back to article Xbox 180: Microsoft scraps mandatory Kinect policy

In the wake of the NSA spying revelations, Microsoft has said gamers will no longer need to have an all-seeing, always-online eye and ear attached to their Xbox. Another day brings another reversal in Microsoft's summer of U-turns, and this time its the backtracking of Kinect being attached all the time. Microsoft's Xbox Live …

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  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    For once, Microsoft actually does the right thing.

    Horsemen. I hear horsemen...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For once, Microsoft actually does the right thing.

      Microsoft doesn't do the right thing...they tolerate it.

    2. jason404i

      Re: For once, Microsoft actually does the right thing.

      I think I remember your name from Usenet.

    3. tony2heads
      Devil

      Re: For once, Microsoft actually does the right thing.

      By horsemen do you mean RIngwraiths?

      logo - for Xbox One

    4. ShelLuser
      Windows

      @Trevor

      I think it's more likely that they're being forced to do the right thing instead. If they don't comply to the gamers wishes then they can look at yet another major loss in sales, and something tells me that Microsoft is slowly reaching a point where they can't afford losses like that any longer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Trevor

        "can't afford losses like that any longer."

        on top of their recent record revenues you mean?

        1. Daniel B.

          Re: @Trevor

          on top of their recent record revenues you mean?

          Yes my dear MS shill, but you forget that revenue isn't profit. And in that sense, profit is falling. It seems they're finally getting hit by all that Fisher Price OS kit that isn't selling? It's bound to get worse when the XBoxOne tanks as well. I doubt their 180's are good enough to bring gamers back.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Trevor

            "And in that sense, profit is falling"

            No it isn't: "The company reported net income of $4.97 billion compared with a loss of $492 million in the same period a year ago"

  2. C Yates

    "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

    It's amazing how I STILL don't trust them.

    I was paranoid before, but now the NSA thing has hit I'd consider burying it in concrete *just in case*.

    1. seven of five

      Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

      Yes, nothing says "offline" like a wirecutter.

      ...or a pulled plug, due to investment protectional reasons.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Happy

        Nothing says "offline" like a wirecutter.

        Love. It.

        Can I use it (for non-commercial use, of course...)?

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

      HERE HERE!! Have an Up vote!!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

        Or the best selling XBox One accessory would possibly end up being a little bit of cloth to elegantly drape over the Kinect camera when you're not actively using it?

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

          Would that be enough to kill the Infrared Sensors? The Video CCD sure. But its the Heartbeat ~sensing~ IR that kinda pushed the line on it for me...

          1. Wize

            Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

            You need a plastic shield.

            Cameras can see through cloth. Put you phone on record in your shirt pocket if you don't believe me.

            *puts head in hands * Now try it with the camera facing outwards.

            The heat sensors can be stopped by a sheet of plastic or glass. You can only see heat through a window if its glowing hot.

            First manufacturer to make a nice moulded clip on cover? Maybe a bit of padding to dampen the mic too.

        2. Paul Shirley

          Re: " cloth to elegantly drape over the Kinect camera"

          ...which won't disable the 'sensitive microphone array' built into Kinect.

          Arguably audio surveillance would be more worrying than grabbing video. Depending on exactly how sensitive that array is it could cover much more than the camera sees and it's more likely to disclose genuinely worrying stuff - your bank passwords, security question or details for example. Block video and no embarrassing YouTube posts, audio is where you're life will be fscked over for identity theft or blanket state spying.

          The original XBone plan definitely left the microphone array permanently enabled...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: " cloth to elegantly drape over the Kinect camera"

            >Arguably audio surveillance would be more worrying than grabbing video.

            If you're interesting enough to surveil in such detail, they can just use a laser mic on your window from orbit.

            > audio is where you're life will be fscked over for identity theft or blanket state spying

            Much easy ways to steal your identity and blanket spying is just about mapping points of contact.

            1. Mephistro Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: " cloth to elegantly drape over the Kinect camera" (@AC 13th August 2013 13:33 GMT )

              "If you're interesting enough to surveil in such detail, they can just use a laser mic on your window from orbit."

              You probably won't believe this :^), but there exist several funny technologies out there, like computerized voice recognition, relational databases and syntactic networks.

              Every fucking body is 'interesting' to 'Them'.

              And even when I know there's no way I can totally protect myself from snooping, I'll do my best to at least make the process slow and expensive for the spooks. If everybody did the same, the spooks could either select only the really interesting targets -e.g. real criminals, terrorists and spies- or they'll go bankrupt. Both outcomes would suit me, though I would prefer the first one.

