Gates Confirms Xbox 360 Media Hub

Microsoft chairman makes Windows Media Centre analogy.

Posted by Staff
In spite of assurances to the contrary at the outset of the Xbox project, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates yesterday confirmed that the looming Xbox 360 console will act as a home entertainment hub.

Speaking to delegates at the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Gates made the first concrete commitment to the firm?s long-suspected expansion of its games console into the realms of digital media conduit.

"If you're used to [the Windows XP Media Centre Edition] menu, when you use this Xenon, you'll see a menu a lot like that that lets you get photos, TV, music and all those different things," he said.

Although Microsoft executives have been laying groundwork for future media expansion of Xbox, this is the first time such a detailed glimpse has been offered, with many analysts surprised that Gates would reveal plans for base-level user interface at this critical time in the development of three major home consoles at three competing companies.

As you may know, the new Microsoft console is slated for its debut appearance on May 12. Click here to check local listings. For a look at the finalised hardware design of Xbox 360, click here.

Comments

westerhive 3 May 2005 14:59
1/17
So, if I already own a computer, why the f@#$ should I buy another one..?
acidviper 3 May 2005 15:36
2/17
Because this overpriced piece of crap needs to have other functions to warrant the $400 price tag. Furthermore, not everyone has a PC or a PC with a top-of-the line video card, sound card, and processor with 512 ram.

Its not a bad idea since it will allow for Super HDTV - 1080p and presumably it will make it alot easier to transfer your video and audio from your pc to your 360.

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OptimusP 3 May 2005 17:19
3/17
I have a bad feeling about media centers. Sure they are handy at some point but there like a dozens competitors with a different (and mostly better) plan out there.
I got a uncle and he has this killer multi-media hub where he can connect everything from a PC to a TV, surround sound system to a bloody tapeplayer of the sixties, if MS is aiming for those people...give up MS they allready have their dreammachine. And this is only one example of the many competitors MS will be facing. Form national cable companies to electronics companies and gamecompanies... no one ever in history won a multi-front war even if they were the richest of their time.
Radiant 3 May 2005 19:50
4/17
Well essentially a lot of early (japanese) PS2 sales were attributed to the fact that it was not just a games console but that it was a DVD player too.

I think it's a pretty shrewd move on MS's part to introduce an all in one media centre system to the mass market.

I know, in my case, when I modded my vannilla xbox and installed xbmc it pretty much turned into the defacto place were I play all my mp3s and ripped movies from.
That functionality/connectivity was a complete eye opener for me and for the rest of the family because it opened up the dark arts world of PC media playing to them.

I don't know much about MS's brand of media centre but if it has the same functionality (or the potential for other people to give it the same functionality) of xbmc then it should be pretty revolutionary [to bring this to a mass market].

Nintendo is right in that next gen consoles shouldn't be all about sheer power (although ,saying that, power should be a given already) but where Nin is talking about diversity, seperation and gaming innovation; the direction of other consumer entertainment companies is all about convergence.
config 3 May 2005 20:20
5/17
Radiant wrote:
Well essentially a lot of early (japanese) PS2 sales were attributed to the fact that it was not just a games console but that it was a DVD player too.

I think it's a pretty shrewd move on MS's part to introduce an all in one media centre system to the mass market.


DVD video - movies - is mass market. Put in the disc, enjoy.

I personally don't believe that an MP3/DVD/CD player with hamstrung web browsing is mass market.

If it had a built-in cable/satellite TV decoder and PVR software and a decent wireless input device, then we might be talking.

