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Posts tagged Microsoft

Taking 5: You Have A Headset

Like most Xbox One owners I’ve been playing a good amount of Titanfall. But something I’ve noticed more and more is silence. No one is using their headsets to talk to each other. The only audio I get during the game is the crackling of the NPC commander yelling at me. This is true in every game type I’ve played, including Hardpoint, an objective based game type.

It’s just insane to me that no one uses their headset. Especially when playing games where tactics are a huge part, you have to use your mic. With a microphone included with every Xbox One and Xbox 360 there is no excuse.

I’ve noticed this trend in the last few years on Xbox. When I was started playing games on Xbox Live (Crimson Skies and then Halo 2) people wouldn’t shut up. You always knew exactly where everyone was, who was going to take the flag and who was staying behind to defend.

It actually got to the point where there was too much conversation. Sure you’d get people would singing, and there was a ton of trash talk (I produced two videos at CollegeHumor exploring just that) but those were fringe cases and overall it was better that people were talking.

There was so much talking during Xbox games that Bungie made a point to show how easy it was to mute people in Halo 3. That’s what I want to get back to. Making shooters social again. I would much rather mute a few people talking too much (or breathing heavily into their mic) than have complete silence during the game.

I first noticed the decline of conversation playing Halo Reach Multiplayer and it was very apparent in Halo 4 (ok, look I don’t play that many online multiplayer games, but Halo is a big enough series that I think it makes for an adequate sample size). Since roughly 2010 I’ve noticed a decline in talking during multiplayer games.

Now, I’m not saying we should all immediately become best friends with everyone who we play Xbox Live with. But letting your teammates know that you’re going to attack or defend goes a long way. Me and the small group of friends who play Halo together are not, by any means, great at Halo (well Justin is, but he’s an anomaly). But because we’re talking we win far more matches than we lose.

And I think everyone can agree that it’s way more fun to win a multiplayer game than to lose.

If you’d like to play Titanfall with me my Gamer Tag is Ice Jedi. But please, wear a headset.

-Creighton

Tom Warren from The Verge gives you a quick look at some of the new features  Windows Phone 8.1.

Personally the notification action center is a huge addition. I spent 2 weeks with a Lumia 1020 last year and one of my biggest complaints was no unified place for notifications.

Yes, the two biggest features are a digital personal assistant and place notifications which have been on iOS and Android for some time. And yes, Microsoft is playing a bit of catchup, but I still like the look and feel of Windows Phone. Actually being able to get work done with it, is a little bit exciting.

Microsoft's new CEO is Satya Nadella 

Ok, Satya, I’m kind of a fan of Windows Phone and Windows 8, but I use a Mac and an iPhone. Let’s see what you can do here. 

Microsoft testing Windows 8.1 update that hides tile interface by default | The Verge 

I know Tom Warren. He is a man who wouldn’t publish this story unless there was validity to it. It’s a huge shame:

While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users.

I have been a fan of Windows 8 since I first saw it in person at CES in 2012. I like that Microsoft has a different idea on how we could be using computers. I like that they actually were moving away from the windowed desktop view that they helped make so popular. I like that it could scale up to 27 inch displays and down to phones. And for the most part, the few Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8) devices that I’ve used looked and felt pretty good.

Yes it favors touch screen computers. And while Microsoft is trying to push touch computers and convertible tablets it still seems that a majority of users are using a mouse and keyboard (not surprising). I understand the reasoning I just can’t help but think there has to be a better way to optimize Metro (sorry “Modern UI”) for mouse and keyboard. Hiding it isn’t going to push things forward.

Bleep Bloop - Your Best Game

I’m a few weeks late posting this, partially because I’ve been busy, partially because it was hard for me to find the right words. The video above is the final episode of Bleep Bloop. 

This series means a lot to me, both as a nerd and professionally. Yes I worked on about 80 episodes of the show so I’m close to it. But even from the very start I thought of Bleep Bloop as important. Yes, the directive from Jeff was always “funny first” (after all the show aired on a comedy site), but I always felt like we were doing the community a kind of service. Even though were poking fun and prodding the industry and calling out bad games, we were also informing and speaking to a certain part of video game culture, and hopefully we expanded their horizons with our comedy video. You can see it in 8-bit Rock Band, Artsy Fartsy Games, Night Vision Goggles, Dante’s Infreno, Wii vs Kinect vs MoveiPad Games, and Uwe Boll.

