$7.2 Billion Later And Microsoft Is Now A Device Company

Microsoft is buy Nokia’s mobile device business for a whopping $7.2 billion (5.44 billion euros), that will bring Microsoft CEO contender Stephen Elop back into the Microsoft hive.

Current Nokia CEO Elop ran Microsoft’s Software Division up until he left, for Nokia, in 2010. Because of this many Finnish media outlets have labeled him a Trojan Horse and that this was planned all along as Elop presided over Nokia’s Market Collapse and it’s slow sad decline since.

There is a ton more info in the full article but, my take on this is:

Microsoft will have to be very careful moving forward with this. Nokia hasn’t been a power in the mobile devices market for some time now. One has to wonder if being made by Microsoft will really change the fact that Samsung, HTC and Apple own the mobile device market. Granted that Big-M will give a huge influx of new assets (money) and talent (people).

We’ll all have to wait and see what will happen as Microsoft tries to become a gadget and service company instead of the software, or what ever they claim to be now.

Full Article at finance.yahoo.com

Ballmer to Retire within 12 Months

Microsoft Steve Ballmer announced that he will retire within the next 12 months.

Now to be honest this doesn’t seem like that great of timing when you consider the struggles Microsoft has looming: falling Windows OS sales, a tablet that is failing to gain a substantial foothold in the market not to mention the quickly approaching console battle with Sony’s PlayStation 4.

From what’s reported, Ballmer has not developed a successor not even a group of possibilities. Joachim Kempin, a senior Microsoft executive from 1983 to 2002, stated in his recent book that this was intentional as Ballmer felt threatened by the future leaders in the company.

This will be a tough time for Microsoft as they look to find their next leader.

Fin the full article at yahoo.com

Xbox One “Global” Launch Not So Global After All

Fool.com reports that Microsoft has announced that the number of countries that will get the Xbox One at launch is down to 13 from the originally announced 21. That’s a sizable drop in countries. Microsoft says it’s “in order to meet demand” now that may or may not be true, but many people are adding this to the list of statements trumpeted at E3 that Microsoft has reversed course on. Those 8 countries that were promised the November launch date will have to wait until “sometime 2014″ to get their consoles.

Here are the list of countries that are still getting the Xbox One, for now:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • New Zealand

Original Article at Fool.com

Original Microsoft blog post news.xbox.com

PlayStation 4 Release Date One Month Before Xbox One?

Nowgamer.com has an article that talks about the rumors going around that the PS4 will launch October 21st, 2013. If true this could be a big move by Sony.

A “mod-verified” poster on neoGAF stated that he works with a retail background privy to release dates, so they can get their instore merch plans setup. He noted that in a recent internal memo they had an “unknown Sony Console” launching on Oct 21st. And that in the recent past new consoles were labeled as such, also noted that if a release date has not been confirmed from the manufacturer it simply lists TBA.

Keep in mind this is only a rumor, however if it turns out to be true it could be a big move for Sony, as they’ll have a full month to restock supplies for Black Friday, after the pre-orders and first day buyers get theirs.

Most likely we’ll get confirmation of this, true or not, at Gamescom next week.

Check out the full article at Nowgamer.com

Zynga Hires Former Xbox Head

That’s right folks, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division is now the CEO of all your favorite Facebook games. Don Mattrick was recruited by Zynga founder Mark Pincus personally.

Now Pincus will still be the chairman, chief product officer and controls 61% of the stock thanks to a two-tiered stock structure. Which brings up the questions who will really be in control of the company?

Well according to Reuters, Mattrick will be in charge of the day to day business and green-lighting new games.

My biggest question is the timing of everything, it may just be me, but it seems a little odd that he leaves this close after the pounding Microsoft and the Xbox took at E3. Is he really “leaving” or is he being forced to leave?

Also, what happens with Microsoft’s Xbox division? Some are saying that Steve Ballmer wants to create a “Devices” division that may include Xbox, Surface Tablets and maybe the Phones divisions.

For more info check out the article on Reuters.

PlayStation 4 Information from E3

So yesterday both Microsoft and Sony had their keynote conferences yesterday. Early, and continued, reactions to the two is not going well for Microsoft. Thanks to their conference a couple weeks ago we know a bunch of details about the Xbox One (still hate that name) than we do the PS4. So here on Nerditronics we’re going to cover the PS4 announcements first, well that and I don’t like Microsoft, and I’m in charge of the blog!

First off, Sony went into full beast-mode in it’s attack on the Xbox One. If you’re squeamish, might want to look away now. NAW who am I kidding keep reading!

Sony’s first jab to the Xbox One is it’s price, at $399 (In Europe, it’ll be €399 and £349.) PS4 will be priced a full $100 cheaper than Microsoft’s offering. This is a very welcomed change to the $600 launch of the PlayStation 3, which for the record, yes I still paid it. Though it does not appear that this will include the new PlayStation Eye camera.

