Where is the Xbox One Damage Control?

Microsoft, you controlled the message so well, during your announcements. I was excited to hear about the offerings of the Xbox One. But the deluge of information that came out as soon as the press conference was over? And let me guess, now we’re going to have to wait until E3 to get any answers?? Even then, we probably won’t get the answers we’re hoping for. I don’t have any more official answers than anyone else, but let me take a crack at some of these rumors floating around.

Does Xbox One require an always on internet connection? No. As of right now, the console does not require a persistent internet connection. The rumor is that the console must check in with Xbox Live once every 24 hours. As long as your console has checked in in the last 24 hours, you’re good to go.

I’ve had people ask me about playing a NEW game that isn’t already registered, if your console hasn’t been connected to the internet in 24 hours? My first question is why not? Do you have a regular problem with returning from the store and finding your internet out? Maybe you should be more angry with your ISP than Microsoft. Now, if it’s not a bad internet connection, then what? Xbox Live has tens of millions of users. The users are active and online already, and nobody requires them to do so. Now that there’s a rumor that you might have to do it, suddenly you don’t want to? Where’s the logic behind the paranoia?

Installing games? Microsoft indicated, and developers have confirmed, that games will come with a one-time install code. What’s still unclear: is installation required? If you can play the game off the disc without installing it, then you’re trade in may be worth more at a Gamestop like store when you take it in. If you’ve already used your install code, you get less value, Gamestop can’t make as high a profit, and Microsoft and the developers charge you a fee (unannounced. $2? $10? $30? Does the price scale down over time?) to install the game on another console. In my opinion this is a bad move and it will actually drive the used-game market through the roof. What’s stopping me from buying a game brand new for $60 off the shelf, installing it to my console, then selling it to Gamestop for $30? I basically just got a brand new game on day one for $30. I’d do that every day, why would I buy a used copy at that point?

Is Kinect watching me while I sleep? Well, we know Google.com is. If you have Chrome installed, just go to Google.com and say “OK, Google.” It will await your instructions. So are most phones, computers, tablets, and cars these days. Even displays in grocery stores. You’re going to get used to this one or die in a tin-foil hat, unfortunately. The good news, is, although a Kinect connection is currently required for the Xbox One to work, there are settings in the console which allow you to turn off all of the features. Microsoft, at present, also suggests that all voice commands, etc… are parsed locally by the console, not sent back to Microsoft HQ for analysis or archiving of any kind.

Used Games? MajorNelson tried to clear this up a little bit, but as you can see from the 3,100+ salty comments below the blog post, it didn’t go well. The point he’s trying to get across, however, was actually pretty smart. NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL IS SET IN STONE. And even the things that are “official” when the consoles start rolling off the assembly line this fall, could change with a simple firmware update between the time they’re manufactured and the time they hit store shelves. Anything can change at any time, that’s the beauty of our connected world. I’m not worried yet, because so very much can still change between now and the time the Xbox One actually hits store shelves. I just wish Microsoft would try to do a better job at calming the masses, some time BEFORE E3 next month.

Ouya's here!

Well… Ouya’s there. Because I suspected I may be in the midst of moving when the Ouya consoles were shipped, I had it addressed to my parents’ in Pennsylvania. I did not end up moving as I had thought. The console arrived the day immediately following my most recent trip home. I would not be returning home in two weeks. That day is upon is. This article publishes at 6 AM, Eastern Time here in the States. I’ll be at work around 7:30. If all goes according to plan, I should leave work around 4:30. Perhaps earlier if I’m lucky. Hopefully not much later if unlucky.

Then I drive for 3 hours, listening to fun music while I cross the state line and arrive at my parents’ home and treat myself to a nice 4 day weekend. Where I plan to immediately rip open the box containing the Ouya console, hook it up, and begin tinkering with this thing that I’ve been waiting for for such a long time! It’s been driving me crazy to know I could be toying with this thing, but I have to wait, wait, wait for my next planned trip to Pennsylvania. So close but so far away.

Hopefully I’ll get some good quality time with my Ouya and I’ll be able to write more about it in the coming days, weeks, and months!

Adobe Photoshop Express – Free for Windows 8

It’s true, Windows 8 is still lacking a little bit in the apps department. But when awesome apps that do what you need them to do come to Windows 8, and they’re free, they deserve a little attention. Now, I know, kiddies, it’s not Instagram, but Adobe Photoshop Express has been released for the Windows 8 Store. You can use great features to clean up your photos quckly, save them, and share them from within the app. It’s got a lot of built in filters, what this app calls Looks.

Lots of very responsive and simple to use sliders for adjusting brightness, contrast, color saturation, hue, and all of those usual photo-editing knobs you can twist and turn all day long. The picture above is a scanned in photo from the 80’s, it’s me at around age 3 or 4 – I applied one of hte Looks that it shows below and viola, I could put this bad boy on the internet and look just as hip as the cool kids.

Alright, so it’s not quite as fancy as you might like, but you’re getting top level software, the pieces you need, and you’re getting them for free. It’s simple to use and a great addition to the Windows 8 Store catalog. Go ahead and download Adobe Photoshop Express.

#XboxReveal – just a couple of details of the Xbox One

Here are some key points from today’s Microsoft announcement:

  • Name: Xbox One
  • Snap Mode (multi tasking)
  • App Switching
  • Live TV Integration
  • Gesture and Voice Controls (Kinect sensor included)
  • Skype on the Xbox
  • USB 3.0, Bluray, 8GB RAM, 500GB hard drive,
  • Kernel of Windows
  • Halo TV Series
  • NFL Partnership
  • Call of Duty Ghosts
  • Price unannounced
  • Release date unannounced (later this year)

Wired Magazine has a nice spread of press photos of the new console and controllers.

Will #XboxReveal mention Windows 8?

Tuesdays are my tech articles, and I admit I’m behind on a few articles over the last few days, but I had to pop in and remind people that the #XboxReveal is today. You’ll be able to watch it live at Xbox.com/Hub. I’m also interested to see what Microsoft does.

There will be a new console, but I’m almost wishing they would blow people’s minds and say no box! “Xbox” should become a service on the PC, comparable to Steam. And I don’t mean the “Xbox for Windows” games that we see in the Windows 8 Store, but really an environment that you load in to, much like the Games app, but from there it exists as its own platform, and any game available on the console, is available on the PC. Okay, I highly doubt that will happen, but there needs to be some kind of seamless integration among the Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone, and Xbox platforms – and I hope they give some great detail on that today. E3, next month, June 10th, will talk about the games. Today? I’m expecting some general media and entertainment information.

I plan on having some follow up comments on this later today or tonight, and I promise I’ll bring back some regular posts to the website, but I’ve had some hectic days, lately, and I don’t expect things to calm down – but I assure you, I’ll make time for you folks!