As someone who follows tech and games journalism pretty closely there was really nothing else like it when I started working on the show at Episode 12 in January 2009.

Professionally, Bleep Bloop is what propelled me into a full time job at CollegeHumor. I early in my days freelancing for CollegeHumor I was brought in to shoot and edit this show. Shortly thereafter they hired me full time and I can thank CollegeHumor for seeing a producer in me and allowing me the opportunity to produce some of their highest profile content. Presently I’m a commercial / music video producer, but you can draw a straight line from freelance shooting and editing a few episodes of Bleep Bloop to where I am right now. 

So please watch the final episode of a series I have a lot of love for. Oh, and you can spot me in the last one at 10:40 choosing my favorite game of all time Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

Xbox, watch TV: inside Microsoft's audacious plan to take over the living room 

Put this on your weekend reading list.

I’ve been reading Nilay Patel’s editorials for years, and even had the pleasure of working with him for a short time. The introduction to this piece on the Xbox One may be the best thing he’s ever written.

For as long as the Xbox has existed, it has been called a Trojan horse.

It’s easy to understand why: the tech industry has been trying and failing to displace the cable box as the primary entertainment device in the living room for years with little success, just as the Greeks fought and died for a decade attempting to breach the walls of Troy. Products like Microsoft’s WebTV were unceremoniously cut off at the knees by vengeful cable companies intent on protecting their interests, and platforms like Windows Media Center have been soundly rejected by consumers for being too costly and demanding. Meanwhile the petty gods of content have capriciously meddled with strategy and planning, but none have been powerful enough to shape the final outcome.

Go read the rest of this article. It’s fantastic.

Xbox Music on iOS and Android… Finally

Today Microsoft released Xbox Music on iOS and Android. Man, talk about too little too late. Forget that fact that it doesn’t have offline support (even though Spotify and Rdio do (and have for years). Bringing Xbox Music to other platforms is something Microsoft should have done years ago. I wrote this in 2010:

It’s just that Microsoft has an opportunity to make software (and cash in) on every platform, not just their own, and in doing so this early in the space they’ll have created a massive foot hold for wherever the mobile computing space goes. Having Office on the iPad or an Android tablet makes the device far more appealing than it is right now.

and this in 2011:

I understand the mobile operating system game is all about what you can exclusively bring to the table. And Microsoft would argue that people who want Zune, Xbox and Office should just buy Windows Phones.  That’s fine, except people aren’t switching. They’re dealing with Pages on iOS and they’ll soon be using PlayStation Suite on Android.  Windows Phone doesn’t have the market share to play keep away, they should, instead, realize they can still win by creating mobile software that everyone want’s on every device that’s sold.

Happy your here, but now you have to make compelling software, something that can actually compete with Spotify and Rdio. And feel free to bring the rest of your software over as well. People will pay good money for Office.

Maybe I can be up for CEO at Microsoft. 

Beyond Ballmer: who will be Microsoft's next CEO? 

Great read by Microsoft expert Tom Warren.

The news that Ballmer would be retiring “within the next 12 months” was a huge surprise today. In his email to employees he said:

This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most. 

Ballmer is not that old, only 57. I expected he would be running Microsoft for at least another 5 years. But calling his retirement “emotional and difficult” kind of makes it sound like he was forced out. Maybe that’s just me.

But read Tom’s article, it’s a great look at what’s next for Microsoft.

Major Nelson unboxes the Xbox One

People are making a big deal over the included headset, as if there was a chance they wouldn’t include one. I really never thought that was going to be the case. Community and talking is the driving force behind Xbox Live, and the bundled headset is what makes that possible. 

Microsoft to Pull Complete Reversal on Xbox One DRM Policies 

Well. This is a HUGE surprise. Patrick Klepek at Giant Bomb had the scoop before Microsoft made it official. I would link out to Microsoft’s confirmation post, but their site seems to be down. Here are the details:

  • No more always online requirement
  • The console no longer has to check in every 24 hours
  • All game discs will work on Xbox One as they do on Xbox 360
  • An Internet connection is only required when initially setting up the console
  • All downloaded games will function the same when online or offline
  • No additional restrictions on trading games or loaning discs
  • Region locks have been dropped

Insane. I am completely shocked. I don’t know what exactly pushed Microsoft in this direction, but it was probably a little bit of everything.

UPDATE: Microsoft’s official newswire is back up. You can read the official post from Don Mattrick yourself. Here’s the part that stands out to me:

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

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