Maybe I'm just more cynical in my old age, but I have a feeling it's less an unwillingness to use a tragedy for advertising, and more to avoid the backlash they're likely to get when, say, their keyword-based advertising server automatically serves up ads for pool cleaning products on a story about a fatal drowning accident.
In the case of customers of Comcast and others, the truth is that recording conversations is not legal unless you have advised them of this and then only when they acknowledge it is it legal..
Typically, when you call, you get the recorded message "To ensure customer service, this call may be recorded or monitored." At which point, I say, "Thank you, I will." Could that be considered acknowledgement?
The sentence "notwithstanding any other provision of law" is required. With our overabundance of laws, just about anything you do or don't do is already criminal. So, in order to legally *permit* you to do something, you have to render all existing laws null and void just so it's *possible*.
Have you ever put a game in to play, and then had to sit and wait while it downloaded however many updates were required? Imagine if your console just went and checked for those updates while it was offline, so when you did go to play, the game was ready to go.
Or, you are away from home and hear about the latest game or demo. You go to xbox.com and queue it up for download (which you can do today), but because your console is off, it won't actually download until you get home and turn it on. But now, it could do this as you queue it up from the web and be ready to go as soon as you get home.
Those are the best-case scenarios I can think of.
Of course, there's also the dark side -- it will download the latest and greatest ads to display on the dashboard. (Although that could be a relative benefit as well -- it will have done the downloading already by the time you turn the machine on, so it'll be more ready to go.)
Because they've been talking about its ability to connect even when it's "off". This would be new to the Xbox. (The 360 does have the capability to shut down to a "low power mode" to *finish* a download it already started, but once it's off, it's off.)
Or, as I've said, there's a difference between "feature" and "requirement". I'm pretty sure we'll see that the talk and leaks about "always on" are referring to a *feature* (that the console *can* always connect to the internet, download updates, look for content, or whatever the heck else it's supposed to do -- what Fearon calls "always connectable") and not a *requirement* (that the console will refuse to function at all if it is not connected to the internet).
I really think all the kerfuffle is about hearing "always on" and jumping to the conclusion that it's a requirement.
Of course, I've been hopelessly optimistic before. When the facts come out (i.e., when Microsoft officially announces that, yes, they do have a new console), we'll know for sure.