Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Gears of War 3 Delayed to Fall 2011

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Last week, Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios announced that the end of the Gears trilogy was to be delayed from the spring of next year to the holiday season. While this decision has been called a ‘business’ move, the question obviously appears; Why? Why would Gears of War 3 first be coming out during the spring instead of the fall as the previous titles in the franchise have arrived during the holiday season for the Xbox 360? Was there a major unannounced title that has been canceled? Unfortunately, there is no ‘real’ answer for the public at this time other than this short quote from a Microsoft spokesman: “Gears of War 3 promises to be the biggest entertainment launch of 2011. The teams at Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games have done great work thus far readying the title for release in the Spring of 2011. However, we’ve elected to move the launch of Gears of War 3 until Fall 2011 to make it the marquee title for the holiday season.”

The real question now is when will Gears 3 be released. Both Gears of War 1 and Gears of War 2 were released on November 7th of their respective release years. The likely answer is that it will release November 7th, 2010. After Gears 3, it seemed like the series will be ending but this isn’t true. In February 2009, Greg Miller of IGN caught a quote from Gears writer Joshua Ortega talking about a prequel to Emergence Day. ”You will not be disappointed in the next ten years. It’s a ten-year plan. Gears is long-term. The lancer is the new lightsaber.” Let’s just hope that Gears doesn’t turn into the next ‘Star Wars video game franchise’. Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, Gears style? No thank you!

Microsoft wants to bury the iPhone this month

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Just a hunch, but I'm sure iPhone has more HP's.

(Reuters) – Last month, a few hundred Microsoft Corp employees acted out their fantasy with a mock funeral for Apple Inc’s iPhone at its Redmond, Washington campus.

The bizarre gathering, which morphed into a spirited Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance routine, marked the completion of its Windows Phone 7 software, and showed how badly Microsoft wants to resurrect itself in the viciously competitive phone market.

The new software, which will be publicly unveiled on October 11 and expected on handsets in stores by November, is Microsoft’s last chance, some analysts say, to catch up with Apple and Google Inc’s Android smartphones, after squandering its strong market position in only a few years.

A group of smartphone manufacturers including Samsung and HTC Corp are expected to roll out Microsoft-based phones for the holiday season.

Whether they will be good enough to render the iPhone obsolete is the question.

“The product can’t be an also-ran that just does everything that is already out in the marketplace,” said Bryan Keane, an analyst for Alpine Mutual Funds, which holds Microsoft shares. “Right now, it isn’t apparent that Windows 7 is better than anything that’s out there, except that it might have a better tie-in to the actual Windows platform.”

By the admission of Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, the company “missed a generation” with Windows Mobile, its last phone operating system, which floundered while the iPhone and Android roared past with sumptuous touch screens and a host of new applications.

Microsoft is now fourth in the fast-growing U.S. market for smartphone operating systems with a share of less than 12 percent, according to research firm comScore, behind BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd, Apple and Google.

Xbox Live Price Increase

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Xbox Live subscription rises!

(Kotaku) – Xbox Live Gold subscribers might want to renew before November 1, when the price of a yearly subscription to the service jumps $10 in North America.

According to a post on Major Nelson’s blog, after eight years’ of Xbox Live at the $50 a year price point, the service is finally seeing a price hike. Starting on November 1, a year Gold subscription to Xbox Live will run $59.99, versus the current price of $49.99. One month subscriptions will jump from $7.99 to $9.99, while three month subs will rise from $19.99 to $24.99.

Other regions will be seeing increases as well. In the UK the price of one month will jump from 4.99 GPB to 5.99 GPB. The price of a month in Canada rises a dollar to $9.99. Finally, a year subscription in Mexico rises from 499 to 599 pesos.

Microsoft is running a special deal right now for North American U.S. customers, allowing them to lock in a year at $39.99, $20 less than the new rate. For details, visit the deal website.

Jesse Divnich with industry analyst EEDAR sent out a statement accompanying the news, insuring consumers that $60 is still “an incredible value.”

“When originally launched in 2002, a Gold subscription cost the same as an AAA video game, $49.99. When taking into account for inflation ($50 in 2002 is roughly $60 in 2010) and the additional services available to Gold subscribers in 2010, such as ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Last.fm and Video Kinect, a $10 price increase still represents an incredible value to consumers”

Halo : Leaks

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

(Kotaku.com) – As leaked copies of Halo: Reach hit the torrent sites, Microsoft tells Kotaku that they are aggressively investigating the leak and are fully prepared to hand out bans to anyone caught playing the game pre-release.

