With the biggest enticement of upgrading from Windows 8 to 8.1 being the return of the ill-fated start button, Microsoft has released the upgrade version of software. Navigating to the Windows pagewill get you to the download link. The only way you will get the download link (at this time) is if you are on a machine with Windows 8 installed. Otherwise it will direct you to a page to upgrade.
Upgrades for Windows 8 are free. If you have Windows 7 or earlier you will have to pay $119.99 for the update. If you want to switch from Home editions to Professional ediction, that will cost $199.99
Of course, 8.1 will also have ability to connect with XBox 360 (and XBox One when released), Skype, file access from anywhere and many more features.
Windows 8.1 also drops us deeper in the rabbit’s hole to a unified OS and forcing us to use the Metro screen more. My biggest gripe on this is programs like Skype, which lost a lot of functionality when the Metro screen upgrade came out.
Windows also took out media center. While I was promised a free upgrade back in Windows 8 (and never got it), the service is now separate from Microsoft and will cost you $99.99 to get it.
The first time I actually saw someone using this service was when I went up north. We ate at this awesome steakhouse , which probably was on its last couple years in business (two brothers owned it and they were in their 70s). In the corner, one of the brothers’ wives were typing away on the MSN TV, trying to find out what was going on in the world (pre-2001).
The little box that was known as MSN TV finally got decommissioned today – 16 years after it started. Microsoft announced earlier in the year the TV appliance would be shuttered on Sept 30th. Users had to move their account information to Outlook.com and all other information to Skydrive (Microsoft’s cloud service).
MSN TV first started as Web TV in July of 1995 by Steve Perlman, Bruce Leak and Phil Goldman. The idea was Web TV acted like a thin client – taking snapshots of the web and sending them over telephone lines to your device, which would then project on your TV. It officially launched in Sept 1996 and ran for a year when Microsoft announced they were acquiring the service for $453 million (vested).
MSN TV tried to find its place in the tech world. The WebTV team took their ideas and created not only Digital Video Recorders, but also the XBox 360 game console. Its hardware could be found in Sony, Philips, RCA, Mitsubishi and other client hardware.
So with that, we bid adieu to MSN TV. the last of the real dial-up systems.
There is a change coming that will affect people who play games on Xbox. Soon, transactions on Xbox will use your local currency instead of Microsoft Points. The change will take place after the next Xbox 360 system update. Once that happens, the Microsoft Points system will be retired.
What if you currently have some Microsoft Points? You might want to spend them before the update hits. Microsoft explains what happens if you don’t spend them before that time on their announcement:
When you initiate a purchase or redeem a Points card or code with your Microsoft account after the next Xbox 360 system update, we’ll add to your account an amount of currency equal or greater than the Marketplace value of your Microsoft Points, and your Microsoft Points will be retired. The currency we add to your account at the time of the transaction will expire on June 1, 2015. However, the currency you purchase and add to your account after the transition will not expire.
Any Microsoft Points that you have earned through Xbox Live Rewards will still be in your Xbox Live account, for now. They will transition into your local currency when the Microsoft Points system retires. It is worth noting that you cannot get a cash payout of currency from your Microsoft account. You also cannot use your Microsoft Points to purchase an Xbox Live Gold Membership at this time.
It’s been a little over a year since Diablo III was released for PC and Mac. We have known for a little while now that the game will also be released on consoles. Now we know the release date. Blizzard Entertainment has now announced that Diablo III will debut on both the Sony Playstation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox 360 on September 3, 2013. Select retailers are offering it for preorder, and the suggested retail price (for either version) is $59.99.
Those of you who, like me, have been playing Diablo III since the beta might wonder why anyone would want to play it on console. I guess the most obvious reason would be so you could play D3 on your big screen TV (instead of your much smaller computer monitor screen).
