Microsoft's first quarter numbers are in, and the Redmond giant made a killing. Profits were up 51% over last year according to Seattle PI. This is pretty great for a company that has more or less been treading water for the last few years. The market tends to only reward growth, which has been bad for Microsoft. After the announcement, Microsoft shares rose a percent, which is something at least.
"This was an exceptional quarter combining solid enterprise growth and continue strong consumer demand for Office 2010, Windows 7 and Xbox 360," said Microsoft CFO Peter Klein. Microsoft's sales were up 25% from just one year ago, but part of that gain is from deferred revenue ahead of the Windows 7 launch last year. Most divisions turned a profit for Microsoft, even the Entertainment and Devices unit managed a $382 million profit. Many commentators are quick to dismiss Microsoft, but they are clearly still humming along.
Stephen McGill, the head honcho of Microsoft Xbox in the UK, said in a recent interview with Xbox 360 Achievements that the Blu-ray format is not long for this world. He was asked if he feels the DVD format will ultimately shorten the Xbox 360's lifespan rather than adopt Blu-ray and buy a bit of extra time.
"I think people may have spoken about that originally, but that's long gone," McGill said. "I think people now recognize what a smart decision it was to keep the pricing low, and actually Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"
McGills isn't really saying anything new from the Microsoft camp, which previously was banking on HD-DVD winning the HD format war. Back in 2005, Bill Gates delcared that Blu-ray would be the end of the road for physical media.
"Understand that [Blu-ray] is th last physical format there will ever be," Gates said. "Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk."
A desktop is more than just a computer. It’s also your entertainment center, eager and willing to provide you with endless hours of gaming, movies and music. As time goes on, it has become more and more common to see PC’s synched to TVs as people are beginning to see the advantages of having easy, living room-wide entertainment powered by their computers. I don’t even own a monitor (or a desk for that matter)--my desk-less desktop computer is hooked up to a Panasonic HD TV hanging on my wall, and it’s most often controlled by a wireless keyboard and mouse from the nearest sofa or bed. If this sounds like a familiar (or ideal) set up, this article may be helpful to you.
The downside to utilizing this sort of a set-up lies strictly in loss of control. A wireless keyboard and mouse combo will work for basic computer tasking, but are slow and often unreliable - especially for tasks like watching movies or gaming where you truly need a quick response. And, if you’re sitting clear across the room like me, getting a wired keyboard and mouse with extra-long extensions seems a little excessive.
There is, however, a simple alternative. Have a wired console controller tucked away somewhere, gathering dust? I’ll bet you do. Using open source programs like Xpadder, you can configure that very controller to become a tool to help you with your day-to-day, distance computing needs.
All then attention right now is on Microsoft's revamped Xbox 360 console, which sports a sleek new design and runs both cooler and quieter. So can we also expect a redesigned Xbox 360 Arcade?
Word on the Web is that Microsoft is readying a new Xbox 360 Slim Arcade bundle that will up the storage ante to 4GB. It's not clear how that additional storage will be added, only that it won't be in the form of a hard drive. That leaves two options - increasing the embedded 512MB to 4GB, or supplementing it with a USB key.
The rumor mill also reports a small price drop could be forthcoming. New models might ship for $189 instead of $199, which isn't a whole lot of ducats, but still enticing considering the additional storage.
The American Dream, which calls for a wife, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence, never took into consideration the mounting cost of Xbox Live Gold memberships for the entire family, which adds up rather quickly. To help address this, come November Microsoft will begin selling Xbox Live Gold Family Packs for $100, which will offer up to four individual Gold memberships for the price of two.
More than just four Live Gold accounts, the Family Pack also opens up a few additional perks, including a new Family Center accessible through the Xbox dashboard. As Microsoft explains it, you can expect easier family management, access to activity monitoring reports, and the ability to purchase and give away Microsoft Points to little Johnny rather than pay him an allowance.
There will also be exclusive family content and discounts, though Microsoft didn't outline exactly what these would entail. For more info, check out the full press release here.
TrendNet might pigeonhole its TEW-647GA Wireless N Gaming Adapter as a gaming-console peripheral, but we think it’s much more useful than that. The tiny device is capable of linking any hard-wired Ethernet device—be it an Xbox, a PC, or a Blu-ray player—to an 802.11b/g/n wireless network for a street price less than $50.
