The major press conferences are over, the facts are being discerned and there’s chatter as to what’s cool, what needs improvement and what we can’t wait for.
Per the mighty 1up.com, Microsoft’s press conference revealed that their camera/interaction technology, previously known as Project Natal, is now known as Kinect. The Kinect itself will arrive in time for the holiday season on November 4th and allow for video chat as well as voice commands. The Video Kinect feature will allow you to video chat with friends over Xbox Live or with people on Windows Live Messenger,
In an effort to get over a bulky image, Microsoft revealed a slim Xbox 360 design which also incorporates a 250GB hard drive and, at long last, will include an 802.11N wireless adapter. While the slim’s announcement wasn’t much of a surprise, given how heavily it had been rumored, what was surprising was that it’s shipping beginning today and will be available for US$299 later this week. Speaker Don Mattrick then pulled an Oprah move and announced that everyone at the press conference would be receiving a free slim Xbox 360 system.
While inclusion of Hulu on the Xbox was nowhere to be seen, almost certainly because Microsoft is still trying to work out the rights issues involved with it, ESPN filled the gap by being the newest service to be added to the Xbox Live suite. SportsCenter anchors Josh Elliott and Trey Wingo took to the stage to announce an ESPN video service that will allow Xbox Live Gold members to watch more than 3,500 live and on-demand sporting events over Xbox Live, with much of that content coming in HD. Among the sports it will carry are the NBA, MLB, college football, soccer, and college basketball. Once Kinect is released, users will be able to browse ESPN content with it, with Josh Elliott showing the ability to have it replay a clip over and over by simply saying, “Xbox: Replay.”
The bulk of the conference felt like it was a demonstration for the games you’ll be able to play with Kinect. Microsoft wasn’t especially specific when it came to announcing release dates and which titles will be available with Kinect on November 4th, but the most likely candidate is Kinect Sports. Among the featured activities in the game are bowling, track and field, soccer, javelin, long jump, table tennis, boxing and volleyball. Other games were demoed as well, including the EyePet competitor Kinectimals, an adorable game that had a young girl playing with a virtual tiger on stage.
After a demonstration of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which featured a segment from the single-player campaign where you hijack a helicopter and then blow up enemies (and bridges) with it, Microsoft announced an exclusivity agreement they’ve made with Activision involving the Call of Duty franchise. Future Call of Duty games, Black Ops included, will be released just as they normally would on all platforms, but just as with the first two map packs for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Xbox 360 gamers will get first dibs on all map packs for Call of Duty games in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
For the fans out there, Metal Gear Rising made its debut a year after it was announced at Microsoft’s E3 press conference in 2009. Described as a “sword action game unlike any you’ve seen before,” the trailer showed Raiden slice-and-dice through enemies and scenery alike with his sword. It was extremely violent — he sliced an enemy into multiple pieces in slow-motion while the enemy was suspended in the air — until the ending sequence, where we saw Raiden nicely carve up a watermelon.
Given that there will always be a drive for Halo, Halo: Reach looked incredible, Microsoft presenting the campaign mode for the very first time to the public. Though the demo looked slick, it didn’t look especially different from what we’ve come to expect from Halo. Then came the end of the trailer when we saw a Spartan enter a spaceship and engage in combat with another ship. It lasted just a few seconds, but the promise of space combat in the Reach campaign is exciting news.
Attendees got the first look at Gears of War 3′s 4-player campaign co-op, which appeared very much like Gears with female characters. Microsoft also offered an October 26th release date for Fable 3, which we’ll try to get a look at later.
Late Tuesday, Microsoft released version 11.5.9 of its Microsoft Office 2004 suite and version 12.2.5 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite. The updates, which weigh in at 9.7 and 332 megabytes, respectively, focus on improving security for both suites, fixing vulnerabilities that could allow malicious code to overwrite portions of your Mac’s memory and run arbitrary commands.
The updates are free and available through the AutoUpdate programs and require Mac OS X 10.2 or later to run Office 2004 and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run Office 2008.
If you’ve installed the updates and have any feedback to offer, let us know.
Per a report by TechCrunch, Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 will also include search and related web services from Microsoft’s Bing as well as inclusion of Google, as per usual.
The new iPhone OS won’t drop Google for Bing entirely, but will expand the number of search options iPhone users see, and apparently make those options more visible.
TechCrunch originally reported that Google would be entirely replaced by Bing search in iPhone OS 4, a claim that was later retracted in an update that said sources clarified “it’s more complicated than this” and that Apple wouldn’t be removing support for Google search.
Apple already provides an option to use Yahoo for web search in Safari, although that option is not obvious and requires visiting system settings to make the switch.
A report by Kara Swisher of the “All Things Digital” blog indicates Microsoft has been asking that Bing search be added to the iPhone’s search options for some time, and also wants to make the choice more visible to users.
Microsoft has also been in talks with Apple to get its mapping services integrated into the iPhone. Individual iPhone apps have already made use of Microsoft’s mapping services, but Apple’s own Maps app on the iPhone and iPad is hardwired to Google’s mapping services.
Last fall, Apple purchased Placebase, a mapping service designed to overlay demographic, economic and environmental data on top of maps. It has since been speculated that Apple planned to use the acquisition to either build an alternative mapping service for iPhone Maps, or more likely, add additional layers of features on top of the current Maps data to differentiate the iPhone from Google’s own map app for Android.
Last fall, TechCrunch writer Michael Arrington stated that “Apple expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google. Search, maps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google.” He added, “other than the browser, Apple has little else to call its own other than the core phone, contacts and calendar features.” That comment was repeated in the most recent article regarding Bing.
