ugly sweaters have included a Minesweeper motif, MS Paint, the Windows logo, and the immortal Clippy . Microsoft's ugly sweater site also has wallpapers and a few other retro Easter eggs for people with some time on their hands.

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    Big brands keep dropping X over antisemitism; $75M loss, report estimates / ArsTechnica · Monday, 27 November - 19:22

Big brands keep dropping X over antisemitism; $75M loss, report estimates

Enlarge (credit: Pool / Pool | Getty Images Europe )

The latest advertiser fallout on X , the platform formerly known as Twitter, could end up costing Elon Musk's company much more than the $11 million in revenue that the company previously estimated could be "at risk" due to backlash over antisemitic content on X.

According to internal X sales team documents reviewed by The New York Times , X may lose "up to $75 million" as more than 100 major brands—including Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, and Uber—have stopped advertising, while "dozens" more are considering pausing ads on the platform.

These sales team documents, The Times reported, "are meant to track the impact of all the advertising lapses" in November. On top of noting which brands have stopped advertising, the documents also flag brands at risk of halting ads. Ultimately, the sales team's goal is listing "how much ad revenue X employees fear the company could lose through the end of the year if advertisers do not return," The Times reported.

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    Microsoft offers legal protection for AI copyright infringement challenges / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 22:40

A man in an armor helmet sitting at a desk with a protective glowing field around him.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Benj Edwards )

On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it will provide legal protection for customers who are sued for copyright infringement over content generated by the company's AI systems. This new policy, called the Copilot Copyright Commitment, is an expansion of Microsoft's existing intellectual property indemnification coverage, Reuters reports .

Microsoft's announcement comes as generative AI tools like ChatGPT have raised concerns about reproducing copyrighted material without proper attribution. Microsoft has heavily invested in AI through products like GitHub Copilot and Bing Chat that can generate original code, text, and images on demand. Its AI models have gained these capabilities by scraping publicly available data off of the Internet without seeking express permission from copyright holders.

By offering legal protection, Microsoft aims to give customers confidence in deploying its AI systems without worrying about potential copyright issues. The policy covers damages and legal fees, providing customers with an added layer of protection as generative AI sees rapid adoption across the tech industry.

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    Microsoft finally explains cause of Azure breach: An engineer’s account was hacked / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 21:11

Microsoft finally explains cause of Azure breach: An engineer’s account was hacked

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft said the corporate account of one of its engineers was hacked by a highly skilled threat actor that acquired a signing key used to hack dozens of Azure and Exchange accounts belonging to high-profile users.

The disclosure solves two mysteries at the center of a disclosure Microsoft made in July . The company said that hackers tracked as Storm-0558 had been inside its corporate network for more than a month and had gained access to Azure and Exchange accounts, several of which were later identified as belonging to the US Departments of State and Commerce. Storm-0558 pulled off the feat by obtaining an expired Microsoft account consumer signing key and using it to forge tokens for Microsoft’s supposedly fortified Azure AD cloud service.

The disclosure left two of the most important questions unanswered. Specifically, how was a credential as sensitive as the consumer signing key stolen from Microsoft’s network, and how could it sign tokens for Azure, which is built on an entirely different infrastructure?

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    “We’re not ‘gatekeepers,’” Apple and Microsoft tell European Union / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 5 September - 13:47

Apple and Microsoft have argued with Brussels that some of their services are insufficiently popular to be designated as “gatekeepers” under new landmark EU legislation designed to curb the power of Big Tech.

Brussels’ battle with the two US companies over Apple’s iMessage chat app and Microsoft’s Bing search engine comes ahead of Wednesday’s publication of the first list of services to be regulated by the Digital Markets Act.

The legislation imposes new responsibilities on tech companies, including sharing data, linking to competitors, and making their services interoperable with rival apps.

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    Excel gets containerized, cloud-based Python analytics and visualization powers / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 17:15 · 1 minute

Excel sheet showing advanced data visualizations

Enlarge / If this kind of thing raises your eyebrows, there's a whole lot more inside a ribbon bar for you. (credit: Anaconda)

If you’re decent in Python (or aspire to be) but don’t have the chops for advanced data work in Excel, Microsoft now offers the kind of peanut butter-and-chocolate combination that you may consider a gift. At least until it goes behind the paywall.

Microsoft's Stefan Kinnestrand, writing about “the best of both worlds for data analysis and visualization,” writes that this public preview of Python in Excel will allow spreadsheet tinkerers to “manipulate and explore data in Excel using Python plots and libraries and then use Excel's formulas, charts, and PivotTables to further refine your insights.”

Microsoft partnered with Python analytics repository Anaconda to bring libraries like Pandas, Statsmodels, and Matplotlib into Excel. Python in Excel runs on Microsoft’s cloud servers, and the company is touting the security that should offer . Python runs in isolated containers, with no access to devices, your network, or user tokens, Microsoft states. Python and Excel can only really talk to each other through limited functions—xl() and =PY()—that can only return code results, not macros, VBA code, or other data, Microsoft claims.

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    New offer gives Ubisoft, not Microsoft, control of Activision game-streaming rights / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 14:25 · 1 minute

Ubisoft could be the new home to Activision's streaming catalog under a new proposal from Microsoft.

Enlarge / Ubisoft could be the new home to Activision's streaming catalog under a new proposal from Microsoft. (credit: Ubisoft)

In a major restructuring of its long-proposed acquisition plans for Activision Blizzard , Microsoft has announced that the cloud-streaming rights for current and future Activision titles will be controlled by Ubisoft rather than Microsoft itself. The move is an effort to ameliorate concerns from UK regulators who blocked the proposed acquisition in April over potential impacts on competition in the cloud-gaming space.

The newly proposed deal covers perpetual, worldwide streaming rights for all current Activision games and those released in the next 15 years, according to an announcement from Microsoft Vice Chair President Brad Smith. Ubisoft will have exclusive control of those streaming rights outside of the European Union, allowing the company to make those games available on its own Ubisoft+ service and to license them out to other cloud-gaming providers (including Microsoft itself). In the EU, Microsoft will pay to license those Activision streaming rights back from Ubisoft to satisfy promises made to the European Commission regarding free licensing to competing cloud-gaming providers.

In a statement provided to Ars Technica, Ubisoft said the deal would allow Activision titles to be offered via Ubisoft+ Multi Access on PC, Xbox, and Amazon Luna, as well as via Ubisoft+ Classics on PlayStation . "Today’s deal will give players even more opportunities to access and enjoy some of the biggest brands in gaming," said Chris Early, Ubisoft SVP of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, in the statement.

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