A few days ago we posted an editorial begging Microsoft to fix the Xbox Live friend limit that is currently imposed upon both Xbox Live and Zune users. Well, after years of being vague about it, the truth has finally come out. According to G4, a high-level Microsoft employee has revealed that the reason that the friend limit hasn’t increased at all, even after the launch of the Xbox 360, is Halo 2.
Halo 2? Yes. You see, original Xbox games have the friend limit hard-coded into them, and Halo 2 is an original Xbox game. Since it is still so popular, Microsoft thinks they need to keep supporting it. If they increase the friend limit, they need to take Halo 2 offline.
Please, for the love of all that is sane in the gaming world, implore your friends and countrymen to switch to Halo 3, or the upcoming Halo 3: ODST, so that we might have a more social Xbox Live.
Oh, and this still doesn’t explain the whole Zune Social thing, and Microsoft’s belief that it has to be tied to Xbox Live, for whatever reason!
Here’s a bit of Zune HD footage taken at the GDGT launch, where the Zune folks were on hand to give people a look at Microsoft’s upcoming iPod touch competitor. The rule was that no photos or videos could be shot, but you know how well that goes over in a room full of gadget geeks. Yeah. Over a minute of Zune HD interface footage is featured above, so go ahead and behold the beauty.
Hey, remember when we told you that Microsoft Stores were on their way, and that we’d see them cropping up starting in June? Well it looks like we just got an image of the first store that is currently under construction. As you can see, it’s in a mall, and has one of those fancy mall covering that tell you that it’s coming soon. In particular, you can see that all the expected Microsoft brands are represented, including Windows, Xbox 360, Bing, Microsoft Office, and Zune.
We’ve gotta admit, we’re a little amped to set foot into one of these retail locations. You?
Read More | Microsoft Twitter Account
Okay, I’ve had enough of the Xbox Live friend limit that Microsoft has imposed on us for far too long. I think this has gone on long enough, and I’m really not seeing a good reason for it. As many Xbox Live gamers know, the current limit on friends you can have is set to 100. The thing is, in the age of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and all the others, we are now used to connecting with many people in our social graph across many different services.
Now, all that said, there is still one more very annoying piece to this puzzle. Did you know that the Zune Social and Xbox Live share one common friends list? In other words, if you currently have 100 Xbox Live friends, and you go out and buy a Zune, and want to connect with people who also have Zune’s (but don’t necessarily play games,) you are out of luck. You’ll have to remove someone from your Xbox Live friend list to add someone else. This is, in two words, absolutely ridiculous. I get wanting to share the Zune and Xbox ecosystem, but to shoot yourself in the foot like this is just puzzling. I personally have at least 15 people that I would like to add as friends on the Zune Social, but I can’t, because my Xbox Live list is maxed out.
Sure, the Zune has been the butt of a lot of jokes since its first debut, but in all seriousness, we believe the Zune device is better than the iPod classic, and that the Zune software beats iTunes, hands down. Now, the Zune HD is preparing to make an impact, and it’s nothing to sneeze at. We’ve told you about it before, but to refresh your memory a bit, CNET got to spend a little time with the device that boasts the ability to view rented Zune Marketplace Xbox content, “lightning fast” browser, and OLED screen goodness. Oh, and don’t forget about that whole 720p output for HDTV thing.
Read More | CNET
This morning, Microsoft hooked us up with an early preview of the next Xbox 360 Dashboard Update. We were able to get a look at the new Netflix features (which no longer require a PC,) the Avatar Marketplace, Game Ratings, Games on Demand, and more. While more coveted features like Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, and Zune Marketplace won’t be landing until the fall, the update is still a solid one. Here are our thoughts on the next update, which lands on your Xbox 360 on August 11 (or sooner if you apply for early access!)
It’s no secret, we are big fans of Microsoft’s Zune - both the service, and the device. I’ve had a Zune Pass since the service launched, and use it daily (my Zune Pass profile.) If you aren’t sure what that is, it’s an unlimited music streaming and download service. You can listen to as much as you want for just $15 a month. In addition, you get to keep any 10 tracks of your choosing each month as well. Yours to keep, forever. Did you know, though, that you can stream any of your downloaded Zune tracks to your iPhone? Yeah, that’s one of the best parts. When you start connecting the dots, you soon realize that you have the potential of having an entire catalogue of music available to you, on your iPhone, regardless of the amount of storage you’ve got.
But, wait…how do you stream Windows Media Audio files to the iPhone, which doesn’t support that format? Furthermore, Zune tracks that aren’t downloaded as part of your 10 free keepers per month are riddled with DRM. Yeah, we hear you. There is no Zune app available for the iPhone itself. What you need is to install a piece of software on your PC, along with downloading an app on your iPhone. Join us, as we open up the musical floodgates.
As we all know Zune Marketplace is coming to the Xbox 360. Through the magic of Microsoft Silverlight, instant-on 1080p content will be available when the Marketplace comes to the Xbox 360; but did you know that you could check out the 1080p streaming now? All that you need are a compatible web browser with Microsoft Silverlight installed. As you’ll see in the demo, you can play around with the bit-rate to see exactly how the technology will work, and compensate for changes in your Internet speed. Check it out and let us know what you think, is this enough to replace Blu-Ray in your life?
Read More | Experience Smooth Streaming
Zune is no stranger to rumors and leaks from the Microsoft camp. The latest from the rumor mill is of course regarding the newly announced Zune—Zune HD. According to the tipsters, the Zune HD will be available in 16GB and 32GB and to be priced anywhere from $249 to $279. It is also said that Microsoft is considering a 64GB model later in the year. (Editor’s Note: We are also hearing about a 64GB iPod touch.) The source claims that movies will finally be coming to the Zune Marketplace—a believable statement, as Zune will offer HD videos on the Xbox 360 starting this fall.
Read More | Slash Gear
Newegg‘s got a great deal on the Microsoft Zune with Home A/V Pack. In a nutshell, if you buy the 120GB Microsoft Zune, Newegg will throw in the Home A/V Pack for free. The Zune Home A/V Pack usually retails for $99.99, so that’s a nice bonus for picking up what is a truly fantastic portable media player in the Zune. Take a look at the Microsoft Zune with free Home A/V Pack on Newegg to get the savings.
As always, you can find all sorts of Newegg promo codes and deals on our forums.
Read More | Newegg: Microsoft Zune 120GB with free Home A/V Pack