Microsoft had a rather busy first week of 2013. Starting from its Xbox Live Cloud saved game outage to engaging in corporate warfare against arch nemesis Google. Join me ahead as I recap the week of December 30th – January 5th as it was for Microsoft.
Xbox Live Maintenance
Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, which includes Xbox, had a particularly huge week. First off, Microsoft announced earlier in the week that all Xbox Live subscribers affected by the cloud saved game outage during the Christmas break will receive a free month of Xbox Live Gold service. Affected subscribers don’t have to do anything, as Microsoft will automatically add the extra month to their account.
A minor but potentially essential feature for some Xbox Live subscribers is the ability to migrate their account to different region when they move. It would be nice to log into your account anywhere in the world. But nonetheless, this advancement will be useful for those who migrate.
Xbox 720 Announcement At E3?
Mid-week, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb posted a countdown to E3 Expo on his blog, which kickstarted rumors of an Xbox 720 announcement. Will Microsoft finally announce their new Xbox at E3, almost eight years following the launch of the original Xbox 360?
Sony is also expected to announce the Playstation 4 at E3 this year, which has led to speculation that Microsoft will have their own dedicated Xbox 720 event at a different date. Some analysts are even saying that Microsoft won’t launch the new Xbox this year, but rather in early 2014 to avoid a simultaneous launch with Sony’s fourth-generation Playstation console.
id8 Group R2 Studios Acquisition
The most important headline of the week for Microsoft was their acquisition of the startup id8 Group R2 Studios. Microsoft outbid both Google and Apple to acquire the home automation company for an undisclosed amount. The startup will be absorbed into the Xbox division.
Little is known about id8 Group R2 Studios. The startup was founded by Blake Krikorian—a former Sling Media CEO. The company holds a patent that is described as a managing system for controlling both residential and non-residential environments. This patent could very well be used for Microsoft’s vision of expanding the Xbox into a home central system.
Surface Pro: Coming Soon to a Microsoft Store Far From You
Several sources are claiming the Surface Pro will be on sale at the end of January. Softpedia is claiming the Surface Pro will be launched on January 29 while CNET cites January 26 as a possible launch date. In any case, Microsoft promised the Surface Pro will be launched 3 months after the RT version. The 3rd month is ending very soon.
U.S. Department of Defense Loves Windows 8
While Windows 8 devices are still selling at a modest rate, Microsoft scored a major deal with the U.S. Department of Defense.
The DoD will spend $617 million in the next 3 years on Microsoft’s Windows 8, Office 2013, and SharePoint 2013.
Google vs. Microsoft Cold War is Getting Hot
Another week with more casualties from the war between two huge tech corporations in Google and Microsoft. Microsoft earlier in the week vocally called out to the FTC about Google’s alleged anti-competitive practice.
Microsoft claims Google deliberately blocked the Redmond-based corporation from gaining access to the full YouTube experience for its Windows Phone platform.
Since the launch of Windows Phone 7 in 2011, no official YouTube app has been released. Microsoft does offer a YouTube app of its own, but it’s really just a shortcut to YouTube’s mobile website bundled within an app.
Now another battle is looming regarding Google Maps on Windows Phone 8. Recently, a lot of users complained they can’t access the Google Maps web page anymore on their Windows Phone 8 devices. Google claims that its Map app is optimized for WebKit browsers, which excludes Internet Explorer. Microsoft fights back, claiming that Internet Explorer on Windows 8 uses the same rendering engine as on Windows Phone 8.
How’s that for the first week of the year? Microsoft won’t have a large presence at CES 2013 next week, as they withdrew from the event last year in favor of their own scheduled events. However, you can still expect plenty of Windows 8 hardware and perhaps some new Windows Phone 8 hardware too.