The dirty dozen: 12 tech mulligans (photos)
Microsoft's Xbox DRM reversal not the first
Microsoft on Wednesday announced a big change: its upcoming Xbox One console wouldn't need to check in online every day in order to function, nor would the company be restricting how users could sell and trade games to other people.
All this came after considerable backlash, not just from users, but from the press and its rivals, who knocked the company for restricting things too tightly.
This isn't the first change of heart for a technology company, let alone Microsoft. Read on for 12 others.
Microsoft’s Windows XP to Windows 7 transition
Microsoft’s no stranger to changing its stance on a highly controversial issue. Take for instance when the company rolled out Windows Vista in 2006. Microsoft announced a new one time only limit for those who bought a boxed copy of the OS and wanted to transfer it to another machine. After much outcry from system builders, the company backtracked on the policy, saying users could transfer a retail license an unlimited number of times.
The company ran into similar problems ahead of Windows 7 when it planned to limit sales of the still-popular Windows XP to the first six months Windows 7 was on the market, stirring fears with businesses that had intended to skip the less-popular Windows Vista entirely. Microsoft ended up extending the period to 18 months from the Windows 7 launch instead.
Amazon offers $15 opt-out for Kindle Fire ads after tons of hate
Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD with special offers lived up to its name and became a hot-seller for the e-commerce giant. What people didn't like about it was that there was no way to get rid of the ads, as the company didn’t include a way to pay to nix them like it did on its other Kindle with special offers devices. After much backlash, Amazon caved, offering a $15 ad removal option.
Amazon yanks books from Kindles
In 2009, some Kindle users woke up to find the books they were reading, or had simply purchased, had been removed from their device in the wee hours and without them knowing.
There were only two books affected, but it was enough to get the attention of just about every Kindle owner, and people who might have been contemplating jumping on Amazon’s growing e-book platform. After much outcry, Amazon said the removal happened due to a rights-issue from a third-party company, and that it had taken steps to make sure it would never happen again.
Apple's Lightning policy brings thunderous anger
As if Apple's Lighting adapter wasn't already getting enough flak from people who were irked they had to buy new adapters for their iOS devices, out came a story from the creator of a nifty Kickstarter project that Apple was not even allowing accessory makers to create products that offered both adapters.
Apple quickly adjusted its policy, allowing newer Lightning adapter products to coexist with older (yet still quite popular) 30-pin adapters in the same accessory.
Instagram owning, selling your photos
Instagram, the popular Facebook-owned photo sharing service, changed its terms of service near the end of 2012 with a clause that set the Web ablaze and threatened to send droves of users packing.
Wording within the legalese claimed the company would have perpetual rights to sell people’s photographs -- including for advertising -- without any sort of payment, or notification that it was happening (57559710). Just three days later CEO Kevin Systrom backpedaled, apologizing to users about the lack of clarity and promising to be more transparent about its ad plans.
Pictured: Instagram founders Mike Krieger (left) and Kevin Systrom talking to Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose during an on-stage conversation in San Francisco.
Google backtracks on Google Maps fees
Google announced increased fees for companies using its Google Maps service in October 2011, with some companies quickly running up six-figure bills as a result. Several large services, including Foursquare, changed over to open-sourced mapping platform OpenStreetMap instead. Eight months, and much kvetching, later Google cut prices by 88 percent to woo people back.
Twitter takes away, brings back random @replies
In early 2009, Twitter tweaked how one of its key features worked, and no longer displaying @ replies from people who users weren't following. Users were miffed by the change, which they argued was a core part of how they discovered other people using the service.
After enough heat from users, Twitter brought the feature back and said they were working on a better way to deal with replies.
Microsoft brings the 'Start' button back to Windows 8
Microsoft changed a lot of things in Windows 8, including the addition of a new, all-touch interface and look that got rid of the iconic "Start" button. Enough users were clamoring for it back, as well as a way to skip right to the non-touch, desktop mode, that Microsoft said it plans to bring the Start button back in the upcoming Windows 8.1, alongside a way to boot right to the desktop.
AT&T does about face on Apple’s FaceTime over cellular
In the rollout of FaceTime with the iPhone 4, the feature initially required Wi-Fi to work, something Apple later lifted to work with cellular networks. But in the U.S., AT&T was a stick in the mud. Users and net neutrality groups were angered by the move, even threatening to file a complaint with the FCC. AT&T eventually relented, letting some of its customers use it over its 3G or 4G networks this past January, and opening it more widely to users grandfathered into unlimited plans just this week.
Pictured: Apple's Steve Jobs places a call to Jony Ive with the new iPhone 4 FaceTime video-calling application at WWDC in 2010.
Verizon's $2 fee for paying your bill
Speaking of carriers perturbing users, there's the $2 fee Verizon attempted to introduce in order for people to pay their bills online, something that led to a huge public outcry and even threats to the FCC to investigate the company’s planned policy. Just a day after the rumored program was confirmed by the company, Verizon backtracked.
Netflix's Qwikster spinoff
In September 2011, Netflix announced a new plan: it was going to spin off its DVD-by-mail business into something called Qwikster, leaving Netflix as its streaming service. That meant splitting apart user queues and sending them to two different sites to do what they were currently doing in one. They were also raising prices. People did not like either.
Three weeks after announcing the plans, Netflix backtracked, canceling plans for Qwikster, though keeping the price hike.
Facebook changes policy on ultraviolent videos
Should you be able to watch videos of people being murdered on Facebook? Apparently yes, the company said, following controversy over a pair of videos that contained extreme, graphic violence, which began making the rounds, and that the company refused to delete.
Facebook eventually relented from its stance that the videos showed the "world in which we live," saying it would "remove instances of these videos that are reported to us," while evaluating its policy -- things it outlined in a post in May.