As it stands, media centres/hubs are still impenetrable and unfathomable to the docile "mass market", including the "casual gamer" segment.

westerhive 3 May 2005 21:01
6/17
Ideally, within the next 5-10 years, we'll see a market split. With Sony and Microsoft becoming all in one media centers to compete with current day PCs. Meanwhile, there will be a specialty market consisting of Nintendo and maybe even Sega, producing niche specialty titles and machines that provide experiences that a media PCDVDGameTVCD center cant provide. Consolidation, contrary to popular belief, connot be the future entirely. We will always see convergences occuring, because as things age and progress this type of action is more likely. However, fresh new ideas, in any sense of the word, will always exist in one way or another. Your Xbox will replace your PC, but will your PC ever replace a game console?
Radiant 4 May 2005 01:05
7/17
Absolultey config but it's the connectivity to the PC [used as a media storage unit] that is exciting for me.

Most of my media is stored on the PC and when I use that media in conjunction with my mod'ed xbox and xbmc (xbox media centre) it opens that media and the media available on the net (like Yahoo Launch Music Videos and Apple Trailers) to my entire family and anyone else who can drive a joypad.

The way it works now is that I put movies/music on my xbox or on my pc and the xbox connects to imdb/cddb and grabs indepth information from that source and makes it viewable on the xbox (using imdb posters or user created images as a thumbnail) so now I can search my movies (and music) by genre/year/actor/album etc. and I can connect to Launch and stream music videos or Apple and stream internet trailers through the TV all through a very easy to use ui.
You can do that using your PC sure but for me the PC (as a personal computer) is still too personal and a private thing (I don't want loads of jokers messing with my PC and taking up valuable PC time) not to mention that while explaining codecs to the average joe you can actually see the precise second their eyes glaze over.

As I said I am not too familiar with how MS's flavour of media centre handles codecs and formats but if it is as good as xbmc (probably not although xbmc is based on the functionality of MSmc) then that's pretty exciting and a fantastic usp when shown to other people.
Elysium 4 May 2005 03:30
8/17
Spong, you guys really can't pass by an opportunity to vent your hatred of MS, can you? Post a link, showing exactly where a MS spokesperson stated that no future iteration of the xbox console would ever have media centre capabilities. I'll make it easy for you. YOU'RE FULL OF S**T. When MS made those statements they were referring to the current gen xbox console ONLY.

Really, I can't see why anybody except an MS hater would see these features as a negative for the console.
* They are all software features, so add minimally to the cost of development, and therefore the cost of the console.
* If you're a user who has no interest in the features, then buy the hard drive free version, or simply do not use them.
* I, and many other geek types currently use a media center type pc in our lounge right now, to play divx movies, mp3's, etc in the lounge on the big tv... I for one would be more than happy to be able to remove that piece of hardware from my lounge if the xbox can perform those functions, as I believe would many many others.

Really, it would be nice if you guys made some attempt to maintain the illusion of objectivity, given that you purport to be a "news" site. Your news is much like Fox in the US, who subversively put opinion and political comment into stories they claim as news.
Rod Todd 4 May 2005 08:02
9/17
config wrote:
As it stands, media centres/hubs are still impenetrable and unfathomable to the docile "mass market", including the "casual gamer" segment.


This is true, sort of. But it so doesn't need to be.

TiVo 2 can connect to a Mac to play iTunes and iPhoto libraries on a TV, and it's so easy I could use it. A device like that with HDTV output, DiVX capability and a Web Browser (it's Linux based, so FireFox would prolly go on their quite easily) would be the foolproof MediaCentre we all want and need. Apple should just buy Tivo, and get on with it...

But the real hurdle to Media Centre penetration in most of the world is that Murdoch "News" Corp runs cable/satellite. And without an integrated CAM (Conditional Access Module), no media centre is ever a real, one box, solution.

Murdoch will get into bed with someone soon - it will probably be Microsoft. "We love you Big Brother!" Learn it, memorise it, practice it. Because when that day comes, you'll need it!
Rod Todd 4 May 2005 08:17
10/17
Elysium wrote:
Really, I can't see why anybody except an MS hater would see these features as a negative for the console.


They are not negative for the console. They are not negative for Microsoft.

They are negative for freedom of speech, independance of software producers (music, movies, and games), diversity and quality of software, for free market competition, for innovation and individuality.


