Tag Archives: Microsoft

The Big Three are all about the games at E3 2014

The 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo came and went this week and The Big Three–Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo–were all about games, games, and games. The Xbox maker’s show was literally a lineup of upcoming titles for Xbox One. Sony managed to squeeze some hardware and PSN news into theirs but like MSFT they mainly showcased games for PS4. And Nintendo did what they do best: stand out from the pack with a highly entertaining (not live) “digital event” featuring a fun lineup of games starring their famous mascots.

Jump after the break for the full rundown of games unveiled by The Big Three at this year’s E3. READ MORE The Big Three are all about the games at E3 2014

Xbox One update brings social improvements, Twitch live broadcasting

I told you it was coming and now it’s here: part 2 of Xbox One’s first major system update has arrived. As promised, the update provides improvements to the multiplayer and party systems. You can get to your friends list faster now that the Friends app shows you the list right off the bat when you open it up; to get to the activity feed simply swipe to the right. Also, party chat is turned on by default now so when you invite friends into a party you can get the conversation started immediately. The Friends app has also been updated to feature the missing “recent players” list. Another significant addition to the XB1 is live broadcasting. When the Twitch app gets updated this week, gamers will be able to say “Xbox, broadcast” to stream their gameplay live to other platforms. Twitch also allows you to watch stream from other Xbox One gamers as well as other platforms like PS4 and PCs. Though live broadcasting gameplay was a major feature that shipped with PS4 at its launch, Microsoft may have the upper hand now since their console extends the ability to share and view beyond their own system.

Just like the first update, this new one will automatically download while your console is “Instant On” enabled; if it isn’t you’ll be prompted to download and install it the next time you turn it on. Interestingly, and quite annoyingly, Microsoft is also issuing a firmware update for its Xbox One wireless controllers. Connect your pad to the system via micro-USB and hit start, go to settings, system, update controller. The update open the controller to accepting the Xbox One stereo headset adapter as well as support for 1st and 3rd party headsets.

Click after the break to view the full list of updates packed inside the latest Xbox One update. You’ll also spot a brief video tour of the new update, as well as a first look at Twitch live broadcasting. The Twitch app update enabling this anticipated new XB1 feature goes live this Tuesday, March 11 to coincide with the launch of the even more anticipated XB1 exclusive title Titanfall.

[Via Xbox 1, 2] READ MORE Xbox One update brings social improvements, Twitch live broadcasting

Xbox One receives its first major update with another one on the way

If you flipped on your Xbox One over the weekend then you were privy to the console very first significant update. Though the majority of new improvements are under-the-hood (namely stability and bug fixes), users will notice a few changes in appearance and functionality. A tiny yet welcome addition to the home screen is a battery indicator letting you know how much juice is left in your controller; if you don’t see it simply tap the Xbox button on your pad and it’ll reveal itself. Additionally, the My games & apps section has been updated and organized separating installed games and apps into respective folders. You can now “manage” games and apps; you can view how much space they take up and delete them from you console if you so choose. Also, users can see exactly how much space they have remaining on their HDDs. A download queue is also located inside the My games & apps section; you can pick the order in which you want your content to load from there. Lastly, the One now works with any USB keyboard–browsing with Internet Explorer just got a lot easier. Jump after the break for the full update breakdown.

The update rolled out to Xbox One owners over the weekend. If you have the “Instant On” feature enabled then your console will automatically download the update while it’s in sleep mode. If you turned that feature off then you’ll be prompted to download and install the update the next time you boot up.

Microsoft says this is phase one of a two part update coming to Xbox One. The next update will roll out in March and it promises improvements to the multiplayer and party systems. Stick it here to find out when it drops.

[Via Microsoft 1, 2] READ MORE Xbox One receives its first major update with another one on the way

Microsoft names new CEO Satya Nadella

Bill Gates. Steve Ballmer. Satya Nadella. On February 4 Microsoft appointed its third CEO in its 40+ year history. Under Ballmer’s management, Microsoft couldn’t compete with the likes of Apple and Google on the mobile front (Windows Phone is in a distant third place in terms of adoption rate behind Android and iOS) and Windows 8 could not surge the waning sales of PCs. Additionally, Microsoft’s tablet entry the Surface didn’t make waves when it hit the market; Apple’s iPad and the many Android powered slates continue to dominate the field. So this past summer the enthusiastic Ballmer announced his retirement from the company after 33 years and over a five-month period Microsoft vetted various industry players to take over the coveted top position and in the end Mr. Nadella was named company Chief Executive Officer.

