Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft issues a service alert for Xbox Live

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

(Gamespot) – It appears as if Sony isn’t the only one with a malfunctioning online store for its games console today. Microsoft has issued a service alert for Xbox 360 and PC gamers indicating that the Xbox Live Marketplace, Games for Windows – Live Marketplace, and Indie Games channel are all suffering technical difficulties.

“We are aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience,” the company said in a message posted to its Xbox Support page. Other aspects of Xbox Live, including online matchmaking and login services, continue to function as intended.

GameSpot’s own attempts to access content have yielded mixed results. An attempt to download content from the Xbox Live Marketplace was successful. However, the same cannot be said for Xbox.com, where attempts to access the Xbox Live Marketplace largely returned page-load errors.

Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot’s request for comment on the matter as of press time. Likewise, the company has yet to indicate the cause of the service interruption, or when gamers can expect Xbox Live connectivity to return to normal working condition.

Hulu Plus gets a date with Xbox Live

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

(Gamespot) – Though the Royal Wedding in the UK will dominate the airwaves on April 29, the day will also mark another significant event in the television realm. Following several days of rumors, Microsoft has confirmed that Hulu Plus will launch on Xbox Live starting tomorrow.

To use Hulu Plus, gamers must be Xbox Live Gold members, at a cost of $60 a year, and also subscribe to Hulu Plus, which costs $10 per month. The service allows users to stream shows and select films from a range of networks, including NBC, Fox, ABC, FX, PBS, Bravo, SyFy, and the Sundance Channel. The free version of Hulu, available on PCs, only lets players watch the most recent episodes of select shows gratis.

Hulu Plus joins such other services as Netflix and ESPN on Xbox Live, along with the Zune video marketplace, which allows for high-definition streaming of films and TV shows. Last November, Hulu Plus became available on the PlayStation Network, where it is accessible at no additional charge from Sony.

The Wii on the Way Out & Another to Take Its Place?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Over the last week, the Wii has been rumored to be heading on its way off the market. With all of the major first-party titles released on the Wii, this wouldn’t shock me. What shocks me is how quickly it might be moving out. Could Project Cafe be here by the holiday 2011 or early 2012?

Last week according to CVG, a trusted source has said that Nintendo will cut the price of the Wii to May 15. With this announcement, Best Buy responded online by lowering the price temporarily to $169.99.Of course, Nintendo dodged the question when Nintendo of America’s President Reggie Fils-Aime replied to a few questions from CVG:

(more…)

Kinect technology creates your own 3D action figure

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Be Your Own Souvenir! from blablabLAB on Vimeo.

This “Be Your Own Souvenir!” was a project run in January in the Catalan capital that let people do their best super pose and have a 3D printer recreate their likeness into a small little figure.

The computer takes pictures with three Kinect cameras while plugged into a network of programs that could take the person’s image in 3D, convert it into the necessary code and then have the 3D printer spit you out as your limited action figure.

I would want to get myself done in a regular “cool guy” version, a limited “I was riding on the back of a girl and fell and broke my femur” version, and the ultra rare “drunk as a skunk with my pants on the ground” version.

Attend any of our BG functions and you could get to see one of these three in person. No really.

[Source]

Nintendo says “NO” to NES Phone

Monday, April 4th, 2011

That's a big 'Nintend-No' to a NES Phone.

(CNN) – Playing Super Mario on a Nintendo phone will remain a pipe dream.

Although Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo’s rivals among the “Big Three” gaming companies, have branched into mobile phone development, Nintendo isn’t planning to build a phone or license its games for third-party software platforms, executives for the Japanese company said in interviews.

Instead, the video-game giant is continuing to focus on machines dedicated to entertainment.

“We have no desire to get into telephony,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said. “We believe that we will earn our way into someone’s pocket without having to offer that (phone capability) as an additional factor.”

Nintendo isn’t completely discounting the idea, but the high costs involved in cellular carrier partnerships are a roadblock, said Hideki Konno, a top Nintendo producer.

“It’s not that I’m uninterested,” Konno said through a translator. “However, I look at the business model, and I see so many additional costs that come into play.” Splitting revenue with cell operators would affect the retail price of games, he said.

“Would we increase the price of the software itself?” Konno asked. “The distribution couldn’t be free.”

On March 25, Nintendo released the 3DS, the first mainstream gadget available that can show 3-D graphics without the need for special glasses. Games cost about $40, compared with the free and inexpensive applications available for phones. In addition to games, the 3DS also is designed to be able to download movies or stream them via Netflix.