At the console launch in February Sony didn’t show the actual console, however at E3 they fixed that quickly. I’ll be honest, I’m not psyched about the look, granted it doesn’t look like an old boxy VCR like the Xbox One does, but it does look like an italicized original PS2.

 

The system will include a 500GB hard drive similar to the X1 (hate that name too), however they’ve already announced that it will be upgradeable similar to the original PS3′s.

Now here’s where it gets a little ugly for Microsoft.

Jack Tretton, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment America said, ”We’re equally focused on delivering what gamers want most, without imposing restrictions or devaluing their PS4 purchases.” Soon after this Sony start launching bombs that were not subtle at all.

Kotaku’s summary of what happened next said it best I think.

“PlayStation 4 won’t impose any new restrictions on the use of PS4 games.” Twenty-second applause break. “When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that copy of the game, they can trade in the game at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever.” Twenty-second applause break, with “Sony” chant.

 

“PlayStation 4 disc-based games don’t need to be connected online to play.” Twelve-second applause break. “If you enjoy playing singleplayer games offline, PS4 won’t require you to check in online periodically.” Eight-second applause break. “And it won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated within 24 hours.” Ten-second applause break.

These were obviously directly aimed at Microsoft’s ‘clarifications’ the other day, which has not sat well with gamers. Sony knew this and played into it beautifully.

Now all the cheering and brownie-points that Sony gained with the last announcements made this next bit of news go off oddly well:

The PlayStation 4 will now charge for Online Multiplayer, unlike with the PS3. You can pay $50 for a year’s subscription ($4.17-ish per month). However you will get multiple free games for your subscription and it’s good for every PlayStation device.

Now obviously this is very early on, and both systems are VERY far from launch, both slated for Holidays 2013. But at this point if Microsoft backs out on their announced plans they’ll run the risk of dropping more face with the customers by admitting that Sony was “right”. Also there’s no saying that Sony won’t change their mind about certain things between now and then. However as it stands now, Sony is swinging for the fences and Microsoft is leaving itself open for every shot.

Now for one last shot at the Xbox One, Sony released the following video.

Announcement turns into Bad Day for neXt Box

Today Microsoft tried to clarify some of the confusion from their Xbox One launch announcement  last month. However the early reaction to most of what they “clarified” today has been less than positive for Microsoft and the neXt Box, as I call it.

Here’s a good recap, thanks to Kotaku.com along with my comments.

  • The console must connect to the internet once every 24 hours in order for you to play games.

Now I know most people that will own an Xbox One will have an “always on” broadband connection. However not everyone will. What about the military members who take their neXt Box with them? Sometimes they can’t get online for multiple weeks! Or students who can’t afford the always on connection? Will they not be allowed to play their games after 24 hours? Or what about if the Microsoft servers go down? Oh, wait I forgot… that NEVER happens right?

Here’s a bit from the Xbox Wire statement:

With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.

  • The Xbox One will allow the sale of used games, at “participating retailers”, but only if the publisher allows it. Publishers being the very people opposed most fiercely to used video game sales.

Now let me gets this straight, you can trade in your games (yay!) but it’s not up to you, nor is it up to where ever you want to trade them in at. It’s up to the very companies that want to get rid of used games all together because they don’t get any money off the used games? While this is a smart move for Microsoft, in that they can wash their hands of this whole thing and just blame the game makers, it seems to really just screw over the gamers.

  • There are restrictions on how you can “give” and “loan” your games away. What’s more, lending won’t be available at launch, with Microsoft still “exploring the possibilities with our partners”.

Now the “restrictions” are less than clear, again according to Xbox Wire:

Give your games to friends: Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.

So you can give your games to your friends, but only if their disc based, only if you’ve had them on your friends list for a month AND only if it’s never been given to anyone before? Gee thanks for making it so easy. Am I the only one that remembers when you could just hand someone the disc, they’d take it home and DONE… that’s it, no restrictions, nothing, just your friend enjoying some sweet sweet game action!?

This next one isn’t on the Kotaku list of “bad things” but it’s on the Xbox Wire and it’s something that I’ve debated with my friends *cough* Marshal *cough*:

Access your entire games library from any Xbox One—no discs required: After signing in and installing, you can play any of your games from any Xbox One because a digital copy of your game is stored on your console and in the cloud.  So, for example, while you are logged in at your friend’s house, you can play your games.