        3. Kunari
          IT Angle

          Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

          No, a switch that sits between the Kinect and Xbox so you can easy connect/dis-connect the Kinect without having to dig around the back of the console.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

      How about you just pull the plug on it when it's not in use? Does anyone switch things off these days? I often go out walking in the early hours ( lose some weight and ponder those coding problems you never get time to mull over during the working day ) and I often see TVs left on in living rooms at 3am that no one is watching, PCs, lights, etc all left blazing away.

      Wasting leccy and a big fire risk. The fridge and the landline charger stays on at night, everything else is killed off in our house!

      1. Goat Jam
        Windows

        If they do

        "How about you just pull the plug on it when it's not in use?"

        How about I don't buy an XBox? Works for me.

  3. Rampant Spaniel

    I can just see the impending disaster with this. You have a console that it (well was) always on and a mandatory camera. There is the potential there for a hack and remote video \ picture taking. It's only a matter of time right?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Why hack when the NSA and Microsoft can supply it as a built-in and pre-installed feature?

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Coat

    Let the conspiracies begin

    What proves the camera is really turned off when you turn it off in the settings, eh? There should be a little red light which turns on when the camera is on!!1!

    1. Stacy
      Pirate

      Re: Let the conspiracies begin

      And what makes you think turning the camera off won't simply turn off the little red light :)

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Let the conspiracies begin

        Oh look, a rabbithole!

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Let the conspiracies begin

      Yeah cause that's a cold comfort. If you "think" its safe to trust a "Little Red Light"... Then why is it NOT safe... in turn to trust MicroSoft? When they "told you" that we're not monitoring you HONEST!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let the conspiracies begin

        How do all you guys disable the microphones and cameras in you phones and tablet devices?

      2. Euripides Pants Silver badge

        Re: Let the conspiracies begin

        I predict a huge resurgence of interest in the GameBoy.

  5. Captain DaFt

    Meh

    I'll believe it when you can buy an Xbox one *without* a kinect included.

    Otherwise, they can always 180 again, can't they?

    1. A J

      Re: Meh

      Yeah, they need to offer a bundle without Kinect and with a much lower price. Then they might actually have a desirable product.

      1. schotness

        Re: Meh

        yep i agree, dont want kinect so why should i pay extra for it

  6. Diogenes

    Off Switch ????

    or just unplug from the wall

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Off Switch ????

      Not if you want to keep playing the xBox. No Eye of Sauron connected, no playing your games.

      1. Kunari

        Re: Off Switch ????

        Unless the game is a Kinect came, you won't need to have the Kinect connected. But, who wants to dig around the back side of their console all the time?

  7. silent_count
    Holmes

    This sorta reminds me of..

    ... when politicians want to raise taxes by 5% - they announce a 20% increase before allowing the persuasive arguments to convice them that a lower tax increase is more appropriate. Then the gullible punters are happy that it's only a 5% increase.

    MS announces the 'phone home one a day' policy, the always spying kinnetic, and the 'no reselling of old games', only to allow themselves to be persuaded to back down on all three. So what's the "tax increase" MS is trying to get past the punters?

    1. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: This sorta reminds me of..

      As it stands right now, with all the negative press, I'd say they'd just be happy if people buy them. They'll have sneaked one past you just by selling you one.

    2. Not That Andrew

      Re: This sorta reminds me of..

      Or when a developer announces plans for a 20 story tower block, so they can get away with a 10 story block, 6 stories higher than the usual height it the area.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixed that for them ..

    "You have the ability to completely turn We let you think you have turned the sensor off in your settings," Whitten says."

    We need a new 'panopticon' icon for this sort of thing ..

  9. Scott Marshall
    Big Brother

    George Orwell - Future historian and prognosticator

    “Big Brother is Watching You.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

    ====================================

    “Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?

    O'Brien: Of course he exists.

    Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?

    O'Brien: You do not exist.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

    ====================================

    “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

    ====================================

    In other words people, don't assume that what is said will be the truth.

    "The cake is a lie". (Portal)

    1. Joefish
      Black Helicopters

      Re: George Orwell - Future historian and prognosticator

      This was a triumph.

      I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

      It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.

      Microsoft.

      We do what we must

      Because we can.