Really, it would be nice if you guys made some attempt to maintain the illusion of objectivity, given that you purport to be a "news" site. Your news is much like Fox in the US, who subversively put opinion and political comment into stories they claim as news.


Fox does that, and pretends that it doesn't (which you acknowledge by your use of the word subversively). SPOnG makes no attempt to hide its agenda or political leanings.

It explains its position, and reveals its reasons for holding that position. Fox patronises, SPOnG educates.

But where, exactly, does SPOnG purport to be a "news site"? It claims, as far as I can see, to be a community site that has news. That doesn't hold it to some higher journalistic ideals entirely of your imagining. All "news" outlets have an opinion and an agenda, it's just that most hide them in order to try and fool you, and SPOnG reveals its in order to try and engage you directly.

SPOnG wants to make you think, not tell you how to think. If you find people having ideas that differ from your so threatening, maybe you should stick to IGN.
Ditto 4 May 2005 08:30
11/17
Rod Todd wrote:
They are negative for freedom of speech, independance of software producers (music, movies, and games), diversity and quality of software, for free market competition, for innovation and individuality.


Imagine this world...

Your Microsoft alarm clock wakes you up in the morning.

You plug your e-paper into your Microsoft Xbox 3 and download the lastest news direct from Microsoft.

You make a note in your Microsoft PDA to talk to your work mate via Microsoft MSN Messenger on your Microsoft Windows PC.

You travel to work in your car powered by Microsoft Navigation.

At work, you use Microsoft Office and send your work electronicaly using the Microsoft server.

On your way home you download a Microsoft Windows Media format song and play it on your Microsoft PDA. At home, you turn on your Microsoft Xbox 3 TV tuner and transfer your WMA song to your Xbox.

Ater watching TV with free personalised adverts from Microsoft you listen to your WMA file, after which it expires and you have to pay Microsoft to re-activate it. You might feel like buying a watch-once film from the MSN Movie store.

Before going to bed you check your Microsoft Hotmail email wirelessly and find another selection of new services offered by Microsoft. Microsoft have automatically subscribed you to the new services.

Luckily, all your entertainment needs are grouped together in a single, easy-to-pay subscription from Microsoft.
fluffstardx 4 May 2005 11:00
12/17
And Cell was designed for what exactly?

You can already wake up to your Sony alarm clock, look at your texts on your Sony phone, check your Sony Clié PDA for tasks to do, check email on your Sony Vaio, listen to your music on your Sony stereo/Walkman/Discman/Minidisc player/network walkman/PSP, play games on your PS2... the only difference is they don't own the software, YET. And Cell was deigned to link them all, just like Media Centre XP was designed to remove them all. Difference is, Microsoft will let anyone make their stuff, and they own your home life and your mobile/PDA (SPV phones, natch).

So let's get this clear: THEY ALL WANT TO DO IT. It's just MS have been more open about it. So will people PLEASE stop using that damn argument?
tyrion 4 May 2005 12:10
13/17
fluffstardx wrote:
So let's get this clear: THEY ALL WANT TO DO IT. It's just MS have been more open about it. So will people PLEASE stop using that damn argument?

None of "them" have been open about wanting to rule your world and your access to information.

They all want to do it, but MS have more chance than anybody else of getting there.

Also MS have been proven, in a court of law, to have used illegal business practices in order to try and get there and to stay where they are.
Ditto 4 May 2005 12:36
14/17
I know Sony want media dominance. But Microsoft have the never-ending resources to make their vision a reality. They know how to break in and monopolise.

As Tyrion said, they also have the illegal business practices to back it up.

I don't think Sony will ever achieve total dominance as they have no real experience in computer media formats - Apple and AAC are an instant problem.