Nadella is no stranger to Microsoft; in fact he’s been with the company since 1992. As Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group he oversaw the company’s move to the cloud and the development of massive cloud infrastructures supporting Bing, Xbox, Office and other services. Nadella, 46, was born in Hyderabad, India; like Bill Gates he has a background in computer science, and like Ballmer he also has a business background.

“During this time of transformation, there is no better person to lead Microsoft than Satya Nadella,” said Gates in a press statement. “Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.”

“Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

In addition to naming Nadella CEO, Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates, previously Chairman of the Board of Directors, will assume “a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and will devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction.”

Jump after the break to watch Gates welcome Nadella as the new CEO and get to know Nadella in a brief interview clip. Click here to learn more about MSFT’s new CEO.

[Via Microsoft] READ MORE Microsoft names new CEO Satya Nadella

Xbox One launches today

Exactly one week after Sony let loose PS4, Microsoft is replacing its aging console with Xbox One. And just like PS4’s release, gamers can expect a Day One patch to get the system working at full capacity and a brand new SmartGlass app for all your Xbox on-the-go and wireless slinging needs. Download the app today at iTunes and Google Play Store. Brush up on the hardware’s launch titles here.

The house that Bill Gates built is pimping their Xbox 360 successor to be the “one” stop destination for all your entertainment needs; for example, with its HDMI IN port you can run your cable box through the console and watch live TV while you’re gaming. It’s all exciting stuff but how will the new Xbox fare against the new PlayStation, a next-gen console that Sony built with hard-core gamers in mind first and entertainment needs later. Time, as they say, will tell.

So what are you waiting for? Jump ahead.

Update: Microsoft confirms that the Xbox One launch “was the biggest launch in Xbox history, with more than one million consoles sold through worldwide in less than 24 hours – surpassing day one Xbox 360 sales and setting a new record for Microsoft.”

“We are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the world,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy at Xbox. “Seeing thousands of excited fans lined up to get their Xbox One and their love for gaming was truly a special moment for everyone on the Xbox team. We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles and look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season.”

Microsoft demonstrates Xbox One user interface ahead of launch

Microsoft has been pretty coy about showing off Xbox One’s user interface…until now, that is. Xbox’s Yusuf Mehdi and Marc Whitten demonstrate the One’s UI and its speedy multitasking prowess in the 12-minute video embedded above.

They mostly demonstrate features we’re already aware of, but seeing truly is believing in this case. Sit down in front of your Xbox One-equipped TV and Kinect will sense your presence, recognize you, and automatically sign you into your Xbox Live account. If your buddy’s with you too, no problem; Xbox will sign both of you in and you can switch between your personalize dashboard and your friend’s simply by saying “Xbox, show my stuff.”

The One’s home screen is pretty straightforward. The middle, main section is called Home and there is the space that shows you your most recent live session, whether that may be a game or an app. To the left of Home is Pins; this is a customizable space where you can pin and save your favorite and most frequently used apps and content for easy access. And to the right of Home is Store; this space is divided into various storefronts such as Games, Movies & TV, Music, and Apps.

Multitasking on Xbox One, or jumping in and out of games and apps, is truly a breeze. In this demo, Yusuf and Marc are playing Forza Motorsport 5. Say “Xbox, go to Netflix” and the system will automatically pause the game and jump into the Netflix app. Say “Xbox, return to Forza Motorsport 5” and you’ll jump back into the game exactly where you had left off. It’s just as easy to switch to Internet Explorer, Hulu Plus, and any other app you might have installed on your console.

Also discussed are the advantages of having your games system tied to your cable box. With the One’s HDMI IN port you can hook your TV feed into the Xbox and browse and watch live TV through the system. So, when you’re watching TV now you receive Xbox notifications and jump directly into a game when an invite is presented. You may also receive a Skype call when you’re watching TV and you just as easily pause your programming to initiate a video chat. Skype on Xbox One boasts a 1080p HD widescreen picture and Kinect will smartly track your movements as you move around your living space during a conversation.

Lastly, two new features of Xbox Live are demonstrated here. With Game DVR, gamers can record their gameplay, edit it and share it with friends via the Upload Studio app. You can even select picture-in-picture mode which will record your gameplay as well as instruct Kinect to record you and your narration as you play. With One Guide, you can browse your TV channel lineup by saying things like “Xbox, what’s on HBO” or “Xbox, what’s on ESPN.” You can also create customized favorites lists within One Guide with your apps; for example you can make it easy to browse Hulu Plus’ latest offerings right inside One Guide without having to jump into the app itself.