      1. Daniel B.
        Joke

        Re: George Orwell - Future historian and prognosticator

        So I've seen the future, and it is GLaDOS using a Kinect to stamp on a human face, forever.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too late for me

    As a long time Xbox user I have decided on the PS4, the Xbox One strategy was clearly designed by the money men without considering what gamers really wanted. I bet there are loads of Xbox developers inside Microsoft seething at how what is essentially a great device has been dragged through the mud by the money men only to have them to u-turn when they realised people were jumping ship to the PS4.

    You can only squeeze your customers so much and they will get fed up with it and walk, especially if there are viable alternatives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late for me

      Ditto for 90% of the Xbox fans I know. They all have their PS4 pre-orders in place. Better specs, more desirable exclusives, better hardware, less money, less recurring spend.

      The Xbone is being refocused as a DVR that can also play games, and you know everyone outside the US will be a 2nd class citizen as far as Microsoft will be concerned when it comes to the media services. They will also be ripped off left right and centre with adverts and double-dip subscriptions.

      Deep down, Xbox360 owners knew they were getting a raw deal when they saw what Playstation Plus was offering for the same money, they kept quiet and sucked it up, but now it's time for a change...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too late for me

        "Deep down, Xbox360 owners knew they were getting a raw deal"

        Disagree with that statement, cheaper initial cost on Xbox 360 then pay for subscription until the novelty wears off (and it worked).

        DVR, 2nd class citizen, adverts however I agree with!

      2. jason 7
        Meh

        Re: Too late for me

        Yes that's the issue in that most of the media/TV services will be US only. I bet most of the media services we will get in the UK will be just the existing ones on the 360.

        For me a more media orientated box is the way to go (please god spare me from the 2004 nightmare of the HTPC, I don't want to go there again) with some gaming enabled. But really the XBone wont provide that for me in the UK and as for the PS4, I have no idea what that is offering.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Too late for me

      "Xbox One strategy was clearly designed by the money men without considering what gamers really wanted."

      That also sounds like the Windows 8 strategy on desktop and laptops, except replace gamers for general users.

      1. Babbit55

        Re: Too late for me

        It's funny how people will be running to Sony with there oh so perfect track record when it comes to their customers. Oh wait I forgot Sony are worse than Microsoft when it comes to DRM and screwing customers over.

        As for double dipping Sony will be charging to use online services with the PS4 too

        1. GregC

          @ Babbit55

          Problem is, if you want a next gen console you have two choices - Microsoft or Sony. Both have previous when it comes being dicks of the highest order. The difference right now is that Sony at least seem to be aware that they have royally fucked up in the not too distant past, and seem to be making an effort not to make the same mistakes again.

          MS, on the other hand, appear to have based the original feature set of the XB1 on the Bumper Book of Things People Don't Want, then used a marketing team that thought the idea was to sell as few units as possible, and are now continuing to backpedal frantically in an effort to recover preorders. I suspect that their biggest problem now is that people have seen what they tried to do, and it's going to take them a long time to recover from that.

          As for double dipping Sony will be charging to use online services with the PS4 too

          Interesting comment, you know this how? Given that Sony have specifically said the likes of Netflix etc will not require a Plus subscription, and neither will their look-at-me game recording service. They only need to look at MS to see what kind of backlash they will get if they break those promises...

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Too late for me

      Actually I am going to mention the other big thing which helped.

      Seing Bungie at the PS meeting where the PS4 was announced.

      As a PS owner the games I have most wanted to try are Bungie ones.

  11. Mikel

    Preorders

    Must be selling like crazy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Preorders

      Nope. Microsoft are limiting pre-order numbers so the marketing men can play the "pre orders sold out" PR card.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Preorders

        >Nope. Microsoft are limiting pre-order numbers

        Might also be having some manufacturing issues so easy way to cover for limited supply and cut down on lawsuits. Now Microsoft how about knocking the $100 off by getting rid of the stupid Kinnect and then perhaps I might look at placing a preorder.

  12. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Holmes

    No sh*t Sherlock...

    "The console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor".

    And the award for stating the bleedin' obvious goes to...

    They'll be telling us next that we can't play games on it when it's not plugged in at the mains.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: No sh*t Sherlock...

      What could possibly be so friggen great about the Kinect, that it would make me forget all'bout trading off all, of my privacy concerns for?

    2. wowfood
      Joke

      Re: No sh*t Sherlock...

      Actually you can. You can play tiddlywinks on it, a very small game of dominos.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sh*t Sherlock...