So, you buy the game (disc or digital), install it and then your disc, if you bought it that way, is done. Here’s my question, Microsoft stated that the “stock” Xbox One will have a 500GB Hard Drive. I say stock because there’s no word on if you can upgrade that on your own or not like the PS3. But, they want you to install Blu-Ray disc games (up to 50GB+ per disc) yours and any friend’s that you “borrow” mind you, load your music, videos and other media you have because it’s a “media center”, not to mention if they add the ability to use your system as a DVR. That Hard Drive is going to fill up really damn fast. Which they’ve never gone into how it would handle uninstalling/reinstalling/file management etc.

Even some of the “good” news mentioned just seems like they’re avoiding the issue honestly:

  • Responding to fears over privacy issues surrounding the “always on” Kinect, Microsoft says you can turn the Kinect off.

Now being able to turn it off is well and good, however it doesn’t really do anything to make me, or others, feel good about the fact that it CAN watch you all the time.

Now the seemingly lone good news in all this relates to family:

  • You can have up to ten people in your Xbox One “family”, and can share all your content among them, regardless of which console they’re using.

I got nothing bad to say about this, this sounds honestly really cool. However I would like to know if you have 2 different consoles accessing the same “family” of content, can you both play a game at the same time?

Questions like that last one and many many more were asked of Microsoft by Kotaku and numerous other journalists. However, Microsoft refused to provide any further questions simply saying that today’s information is ”everything we can share today”.

Now to me, this merely raises the question of if Microsoft even KNOWS any further information at all.

Stay Tuned to Nerditronics for more information!

The Xbox One: Hardware Analysis & Comparison to PlayStation 4

AnandTech has a good write up on the XBox One hardware and Compares it to the PlayStation 4.

For those that don’t want to read the entire article, here’s a high level view of what the neXt-Box is packing.

- 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU
- 12 CU/768 SP AMD GCN GPU
- 8GB DDR3 system memory
- 500GB HDD
- Blu-ray drive
- 2.4/5.0GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n, multiple radios with WiFi Direct support
- 4K HDMI in/out (for cable TV passthrough)
- USB 3.0

Check out the full write up here.

3 Ways Microsoft Can Save Windows 8

Steve Heller at fool.com posted an article on April 27th, listing 3 ways Microsoft can save Windows 8. Now despite what some fanboys in denial *cough* Marshal *cough* will say, the fact of the matter is this – Windows 8 sales suck. It’s selling worse than Windows Vista did.

There we said it, it’s out in the open, now we can move to task at hand. And that is; How can Uncle Billy’s Magic Workshop fix their steaming pile of Metro?

According to Mr. Heller, step one is to kill Windows RT. Now for most techie people, Marshal and I included  Windows RT was never all that confusing, but for the average consumer it’s been a nightmare since launch. For those that don’t really know what RT is, it’s basically a version of Windows 8 that’s designed for “ARM” devices, such as the Microsoft Surface RT and ASUS VivoTab RT. Now the catch is, legacy Windows applications aren’t compatible with ARM, and thus cannot be used. So the average consumer, see’s this tablet and OS, that looks just like the one on their PC, but can’t run anything from their PC even though it looks sounds and reacts pretty much the exact same way.

To add to the confusion, there’s the Microsoft Surface Pro. Now this tablet/laptop-wannabe, is powered by a normal Intel i5 processor and not ARM, and thus does not run Windows RT, it runs a “full version” of Windows 8 Pro… which looks exactly the same from an average consumer’s point of view. From Microsoft’s website the Surface Pro is $899 and the Surface RT is $499, while I’m sure if you read every word on the pages it will explain all the differences and limitations, average consumers do not do that. They see “Oh this one is cheaper, gets better battery life, is thinner and looks the same.”

 

Next up Mr. Heller states that Microsoft needs to introduce a $200 tablet. The major thing that Windows 8 (not RT) based tablets have going for them, is that they can literally become a spur of the moment laptop. While my Gen. 1 Galaxy Tab 10.1 can get into Open Office and I can do some editing and such on there if I need to, it’s not fully realized simply because it’s running a different architecture. With Intel launching the new Bay Trail processors soon, we’ll see if Microsoft is able to make this happen.

 

The last thing Mr. Heller mentions is that they need to bring back the Start Menu. Bottom line with this is the Start Menu as we know it has been around for 17 years. That’s longer than most teenagers. The Start Menu has become Windows. I’m sorry, I know Microsoft wants to “innovate” and not be stuck in the same rut, but when people think of a Windows OS, they think Start button. In version 8.1 it’s rumored that they’ll introduce some bastardization of a Start button that simply routes you back to the Metro Interface (which for the record I HATE!). Which to me is kind of a slap in the face. It’s like Microsoft saying “Oh you guys want the Start Menu back? Oh OK, here’s the Start button back we’re sorry…” *User clicks on new Start button* “HA! Fooled you! it takes you right back to the interface you were trying to avoid! NO START FOR YOU!

Check out the full article here for Steve Heller’s opinions on the whole thing.