Arrinton’s dismissal of the iPhone OS as being little more than a client for Google services was further exaggerated by fellow writer Erick Schonfeld, who wrote “in fact, some of the best apps on the iPhone—Mail, Maps, YouTube, Search—were developed by Google.”
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.
When in doubt, roll your own.
As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.
Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.
While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.
Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.
While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.
Yesterday, Microsoft updated just about everything in its Office suites, the first change being an update of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac to version 11.5.8. The new version, a 9.7 megabyte download, improves security and includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.
Office 2008 for Mac received an update to version 12.2.4. The new version, a 221.5 megabyte download, offers several improvements to enhance stability and performance. In addition, this update includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.
The company’s Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition went up to version 13.0.4 yesterday. The new version, a 64.3 megabyte download, offers several calendaring improvements, this new version of Entourage synchronizes notes, tasks, and categories with Exchange Server. This update also enables logging that can be used for diagnostic purposes.
Finally, Microsoft’s Open XML Converter utility reached version 1.1.4. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, received unspecified changes.
As always, the new versions can be located, downloaded and installed with the Microsoft AutoUpdate utility.
If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any major changes, please let us know.
If you’re still being told that the Mac is on its way out (a la the mantra of the 90′s), a new set of statistics released today show that the market share of Mac OS X in Web use has grown by 29.4% in the last year, while Windows has decreased 3.8%.
According to AppleInsider, web statistics company Quantcast found that Mac OS X represented 10.9% of total Web consumption in North America in January. Despite its losses over a year prior, Windows remains the dominant format with 86.8% of all Web use.
The analytics company noted that Windows share held steady for the last three months, following the introduction of Windows 7. But January repented a decline once again following a strong holiday season during which Apple sold 3.36 million Macs.
Mac OS X share also grew 7% between December and January, and also saw 5.2% quarterly growth. Windows saw a 0.9 percent increase in both monthly and quarterly share.
The report cited that the greatest growth in Web use has been on mobile devices wherein mobile operating systems increased their presence by 123.8% year-over-year in January. Even with that tremendous growth, mobile devices still represent just 1.3% of total Web use.
Quantcast also revealed that Mac OS X 10.5 remains the dominant version of Apple’s operating system. In January, Leopard represented 52.1% of all Mac users.
Adoption of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard remained rapid, with 27.3% of Mac users running Apple’s latest operating system, which was released in August and got off to a strong sales start twice as high as the debut of Leopard and four times better than Tiger.
In January, 17.2% of Mac users were running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, while 3.4% were on an earlier version.
For Microsoft, Windows XP remains the dominant platform, with 51.8% of users running the operating system. In fact, Quantast found that Windows XP actually gained share in January, due to strong sales of netbooks.
Windows Vista commands 37.4% of PC users, while Windows 7 has been adopted by 10.2%.
With relations between Apple and Google growing strained, a new set of rumors places Apple as having gone into discussions with Microsoft towards making Microsoft’s Bing search engine the default for the iPhone.
According to Businessweek, a source close to the story offered the following: “Though Microsoft did not confirm or deny any chatters on the likelihood of Microsoft wining Apple search deal for iPhone, [Microsoft executive] Mr. Apter told us that for right economics Microsoft would like to win the Apple search deal.”
In a recent note, Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal, also commented: “In our view, Apple search deal can be strategically very significant win for Microsoft not only because of Google and Apple’s history of working together but also because Microsoft has been lagging behind in terms of making in roads on fast growing mobile Internet market.”
As mentioned yesterday, Apple’s inclusion of the Google search engine on the iPhone platform nets the company about US$100 million a year from Google as part of a revenue-sharing deal, making it less likely Apple would want to develop its own search engine.
Macworld Expo is underway and with we’ve sent ace photo hound Michael Johnston of iPhone Alley to go grab shots for us.
Take a gander, let us know what you think and remember: you can probably outrun the giant anthropomorphic Microsoft Office icons:
Yep, we’re in the right place.
Even without Apple there, you’ve got a crowd. Not too shabby.
Behold, more crowds. And escalators.
Attendees walk to the next exhibit or section in what appears to be a full capacity Expo.
The latest Microsoft marketing campaign: a combination of annoyance and primal terror.
To be fair, the giant Microsoft Office icons CAN be killed with silver bullets and holy water.
Attendees sit in on a panel featuring John Braun and Dave Hamilton of the Mac Observer.
Attendees listen to a panel on the Main Stage before hopping off to the next vendor or exhibit.
A recent rumor stating that Apple may be looking to develop its own search engine may be untrue, an inside source citing that Apple may look to extend its current search engine deal with Google to continue providing such a function for the iPhone.
The deal may also be worth over US$100 million per year to Apple in revenue sharing.
Per Silicon Alley Insider, a source has stated “there’s too many options” for search on the market and thus no reason for Apple to build its own search engine.
Another reason Apple might not want to build its own search engine: It’s getting over US$100 million a year from Google in its revenue share deal, according to the source.
According to the source, although US$100 million isn’t a ton of money to Apple, it wouldn’t make sense for the company to invest a significant number of resources building its own search engine when Microsoft has Bing and a nigh-limitless checkbook to finance its research and development.
Additional rumors have stated that Apple and Microsoft have been in talks to make Bing the default search provider for the iPhone as the relationship between Google and Apple has reportedly soured as competition between the two companies has become increasingly intense.