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Rumor: Microsoft Points to be phased out of Xbox Live


Jan 24
// Jim Sterling
A new rumor suggests that Microsoft could abolish Microsoft Points in favor of something less stupid and more responsible -- real money! According to several sources speaking to Inside Mobile Apps, a number of mobile develope...
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Microsoft officially kills off the Zune


Oct 10
// Jim Sterling
It's been treading water for quite some time, but Microsoft has today officially terminated its iPod competitor, the Zune. From now on, the Windows Phone will be MS' primary handheld focus. Looks like the company fed us a lin...

Preview: The new design of the Xbox 360 dashboard

Sep 11 // Wesley Ruscher
Performance, discoverability, and voice. These three simple things were etched into my brain as Albert Penello, Sr. Director of product management and planning at Microsoft, walked me through me the new dashboard last week. After meeting with Penello to check out this fall's dashboard refresh, I have to say Microsoft might finally have all the entropy they’ve created under control.With the new dash fired up, speed and performance improvements were instantly noticeable. Whatever your navigation tool of choice is -- be it controller or gestures/voice for Kinect users -- getting from one end of the dash to the other is lightning-quick. Everything has a home under a much-better-structured tab system. Friends now fall under the social tab, and all the apps you’ve come to love or hate are under an appropriate app tab that “potentially opens up the possibility to do non-gaming apps," Penello said. It's not in the plans as of now, he added, but is definitely something Microsoft has thought about or is open to, at the very least. Along with performance, Kinect integration is another aspect of the new dash I was taken back by. While the NXE eventually shoehorned in some functionality, support was very limited outside of starting and stopping videos with voice or pantomiming to pop up a separate interface. With the latest update, everything on the dash is Kinect-enabled. I watched Penello slide tabs over with his hands while sitting down as effortlessly as he would have with a controller. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Kinect support is just how well voice commands work. Like the gesture support, everything on the dash is accessible via speech. "The voice stuff is getting better and better all the time," Penello said. "A lot of the learning for voice is in the service; it's up in the cloud." And speaking of the cloud, it's still coming along with roaming profiles and some other unnamed gaming features.While the new look is quite sexy, it would be a complete waste if Microsoft couldn’t deliver on discoverability with the new dash. For starters, the new layout -- which is very similar to their Windows Phone 7 "Metro" setup -- is extremely easy on the eyes. No longer do ads clutter up the navigation experience, nor are you required to scroll endlessly though sections to find the latest deal of the week. Everything is organized, and thanks to Bing Search, can be discovered in a matter of seconds. As the cornerstone of this for the new dash, Bing Search makes finding content quick and reliable via voice or text. If it exists on XBLA, Zune, Netflix, or any other service on the network, Bing will find it. At the moment, Bing is limited to title search -- it can't handle in-depth searches on categories such as actors, directors, and genres -- but the possibility wasn’t ruled out. One thing that is cool about the search results is being able to have it display only movies, music or games via Kinect, simply by saying “Xbox show movies” or “Xbox show games.” My only concern with Bing, right now, is how it delivers its results. The user interface isn't final, and thus there is currently no way of telling which service content is being selected from. For example, the show 30 Rock exists on both Netflix and Hulu, but how Bing will separate the search in case of multiples is still undecided. However, it’s still quite amazing to be able to find content without having to enter any applications. Outside of design and functionality aesthetics, the biggest addition for gamers is the new “beacons” feature. Essentially, beacons are game invites that don’t expire. Want to play Halo or watch Netflix with friends, but don’t want to wait for them to get online to invite them? Set a beacon. Your friends will get an alert -- called a “toast” -- anywhere they are signed into Live (Windows Phone 7, Internet, and Facebook). They’re a great way to organize all online activities. For the Achievement whore, Gamerscore will now be tied to Facebook without the help of a third-party program. Don't worry about being bombarded with updates, though, as the process is completely manual. Get a rare Achievement and want to rub it in your friends’ faces? The choice is yours. One interesting thing about Facebook that Penello did discuss -- more as a vision than an actual feature -- would be the ability of sharing thoughts about a movie you just watched, straight from the dashboard, rather than logging onto Facebook afterwards and typing it up. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated Live TV, On Demand, UFC, and YouTube features weren’t ready to be shown. Microsoft is absolutely committed to delivering live TV and promised to have great announcements this fall. If they are as equally executed as the rest of the new dashboard, then Xbox 360 users have a lot to be excited for later this year. What do you think of this redesign? Order achieved?
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The current Xbox 360 dashboard is kind of a clusterf*ck. Netflix, Hulu, and ESPN integration are great (as I use them pretty much daily), but a redesign is clearly needed. You can point the finger at Microsoft for its stat...

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New Xbox Music service with voice search coming in Fall


Jul 12
// Conrad Zimmerman
[Update: Microsoft sent us a message to clarify that the updates coming to Xbox this Fall does not constitute a new service, but that the new features are intended to enhance the existing Zune service and not replace it. Our ...
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Zune Marketplace to be down for 24 hours come Monday


Jan 24
// Matthew Razak
To save you time I'm going to have everyone raise their hands. Now, everyone who does not own a Zune put your hands down. Now, everyone who uses Xbox 360's Zune Marketplace keep your hands up and everyone else put your hands ...
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Sign-ups for the Xbox LIVE update preview program are GO!