Side note: Speaking of digital entertainment apps, Microsoft has announced the full list of said apps that will be available on Xbox One at launch and you’ll find the full list after the break.

But words can only say so much. Hit play and discover just how fast and intuitive the new Xbox really is. Xbox One hits the market in just 12 days on November 22.

Update: Yusuf is back to demo another Xbox One feature not covered in the extensive video above. It’s called Snap and it allows you to “snap” or pin an app to your screen while you’re doing something else. For example, while you’re playing Forza you can say “Xbox, snap Internet Explorer” to pull up the browser  and view a website while you’re playing the game. You can even say “Xbox, snap TV” and you can watch live TV while you’re racing. It’s multitasking for the hyper-active generation. Watch it in action after the break. READ MORE Microsoft demonstrates Xbox One user interface ahead of launch

Sony gets nostalgic with its PlayStation brand over the years

As we near the launch of the next generation of video games, it’s time to get nostalgic. Sony has produced a video that takes gamers all the way back to 1995–the year the original PlayStation was released–and it time travels across the various incarnations of the PS1, PS2, and PS3 all leading up to the present. Well, the near present; PS4 comes out in less than a month on November 15. Relive the magic that is the PlayStation boot screens and their unmistakable bleeps and bloops. You’ve got to admit, this 3+ minute clip hits the spot and it’s hard not to feel all fuzzy and then genuinely pumped for the next console from Sony.

To balance things out, jump after the break to watch Microsoft’s latest ad pimping its next-gen hardware the Xbox One. The focus this time around, thankfully, is on the games. The One hits the market on November 22. READ MORE Sony gets nostalgic with its PlayStation brand over the years

Microsoft intros new Surface tablets

Microsoft is updating its Surface tablets that showcase their redesigned operating system Windows 8. The Surface 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows RT; its 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p, it’s powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, and its battery life promises 10 hours for video playback. Its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 and its front and back-facing cameras have been upped to 3.5-megapixel and 5-megapixel, respectively; both can capture 1080p video and feature improved low-light performance. Preloaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT, the Surface 2 starts at $449 and will come in 32GB and 64GB configurations when it goes on sale October 22. Customers can choose from a black or white coat this time.

The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows Pro; it packs the same 10.6-inch ClearType Full 1080p HD display as the Surface 2 but it’s faster as it’s powered by Intel’s fourth-generation 1.6GHz Core i5 processor. MSFT hypes a 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro thanks to the new processor and other internal enhancements. The device houses three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0, a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and audio in/out. A two-stage kickstand, also featured on the Surface 2, gives users another angle to position their tablet. The Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 and will come in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM when it, too, hits the market October 22.

New Surface owners will get one year of free international calling and Skype hotspot access, along with 200GB of SkyDrive storage that is free for two years.

The new tablets will sell alongside some new accessories. The Touch ($119.99) and Type ($129.99) Covers are getting updated with thinner and light-weight designs. A new Power Cover ($199.99, coming in early 2014), which features a Type Cover experience, will extend your Surface’s battery life by up to 50 percent. A Docking Station for Surface Pro ($199.99, also coming early next year) will allow owners to easily connect desktop peripherals to their tablets, “taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant.” A Music Cover gives amateur DJs a new way to dive into the art of music making and remixing; release date and price is still TBA on this one.

Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the new Surface tablets and accessories.

[Via Microsoft]

Xbox One will release on…

At last, Microsoft has revealed the launch date of their next-gen video game console. Xbox One will release on November 22, 2013 at $499. That is exactly one week after Sony drops PS4 on November 15 at $399, if you’re keeping score. On the 22nd, the One will launch in 13 markets: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA. More countries will follow in 2014.

In addition to announcing the date, Microsoft says the system is in full production and ready for showtime. Gamers will be happy to know that it will feature an improved clock speed for enhanced performance. Specifically, the CPU has jumped from the previously announced 1.6GHz speed to 1.75GHz marking roughly a 10 percent increase in CPU performance. And in case you didn’t know, the GPU’s speed was also increased  by 6 percent. Watch Xbox’s Xbox’s Yusuf Mehdi discuss the news in a video posted after the break.

Now the countdown for next-gen can truly begin.

