Getting to know Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella

Everyone, say hello to Satya Nadella. He has just been named the new CEO of Microsoft. Only the third CEO in company history, Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years.

He is well known for his role on the enterprise end of the spectrum. Particularly, over the last quarter-decade, he has been responsible for a lot of what makes Azure a great cloud platform. He is credited with making sure the infrastructure, including the ability to run Windows Server, SQL Server, and Visual Studio within the cloud. His educational background is at The University of Chicago, where he attended the Booth School of Business. While at Microsoft, he was a Senior VP in MBS (focusing on Dynamics and Office Small Business), then the President of the Server & Tools business, which is when he was making his big cloud push.

This should give us a clear idea of what Nadella going to focus on. Does this mean he will jettison other divisions like Windows Phone and Xbox? Doubtful. But we will very likely see more cloud integration and dependence on making the Xbox a “service” rather than simply a gaming or entertainment platform. Software as a Service (SaaS) and the ability to charge monthly fees for products like Windows and Office have been a long time goal for Microsoft, generating a steady stream of revenue. As much as the consumer may not like it, the entire industry has been trying to go this way for years. We can expect to see a push in this direction, as I expect Nadella will dive in more quickly than his predecessors, who were dipping their toes in.

If you really want to get to know Satya Nadella, learn about him from his MSDN blogs of years past.

ZUNE Tip of a Lifetime: Zune Pass info needs to be refreshed solved! (KB946369)

I like to do the Xbox Tip of the Week on Sundays, but this time I feel obligated to let everyone know of a little Zune tip I have for you. I know, they’re not extremely popular, but my sister has one and she recently let her Zune Pass lapse. After she renewed, she was receiving the Your Zune Pass info needs to be refreshed error message, even though she had synchronized her Zune.

Microsoft used to have a support article about this in their Knowledge Base, but if you try to visit http://support.microsoft.com/kb/946369 there is no page there anymore. It’s like Microsoft wants to disavow knowledge of the Zune’s existence. Well, I used a little Archive.org-fu and dug up the original contents of the page. Deeper in this article, you’ll find some of the contents of the original Knowledge Base article, with multiple tips for fixing this and similar issues. Continue reading “ZUNE Tip of a Lifetime: Zune Pass info needs to be refreshed solved! (KB946369)”

New Artwork on 12+1 Live & 1600 Point Cards coming soon!



Today, Gamestop confirmed Grand Theft Auto IV Lost and Damned expansion would be available February 17th. They also verified it would be $20. What else is $20? 1600 Microsoft points.

Thus, the no brainer 1600 point card showcasing the artwork for GTA IV’s Lost and Damned expansion.

Also, celebrating Halo Wars, some more 12+1 Xbox Live subscription cards will be coming out with some quaint Halo Wars art. Be on the lookout for some killer looking Spartans coming to a store near you!

The King of Kong: A new record may be set at Microsoft's Conference!

At this very moment I am watching the final minutes of the movie “The King of Kong, A Fistful of Quarters.” I have heard good things about this movie for several months. I have seen ads on TV, reviews on websites, and now the movie has even been placed on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Major Nelson even mentioned it in a podcast a few weeks ago.

Why is this important? What does this have to do with the Xbox 360? Twenty four hours from now, at Microsoft’s MIX08 Conference, in Las Vegas, Steve Wiebe (one of the guys in the movie) will be attempting to set yet another world record. Rather than attending a multi day venue, he intends to attempt this new record in a four hour period. That gives him, technically, less time than 2 play-throughs of Donkey Kong would take.

The following information (and the picture above) is from the Twin Galaxies website:

Steve Wiebe Attempts Donkey Kong Record
Walter Day to referee High-Score Attempt at Microsoft’s MIX08 in Las Vegas
3/4/2008
March 3, 2008 — Las Vegas, NV — Noted Donkey Kong competitor, Steve Wiebe, of Redmond, Washington, rolls up his sleeves at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas on the night of March 5th and tries to make history by taking back the highly-coveted Donkey Kong Crown.

Right now, Steve and the equally-as-famous Billy Mitchell, are running neck-and-neck on the high-score circuit, with Billy currently in the lead with 1,050,200 points to Steve’s 1,049,100 points. With only 1,100 points separating them, Steve poses a serious threat to take back the world title.

And, in the referee’s outfit, performing Master of Ceremonies duties, is Walter Day, Twin Galaxies’ Chief Evangelist, who will monitor Steve’s record-breaking attempt while ensuring that the strictest Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings are enforced.

The event takes place during Microsoft’s TAO NIGHTCLUB PARTY from 6:00pm to10:00pm in The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Hosted by Microsoft, the high-score challenge is one of the cultural highlights of this year’s MIX08 gathering, an annual techological smorgasbord titled MIX08: THE NEXT WEB NOW.

The Mix08 conference will also play host to a one of a kind Rock Band tournament this weekend. But, really, who cares when there’s a world record at stake!?

To step back a bit, I have heard people think that this movie is good, and others that think it’s horrible. Maybe it’ll just make you feel good that you have a little more substance to your life. Maybe it will make you question the motives of men retiring at age 30, without a girlfriend, so that they can spend time playing 1980’s arcade games, maybe it’ll make you wonder how Billy Mitchell fits in those jeans, or if Steve Wiebe really should wear a purple shirt when he teaches junior high science classes… who knows. But the thing I want to make you think right now is… maybe I should go watch this! Screenings at MIX08, downloadable on Xbox Live Video Marketplace, and generally just something every true gamer should see just once. Get to it!

