We have had it levelled at us by some of Microsoft’s top brass
that we overplay the Trojan-like elements of the Xbox project whilst ignoring the similar convergence strategies of Sony and Nintendo, though news today of the planned evolution of Xbox Live made even our jaded jaws drop.
Speaking on the eve of the Xbox 360 launch, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates outlined how Xbox Live would evolve into Windows Live, using Windows Messenger as a conduit. The Xbox team showed limited Live integration with Messenger back at E3 in 2003, and even that limited showing caused something of an outcry.
Gates also stated that the recently revealed Microsoft Points system, currently being deployed on Live as micropayment currency for in-game and game-associated items and content, will be transferred across to Windows Live.
“The PC and the Xbox are very complementary,” Gates told the Associated Press yesterday evening. “In the living room itself, Xbox 360 is our centrepiece and a product that redefines what goes on there.”
Of course, this news will have tech conspiracy theorists up in arms, warning of Microsoft’s now certain global domination. They are right of course, though how anyone could have thought otherwise at any point since the launch of the original Xbox is completely beyond us. The project’s destiny was always to have a computer underneath every television, linked to a computer on every desk. With this blanket coverage of our digital lives, Microsoft underlines and strengthens its position as one of the most powerful companies on the planet. As to whether it will use this power ethically and responsibly remains to be seen.
Of course, many will rightly argue that Microsoft has something of a chequered history when it comes to the ethics associated with monopoly. Only time will tell what impact the expansion of Live and its convergence with the Windows platform will have on the tech sector and of course, our everyday lives.
For a full pictorial detailing the Xbox 360 launch event Zero Hour, click here.