Nov 06 2015

News - Windows 10 Video Player Adds SRT Support

As you could probably notice from the image above, the first time I opened the Windows 10 Movies & TV app was to take this screenshot. Frankly there are better [free] apps for watching local content, and I'm not convinced by Microsoft's content ecosystem (yet). That said, SRT support is a great step forward. Hopefuly the player continues to get better.

Sep 03 2013

News - Xbox One Isn't A Native Media Center Extender

I honestly don't quite know how to feel about this finally officially confirmed news that the new XBox One won't include the Media Center Extender infrastructure. I always suspected that this was the case, but officially hearing it is a sad ending to this journey. Windows Media Center is clearly not in the company's plans in the future. Sad day.

Will Xbox One work as a Windows Media Center Extender? For those that use a PC with TV tuner to record and watch TV, we use the 360 as an extender to stream this content to TVs. Will this continue with Xbox One?



WHITTEN: Xbox One isn’t a native Media Center Extender. We’ll continue to work to enable more ways for everyone to get the television they want over the life of the program.

via IGN


Feb 18 2013

News - How to Banish Live Tiles from Windows 8 and Bring Back the Desktop

Windows 8In my opinion Windows 8 is faster then Windows 7, and I don't mind using it, but when you are on a remote desktop of Windows 8 or running it in Hyper-V, it is less then pleasent when it comes to moving the mouse to the corners to do anything. I came across this article in PCWorld Magazine and then found it on thier site for easier click through. I have done this for mine and I am enjoying it, if I can keep it as Windows 7ish feel then I am more happier. Goodbye "Live Tiles" and hello desktop again.

In a world exploding with tablets and touchscreens, Microsoft's decision to saddle Windows 8 with the finger-friendly Modern interface formerly known as Metro makes a lot of sense—for Microsoft. But if you're among the majority of Windows users who aren't using a tablet or a touchscreen, the focus on Live Tiles and mobile-centric apps is more of a frustration than a feature. Vexingly, Windows 8 is riddled with sneaky ways to drag you out of the desktop and dump you on that shifting, shiny Start screen.




Dec 11 2012

News - Xbox 360 Gains 10 New Apps, 40 More by Spring 2013

Microsoft has announced the arrival of 10 new entertainment and content apps for the Xbox 360 as part of their plan to take over the living room via the game console. The new SkyDrive app, which serves up photos and videos stored on a user's SkyDrive account, is the only app that will be available across all regions. The other nine apps, which include access to content providers such as Maxim, VEVO, CinemaNow, and CNET, are either launching in or expanding into specific territories. Today's new apps are just beginning, as Microsoft has also announced that they have another 40 apps on tap for early 2013 that will add content from providers such as PBS, Flixster, CW, and Slacker Radio. To date, no media streamer has offered the breadth of providers and feeds that Roku has been able to put together, but it would seem that Microsoft has plans to change things.

The Xbox 360 is being overrun by apps, following the model established by Windows 8and Windows Phone. Today, Microsoft announced 10 new apps. And over 40 more are coming in early 2013.

Supersite for Windows

Nov 22 2012

News - Xbox TV coming from Microsoft Holidays 2013

Running a compressed version of Windows 8, Microsoft has a few different sku's coming in 2013 based on the news release. One of them will be called Xbox TV and it is going to be a set-top box. It will be an always on box. Based off the news it may be around the same as we are seeing Ceton working on with the Echo. It will be an interesting story to follow, maybe some more will be reviled during CES.


Microsoft's Xbox set-top box work is said to be part of a broader effort to ensure its core architecture for the next-generation Xbox is scalable enough to be put together to run on a number of devices

The Verge

Oct 31 2012

News - Windows Media Center Free for Windows 8 Pro Until January 31st

Metro WMCMicrosoft broke a lot of hearts when they announced that Windows Media Center was not going to be included with Windows 8. It was frustrating enough that WMC development was languishing, but turning it into an optional add-on, and only for Windows 8 Pro at that, seemed to be Microsoft's passive-aggressive way of letting HTPC fans know that WMC was well and truly dead. Fortunately, Microsoft has decided to throw us a bone, if only temporarily. Until January 31, 2013, Microsoft is giving the Windows Media Center Pack away for free. All one needs to do is visit Microsoft's "Add Features" website and supply an email address to receive a product code. Folks running the standard version of Windows 8 will still need to pony up for the Windows Pro Upgrade Pack for $59.99 which includes WMC. After January 31st, the WMC Pack will presumably return to the regular $9.99 price tag. On a side note, the WMC Pack product code apparently only works on retail versions of Windows 8 Pro. MSDN subscribers are reporting issues using the product key and I should find out about Technet copies this weekend.

Of course, Windows Media Center is still widely available for Windows 8 users, but it doesn’t come with the OS itself. Users must purchase it as an add-on in the Windows Store for $10. Granted, that’s not a lot of money at all, especially for all the features that you get, but considering that it was once a free feature that came with Windows, we can see how HTPC enthusiasts would be upset.


Oct 26 2012

News - NBA League Pass Broadband Comes to Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 has added yet another streaming sports service to its repertoire with the introduction this week of the NBA Game Time app. With the Game Time app, folks who subscribe to both Xbox Live Gold and NBA League Pass Broadband will be able stream regular season NBA games through their Xbox, complete with integrated Kinect-powered voice and gesture controls. The app and service allow for streaming at 720p. There are two levels of NBA League Pass Broadband. The $199.99 "Choice" package provides live streaming and on-demand archives for 5 teams, whereas the $179.99 "Premium" package provides complete access to any regular season game for all 30 teams.