      ""The console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor". "

      "And the award for stating the bleedin' obvious goes to..."

      Probably more to point out to all the people frothing "can't trust the off setting is off", that you can unplug it and console still works. As can be seen from many comments the commentards are true to the form of not reading the bloody article before unleashing nerd rage onto comments section.

      No, I wouldn't trust just a "turn off at settings" either, hence nice to see it confirmed that you can unplug the thing without impairing use of console.

  13. Danny 5

    but what about

    If you disconnect it completely? It's not going to be hard wired to the console, as that'd just be silly, so what happens if you don't connect it?

    1. Down not across
      Facepalm

      Re: but what about

      From 5th paragraph of the article...

      But Microsoft put those fears to rest on Monday, when Whitten said: "The console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in..."

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the overinflated launch price of the XBone

    compared to the far better spec'd PS4, which will almost certainly be better built, is now looking like an even worse deal than it already was...

    This will also scupper Microsoft's shocking plans to licence games and movies on a per-user basis using the Kinect camera.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: So the overinflated launch price of the XBone

      Ah, you must have missed the bit which says features which need Kinect will not work if it is not connected......like watching 'per person license' movies or playing 'per person license' games.

      That was intended as a sarcastic touch-in-cheek retort but then I realised that their statement did not actually preclude that possibility.

      1. Kunari
        Thumb Up

        Re: So the overinflated launch price of the XBone

        Agreed, I don't trust MS to not pull this kind of trick. I too noticed they did NOT list what features would be require the Kinect.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Dearie me...

    What else can go wrong with this launch? The project meetings must be so cool. 'Well Dave, at the moment, the major selling point we are running with is that it doesn't cause birth defects.....'

    1. Eguro

      Re: Dearie me...

      "Well, actually Sir..."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm more disappointed

    by all the backpeddling they're doing. If they're going to go out on a limb and try to push orwards they should at least stick to their convictions.

    Why would I risk buying a console where every 2nd monday of the month they change another feature of it? Especially this close to (expected) launch date. Late changes are never good, it's where most of the annoying defects get injected.

    *Yup console works fine, we've tested everything.*

    *Oh... you want us to disalbe the connect? Okay*

    Kinect is 'disabled' and has minimal testing. bugs are injected.

    *You want us to up the GPU clock? Okay*

    GPU clock gets increased, but no further life testing is performed. Overheating becomes a risk

    *You want us to drop the always online stuff? Done*

    Always online is dropped, another host of problems are injected.

    Yes they'll perform more testing to make sure they haven't broken anything else, but will that testing be enough? Doubtful. Quick changes like these are often rushed under management pressue, especially with a launch window less than 3 months away (including manufacture no doubt).

    Personally I'd advise anyone getting a new console to wait a bit after launch anyway, first batches always have problems, normally best to wait for the first price drop, or 3 months at the least if you want a smooth experience from the get go. With these last minute changes I'd almost say double it for the xbone. Wouldn't touch one with a bargepole for at least 6 months until after launch.

  17. UK2703

    Microsoft has shown it's Intent

    Another U-Turn from Microsoft, too late for my liking. Microsoft seem to be testing the water with these unpopular plans and only do the right thing when objections are voiced loud enough.

    Changing plans or not, Microsoft has already shown it's intent and what I see as a lack of repect for potential customers.

  18. Ben Rosenthal

    Personally, I think all 3 of the big players (if you can still call Nintendo that) have lost touch with the players and reality in general.

    I'll be standing well back, waiting a good long while before even thinking of entertaining the possibility that I might perhaps buy a new console.

    Xbone is looking least likely, they were already on thin ice with how much of a rip off they pulled with on-line functions being behind a pay wall on the last one.

    Some sort of Wii is actually more likely (as a secondary machine), because the wife likes the idea of Wii-Fit, they are actually fun in small doses and Cash Generator/CeX are full of them.

  19. Eguro

    It can be entirely unplugged it seems

    It seems that MS are saying that the Kinect doesn't even need to be plugged in at all. Not just set to do nothing (cause who would trust that?), but actually without power (running on the hidden built-in batter pack no doubt!?) ( http://kotaku.com/i-still-think-the-anti-mandatory-kinect-backlash-was-a-1113385580 - see bottom quote)

    Now I am not a fan of the xbone at all - it's been clumsily handled, and there's just no way for me to be comfortable with it.

