Microsoft to Allow Anyone to Publish Games and Apps on Xbox One

Microsoft today announced on their news site that it would allow anyone to publish games and apps on the Xbox One.  This announcement comes after they had announced they would be changing its requirement of an always on internet connection and its game lending feature.  The short post quotes Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer of Xbox as saying “Our vision is that every person can be a creator.  That every Xbox One can be used for development.  That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live.  This means self-publishing.  This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements.  This means great discoverability on Xbox Live.  We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at gamescom in August.”

So while we will have to wait till August for more details it sounds like anyone with an Xbox One can make games and apps and publish them.  This may be a game changer as far as apps and games go and could be what the Xbox One needs to make it stand out from the Playstation 4.  I am interested to see what happens in August.

Microsoft Reveals the New Xbox One Console, All In One Entertainment

Today Microsoft revealed the new replacement for the Xbox 360 and its third video game console the Xbox One.  The Xbox One really seems to be the console that Microsoft has wanted to have in the living room for years and then some.  They are marketing this as the All In One console for your entertainment needs.  The Xbox One has an eight core 64-bit processor with 8 GB of RAM, a 500 Gb hard drive, Blu-Ray optical drive, built-in Wireless N support, and Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI in and out ports, optical audio out, and what looks like an IR out for controlling set-top boxes.  The Kinect sensor has been redesigned with a 1080P camera, and there is a new controller.

New Xbox One Console

New Xbox One Console

New hardware is not the only thing that is new there is new software that drives new experiences on the console.  Microsoft said during the reveal on Tuesday that the Xbox One has three operating systems.  I really think it is more a combination of three operating systems.  These three systems are the Xbox OS which game makers can use to take advantage of the Xbox One’s power, There is another system that is based on the Windows kernel which should make porting Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone apps very easy, and finally a third that allows switching between these systems seamless.  You can also snap another app along side what ever you are doing like watching TV or playing a game.  There are also a love of voice commands and hand gestures to control the Xbox One without the use of a controller and since the console is powered down in a more connected standby state you can just say “Xbox On” to turn the Xbox One on.  Also Microsoft has integrated Skype into the Xbox software so you can video chat right from your living room and do so will still watching your favorite TV show or playing you favorite game with the Skype app snapped to the side of the screen.  This really changes things like we have not seen since the Nintendo Wii was revealed.

New Xbox One Dashboard

New Xbox One Dashboard

If you look at the above screen shot you will see that they were watching Live TV, and if you noted earlier I said that there was a HDMI input.  the Xbox One can pass through the HDMI signal from your Set Top Box and overlay additional content.  Also the IR out allows the Xbox One to control the Set Top Box to change the channel.  This allows the Xbox One to make TV much more interactive and allows apps to be snapped next to what you are watching on TV.  The Xbox One also has Xbox Guide which is like in interactive TV guide allowing you to find the shows you want to watch and go right to them.  In addition Microsoft announced that there will be a live action Halo TV show directed by Steven Spielberg.

Xbox Live is also getting additional features allowing for your content to be synced to the cloud and they are ramping up the amount of servers from 15,000 to 300,000.  I think Microsoft is expecting increased traffic on their servers.

So what about gaming, well I can say what I have seen looks great and games are going to look fantastic on this system.  EA announced they had new titles coming to the Xbox One and their will be a new Call Of Duty game coming out soon.  All downloadable content for Call of Duty will come out exclusively on the Xbox One first.  Microsoft’s own Game Studios will be releasing 15 new games only on Xbox within the first year.  Eight of those games will be new franchises.  The only thing Microsoft did not talk about was backward compatibility of Xbox and Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.  We will have to wait till E3 to hear more about the system.

I am excited about the new system and can’t wait for it to come out which should be later this year.  It looks great and the new features and not only compelling they are just down right cool.

 

Watch the New Xbox One Reveal Live Right Now, Even If You Missed It

If you wanted to watch the new Xbox One reveal you can check it out right now.  Just head over to the Xbox website and check out the live feed. Also you can watch it on your Xbox 360.

Amazon Releases Cloud Player for PC, an iTunes, and Xbox Music Alternative

Amazon has released the Cloud Player for PC which it really starting to set them up as a good alternative to iTunes and Xbox Music / Zune.  The software is very simple to use and does not have a lot of features but I imagine that more is coming in future versions.  In this version you can listen to music on your computer which Amazon Cloud Player for PC will auto scan you computer for or listen to music in the cloud that is stored in Amazon Cloud Player, this includes any AutoRip or mp3’s you have purchased with Amazon.  You can also export those song to iTunes or Windows Media Player.  There are also links that take you to the Amazon MP3 Store but at this time it is not integrated into the software like iTunes or Zune PC software.  There are also no options to Sync to a device unless you export the music to Windows Media Player or iTunes.  Of course you could also use Winamp to sync music to your device of choice once you have exported it to either option.  The interface looks like other Amazon software and services out there.

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

One great feature I have found about the Amazon Cloud Player for PC is that is supports Windows XP Professional X64 Edition.  I know that there are still a few fans of the 64 Bit version of Windows XP and both the Zune PC software and iTunes do not install or work on that platform but this does.

I am glad Amazon made Cloud Player available for the PC and I hope to see a Windows 8/RT and a Windows Phone app soon as well.  Going forward for me I will be purchasing my music through Amazon or Xbox Music à la the Zune PC software.  If you want would like give the Amazon Cloud Player for PC a chance and see how you like it.

How to use Xbox Music in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and the Desktop in Windows 8

If you are using Windows 8.X, or Windows RT then you can jump right in and start using Xbox Music today.  In Windows 8.X and Windows RT, there is a Metro app that allows you access.  And it is great, but what if you are using Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or want to use Xbox Music on the desktop in Windows 8.X?

Xbox Music replaces the short-lived Zune Music Pass and unfortunately it does not offer everything Zune did.  For Instance, the Zune Pass let you download ten songs a month that were yours for life.  Those who still have the Zune Pass can still do this now but the new Xbox Music Pass does not have this feature.  To get the ten free songs if you still have the Zune Pass you have to use the Zune desktop software. The Xbox Music Pass can be bought in both a 12-month subscription and a three-month subscription although it is not needed to stream music from a Windows computer but there will be ads every once in a while.

Users have two choices to use Xbox Music in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the desktop in Windows 8, you can use the website which has all the features, like streaming, or use the Zune PC software which only allows you to download the songs (it may let you stream as well if you are subscribed to Xbox Music, I have not tested this)

To use Xbox Music via an internet browser in earlier versions of Windows simply visit the Xbox Music website and log in with your Microsoft Account (Outlook, Hotmail, Xbox Live etc.) The website will ask you to agree to the Xbox Music terms of service.  Below is a screen shot of me playing my favorite new album in Xbox Music in Windows 7 using Internet Explorer.

Xbox Music Website on Windows 7

Xbox Music Website on Windows 7

The other option is to use the old Zune PC software.  It still works with Xbox Music and you can install it in Windows XP and later.  The Zune PC software does not allow you to stream music from Xbox Music for free and I am not sure if it will if you have an Xbox Music Pass I may have to test this later.  Below you can see me playing the samples of the same album on the Zune PC software in Windows 7.

Zune PC Software on Windows 7 Showing Xbox Music Content

Zune PC Software on Windows 7 Showing Xbox Music Content

So there you go two different ways to use Xbox Music on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the desktop in Windows 8.  It is nice to see Microsoft expanding support for Xbox Music.  There are even iOS, Android, and Windows Phone apps out as well.