Category: Microsoft

Are you eligible for a free Xbox360?

Here’s the scoop: Apparently Microsoft has started shipping game discs that use a new format, known as “XGD3”, which gives developers an extra 1GB to work with when authoring games. Trouble is, it seems that some older Xbox360 consoles have trouble reading these discs.

The bad news for Microsoft is that this can’t be fixed with a firmware upgrade.

The good news for owners of these format-handicapped consoles is that they are likely going to get a brand new machine courtesy of Microsoft.

At least that’s how it appears judging from an email that was posted to Twitter, published by Kotaku and picked up by winrumours.com:

And just in case you’re suspicious of this note and its veracity, here we present exhibit B, a tweet from the @Xboxsupport account that confirms it’s all legit.

No word yet if this replacement program is in effect here in Canada, and so far there’s no information on how you can tell if your particular console is elligible for the trade-in. Judging by that email, the Xbox team themselves are carrying out the identification  process via the Xbox Live service. That seems a little odd, but it may be their way of containing the initial run of replacements to a small batch before having to deal with a wider recall (if any).

So readers, have you had any trouble with new game discs running on your Xbox360? Or will you just have to stick with your existing hardware? :-)

Update: The new disc format may not be the problem after all. Xbox Live’s “Major Nelson” claims the replacement program has to do with a “previous update” and not the XGD3 discs. Confused? So are we. Our attempt to get a full explanation of the replacement program simply elicited a “We have no information on that” response from the @xboxSupport team. We’ll update this post if we hear any more from Redmond.

[Source: WinRumours] [Via: electronista]

Is this the next Windows 7 Phone?

Artist's concept of a projection-keyboard-equipped Windows 7 Phone (click for larger image)

Artist's concept of a projection-keyboard-equipped Windows 7 Phone (click for larger image)

Today, Microsoft announced that it had purchased 3-D chip maker Canesta for an undisclosed amount. Given Microsoft’s existing investment in movement-recognition for their gaming platform – the Xbox 360 Kinect, it makes sense that they would want to grow their arsenal. But what intrigued me about this particular acquisition is one of the patents that Canesta holds, according to NetworkWorld.com: the projection keyboard.

I had read about projection keyboards a few years ago and like many others was impressed by the opportunities inherent in the concept. How long would it be before we saw mobile phones with this technology embedded?

Turns out it hasn’t happened… yet. Although Canesta has licensed their technology to device maker Celluon who has already brought a stand-alone keyboard projection system to market, there has been no all-in-one device.

Now, I realize that Microsoft doesn’t manufacture any mobile phones (their recent foray with the KIN was over almost before it started) so it’s unlikely that we’ll start seeing Microsoft branded phones anytime soon, but perhaps there’s a different strategy.

One of the big challenges Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 has ahead of it in its battle with Apple, Android and Blackberry is differentiating itself from the other platforms. They’ve already taken a stab at this by making their home-screen more useful than merely being a collection of icons, so what else can they do to convince you to buy?

Given that they don’t control the hardware for Windows Phone 7, they may try to influence it. What if Microsoft agreed to give a free license for Canesta’s projection keyboard system to any hardware maker who produces a Windows Phone 7 model? What if they further covered the cost of the chip-and-sensor modules that make the keyboard possible?

Having the only projection keyboard-enabled phones on the market might just be the push Redmond needs to see wider adoption of their new mobile OS. Or it might just be another desperate move. Readers, what say you? Would a projection keyboard sway your decision on which smartphone to buy?

Zune HD arrives in Canada (sort of)

zune-hdTigerDirect.ca is offering the Zune HD in the 16GB capacity for $219, which is odd because Microsoft has not spoken a single word about their plans to bring the Zune HD to this country since its launch in the U.S. last year.

There remains no mention of this model on the official Canadian Zune site.

So this could simply be an inventory glitch on Tiger’s site – they have been known to offer U.S.-only products to Canadians in the past, though generally their .ca site reflects the rest of the state of Canadian retail.

If you were dying to jump on the Zune HD bandwagon, it seems now is your chance, at least without the hassle of cross-border shopping – who knows how long this apparent glitch will remain? Though keep in mind, there is still no Zune Marketplace in Canada so you’ll have to buy your music on iTunes or another online retailer. You do buy your music don’t you? ;-)

Here’s the link.

Update Jan 13 1:31 PM ET: Looks like Tiger got wise to the glitch, as the item is now showing as unavailable.