It happens every time a big game comes out, but when it’s a game as big as Bungie’s final Halo title, Microsoft sits up and takes notice. Released on the internet far in advance of its September 14 street date, a Microsoft representative tells Kotaku that the source of the leak is under investigation.

“We are aware that an unauthorized copy of “Halo: Reach” has leaked. We are aggressively investigating the matter. We have no further details to share at this time.”

So where does that leave folks who can’t resist the lure of early Halo: Reach? Even if you have every intention of picking up a retail copy, we’d suggest you wait, lest Microsoft come after you.

“We are aggressively pursuing the violators. Microsoft’s commitment to combat piracy and support safer and more secure gameplay for the 25 million members of the Xbox LIVE community remains a top priority. All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and modifying their Xbox 360 console violates the Xbox LIVE terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox LIVE.”

Get Kinect-ed.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

(Reuters) – Microsoft will sell its new Kinect motion-sensing gaming system for about $150 and also offer it in a package with the Xbox 360 videogame console when sales of the hands-free device start in November, the company said on Tuesday.

The price, omitted by Microsoft when it introduced Kinect at the E3 videogame conference in June, matches the preorder price that retailers such as Best Buy, GameStop and Amazon.com posted online weeks ago.

Kinect sales start on November 4, and Microsoft is sure to aim its marketing message at the owners of the more than 40 million Xbox 360 models that have already been sold. The sensor hardware will include a game, called “Kinect Adventures.”

Kinect’s camera-based system lets players control games with body and hand gestures and is seen as a means to spark sales momentum into the Xbox platform before the holiday season. The hopes are that it will lure new and casual players to the Xbox and steal customers from the rival Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3.

It remains to be seen if cost-conscious consumers and game fans, many of whom have already bought one or more of the consoles, will warm to the idea of spending hundreds more on new hardware, and Kinect-specific software that will cost about $50.

Will Apple fall down, go boom?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

UPDATE – FRIDAY 7/16/10 1:30PM CDT:
The Press Conference is over. The proximity sensor issue will be a software fix but no questions and no answers about the problem with the WiFi antenna on the iPhone 3 and 3GS being disabled when upgrading to iOS 4.

The overall feeling from this has been that there is going to be just enough done for damage control. Since they don’t actually admit there’s a problem, I think we’re supposed to see the free cases as a boon from our Overlords at Apple. It seems even that effort is condescending when supposedly no problem but Apple just wants to make sure its “customers are happy”.

Overall, I’m disappointed in the response. There was a lot of finger pointing, a lot of chest puffing, and a lot of calling out specific blogs and news outlets as being liars and posting inflammatory information. There’s some good news in all of it for people who have problems with the “death grip” but overall I’m left with the feeling that we’ve been given a piece of candy because we held our breath till we turned blue…

UPDATE – FRIDAY 7/16/10 1:20PM CDT: Jobs reiterated several times that every smartphone has “antenna problems” when held without a case and managed to sidestep the question of whether an apology is due to the customers who bought phones on day one. There’s no apology here, no admission that there was something wrong with the phone, no recollection of any data that came up before the release that would have shown there was a problem with the antenna, and a lot of finger pointing at other manufacturers that have the same issue but just aren’t as “popular” as the new iPhone.  Over all, Jobs is coming off somewhat jerk-ish, posing the issues and stories that have arisen since launch day as “over reacting” and, in some cases, completely false.

Oh, and he didn’t fail to get his jab in at Gizmodo saying that sometimes “a website buys a stolen phone” in reference to why details about the device weren’t released to phone case manufacturers before the launch. He’s essentially saying that if they release details about a new product that people will stop buying older products… Sorry, but that rates a “Well, DUH!” from me.

UPDATE – Friday 7/16/10 12:50PM CDT: The Apple Press Conference is ongoing and the news is that Apple will be providing free cases to essentially anyone who asks for them.  iPhone users will be able to request the cases online late next week and the offer is good until September 30th.  They’re also waiving the restocking fees for anyone who wants to return the device if the “case solution” isn’t acceptable. Jobs has also stated that AT&T will be resetting contracts and fully refunding payments for any plans involving a contract that was started on an iPhone 4 when the device is returned.