Those who reserve their copies right away will get an exclusive in-game Infernal Helm for their character to use. It gives an experience bonus to any character that wears it. Another cool thing about the console versions is that it will allow gamers to make a party that includes both local and online players. In other words, you and your friend could be sitting on your couch and playing with two people who are online (and not at your house at all).
What you can’t do, however, is play Diablo III on your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 and create a party that includes your friends who play D3 on PC or Mac. You cannot mix the two. You also cannot transfer your characters, their progress, or their loot from a PC or Mac game to a console version. That being said, if all your gaming friends use Xbox 360, or Playstation 3 (instead of a computer) the console version of Diablo III will give you a chance to play with them. (Assuming, of course, you have the same gaming device that they do).
Here is the “sizzle reel” that was released when it was first announced that D3 would be coming to consoles. The interface is a bit different than how it is on computers (judging from that shot of the player equipping his Barbarian), but it looks like the essence of the game has been captured.
Twitch has announced that they have a brand new app that can be used on your Xbox 360. As you may have guessed, it is called the Twitch App for Xbox 360.
It will allow you to watch (at least some) of the content from Twitch on your big screen TV. This may appeal to Xbox 360 users who would prefer to watch gaming related streaming, shows, and other content on the same big screen that they play games on. Perhaps the intent of this app is so that Twitch can make more of a connection with the users who play games on Xbox 360, and expand their audience. They already have a lot of people using computers to check out Twitch.
The app will have 300 live channels. Users can browse through the directory either by games, featured content, or top channels. The app is Kinect-enabled, so you can use voice or motion commands to tell your Xbox 360 what Twitch channel you want to watch. Right now, the Twitch App for Xbox 360 is available for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who live in the United States, only.
Who doesn’t love pizza? It is served at meetings, is the main course at parties, and a staple of food courts everywhere. You can order a pizza by walking up the counter at a food court, or visiting a fast food restaurant that serves it. You can call your local pizza place on the phone to order a pizza. Many of the big chain pizza places give you the option of placing your order online, through their website.
One might assume that we have plenty of ways to order a pizza. Perhaps Pizza Hut and Microsoft would disagree with that assessment. The two companies have teamed and will be launching an app for Xbox Live that will allow users to order a pizza directly through their Xbox 360.
According to Polygon, the app will be available for Xbox Live users on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Users who download the app before May 6, 2013, will get 15% off their first purchase from Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut’s entire menu will be available through the Xbox app, and users will be able to build their own customized pizza. An order can be placed via Kinect motion controls, voice commands, or the Xbox 360 controller. The app will also feature Facebook integration, which will allow users to order a pizza and then share what they ordered on their Facebook page for all their friends to see.
I can see where the app would be convenient for gamers who want to order a pizza but do not want to stop playing their games for the amount of time it would take to drive to the local Pizza Hut, or even to phone in an order. Just pause the game, use the app, and get back to playing. On the other hand, I have some concerns. Xbox 360 is used by both adults and children. I’m not sure all parents are going to be comfortable with how easy this app would make it for their teenager, or child, to order themselves a pizza.
A new interface for XBox 360 game console users allows you to use your voice to navigate through the games, TV shows, movies and music.
Steve Ballmer showed off this technology back in September, but starting this Tuesday, this becomes reality. It adds not only remote gesture control, but also remote voice commands. Therefore, if you don’t have a Kinect motion controller, you still can control without a remote.
The Associated Press got a special demonstration of the new features. When the Microsoft employee said “XBox Bing ‘Iron Man’,” a search for Iron Man came up. When the employee said “XBox, show movies,” a list of movies from various sources appeared.
With over 57 million XBox units sold, Microsoft is expecting to make a real impact in the cord cutters market. Adding pay channel partners like Verizon FIOS means that XBox will get into the Over the top TV market with a vengeance. You will have to use over-the-air or alternate cable methods to get network TV like NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox.
The real question is how this will affect your household. Will you cut your cord over this update? Will you start to use the XBox as more than a gaming system?