Leaked memo: next Xbox not to require always-on connection and will play Bluray
A leaked internal Microsoft memo is making the rounds claiming that the next Xbox will not require an always-on internet connection and will support Blu-ray discs. The memo, which refers to the console as “Durango”, has been sent to employees who are working on the project.
It was previously reported that the console would be “always on” in that it would be an anti-piracy measure, among other things. The console is also said to feature an HDMI input port so that it can overlay a TV interface on feeds from cable boxes, making it a set-top box.
Microsoft has faced quite a lot of backlash regarding this rumor. It has been especially harsh since the debacle with the new SimCity game, which didn’t properly login players at launch and also had lots of problems in the weeks following its launch.
The next Xbox is going to be officially unveiled on May 21. Call of Duty Ghosts is also due to be revealed during the event.
Microsoft offering free Xbox to college students with purchase of PC
If you’re going off to college this year, then don’t forget to take advantage of Microsoft’s offer: a free 4GB Xbox 360 with purchase of select Windows 7-based computers. No specific models were announced, but you can ask your retailer before splurging on a new desktop or laptop. You’ll need to show your student ID to get the offer.
Halo LAN parties, anyone?
Brand new Halo 4 screenshots
Halo 4 limited edition announced
Microsoft today announced the limited edition bundle for Halo 4. You can pre-order it right now; for $99.99 you will get the following:
War Games Map Pack Access
The competitive multiplayer modes of Halo 4 are known as War Games. 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. Yes, you read that correctly; you get nine maps in the form of future DLC with the purchase of the Halo 4 Limited Edition. Score!
Everyone will have access to select Specializations, but those that purchase the Halo 4 Limited Edition will receive the ability to unlock six Specializations early, available at launch on Xbox LIVE. You can use them, one at a time, to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career. In addition to gaining access to new ranks, Specializations unlock new customization options. We’ll be releasing more information about Specializations at E3, so expect additional details about this particular feature then.
UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet
The UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet includes a Spartan armor customization schematic, information about UNSC weapons, an introduction to the massive ship UNSC Infinity, and insight into what it means to be one of humanity’s finest warriors: The Spartan-IVs. Story lovers will especially enjoy this in-fiction offering that provides a glimpse into the indoctrination of Spartans aboard the Infinity.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Special Edition
The Special Edition of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is a 90-minute extended version of the live-action digital series which will take fans back to the terrifying beginning of the Human/Covenant war, when the Master Chief inspired a young cadet who would eventually become a leader aboard the UNSC’s greatest vessel ever: the UNSC Infinity.
Digital content also includes in-fiction bonus content that expands the characters and stories of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, special featurette Bringing Gaming into Reality, and a behind the scenes look at the making of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.
Bonus digital content through Xbox LIVE
The Limited Edition includes the following 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, and Xbox LIVE Avatar Spartan IV armor set.
Kinect application to track weight loss
The Kinect is great at getting gamers off their couches. Some games are quite intensive, having gamers burn off quite a few calories with every session. Microsoft hopes to capitalize on this, with reports suggesting that Kinect Play Fit may be coming our way soon enough.
It is a wireless heart monitor, codenamed Joule, which runs across most Kinect games, tracking cumulative exercise and providing feedback. The device will work with tracking software, though it won’t be a mandatory component for the application to work. It’s being aimed at those who want to track weight loss, as well as those who have strength or cross-fitness workouts.
As expected, Microsoft is silent on the matter right now. A dashboard update for Xbox 360 is in the works, and the company is expected to announce more at E3 next month.
Microsoft offering $99 Xbox 360 with two year subscription to Xbox Live
Going the way of wireless carriers, Microsoft is now offering prospective Xbox 360 buyers the chance to snap up a 4GB console bundle (which comes with Kinect) for just $99. You have to pay $14.99 a month for 24 months, which amounts to a grand total of $360 once it’s done with. That money gets you the console and Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Engadget has more details, including breakdown of early termination fees.
No next-gen Xbox announcement E3, nothing till 2013
Cedrick Delmax dashed dreams of a next-gen Xbox announcement at E3 this year. In an interview with Lepoint.fr, the marketing director of Microsoft France noted that “Xbox 360’s cycle is not at all finished”. He adds that “E3 is still premature” and that it’s “certain… that there’ll be nothing new in 2012.”
Delmax also addressed the Wii U, pointing out that Nintendo has put itself in an entirely different cycle. Microsoft will not counter the Wii U with any Xbox announcements, and they’re not in any hurry to rush to the market either.
According to several rumors going around lately, the successor to Xbox 360 is set to be revealed at E3 2012. But that doesn’t look likely right now. Sony has also noted that they are not done with the PS3, adding that they might be “last” to the market. Meanwhile, Nintendo is expected to re-unveil the Wii U at this year’s E3, with a launch planned for Christmas.
Kinect to be integrated in Windows 8 laptops?
Microsoft’s Kinect add-on for Xbox 360 has long been a favorite among PC hackers. Now that it is making its way to Windows devices, a new report from The Daily claims that Microsoft may be looking to integrate the technology in future Windows laptops.
The publication claims that there are two prototypes of laptops that feature two small Kinect sensors. The prototypes are Asus-based notebooks that are running Windows 8. Apparently, they are officially sanctioned by Microsoft, too, which makes it an official add-on if the report turns out to be true.
Kinect is also expected to make its way to set-top box for HDTVs, according to other rumors. There have also been murmurs about the technology being improved and integrated in the next-gen successor to Xbox 360.
Microsoft preparing Kinect Windows SDK for spring
Seeing as how the hacking community has embraced the Kinect platform, it is no surprise that Microsoft wanted to get in on the action too. The company is preparing the official, non-commercial Kinect for Windows SDK for release this spring. This will help advance the work that has already been done by hackers, researchers and even musicians.
The project is apparently a collaboration between Microsoft Research and IEB. It is aimed at giving “academic researchers and enthusiasts access to key pieces of the Kinect system – such as the audio technology, system application programming interfaces and direct control of the Kinect sensor itself.”
There’s one catch, though: the SDK can only be used for non-commercial purposes. So, if you’re looking to make games or other commercial software, you better contact Microsoft.
Crackdown 2’s end-of-the-world soundtrack includes REM, Bob Dylan
What would you have on your MP3 player as the world around you burns down? Surely, R.E.M.? Well, that’s what Crackdown 2 will be packing as its soundtrack, which also includes music from Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Blue Oyster Cult. They won’t be the original songs, though, but remixed versions that may very well be techno music.
The game is due out July 6 on Xbox 360.