    I would ask one question of the people here more tech savvy than me (meaning most/everyone of you): Would you reckon it's possible for the technology of the new Kinect to be able to distinguish an awake person, from a sleeping one? The only feature I could picture being useful was the Kinect detecting I had fallen asleep and pausing the playback of whatever movie/series I was watching. Of course the privacy concerns would have me never use the possibility, but I'm merely interested in whether it's even at all possible.

  20. Aoyagi Aichou

    Sooo... how is now PS4 better? I know it has better hardware and that MS can't be trusted, but is there anything else? I lost track.

    1. Paul Shirley

      It's still $100 cheaper and that $100 Kinect premium is now for a device many will never even plug in ;)

      1. Aoyagi Aichou
        Facepalm

        Oh yes, I keep forgetting about that "mandatory Kinect purchase" part... Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if M$ announced that customers can buy a Kinect-free XBone.

    2. Brangdon

      The PS4 has a more powerful GPU, with capacity to spare for non-graphics tasks. It has faster memory, with more of it available to games. Its internal hard-disk can be upgraded by the user. It's $100 cheaper. There's probably more that I forget.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What about development? Sony's consoles have been harder to develop for, the cell processor for instance has lots of maths cores and utilising these isn't easy.

        1. Paul Shirley

          "Sony's consoles have been harder to develop for"

          Meanwhile, those of us that were paying attention (or not being paid to post BS) noticed XBone and PS4 are all but identical. Same CPU, same GPU, same memory architecture, same RAM count. OGL and DX11 are almost interchangeable.

          The differences: to help it's slower DDR3 keep up with the PS4s DDR5, XBone wasted transistors on extra cache and lots of RAM<->cache copy hardware. Transistors PS4 spent on 25% more GPU stream processors. Meaning XBone is both fundamentally slower AND harder to program this time round!

          Of course you can just as easily put the equivalent hardware in a PC now. The one difference is only OpenGL added support for unified memory architectures as a core function, so PS4 games will be easier to port to those PCs. Can you guess which one developers are likely to gravitate towards?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: "Sony's consoles have been harder to develop for"

            Factually correct, but Microsoft's tool chain and integration with Visual Studio means that developing for the XBone will be easier (I am basing this on my own experience with XBox 1 & 2, PS1, 2 and watching the swing from Playstation 2 to XBox as the primary target). Also, for better or worse, DirectX has a lot of traction now with graduates, and the employement churn is huge in the games industry, resulting in most of the new student talent being preferring to use DirectX. OpenGL is regaining ground, but it is still perceived as lagging (incorrectly, in my opinion).

            Sonys internal culture is that of an electrical engineers, not software focused, and this is often reflected in their documentation and software quality. I predict Sonys console will continue to be slightly harder to develop on.

            Ultimately though the choice of primary target when developing (the one you really develop on, and the other is the one you just port to) depends on the installed user base and the likely returns.

          2. jason 7

            Re: "Sony's consoles have been harder to develop for"

            @Paul Shirley

            However, as game developers are in the market to sell as many copies of a game as possible it's not really in their interests to release a cross platform game that's wildly different between the two platforms.

            Why sell 10 million on one platform and only 500k of the lesser version on the other when you can balance both versions and sell 20 million in total?

            Plus having to deal with all the "EA I'm going to kill your family!" tweets from rabid console fans just isn't worth the bother.

            I really don' t think they can afford to be too picky about one over the other.

            Exclusives are a different matter.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " It has faster memory"

        Nope - the Xbox memory is faster - at least half the latency on the main DDR RAM, plus 32MB of extremely low latency on GPU SRAM cache.

        Plus Xbox One has up to 3 times the on console processing power available on demand in the cloud...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "in the cloud"

          you just made sure I'll never buy one, so if you were paid to post that your paymasters need to rethink things.

          My C64 could have the same processing power 'in the cloud' I'm paying for what goes under the TV and works without any net connection at all.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          'on demand in the cloud...'

          By all means enjoy your purchase. You've just helped subsidize gamers in South Korea on fibre connections!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Better games. The Playstation exclusives blow the Xbox ones out the water. Sony embrace indie studios, Microsoft have excluded them for the Xbone.

      There is obviously the privacy issues with Microsoft, the double dip subscription model, the poor track record on reliability, aesthetically the Xbone is pretty horrible. it's very large, has a power brick and stinks of all the failings of the previous two Xbox models.