[UPDATE 2] So much attention paid to the thing behind the curtain…

The above picture is from Kotaku, and, in the distance, it shows a mysterious shrouded stand, in the middle of the Microsoft XNA lobby, at GDC.

We aren’t there, we don’t know what it is, either. But there is something behind that curtain – and it is scheduled to be unveiled in about an hour. The teams at WinBreak Central Command and WinBreak Remote Command are all geared up and ready to blog. Of course, I’m a one man show, but I have my own tool set to try and get this news to you as soon as it breaks to the public.

It’s hard to imagine something to do with XNA is going to steal the show, after all, the Creators Club has so far failed to produce the amazing results we thought it would in 2006. But there is something that Microsoft has deemed interesting enough to hype up a little bit, and leave to the imagination, so here’s hoping! More than likely, whatever the surprise announcement is, it will be featured on Inside Xbox, Major Nelson, and Gamerscore Blog.

UPDATE
Community made XNA games will be distributed through Xbox Live. Many games will be playable on Zune. Windows – Xbox – Zune all expected to be ‘cross platform’-ish with XNA.

But behind the curtain? Is it a GoW 2 display? Screenies of all of the XNA games supposedly available on the XBLM? We don’t know yet… but we do know the GoW2 video is playing at this very instant at GDC.

UPDATE 2: Kotaku has presented us with pictures of “the stand behind the curtain.” Just as I (sort of) guessed, it is a demo station featuring the announced XNA games. Also, interestingly, a link to XNA Game Studio Connect at the bottom – must be the one that goes directly to your PC? Don’t know, I didn’t play around enough with XNA last year when I was playing around with it at all… but I’m sure there will be clearer details to come this week.

WBX: Microsoft to buy Epic? Don't make us LOL…

WBX: WinBreak Exclusive
IRISHprik411 pointed me to an article at dbtechno.com which said Microsoft was planning to buy Epic. Unfortunately for them, it’s completely bogus. It might get them some hits, but it’ll die off soon enough.

After CliffyB stating, last week, how Epic intends to focus the majority of their work on consoles, I can’t expect that they’re suddenly going to buddy up to Microsoft. Further cementing the idea that Epic is out on their own, today they announced the implimentation of Scaleform GFx, which “…[enables] artists to create scalable data-driven UI elements for menuing systems, overlays, HUDs and animated textures directly on 3D objects. GFx also provides an innovative text and font system specifically designed to enhance productivity and streamline localization.”

Additionally, I got in touch with a source “friendly” with Epic who, preferred to remain anonymous, who had this to say: “Its a rumor, lol …. well, rumors start easily …. I’m not sure where it came from, or why.” I just had to include the “LOL” in his message, reaffirming that Epic isn’t going anywhere, and they’re certainly not about to join Microsoft Game Studios. Clearly the most popular game engine right now (what game have you played lately that didn’t have the Unreal Engine logo at the beginning!?), Epic still has enough money to resist even the best offers from Microsoft, if they were to make one.

2008: better or worse year? Clearing contradictions from MS


(picture of MS staff setting up for CES keynote, from MajorNelson’s flickr)

During the CES Keynote speech delivered by Bill Gates, Mr. Gates had mentioned that video games were “on track” to be the “best year ever in the United States” (not just Xbox 360 contrary to other articles). “Video games” are poised to have a great year – that’s exactly what Bill Gates said to us literally 5 hours ago.

Well, MSNBC (a joint Microsoft – NBC Universal venture) reported, on the same day, that the industry may actually slow in 2008. The article is actually from Reuters, using data from CEA, but it’s an interesting contradiction. So which is it?

Well, Gates’ statement, when in context, suggest that the video game industry as a whole will do well. Not necessarily the console and hardware end of things. While the title of the MSNBC article suggests that “Game industry growth may slow in 2008” they are not contradicting what gates said. The MSNBC article, once broken down, essentially states that console/hardware sales are all expected to drop, while games/software is expected to pick up a great deal.

The article states that industry hardware sales were “$6.6 billion in 2007, but are anticipated to shrink to $6.4 billion in 2008.” Where, software on the other, is expected to see “…’a 26 percent increase in sales over 2007,’ said CEA spokeswoman Jennifer Bemisderfer. Software sales are expected to rise to $11.5 billion in 2008, up from $9.1 billion in 2007.” According to the article, software sales rose 7.6 percent between 2006 and 2007 – so a 26 percent increase is going to be absolutely gigantic.

Expect to see this data referenced throughout the year, and don’t let anyone blur those details and spin this article their way to try and trick you! Keep your guard up!

Live coverage of the CES Keynote, tonight!

For those of you geeky enough to care, but not geeky enough to be so dedicated to sit around and listen to Bill Gates and friends run around a stage to crappy rock music, I will be covering the event LIVE, with a post keynote summary.

My live coverage will be courtesy of that awesome shoutmix.com shoutbox you now see on the right side of the index page.

Now I’m sure you would all rather follow Major Nelson’s twitter, but mine at least offers a little bit of interactivity during the show, as you’ll be able to chat with me while I do it!

I know it’s late notice, but come back here tonight for live updates during the show, and my post show synopsis. Also, shortly after the show, I will be posting MP3’s of some of the show. So come around, hang out, and let’s make a night of it! 🙂