Ahhhhh snap! Microsoft is officially bringing “it” by touting the Windows Phone 7 as the next revolution in smartphones. Introduced with a cinematic touch by utilizing Lawrence of Arabia themed teaser trailer, Windows Phone 7 rides blurringly from out of the distance into the forefront. Okay, we’re a bit too enthusiastic, but something about Xbox Live on our phones makes us get all giddy inside!
If you haven’t heard by now, Microsoft is going to be increasing the yearly cost of Xbox LIVE membership by $10 per year starting on November 1. This comes after 8 years of the service remaining at a steady $50 per year, and kills rumors that the service would actually go free sometime soon. On November 1, a year of Xbox LIVE Gold will cost you $59.99, one month will cost $9.99 (up from $7.99,) and the three-month subscriptions will go from $19.99 to $24.99. They say it’s to support new features like Kinect, ESPN, and Hulu Plus coming to Xbox LIVE (despite the fact that Hulu Plus costs $10 a month in the first place.)
The one silver lining here is that you can currently buy yourself a one-year Xbox LIVE subscription for just $39.99, locking in that $20 savings for a year. It will just get tacked on to your current subscription if you already have one. If you want multiple years of savings, you can always find Xbox LIVE discounts on Amazon.
Read More | Xbox LIVE Price Lock
Wanna get an in-depth preview of what Microsoft has in store for Windows Phone 7? In this episode, we chat with Brian Seitz of the Windows Phone team, and he gives us a tour through the entire Windows Phone 7 interface. We get a look at a bunch of features and hubs, including things like social networking integration, Microsoft Office, Xbox Live, photos, friends, Zune, Outlook, and much more. Seeing how Microsoft was able to tie a bunch of their different service offerings (Xbox, Office, Zune, Bing, Explorer, etc.) so tightly into one device is impressive, and definitely gives us hope as they gear up for the launch of Windows Phone 7 devices this fall.
Though the temptation may be great to jump online early, perpetrators of downloading early copies of Halo: Reach better think twice before firing up their illegally attained games online. Microsoft is no stranger to banning as many users as they see fit suspected of playing pirated copies of their games. A representative for Microsoft had this to say:
“We are aware that an unauthorized copy of “Halo: Reach” has leaked. We are aggressively investigating the matter. We have no further details to share at this time.”
Sounds like Microsoft is pretty pissed at the whole situation, and we all know what happens when Microsoft feels slighted. Last fall, gamers playing pirated copies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 prompted Microsoft to ban up to a million players to get their message across. And that message is that pirating will not be tolerated.
Read More | Kotaku
Well, it was definitely fun while it lasted, but Microsoft has decided that their 1 vs 100 Live game show was not worth continuing, and we won’t be seeing a season three. The whole 1 vs 100 Live experience was completely new and different from anything else ever tried on a game console, bringing thousands together at the same time to take part in a game show with a live host (Chris Cashman.) Our take? Sure, Chris Cashman may have been overbearing, but we aren’t gonna pin this on him. We think Microsoft has realized that the 1 vs 100 concept has run its course—we’re guessing we see something new (and better) step in and take its place soon enough. For now, the Sprint Theater is closing up shop.
Read More | Xbox
Sounds like Microsoft has finally succumbed to the cries of many an Xbox 360 family, as they are set to launch a new Xbox Live Gold Family Pack subscription. Basically, rather than having a bunch of individual accounts on your console and having to manage them all separately, you get four Xbox Live Gold accounts for $99.99. That’s half price. There will also be a Family Center area where you can manage settings for each account from the primary account. The primary account can even purchase and give Microsoft Points to the other members of the family, and access monitoring reports. Here’s the rundown:
- Up to four individual Xbox LIVE Gold memberships for the price of two – (US) $99.99.
- Family Center – a single, easy to use, destination for Family Settings and account management, accessible on the Xbox dashboard and on Xbox.com.
- The primary account member has the ability to purchase and dispense Microsoft Points to other Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack members.
- Activity monitoring reports viewable on Xbox.com to help encourage discussions about safer more balanced gaming and entertainment habits.
- Simplified billing that applies all purchase charges to the primary account holder’s billing account and the ability to authorize purchases, helping to manage the family’s entertainment budget.