[Full article at CNN.com]

Ready to ‘Wipeout’ on the Kinect?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Try this from your futon.

Try this from your futon.

(Gamespot) – For many Kinect games, the ability to sidestep self-consciousness is one of the hardest parts to master. However, making a fool of oneself is the primary draw for Activision’s latest Kinect title, as the publisher announced today that it has teamed with ABC to bring the face-plant-prone reality show Wipeout to the Xbox 360 this summer.

Wipeout in the Zone mimics the absurd obstacle courses of its TV inspiration, and players will be challenged with working their way through the show’s challenges by running, ducking, and dodging. Of course, failure is an inevitable and frequent outcome, and players will be treated to visuals of their inglorious digital destruction.

Players will be challenged by more than 30 obstacles, which can be undertaken in one shot or as individual events. Obstacles explicitly called out today include Big Balls and the Smack Wall Sweeper. The game will also include audio commentary from the show’s hosts: John Anderson, John Henson, and Jill Wagner.

Microsoft, just say you messed up and move on

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

If you have one of these, it's possible you haven't been making many calls on it

On Monday, there were reports of “bricked” Samsung Windows phones due to a patch Microsoft had released. As you can imagine, this was not a stellar beginning for Microsoft considering this was the first ever patch they had released for the devices.

Instead of owning up to the “oops”, Microsoft has chosen instead to point out that it was only 10% of users that were affected by the glitch. Considering that back in December Microsoft announced that 1.5 million phones had launched in the first six weeks, that’s 150,000 users potentially affected by the glitch. Maybe that’s a “small number” in some circles but to me, it’s still a significant amount of people you’ve dismissed by saying only a “small percentage” was affected.

Microsoft’s track record with accepting blame hasn’t exactly been stellar. We’ve seen them dump blame on others when it comes to Internet Explorer problems. We’ve seen them dodge the question about whether or not Bing is mining data from Google. They’ve never gone so far as to say, “you’re holding it wrong” but I think they’ve come right up to that line and then backed off a little.

Here’s the thing… I think as a virtual whole, users are tired of big businesses minimizing or trivializing their mistakes when it causes issues with devices or software they’ve purchased. There was a time not so long ago when product stability overrode the incessant need to profit by launching an incomplete product. There was a time when quality meant something and companies went the extra mile to make sure the product they were launching was tested thoroughly before it ever saw the light of day.

I’ve heard the arguments that postponing a launch can cost a company millions. I’ve heard the arguments that the longer a product is tested, the more opportunity there is for corporate espionage. And I say to all of those companies… YOU’RE doing it wrong.

I’m going to give an example of someone who does things right… or as close to right as one can get when dealing with technology or software. Blizzard Entertainment has an amazing record when it comes to keeping a product secret and then turning around and launching a product that very rarely fails when taken out of the box.

How they do it is something of a mystery and perhaps we’re better off not knowing.

That’s not to say Blizzard doesn’t have its own mishaps. There have been times in the past when a patch has essentially made a game unplayable for a portion of their playerbase. When it does happen, however, Blizzard doesn’t trivialize their own fault. They admit it, they own it, the ‘fess up to it. When World of Warcraft was first launched and there were issues with patches that made the game unplayable, they gave me free subscription time. In one case, the game was unplayable for several hours and I was surprised to find they had added three free days to my subscription. Along with their apology, they’d given me something for free without hemming and hawing about it.

That’s rare in this day and age when it takes weeks and sometimes even months for companies to admit their fault and actually do something about it.

My advice to Microsoft is to stop pushing blame off on other parties or issuing statements saying that only a “small percentage” of users were affected.

Own up to the mistake. I, for one, will be much more forgiving the next time it happens.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

PC ‘Kinect’ open source driver gets okayed.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Guess you had to have been there...

(Gamestop) – Two weeks ago, an industrious software engineer created open-source drivers which allowed the Kinect camera to be used with a PC. At the time, Microsoft responded with some legal saber-rattling, saying that it would “work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.”

Soon thereafter, Microsoft denied that what the engineer did constituted hacking the Kinect at all. That sentiment was echoed on the Science Friday edition of Talk of the Nation by Alex Kipman, director of incubation for Xbox at Microsoft.

