Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Shouting at the TV like a crazy person

News broke yesterday of Microsoft's new plans for their rubbishly named Xbox One console. Right up until launch they were insistent that the Kinect was an absolutely integral part of the console and that it had to be plugged in and switched on for the console to even work. Shortly before the release they backtracked on that idea under the sheer weight of protest from press and fans alike, outraged at the thought of Microsoft's all-seeing eye sat staring at them 24 hours a day. Now it seems that the pressure from being consistently outsold by its much cheaper rival, the Playstation 4, has forced Microsoft to back-peddle yet again with their  plans for Kinect. Yesterday, amid a series of announcements, they unveiled the unbundled, Kinect-less Xbox One console. Weighing in at £350 the budget Xbox is about £80 cheaper than at launch, but less than £50 cheaper than the console is currently available for, putting it at the same price point as the PS4.

Is this a sign that Microsoft are desperate to claw some sales back from Sony? Well, yes, obviously. They badly underestimated how hard that extra $100 they were charging over their rival was going to hit them in the sales department, a lesson that should have been well learned from the last round of the Console Wars when it was the Playstation 3 that was prohibitively expensive, allowing the Xbox 360 to pull out a commanding lead in the sales figures, a lead it was never to lose. It's not all doom and gloom though. I think this move adds another layer of choice for the consumer, which is always a good thing. I just think that the loss of the Kinect from the package is worth more than a saving of forty or fifty quid. Hell, I'd gladly pay twice that for the ability to shout at my TV like a crazy person and actual have it listen!

I wonder if this means the Xbone's operating system will be updated to provide an automatic sign-in option? It's annoying to be able to shout at my console to turn on from two rooms away but then have to sit in front of it and wait for it to recognise my stupid face before it'll let me do anything.

Another announcement that was made was that using apps will no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership. This leaves the way open for a BBC iplayer app to finally come to the Xbox One. The BBC's charter says something about it's customers not having to pay twice for their content, so anything on the iplayer, which has already been paid for with the TV license, cannot be included as part of a paid for service. This is great as it means I won't have to switch between devices if I want to go from watching something on Netflix to something on the iPlayer.

Full details of the upcoming changes can be found HERE on Major Nelson's blog

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