Xbox Live has been down for the past 90 minutes or so, and Microsoft says it's doing its best to bring the service back online.
The outage appears to affect many (if not all) Xbox Live regions, as complains are coming in from outside of the United States as well. Users who were connected to the service were disconnected from Xbox Live at the time of the outage, so this isn't just an issue where new players aren't able to connect.
As soon as Xbox Live is back, we'll update to let you know.
Microsoft's E3 2012 Xbox 360 Media Briefing kicks off this morning at 9:30 AM PDT, and we're here to bring you the news as it happens. Keep it locked here for our live coverage of the event, which is set to kick off with Halo 4, with a new Gears of War title to debut, and the secretive SmartGlass feature as well!
If you're an Amazon Prime member who also owns an Xbox 360, listen up! Amazon has just announced the launch of its Instant Video platform for the Xbox 360 for those who are both Xbox Live Gold members and also belong to Amazon Prime. The Amazon Xbox 360 app gives users access to the 17,000 movies and television episodes available on the service, and even those who aren't Prime members can still access the video-on-demand purchase and rental service. The Amazon app also includes support for Kinect. If you're in the US, you can download it now. Check out a video of how it all works after the break.
The release date of Halo 4 is quickly approaching, as November 6 is less than six months away. Today Microsoft announced the Halo 4 Limited Edition, a $99.99 bundle that beings Halo fans a ton of extras:
- War Games Map Pack Access – The Limited Edition includes access to nine maps – three future competitive multiplayer map packs, each including three locations, available for download post-launch on Xbox LIVE.
- Specializations – Receive early access to six Specializations, available at launch on Xbox LIVE, to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career. In addition to gaining access to new ranks, Specializations unlock new customization options. Purchasers of the “Halo 4” Limited Edition will get access on launch day, while others will have to wait as Specializations are released over time.
- The Limited Edition also contains the UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet, which includes an armor customization schematic, a blueprint of the massive ship itself, and insight into what it means to be one of humanity’s finest warriors: the Spartan-IVs.
- “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” Special Edition – An extended 90-minute version of the live-action digital series that will bring the “Halo” universe to life as you’ve never seen it, and provide an enthralling backstory leading up to the events of “Halo 4.”
Bonus digital content through Xbox LIVE:
- Unique in-game Spartan-IV armor skin
- Unique in-game weapon skin for the Assault Rifle
- An exclusive in-game emblem
- Xbox LIVE Avatar prop
- Xbox LIVE Avatar Spartan-IV armor set
Definitely a lot of content in exchange for an extra $40 above the standard version of Halo 4. You can pre-order Halo 4 now.
Read More | Halo 4 pre-order
Remember that $99 Xbox 360 Kinect bundle we mentioned last week? Well, Microsoft has just launched it. You can now buy a 4 GB Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor for $99 with two-year Xbox Live Gold contract, paying $14.99 per month for the course of the agreement. If you cancel early, you'll pay an early termination fee, which starts at $250 and decreases each month after the third month. Just head on over to your local Microsoft Store to make it happen.
Read More | $99 Xbox Offer
Finally, after a number of months, Xbox Live users now have access to Xfinity On Demand from Comcast, HBO Go, and MLB.tv. To get 'em, just head to the App Marketplace on your Xbox 360. All three apps require that you have access to, and pay for, the respective services. Comcast has announced that use of the Xfinity On Demand service will not count against a users data cap because the data is delivered over Comcast's private IP network, rather than the public Internet. It kind of makes sense, as Comcast is basically saying that the Xbox 360 is simply functioning as a cable box, but giving its own data preferential treatment does raise eyebrows as it pertains to Net Neutrality laws.
To use HBO Go, your cable service must be approved (sadly, the cable service we use at Gear Live HQ, Frontier, is not eligible) and you must subscribe to HBO service through your cable package.
Both Xfinity On Demand and HBO Go are available in the U.S., while MLB.tv can be accessed throughout North America.
Gears of War 3 Title Update 4 drops tomorrow morning at 2:00am PDT, and brings with it a bunch of improvements and bug fixes. To get it, just load up the game and you'll be automatically prompted to download it if you're connected to Xbox LIVE. We've got the full list of changes for you after the jump.
It looks like two Microsoft products are about to get killed off (or really, renamed) with the release of Windows 8. When the next major Windows OS launches, that'll be the end of the Zune and Windows Live brands. Yep, Microsoft is finally getting rid of the brand that was supposed to rival the Apple's iPod/iTunes ecosystem, but failed miserably. It’s not just the physical player they’re killing off - they did that last year while holding onto Zune as the name of the desktop software and music service. Now, Zune will be no more.
In addition, in an effort to further simplify things, the Windows Live brand is also going away. Here's a look at what to expect, and what will replace the two brands:
- Microsoft Account (Windows Live ID)
- Mail (Windows Live Mail)
- Calendar (Windows Live Calendar)
- People (Windows Live Contacts)
- Photos (Windows Live Photo Gallery)
- Music (Zune Music Player)
- Video (Zune Video Player)
We also wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft replaced Zune with a streaming music service similar to Spotify. The sad part is that Zune could have been what Spotify Premium currently offers had Microsoft been more forward thinking with the concept. We've actually said many times in the past that the Zune Pass was the best deal in music. Currently there are other well-established music services with dedicated users like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. If this is Microsoft’s attempt to dominate a new market, we sure hope they've got a better plan than they did with the original Zune launch.
Read More | The Verge
We're back with another edition of Ask Andru - this time we're focusing on the wildly popular Kinect add-on, and how useful it might be for Xbox 360 owners who primarily use their consoles for watching streaming video. On to the question:
My family has an Xbox 360 but we end up using it primarily for Netflix, not games. I've read that the recent Xbox Live update added more ways to navigate menus and content using voice and gestures with Kinect. Is it worth buying a Kinect just for those controls, if we don't use it to play games? Is talking and waving at the TV better than using the controller?
It's true--Microsoft recently released an update for the Xbox 360, known as the Fall 2011 Dashboard Update, that has fully optimized the console's interface for use alongside the Kinect add-on. Many early adopters of Kinect complained about how clunky and tacked on the experience felt when trying to navigate menus while using the Xbox 360 outside of gaming, and the update pretty much solved all of those problems. Now, it's easy to "grab" something on screen, swipe through menus, and make selections using hand gestures. Even cooler, though, is that the dashboard is now pretty much fully navigable using just your voice. Simply say "Xbox" and all your options for where you can go are displayed on the screen. If you can see it, you can pretty much say it. Here's a video I made that looks at the features you'll find in the latest update:
Looking to pick up a 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription on the cheap? Head on over to Amazon right now to grab one for 40% off. Seriously, you'll pay $35 instead of the typical $60, and you get access to stuff like Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, and much more on your Xbox 360. Even if you're in the middle of a subscription, you can just get one and extend whatever time you have left by another year.
Don’t forget, if you’re looking for other deals, be sure to check out our Newegg Promo Code thread. Oh, and if you're on Twitter, be sure to follow @TechPromos for the latest deals, or you can Like TechPromos on Facebook.