Granted, Microsoft’s own Xbox 360 Wireless N Networking Adapter is smaller still (and draws its power from the Xbox 360’s USB port), but that device is nearly twice as expensive and it doesn’t support anything other than the Xbox 360. The TEW-647GA is a lot prettier to look at, too, with its dual antennas stealthily concealed inside its black plastic housing.
The day before the official start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft all staged elaborate press conferences to introduce new titles, new franchises, and new hardware.
Microsoft kicked off the set of press conferences with a live 90-minute event in downtown Los Angeles that officially pulled the veil off of its highly anticipated controller-free user interface. Formerly known under the code name Natal, the control scheme is now known as Kinect.
As anticipated, Kinect is fully integrated into the Xbox 360 experience. In Microsoft’s demonstration of the interface, attendees saw voice control of a video library (“Xbox: Pause”) as well as gameplay controls for casual, fitness-oriented, and family games. The AV controls were the most impressive, if only because they will eliminate the scramble for a remote control.
Initially planned solely for the Xbox 360, Microsoft has admitted to contemplating future versions of Kinect for the PC platform. Maximum PC is on the scene at E3 in Los Angeles, and we’ll be investigating this possibility further once the show floor opens on Tuesday morning. We do know that the Kinect device will require its own custom port—it does not use a USB port.
At the end of Microsoft’s press conference, the company surprised the crowd with the announcement of a new Xbox 360 model. This new version will ship with the custom Kinect port mentioned above. It will also feature a 250GB drive, a built-in 802.11n wireless adapter, five USB ports, and according to Microsoft, much more efficient cooling, a lighter power brick, and quieter system noise.
More details to come as we uncover them here in Los Angeles. If you have any special request for games or game-related hardware, post it in the comments and we’ll try to accommodate you.
"Very sad. As an XBMP user from back in the day, and still using XBMC on the original Xbox, thank you XMBC team," an XBMC user wrote in response to the XBMC team's latest announcement.
What he's referring to is the dissolution of the original Xbox branch from the team's subversion repository. What that means is no more releases or updates to the XBMC platform for the original Xbox, and instead 100 percent of the focus will be on other, more modern platforms.
"The last official release for the XBOX by the XBMC team was Atlantis, over 18 months ago," the XBMC team announced in a blog post. "Since then, one brave soul (Arnova) has been merging code from the main codebase into the XBOX branch in our repository. Because there were many users out there that took advantage of these updates, we had no problem with this.
"But times have changed. The XBOX has hard limits for what it can handle. Some users are satisfied with these limits, and we encourage them to use XBMC there if they are happy. But it is a popular misconception that official XBOX development is still taking place by the team, so we have decided to set it free. We have enough on our plates already, and worrying about a deprecated platform just increases our workload."
On a positive note for XBMC for original Xbox users, Arnova does still plan to continue development on the Xbox, just not at XBMC. You can find his new project homepage at SourceForge.
"We're leaving it in his hands to decide how to handle the project's administration. How he manages the forum, bug tracker, scm, developers, etcs. is up to him. In other worlds, don't complain to us," the XBMC team wrote.
Have you heard of XBMC, the open-source, multi-platform media frontend? If not, you soon will as we put the finishing touches on a related how-to guide with plenty of advanced tips and tricks, but in the meantime, check out what resourceful modder Richard Wileman managed to do with his old Xbox.
We're talking about the original Xbox here, the little black box that most of us have long since retired. But rather than toss his up on Ebay or Craigslist, Wileman pretty much redesigned the unit from the ground up, sticking the Xbox's guts into an aluminum chassis and giving it a few other upgrades.
There's a full size 2.5-inch hard drive, a new DVD drive, an IR port, and even a little LCD to help keep tabs on the playlist.
Have you been holding off on buying that new console for fear of the setup process? Does the thought of wasting a whole ten minutes of you time plugging everything in and turning it on make you physically ill? Well then, Target will totally have you covered later this month. Yes, for a mere $99 Target will come to your house and set up your console.
If you are rich enough to go for this, Target will plug in the console to your TV, configure it, put it on your network, and setup online accounts. Technically, it’s a third party, Zip Installation, that’s doing the work, but Target is putting their name on it.
At a hundred bucks, I imagine it will be a tough sell. Would you, or anyone you know pay for this service?