“The first thing to talk about is Kinect was not actually hacked,” explained Kipman. “Hacking would mean that someone got to our algorithms that sit on the side of the Xbox and was able to actually use them, which hasn’t happened. Or it means that you put a device between the sensor and the Xbox for means of cheating, which also has not happened. That’s what we call hacking, and that’s why we have put a ton of work and effort to make sure it doesn’t actually occur.”

He continued, “What has happened is someone wrote an open-source driver for PCs that essentially opens the USB connection, which we didn’t protect by design, and reads the inputs from the sensor. The sensor again, as I talked earlier, has eyes and ears and that’s a whole bunch of, you know, noise that someone needs to take and turn into signal.”

When asked if anyone would “get in trouble” for writing such code or finding other uses for the Kinect camera, Kipman had a direct answer: “Nope. Absolutely not.” Indeed, Microsoft Game Studios’ studio manager Shannon Loftis was effusive in her praise of those who had taken Kinect into their own hands for non-gaming applications. One such application saw an MIT grad student hooking up a Kinect to a Roomba-like iRobot that could follow hand commands and scan rooms.

“I’m very excited to see that people are so inspired that it was less than a week after the Kinect came out before they had started creating and thinking about what they could do,” she said.

Xbox Live Update gets ESPN on demand

Monday, November 1st, 2010

New Xbox Live UI installs today!

(Gamespot) – The update brings a new look to the Xbox 360′s dashboard and adds new features and functionality for existing items. The dashboard still utilizes the same panel orientation that was first implemented with the New Xbox Experience from 2008, but its colors have been changed.

Further, Xbox Live members in the United States can now view ESPN programming via their Xbox 360s. Xbox Live Gold subscribers will have access to upwards of 3,500 HD-broadcasted sporting events throughout the year, as well as the ability to chat with friends during matches.

Xbox Live gamers spend over 1 billion hours on Xbox Live per month, and now all users will be able to hear each other with better clarity, thanks to improvements made to the service’s voice chat audio codec.

For the movie and television fan, the Netflix application for the Xbox 360 has been reworked with the new update. Now, users will be able to search for programs via the dashboard application, instead of having to add them at Netflix.com.

For the full list of changes and updates bundled with the fall update, check out Major Nelson’s blog.

Why we want (and need) the new Windows Phones to succeed

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

One of LG's initial offerings to the WP7 launch

I’m willing to bet that most our visitors out there own either an iPhone or one of the various Android phones on the market.  I’m also willing to bet that you’re already a fan of one or the other and wouldn’t consider changing to the other end of the spectrum.  But those of you who have swapped between the devices might notice a trend.

When the iPhone launched, I think we can all agree it considerably upped the ante in the smartphone market.  The same thing happened when the first few iterations of the Android mobile phones launched.  The trend some of you might be seeing is that there’s been a leveling out of the innovations that were coming out so fast and furious in the beginning from Apple and Google.  After all, in the consumer market, it’s quickly becoming only the two of them duking it out and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to mess around on the iPhone and then immediately after had access to an Android phone, I think you’ll agree that the race to innovate has quickly become one of who can do existing features better.

They are, of course, the major players in the market.  Some would argue that Nokia’s Symbian stands a chance (and the numbers might support the argument) but with the market share Apple and Google have managed to grab up in such a very short amount of time, the trend appears to indicate otherwise.  They’ve made their points, lines have been drawn in the sand, and each has their staunch supporters.  Lately, however, the experience of the two operating systems have began to take on similarities.  That isn’t to say that each isn’t still moving in their own direction but that each tends to see something the other can do and decides to add the functionality without making too many changes.  A case of “monkey see, monkey do”, if you will.

It’s my firm hope, and belief, that with the launch of the Microsoft Windows Phones that we may be looking at a much needed change.

Many would argue that Microsoft missed their chance in the smart phone market but looking at the offerings that will be available on November 8th and the functionality they provide, it may be too early to count them out just yet.  Incorporating aspects of the Xbox Live experience, a music service that is getting a lot more attention and respect, and a solid hardware platform, Microsoft might not only be getting a second shot at the much coveted business in the smart phone market but offering new opportunities for users who are feeling as if they’ve “been there, done that”.

I, for one, am willing to forgive and forget the fiasco that was the Kin and see what Microsoft has up its sleeve when the phones begin to hit the market in November.  I just hope they don’t pull the same marketing “oops” as they did with their last ill-fated offering.

Gritskrieg – End of Line










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