The thing is, Jobs is admitting there’s a problem with the phone’s antenna without saying there’s a problem. He’s basically saying that there’s a problem with signal strength on every smartphone on the market when it’s gripped a certain way (based on which phone you’re talking about) but that the reason this has gotten so much attention is because the iPhone 4 sold so many units in so short a time. At least that’s what I’m getting out of his speech.  But it’s worth noting that Apple’s stock price has risen since the beginning of this news conference.

To the bottomless pit!!!

Original Post: Steve Jobs and Apple are taking a beating in the public opinion. The iPhone 4’s antenna issue has been getting a lot of press, which alone would be enough to tarnish a public image, but there’s been talk of the issues with the proximity sensor on the new device where it can either turn off the phone when a user puts the phone to their face (resulting in the call being lost) or inadvertently place the phone into speakerphone mode when the screen touches the user’s ear. And now reports are coming out that iOS 4 is causing issues with the WiFi radios on the iPhone 3 and 3GS causing them to become non-functional even when the software is rolled back to a prior version.

This is beginning to play out like a publicity nightmare for Apple. Not that it’s an oil spill in the Gulf doing billions of dollars worth of damage and with the potential to destroy an ecosystem but Apple is going to have to do some major damage control to keep their fanbase intact. There are too many things going on to continue saying, “You’re holding it wrong” or “It’s a software problem”. And by pointing out that there was a software glitch that made the phones “overestimate” signal strength and that the signal was actually weaker in most of the phones than what was shown on the screen’s bars seemed all too much like Apple was willing to point a finger at AT&T’s oft scorned network for the “death grip” issue.

Apple’s stock is beginning to be hit by the consumer doubts. Again, not as hard as say BP’s stock because of the “little” problem in the Gulf but it’s been driven down by the conceived unwillingness of Apple to fix the problem. Yeah, it’s only down 14 dollars in 3 days but the issue here would appear to be even investors are losing confidence in Apple’s previously sterling reputation.

Add to this that Apple has flatly denied a design flaw, refused to replace defective devices, and essentially created the majority of the bad press with their refusal to admit that there actually is a problem and it’s easier to understand why some of the company’s diehard fans are beginning to criticize Steve and Co.

Even some of the fanboys are jumping ship. Staunch defenders of Steve Jobs and Apple’s products are saying they’re finally fed up and are returning the phone. In some cases, they’re doing it until the issues are cleared up while in others, the new shiny Android run phones are beginning to find their ways into the lives of those who up until recently lived and died by their reliance and support of Apple products.

Rumors have circulated that a “silent recall” is in the works. Individuals who have gone to the stores to replace their device (claiming other issues because saying they have the “death grip” problem gets them nothing) have stated that the new device worked perfectly, suggesting that Apple may be quietly replacing the flawed devices with models that do not have the flaw.

So it’s no surprise that Apple has announced a press conference scheduled for tomorrow to address the recent issues and concerns investors, fans, and consumers have with the rash of problems that have been plaguing Apple recently.

Industry analysts are assuming that one of two things will happen in tomorrow’s press conference. That Apple will recall all of the initially released devices or will be providing free “bumper” cases which have been shown to alleviate the issue. The recall is less likely as there have been three million of the devices sold but may, in the long run, be the best way to repair an image which is now tarnished. The bumper cases seem more likely but free or not, many customers are bound to feel that this is merely a band aid to a problem that may rear its head again somewhere down the line.

"I promise when I take over the world, I won't hold it wrong..."

Regardless of what is said in tomorrow’s press conference, it’s hard to understand why it’s taken Apple so long to react to the problem. Of course when the issues make an appearance on David Letterman and Consumer Reports independently confirm the antenna problem in a controlled environment, it’s possible Apple may have been planning on staying mum on the whole affair before it got so much attention.

It’s hard to believe that a company that started off so strong nearly went under back in 1997. Harder to believe that a $150 million investment from Microsoft would be the turning point and that 13 years later, Apple would be challenging Microsoft for technological and financial dominance. And even harder to believe is that Apple would start getting press as becoming as bad as Microsoft in terms of customer service and the threat of a monopoly. And then a Microsoft executive comes around and compares your new phone to one of the worst fiascos in OS history (yes, Vista). Yikes.

Tomorrow, we’ll see if Apple will return to the humble, yet powerful, force it has always been or if it will continue to take the path of most giants. The bigger they are…

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Microsoft set to launch “Xbox Live Gold Family” subscription in November

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Xbox Live for the whole family! Who needs a dinner table to bond?