 NBA League Pass on Xbox 360

You'll be able to watch live games, highlights and replays in HD, set a specific favorite team to follow and monitor team schedules and stats all through the app. Game Time also features the ability to watch up to two games at once, or watch a live game and catch up on highlights in a split-screen view.



Oct 16 2012

News - Microsoft Launches Xbox Music

The last we had heard about Microsoft's Xbox Music service, rumors were circulating that it would launch on October 26 along with free ad-supported streaming. Turns out, those rumors were sort of right. Xbox Music launches today on the Xbox 360 alongside a dashboard update. The dashboard update will also bring the Xbox UI more in line with the Windows 8 UI and bring Internet Explorer to the console. As for that October 26 date, that is when Xbox Music will launch for Windows 8. Microsoft had already announced that Xbox Music was in the works but in yesterday's announcement, Microsoft was not only officially announcing the launch dates of the service, but also revealing the full details of what the service brings to the table and making clear that Microsoft is not planning on competing with just iTunes or just Pandora. Xbox Music is taking on all comers.

Microsoft is boasting that Xbox Music's catalog is 30 million tracks strong, and available for individual purchase and for streaming. The free unlimited streaming service will be ad-supported and will be available on Windows PCs and tablets. Users will be able to create playlists, custom stations, and identify favorite artists. The Xbox Music Pass will cost $9.99 a month and will kill the ads and make those playlists and streaming selections available on the Xbox 360 and mobile devices. Initially, mobile devices means Windows Phone 8, but the company also plans to support iOS and Android in the near future. The oft-rumored digital music locker is also coming down the road in the next year. On the legacy front, Zune Pass subscribers are being automatically converted over to Xbox Music Pass, along with 1000 MS points as a "thank you" for continuing with the service, and reportedly the Zune software will also work with Xbox Music allowing for music from the serivce to be synced to Windows Phone 7 devices. 

“There are a lot of individual services that do a good job, but today there isn’t a service which can pull together the benefits of download-to-own, music subscription, or free streaming services,” Mehdi says. “With Xbox Music, what we wanted to do is bring all of that value in one simple, easy-to-use service, then build some additional value on top — make it really beautiful, and have it work across all of your devices. We’ve been able to simplify the music experience in a really powerful way.”


Oct 04 2012

News - Xbox Music Reportedly Launching October 26 with Free Streaming

Microsoft announced Xbox Music at E3 this year, and then promptly stopped talking about it. Rumors swirled that Microsoft was looking into adding a digital locker service similar to iTunes Match to complement the Zune-rebranded services already in place. Now more rumors are swirling that Xbox Music will finally launch on October 26. To be fair, this isn't exactly a blockbuster prediction given that October 26 is also the General Availability date for Windows 8 and the release date for the first wave of Surface tablets, both of which Microsoft has stated would be part of the Xbox Music ecosystem, but it is something. The digital locker service is still reportedly in the mix, integrated with SkyDrive, as are the Zune Pass-style subscriptions, but there might also be free ad-supported streaming, though whether it will be more like Spotify or Pandora remains to be seen. Odds are, it will be more like Zune Channels.

Xbox Music Logo

Microsoft is preparing to launch its Xbox Music service on October 26th. Multiple sources familiar with Microsoft's plans have confirmed the new service will launch at the same time as Windows 8. We're told that subscriptions, like the current Zune Music Pass offering, will be available alongside a free streaming service supported by ads — similar to Spotify. 

The Verge

Sep 19 2012

News - Microsoft Releases Kinect Nat Geo TV and Kinect Sesame Street, Hires Former CBS President for Original Xbox Video Content

Kinect Sesame Street and Nancy Tellem

Microsoft has been busy over the last year revamping the Xbox 360 interface to make way for the Xbox Live TV initiative that has seen dozens of new streaming media services added to the Xbox dashboard. Even as Microsoft was looking to use a Metro-flavored UI to turn the Xbox into the center of living room entertainment, Microsoft was starting to look forward to the future of television on the Xbox. Today, two aspects of that future vision took big steps forward.

First up, we have the move toward interactive television. Back in October, Micorosft held a press conference to take the wraps off a project intended to change the nature of watching television on the Xbox 360 by showing off versions of Sesame Street and National Geographic that children could not only watch, but interact with through the use of Kinect. It took 11 months, but Kinect Sesame Street and Kinect Nat Geo TV finally launched today for $29.99 each. In addition to the episodes and clips that come on the disc, you receive a one year Season Pass for new episodes and clips.

I have to say though, the best part about the game was living as an animal. Each video has a set of mini-games (which can be selected and all played from the main menu) where you become the animal and have to perform general survival tasks. Kinect does a good job here not going nuts when someone walks behind you (as in many other Kinect games) and keeping your animal facade on. Whether it be bears, owls, wolves, rams, panthers or wolverines, your head and arms become that of the animal. 


The other aspect of Microsoft plans that moved forward today was the company's ambition to begin producing original video content for Xbox Live. The last we had heard of the project, Microsoft was supposedly talking up some former NBC executives, but Microsoft must have realized that anyone who helped steer that ship aground was probably not a good bet, so instead the company has hired Nancy Tellem, former president of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group. As the newly christened Entertainment and Digital Media president, Tellem has been charged with overseeing the launch of a production studio in Los Angeles to focus on creating content for the Xbox.

"I look forward to building a studio team that embraces the challenges of creating true interactive content that the Xbox platform supports and to work with talent to create content that will change the way entertainment content is experienced and delivered," Tellem said in the press release.

"We are embarking on a new chapter with the creation of a studio dedicated to making original interactive and linear content, and I'm excited to have Nancy leading this effort," Microsoft corporate VP Phil Spencer also added.


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