Oct 14
// Jordan Devore
Hey there good lookin'. Desperate to get early access to the upcoming social networking dashboard update for Xbox 360? Today is your lucky day -- sign-ups for the preview program are currently open.Both Gold and Silver Xbox L...
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TGS 09: Zune Video Marketplace streams 1080p Vin Diesel to your 360


Sep 24
// Nick Chester
Come this fall, say goodbye to the plain old Video Marketplace on your Xbox 360 and say hello to the new Zune Video Marketplace. Microsoft's Director of Digitally Distributed Games Scott Austin gave us a walkthrough for the s...
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This Crackdown-branded Zune HD is badass


Sep 16
// Jim Sterling
Yesterday we found out that the Zune HD would be making the inevitable jump into portable gaming, and as if that wasn't enough to tempt my gadget-whore side, this recently revealed Zune HD bearing the Crackdown logo has reall...
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After months of speculation and rumors, a video spotted via Wired has finally confirmed that, yes, Microsoft's Zune HD will be a portable gaming device.The video above states right there in plain Englay at 32 seconds in, &quo...

Zune HD officially announced, brings service to Xbox Live

May 26 // Jim Sterling
REDMOND, Wash. — May 26, 2009 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the evolution of Zune, the company’s end-to-end music and entertainment service, to a new platform and new markets. Zune will extend its video service to Xbox LIVE internationally this fall. This marks an important development in the Zune strategy and brings the Zune brand to more than 17 million international Xbox LIVE subscribers. In addition, Microsoft confirmed the next generation of the Zune portable media player, Zune HD. Available in the U.S. this fall, Zune HD is the first portable media player that combines a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser.“The Zune music player is an integral part of the overall Zune experience, and we’re proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device,” said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group. “Delivering on Microsoft’s connected entertainment vision, this news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world.”Zune Service Expands to New PlatformZune will be a premium partner in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace, bringing an exciting catalog of TV and film to the platform. Zune will occupy the first slot within the Xbox user interface in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace, exposing the Zune brand experience to millions of new consumers for the first time. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) next week, attendees will see firsthand how Zune integrates into Xbox LIVE to create a game-changing entertainment experience.Introducing Zune HDZune HD is the next iteration of the Zune device family and brings a new level of listening and viewing experiences to the portable media player category.·         Zune HD comes with a built-in HD Radio receiver so users can listen to higher-quality sound than traditional radio on the go. Users also will have access to the additional song and artist data broadcast by HD Radio stations as well as additional channels from their favorite stations multicasting in HD. If you don’t like the song playing on your station’s HD channel, switch to its HD2 or HD3 channels for additional programming.·         The bright OLED touch screen interface allows users to flip through music, movies and other content with ease, and the 16:9 widescreen format display (480x272 resolution) offers a premium viewing experience on the go.·         The HD-compatible output lets Zune HD customers playback supported HD video files from the device through a premium high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) audiovisual docking station (sold separately) direct to an HD TV in 720p.*·         Zune HD will include a full-screen Internet browser optimized for multitouch functionality.·         Zune HD is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing for instant streaming to the device from the more than 5 million-track Zune music store.
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Rumors have been floating around concerning a next-generation Zune for quite some time, and Microsoft has today made all our "dreams" come true with the official announcement of Zune HD and the extension of Zune ser...

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Rumortoid: Zune HD a portable game console and media player


May 15
// Dale North
God. Stop me if you've heard this or something like this before: The new Zune will play games. The new Zune will have an iTunes-like App store. The new Zune can teleport people and increase your penis size. If I had a nickel ...
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Microsoft: Don't buy an iPhone, Zune June is coming!


May 12
// Jim Sterling
According to Microsoft, you should really hold off on buying an iPhone just yet, because huge Zune news is coming in June, and it will blow your mind! Just in case you didn't know, June is E3 time, so it seems like MS will ha...
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Rejoice: Microsoft Zunes have magically fixed themselves


Jan 01
// Brad Nicholson
Yesterday, as Jim Sterling aptly put it, was the day the Zune stood still. Every 30 GB Zune owner with a clock reading the correct time and a recent firmware update experienced a weird glitch that kept their Zune frozen on th...
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The day the Zunes stood still: Every 30GB Zune in the world has died!?


Dec 31
// Jim Sterling
This is not strictly videogame-related, but it's such an incredibly freaky story that I'm sure you'll all forgive a rather tenuous link. Unbelievable reports have come in claiming that every single 30GB Zune in the world spon...
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Calling all Zune owners: Homebrew games are ready for play


May 08
// Jordan Devore
With the release of XNA Game Studio 3.0 CTP yesterday, the Zune community was quick to start tinkering around with putting games on the multimedia device. One such enthusiast was even kind enough to release a guide on insta...
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GameStop exclusive Halo 3 Zune available for pre-order, details


May 16
// Nick Chester
Back before Zune's launch, GameStop was pretty gung-ho about supporting Microsoft's digital media device. While I'd be remiss to call GameStop's decision to carry the Zune a failure, the anecdotal evidence of ...
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Halo 3 Zune is Zunetastic!


May 12
// Robert Summa
Last night in San Francisco, and apparently at the NYC Halo 3 event, Microsoft gave away these very sweet Halo 3-themed Zunes. Being a Zune owner myself, I was ready to chop off a finger to get one of these bad boys to take ...
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Games for Zune by July 2008


Jan 09
// Ishaan
Looks like Microsoft is getting more and more ambitious by the day. According to Bloomberg, they are now looking to enter the handheld gaming market. Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, will introduce vid...






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