Developers could soon be bringing PC-based Kinect games if a new rumor is anything to go by. According to sources, Microsoft is working on building a Kinect SDK that it could release along with official drivers for Windows that can be used by developers to build PC-based Kinect applications. This is expected to take a few more months and the Kinect SDK is believed to be released as a Microsoft XNA “Community Technical Preview” beta.
Not just this. Microsoft could also be releasing a gesture-based control environment on its next generation Windows operating system. You might recall Windows 8 demos from early this month where the OS was demoed to work with potential integration with Kinect.
Of course, all of this is simply speculation at this point. But given Ballmer’s statements that his company would be integrating Kinect with PCs “in the right time“, we cannot wait to find out if we are already there.
Microsoft is learned to have incorporated a feature on Windows Phone 7 handsets that will automatically backup all the content and data from the phone before a system update is performed. Speaking in a podcast, Matt Akers of the Microsoft Zune Software client team said,
“Any time that we prepare to do an update, which you guys will see soon, we will make a backup of your phone. The entire phone, everything on it.”
Akers has said that the backup will help users in seamlessly reverting back to the older firmware in case something was to go wrong during the update. The feature apparently has been incorporated on the Windows Phone 7 OS by default and should be seen in action when Microsoft rolls out its firmware update.
And that we hear is coming soon.
The first service pack of Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 could be made publicly available today as claimed by a Microsoft employee. Unfortunately, the service pack for both the editions of Windows has already been leaked online. The leaked version of the Windows 7 service pack RTM build is labelled 7601.17514.101119-1850 suggesting that the software was created on 19th November 2010. Microsoft Enterprise Services employee Alex Kibkalo has mentioned in one of his blog posts that SP1 would be publicly available on 15th January “Redmond Time“.
According to certain sources, the release mentioned in the blog post is only for OEMs as commented by Mr Kibkalo stating that SP1 could hit Windows Update in the next fortnight. A 15th January release of the service pack for just OEMs would mean that this will be the first time Microsoft has released a service pack on a weekend.
Service pack 1 brings in a lot of bug fixes along with several performance improvements like dynamic memory support to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2. Also, we are likely to see RemoteFX which will add enhanced desktop virtualization aimed at giving the same experience to users as the ones sitting at a workstation.
Microsoft could be working on a new video calling application for the Windows Phone platform – similar to the FaceTime app on iOS. According to a Microsoft executive present at the Consumer Electronics Show, this was one future in the future roadmap for Windows Phone. While it is not clear if Microsoft could be making this functionality available on the existing Windows Phone 7 platform, there are indications that such a functionality could be made available on WP8.
Interestingly, the executive is also reported to have claimed that Windows Phone 8 platform could only be compatible with devices equipped with a front camera. What this means is that existing Windows Phone users with devices like HTC Mozart and Samsung Omnia 7 may not be able to run the upcoming Windows Phone platform on their existing devices. That could be a huge deal-breaker for the early adopters.
Microsoft’s XBox gaming consoles have been notorious for their ‘red ring of death‘ problem in the past. It is estimated that over 30% of the consoles have faced this issue in the past though Microsoft has virtually eliminated this bug with its recent releases. However, according to a report on Guardian, plugging a Kinect to the XBox is reported to be causing the red ring of death bug on the XBox once again.
However, this report needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Microsoft has responded to these claims – and their response makes sense. A company spokesman has noted,
“There is no correlation between the three flashing red lights error and Kinect. Any new instances of the three flashing red lights error are merely coincidental.”
One of Microsoft’s biggest success stories last year has undeniably been that of Kinect. At the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, CEO Steve Ballmer opened up on how much of a success this gesture based motion controller for XBox has been. According to him, Microsoft sold nearly 8 million Kinect units since launch. That is in an amazing timespan of just sixty days.
Evidently, a major portion of the sales came during the holiday shopping season in countries like the United States. If you have been following this space, you will be aware that Microsoft sold 2.5 million units of Kinect in the first 30 days of launch. That brings the sale during December to 5.5 million.
The popularity of Kinect does not look like it will be slowing down anytime in the near future. With more than 50 million XBox 360 units available in the market today, along with the fact that Microsoft is still innovating on the Kinect front, we are in for some real good times ahead.
Microsoft is learned to have developed a new application called Avatar Kinect that could be made available with the next XBox update. Avatar Kinect, from what we hear, is a way for XBox Live avatars to interact among themselves in a “chat room“. To put it in another way, Avatar Kinect is a video chat application where users can interact as avatars – like on Second Life – instead of being themselves. Though this does not look like a compelling new addition, the service is expected to enhance the interactive features for XBox Live users.
Microsoft will be demoing this application on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas this week. A few pictures of the CES backstage that is doing the rounds on the blogosphere shows Avatar Kinect which makes its demonstration a certainty.
Microsoft is expected to make a significant announcement during CES 2011 that will see the company unveil its new Windows-based set top box that will take on Apple and Google in the web-based set top box space. The product could be named Windows TV and will basically be a stripped-down version of the Windows OS that is customized for a television.
Microsoft should have a significant advantage over the rest considering that they are already the largest desktop OS and should be able to offer users a platform with a very familiar look and feel. Writing about this new foray, Brier Dudley from the Seattle Times writes,
“They’ll pose a serious challenge to the new Apple and Google TV devices, largely because the Windows boxes have a polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content”
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft integrates its computer based media platforms like Windows Media Center with a TV set top box. We will wait for an official unveiling from Microsoft at CES.
Looking for some free giveaway this new year? Bing is now offering a free music download to every user who will enter their email address on their new Holiday Season Giveaway page. The offer is restricted to the first 500,000 users who will enter the program and every signed in user will be eligible to download one music from Amazon (at a maximum price of $1.29). Of course, you will need an Amazon account to redeem your gift coupon.
The offer is expected to expire by December 31 and winners are expected to redeem their gifts by the 24th of next month. Do note that the offer is only available to American users.
In case you are wondering if there is a catch in this entire offer, well there is. The giveaway page notes,
“By providing your email address you agree to receive future communications about Bing, including the Bing newsletter. The newsletter gives you tips & tricks plus news about all the great features and programs Bing has to offer. You can unsubscribe at any time.”
So there you go. In case you are someone who doesn’t like receiving newsletters, this offer may not be for you.
Kinect, the massively popular gesture based motion controller that recently reported the sale of its 4 millionth unit could be coming to the PC soon. This speculation is courtesy a Korean game developer – GamePrix – who have announced that their newly launched PC-based MMORPG; Divine Souls will support gaming pads that will make it “resemble console games even more, and is scheduled to support Kinect“.
While it is possible that the Kinect controller for Divine Souls could be an unofficial offering, a statement by Microsoft representative Jason Lim has given the speculation a lot of credibility. In a recent interview, Lim is reported to have said,
“Kinect will soon be available as a new controller so it might be supported like joy pad mode in the future. Currently in MS, there are many game companies that are trying to apply for this system.”
If true, this is definitely an interesting proposition that could create an extended market for Kinect outside the XBox gaming audience. We will see how these ideas pan out towards the future.