- Exclusive family content and discounts.
We’ve gotta give Microsoft some credit for finally releasing the Xbox Live Gold Family Pack. We are guessing it will arrive as part of a dashboard update for the Xbox 360 in conjunction with the release of Kinect.
Read More | Gamerscore Blog
It’s hard to imagine that, with over 20 million members worldwide, that Xbox Live isn’t available in all Xbox 360 territories, but it’s true. However, we just got word that later this fall nine countries will be granted access to Microsoft’s online gaming community. Gamers in Brazil, Russia, Poland, Chile, Columbia, Greece, Hungary, South Africa, and Czech Republic will all be able to jump in. That potentially means there’ll be a lot of new people available to play against, and you just know that we’ll be seeing a marked increase in Zangief usage in Super Street Fighter IV. Better start prepping now.
Wondering what big announcements Microsoft has up its sleeve for E3, aside from all the Project Natal stuff? Well, it looks like Hulu is gonna be their other surprise. While everyone was looking to the iPad as the device that would kick off the subscription-based paid model for Hulu, it instead looks like the Xbox 360 is going to get that honor. We’ve heard from a very reliable source (who has never been wrong before) that Microsoft is set to unveil Hulu as an Xbox Live service at E3 2010. Similar to how Netflix is integreated into the Xbox 360 dashboard, Hulu would be there as well, and would require a subscription fee. We have no idea how Microsoft will charge for it, but our assumption is that you’ll pay for a block of access time (a month? a quarter?) by using Microsoft Points—but again, that part is just a guess. We also have no idea as to whether you will get the entire Hulu catalog that’s available on the web, or if it will be pared down for TV consumption, despite paying the premium.
E3 kicks off in two weeks, and we should know everything when Microsoft’s Media Briefing kicks off on June 14th at 10:00 AM PT.
So last week when Windows Phone 7 Series was introduced to the world, one of the major bulletpoints was the fact that Xbox Live integration would be a big part of the platform, although Microsoft didn’t give too many details. That changed on during a conference call this morning, where Microsoft mobile communications chief Andy Lees gave a bit on insight on hat we can expect to see in the mobile version of Xbox Live:
“We are very excited about the way in which the platform works across screens, so we have commonality of platform across the PC, the Xbox, and the web and the phone. We provide a new set of tools that makes it easy and very fast for people to develop applications for the phone but also in a way that works across screens, and we’ll announce details of that at MIX. You’re also right to point out that a marketplace is included, and the marketplace will work for applications but also for games, so the gaming marketplace for the first time will utilize Xbox Live, and that enables you to create multiplayer, multiscreen games, and the marketplace will facilitate that, so that it will actually work across screens.”
We like it, especially that whole multiplayer, multiscreen aspect, although of course we have to see how it actually looks and feel before making final judgment. We’ll know about when Microsoft’s MIX conference kicks off next month.
Read More | TechFlash
So, aside from that Windows Phone 7 Series keynote video, we thought you might want a condensed version that will allow you to just take a look at what all this Windows Phone 7 fuss is all about. Microsoft took the liberty of putting together this much shorter demo video to explain. Here you can get a look at all of the design elements and decisions that have gone into Windows Phone 7, which fundamentally set it apart from other mobile operating systems on the market. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Every Windows Phone 7 device will have three physical buttons on the front: Start, Search, and Back.
- There’s a focus on productivity, simplicity, music, and gaming. Both Xbox Live and Zune are deeply integrated into Windows Phone 7.
- People hub: Pulls in live data feeds, bringing you social networking status updates and photos from services like Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live.
- Pictures hub: Brings together picture and video assets from your phone, web, and PC, allowing you to view your entire collection.
- Games hub: Check out your Xbox Live messages, achievements, avatar, and even play some games. Achievements can be earned on the phone.
- Office hub: Access to Microsoft Office suite, including OneNote and SharePoint Workspace. Also includes new version of Outlook Mobile for email.
This is definitely the biggest step that Microsoft has taken in the mobile phone space, and they do it over three years after Apple announced the original iPhone. The competition is heating up, and we are super-excited about it.