Microsoft have enerything, media formats, software, hardware, brand, money, clout, good lawyers...
westerhive 4 May 2005 13:02
15/17
And this is what you all want? Don't you know that specialization drives markets, it feeds competition, and without diversity in a marketplace, it becomes stagnant and expensive. This is a problem that is going to occur, and it's because you all buy into their crud. Sony makes a good television, Panasonic makes a solid stereo, Bose makes the best earphones, Philips makes a great DVD player, Apple's computers are so reliable it's funny, and Nintendo makes the most enjoyable and interesting consoles and games. Learn that if one company makes all of your products, you will suffer from the control they have.
Joji 4 May 2005 13:21
16/17
First a note to Elysium, dude don't judge Spong against the yank media outlets you might otherwise indulge in. You might not agree and a lot of us might not meet eye to eye (it would be boring if we did all the time) but we respect your opinion.

This whole convergence biz sounds nice in practice and to be honest I'd rather pitch my flag in Sony's camp than MS. Why you ask? Because one the best things I like about the games industry is that it's one of the few remaining industries where western powers do not rule and to be honest be it Sony or Nintendo I'd like it to stay that way for the very sake of gaming as a whole. The other thing MS haven't told you is that all their stuff will no doubt come with their damn DRM tech tied into it all (which could spell bad news for many).

I'm not anti american before all you yanks start getting on the high horse. I just think that in a world where America sneezes and the rest of us feel the whirlwind and catch a cold it's nice that a small nation like japan does well in the face of such huge competition. This is the reason I did not want MS in the games market in the first place, because sometimes small is beautiful. I also like the cultural exchange that I get through gaming and very little of it comes from america and I'm glad for that (Hollywood already does enough of that).

Sure, Xbox has done well with Live and that's good but the experience was already there with PC gaming and only needed to be bended and twisted to suit Xbox, in that MS have done well. From Sony's point of view this could have been harder because though Sony have some online PC games the online gaming in japan isn't that big as say South Korea. Broadband uptake in japan might also be less too though this may be changing still. Sony will be raising their PS3 online game next gen especially with Nintendo enteriing the online arena. That next online round will prove interesting as we are hearing all MS online plans but no one elses (except Nintendo's recnetly), which in no way means there are none in the works.

I grow tired of so much coming out of America but them accepting little from the rest of the world because to them we only exist to fill their pockets and dnace to their beat. It's not about hating america but rather about making them see what everyone else can and they can't. This very fact of not understanding others is why Xbox bombed in japan and while Xbox may or may not have been a baby step in their larger agenda, Xbox should have done so much better there. Perhaps it did not because as I once said before the very fact that japanese want the yanks out of their country might have played a vital part in japanese Xbox apathy. MS were totally thinking selfishly of the u.s audience and their pockets when they designed Xbox. The fact of the things size says it all.

While they are being honest about their media hub intentions MS are still gonna lock things up in DRM so you can't use your mp3s (even if you create them yourself) unless you buy them, play your rom collection or heaven forbid try to mod your Xbox. That sucks eggs. If Sony do the same kind of thing they'll more likely do it without stealing your soul too or killing games and most likely give you more freedom.

Now where's that pinch of salt.
OptimusP 4 May 2005 19:05
17/17
Well, you can't blame the US for acting like a former superpower trying to hold on to it's golden years... becasue well that's what the bloody country is.
here in Europe we needed 2 World Wars and a direct treat to our democratic system to get the message. Maybe someone has to crash another couple of planes at the Pentagon to get the yanks the message. End US rant here...sorry about that.

the internet and multi-media should be a very decentralized something thats centralized at the same time. At the center you have a PC-like something of brand x, connected to it is a HDTV of brand y, your browser is of brand z, your mp3-player is one from win-amp and so forth.
Any company that tries to go against it will fail eventually, why do you think MS moves to the console scheme, they're slowly loosing their grip on the PC-market.
And everyone with a few meters of wires and some 3d party software (and a solid TV-card installed) can make thier PC into a media center how it's supposed to be... complete freedom in all its illegalness (stealing music isn't stealing actually, it's not like all those artist are out of a living... by illegal downloading you put the music artist back where he belongs: on the stage. record sales are a very very recent phenomenon if you take the whole history music in thought)
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