09 February 2012

Microsoft Takes Lead In Gaming


Since its Kin days, our favorite software giant has been having trouble making its mobile platform relevant. Zune, its attempt at competing with the iPod for the digital-music-player market, has become a classic example of how not to enter an industry.
Its search engine, while definitely more spot-on than the market’s 800-pound gorilla in terms of search results, constantly gets pummeled by the largest primate in the market-share contest. Its Office suite of productivity tools continues to fatten the company’s coffers, but rivals Apple and Google are increasingly becoming aggressive in chipping away at its hold on the market.
Indeed, Microsoft has a rather long list of missteps, failures, and shortcomings, and critics and bashers have noted with undisguised glee.

When it comes to gaming, however, the Redmond company is fast becoming the world’s numero uno.
Microsoft, Gaming’s Alpha
The Xbox 360, despite the Red Ring of Death issues during its early days, has become the leading gaming platform. In the United States, Microsoft’s console accounted for 40 percent of the market’s retail sales in 2011, according to data from market research firm NPD.
In fact, it took top honors as the bestselling console in the US each month of the year, Microsoft revealed at the 2012 CES trade show in Las Vegas.
Microsoft’s Kinect gesture-based control technology, meanwhile, gave the company plenty of bragging rights in the gaming innovation department.
Aside from giving Xbox 360-owning gamers a chance to experience truly immersive plays, the platform has become a favorite research and development project for a growing bunch of engineers.
These researchers are eagerly finding out what the Kinect can do in surgery and other medical-care fields, education, warfare, television, and so on.
Running a Theme Park
Leave it to the Koreans, however, to come up with one of the coolest applications ever for Microsoft’s gaming peripheral.
Engineers in South Korea have employed the Kinect, as well as three-dimensional projectors and hologram technology, to bring to life Live Park, a theme park that features 4D avatars and interactive rides.
With its 65 attractions spread over several theme-based stages, the park relies on 3D video and enhanced reality technology to offer something that its owners describe as a “seamless story.”
Kinect Lands on Laptops
Though some industry observers have pooh-poohed the idea, several hardware vendors have or are reportedly developing prototypes of Windows 8 laptops equipped with Kinect technology.
Asus, for one, has added the platform into several prototypes that seemed to be netbooks, according to some media reports. Kinect-on-laptop proponents, however, propose plenty of functionalities for Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology on portable computers.
Users, for example, will find it neat having the ability to open and close applications with a mere wave of their hands.
Moreover, people who are physically challenged are likely to find it easier to manipulate their laptops with hand gestures.
But of course, gamers are the ones most likely to have fun with their Kinect-enabled laptops or netbooks.
No Console for Old Games?
There are unconfirmed reports that gamers will not be able to play old games (read: designed for earlier Xbox versions) on the Xbox 720.
Microsoft reportedly plans to install an anti-used game system on its next-generation console.
The Xbox has enabled Microsoft to grab a leading role in the IT world’s drive to get into consumers’ living rooms. With Xbox-enabled TV, streaming, and entertainment systems, Microsoft stands a great chance of beating Apple and Google in a very significant market — the home entertainment segment.
Microsoft should not, I think, blow it by hating used games.
By ALLAN D. FRANCISCO
mb.com.ph

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