[Via Xbox] READ MORE Xbox One will release on…

Microsoft casts a bigger net around Nokia, acquires its business and patents

In 2011, Microsoft and Nokia entered into a “strategic alliance” that formally made Windows Phone Nokia’s “principal smartphone strategy.” Two years later, Microsoft is acquiring “substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.” MSFT is ponying up 5.44 billion euros (or $7.2 billion) to gobble up virtually all that is Nokia: 3.79 billion euros ($4.99 billion) grants Microsoft Nokia’s business and another 1.65 billion euros ($2.18 billion) allows the Windows company access to Nokia’s patents.

Says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured above, left): “It’s a bold step into the future – a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft’s share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services. In addition to their innovation and strength in phones at all price points, Nokia brings proven capability and talent in critical areas such as hardware design and engineering, supply chain and manufacturing management, and hardware sales, marketing and distribution.”

It makes sense–Nokia has been hard at work pushing the Windows Phone mobile OS with their lineup of Lumia smartphones. Once this acquisition completes (it’s expected to sometime in 2014) their strategic alliance will grow into a full-blown marriage and the synergy between the two companies should result in a more streamlined product and services lineup.

Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop (pictured above, right) has stepped down from his post and is currently being vetted to take over as Microsoft’s head honcho when Ballmer exits next year.

[Via Engadget 1, 2; Nokia]

Gamescom 2013: Xbox One & PS4 launch titles revealed

This week Cologne, Germany played host to Gamescom, one of the largest video games trade shows in the world. With next-gen systems in the pipeline, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Microsoft and Sony had a major presence at the show. Since the console makers already revealed their hardware at E3 in June, Gamescom was all about the, ahem, games.

Microsoft officially unveiled Xbox One’s launch lineup. As of August 19, there are 50 announced titles coming to Xbox One, 23 of which are hitting the marketplace day-and-date with the console’s holiday season release. Click those provided links to scan the lists, or simply jump after the break to do so. In addition to revealing the One’s games, Microsoft also spent time hyping its ID@Xbox initiative, or Independent Developers @ Xbox. Simply put, Microsoft is committed to helping indie devs achieve their goals of making games for Xbox One and it is striving to make the process as quick and streamlined as possible by making powerful tools and services available.

While Microsoft wasn’t ready to nail down the Xbox One’s release date, Sony upstaged them (again) by announcing that the PlayStation 4 will drop on November 15, 2013 in North America and on November 29 in Europe and Latin America. In terms of games, Sony isn’t saying which ones will launch alongside the console but it promises that 33 games will release before the end of the year, 18 of which are digital-download titles only. A grand total of 180 games are currently in development for the PS4. Jump after the break to see the launch window lineup. Sony also expressed its commitment to fostering indie devs by titles like FEZ (Polytron Corporation), Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door Games), and Supermagical (Tama Games). Also, Twitch is coming to PS4 to serve as another way for gamers to live stream their gameplay in addition to Ustream; and movies are in the works based on Digital Polyphony’s Gran Turismo franchise and Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch Dogs (see in-game pic above). Elsewhere, the PS Vita is getting a $50 price drop to $199 and the portable’s memory cards are falling in price as well. Over 25 new games are coming to Vita over the next 12 months.

Now since Gamescon is based on Europe, Microsoft and Sony made some exciting announcements for that far-away land. For example, MSFT says all pre-ordered consoles will ship with a free copy of FIFA 2014 because we all know how much Europeans enjoy their “football.” And on Sony’s end, “Magma Red” and “Wave Blue” color variants of the DualShock 4 controller will ship first in Europe and Latin America before eventually making their way to the States later this year.

The last piece of the next-gen puzzle is the Xbox One’s release date. As we await word from Microsoft, kick back and browse the launch lineups for the One and PS4 after the break! READ MORE Gamescom 2013: Xbox One & PS4 launch titles revealed

Steve Ballmer to retire from Microsoft after 33 years with the company

When Bill Gates stepped away from Microsoft in 2000 to pursue his humanitarian efforts, Steve Ballmer took over as CEO of the company. Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as the tech company’s 30th employee. In a letter sent to all Microsoft employees titled Moving forward, Ballmer eloquently writes, “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.” Though Ballmer’s reign oversaw the widely maligned OS known as Windows Vista and the choppy launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone, he notes that he is proud of what the company has achieved during his tenure. “We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way.” There is no arguing that. Not at all.

As Microsoft is starting to transition into a devices and services company, Ballmer understands that new leadership with a fresh set of eyes is best for the Windows maker to move forward successfully. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Ballmer is set to retire within 12 months. Official MSFT PR and his letter to employees rest after the break. READ MORE Steve Ballmer to retire from Microsoft after 33 years with the company