You know how it is… One person in the house has an Xbox Live subscription but you have multiple gamers in the house. You sit down and make profiles for everyone but it has to be that one login to be able to play online or download content which generally means you’re stuck like Chuck if you have a saved game on a local profile that you’d like to be able to access or want to be able to import your Gamertag at a friend’s house to play online.

There’s always been a demand for some sort of Family packaging so that one household can have multiple logins without having to pay $49.99 for each individual and now it would appear Microsoft has taken notice.

The official announcement lists that the Xbox Live Gold Family subscription will be available for $99.99 come November. It will allow up to four separate Gamertags for the once price. One of the Gamertags will serve as a “master” login meaning that only the “master” login will be billed for DLC or additional paid features. It will also allow the master account access to the new Family Center feature which will the main account holder to monitor the play activities of the three additional accounts as well as dividing and managing Microsoft Points amongst the others.

That might be enough for most people but there’s an added bonus: Once you’ve created the accounts on the primary account holder’s Xbox, you can then import them to other Xboxs. The only caveat is that the accounts have to remain within the same country as the primary account.

Personally, there won’t be much use for this Family account but when you boil it down, you and three friends can get your Xbox Live Gold subscription for $25 apiece… And that’s saying something for the guys down at Microsoft.

I can see a few drawbacks to the idea but until there’s some real facts in regards to those concerns, they may not even be a concern with the final product.

So there, we’ve given you an idea what to get your family for Christmas. You’re welcome.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Project Natal moves into your living room in October

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

(Gamespot) – Since Project Natal was revealed at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft has been largely silent about it. Other than announcing the camera-based motion-sensing system would have a “world premiere” on Sunday, June 13–the day before Microsoft’s press briefing at this year’s E3, the Xbox 360 maker has only divulged it will ship this “holiday” season.

Apparently Microsoft considers Halloween a holiday, as an executive from the company has revealed Project Natal will launch worldwide in October. In an interview on Saudi Arabian state television’s Channel 2 captured last night by GamerTag Radio, the marketing manager of Microsoft Saudi’s Entertainment and Devices division, Syed Bilal Tariq, narrowed the launch date of the system.

“Project Natal will be launched in Saudi Arabia on the same date it will be launched in the world,” said Tariq. “That is going to be somewhere [sic] in October. We will be in a position to confirm the date after E3, which is in June. But definitely the date is going to be in October 2010.”

US Microsoft reps were less forthcoming than their Saudi counterparts, saying only, “As we confirmed earlier this year, Project Natal will launch this holiday. We have no further details to share at this time.”

Since Natal’s unveiling, Microsoft has been keen to play up the potential of the controller-free system while not talking about the games that use it. So far, the company has only revealed the virtual boy Milo, the role-playing game Fable III, the dodgeball game Ricochet, and an art game called Paint Party. Following a Los Angeles press event, screenwriter James Gunn (Slither, Dawn of the Dead) also let slip that boxing, football, and whitewater-rafting simulation games were in development for the system. Workout and yoga games are also rumored.

Xbox Live may get exclusive channel

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

(Gamespot) – When news of Conan O’Brien’s shock deal with TBS surfaced last week, it was accompanied by reports that the flame-haired comedian might have hosted a show on Xbox Live. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft has been considering a dedicated television channel for the online game service.

According to the business newswire’s sources, Microsoft has been in discussions with former News Corp. president Peter Chernin to create a channel exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members, who pay an $8 monthly, $20 tri-monthly, or $50 annual fee. To pay for programming and transmission costs, Chernin proposed hiking XBL Gold subscriptions $1-2 a month, or $12-24 more a year.

The Xbox Live TV channel would reportedly be co-owned by Chernin and Microsoft and would feature both reruns and original shows. Both would cater to the tastes of the “online service’s young, male target audience,” according to Bloomberg’s sources. To that end, Chernin apparently approached O’Brien about hosting a show on Xbox Live, although the discussions (obviously) fell through.

Microsoft Windows 7 Phone To Stream Netflix

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The Microsoft Windows 7 Phone will be hoisting quite a few slick features it looks like from it’s debut at GDC2010. In addition to all of the current popular ‘smartphone features’, expect to see a loaded app store, a menu driven comic book reader (What’s up Disney-Marvel?), tons of games, watch live sporting events, and the power to view your Netflix que on demand. That is quite a feature for all the Netflix addicts out there.

Why this is not on the iPhone yet? We cannot say – but if the phone carriers can support the bandwidth for Microsoft, Apple’s AT&T should not be that far behind. Check out the prototype video from GDC over at Kotaku.com, its pretty kick ass.










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