      Whilst Sony are now putting online play behind the pay-wall, all the other features aren't (and some current PS+ features like auto-updates are moving to free model), but at least the Sony paywall is a single level paywall that's £40/year that includes the killer Playstation Plus subscription (£300+ of free games), along with Gaikai.

      I can't come up with a single reason WHY anyone would want an Xbone, I really can't. The hardware is so much better (50% more powerful according to Digital Foundry), it looks better, has better exclusives, is cheaper upfront, has more features without needed a subscription, and more features if you opt for the subscription.

      The Playstation Plus is the biggest deal. if you take a look at the quality of stuff Playstation owners have gotten totally gratis, it's a no brainer...

      Can ANYONE argue with this list?

      http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2013/07/11/sonys-big-giveaway-one-year-on-with-playstation-plus-instant-game-collection/

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Down not across

        "Can ANYONE argue with this list?"

        Forza.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          With exception to dulling up you Cars.... I find that GT5 is the better Simulator of the Two, and it looks better too!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Forza physics

            running the MarioKart engine it seems.

            GranTurismo is a million miles ahead. Forza is just an arcade racer dumbed t down for an American audience.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              'Forza is just an arcade racer'

              Already decided on the Sony. But as an 360 owner I wonder how GT rates against Forza, Driver-SF, Grid / PGR3 / PGR4. So my question is-- is GT really better than all of these? Forza is pretty but its not as fun as PGR / Driver-SF / Grid, and Forza Horizon was a self-inflicted wound to the Driving genre IMHO....

              1. GregC

                @ AC 16:30

                As a driving sim, in my opinion, GT is the best you'll get on a console. As a "fun" racer (and I'd regard most of the games you list as arcade racer rather than sim) then you'll probably want to get your kicks elsewhere (Driveclub looks pretty good in that category).

                Just as well really - $deity knows when GT will actually make it to PS4....

        2. Darren Barratt
          Unhappy

          True. It's one of the personally annoying things about the xbone is that I've had to explain to my young son that he won't be getting one with Forza 5 at Christmas. He's not particularly tech savvy, and refuses to see what the fuss is about.

          So, he's getting a hoop and stick for Christmas instead.

      3. Michael Habel Silver badge
        FAIL

        I resent you calling the XBOX a failure Sir I resent it very much. Unlike the Failbox360, it actually had some decent Games. And if you need further proof of its everlasting greatness give XBMC a try sometime....

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Naughty Dog will be writing games for it.

    5. Down not across

      Of course Microsoft can't be trusted.

      Question is what makes you think Sony can? After all they've had worse track record of making changes after purchase.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All the console manufacturers took stuff away, but guess what, you only know what the media tells you.

        Nintendo took away MP3 playback.

        Microsoft took away USB ports and Netflix party

        Don't forget when Microsoft made everyone BUY 128MB memory cards or hard drives to load the lastest OS update (which was mandatory).

        So really?????

    6. Daniel B.
      Thumb Up

      Lots of better stuff

      Sooo... how is now PS4 better? I know it has better hardware and that MS can't be trusted, but is there anything else? I lost track.

      Well, to begin with the hardware stuff. I usually don't delve that much with this new gen, as both have the craptastic x86 architecture which is a backwards step chip-wise. They could've just stayed PPC but added the GPU juicy bits they're currently doing on x86.

      PS+ will be mandatory only for multiplayer gaming. If you want Netflix or the other stuff, you don't need PS+ while XBL will still demand Gold for all those goods. And even then, PS+ gives tons of freebies every month, sometimes cheap games but occasionally even good games (I got inFamous 2 for free, Bioshock 2 ... a couple of others)

      Sony was bit hardly by their past errors and seem to be acting on getting back their goodwill. I doubt they'll backtrack on their promises as the X-BONE serves as a warning of what happens when you do something like that. (Mind you, they also experimented a bit of this with OtherOS: pissing off the one demographic that had the tech skills to crack the PS3.)

      No mandatory Sauron device.

      Basically, while both Sony and MS have done real bad things, it seems Sony has learned its lesson, while MS tried to pull off the Win8 strategy on their users. Except it backfired so bad, the XBone was declared DOA about 24 hours after it's unveiling at E3.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until we turn it back on again...

    "You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings,"

    What they didn't mention is they have the ability to secretly turn it back on again remotely, if (or should that be, when) they are in possession of a secret NSA spying order. Paranoid? Not in the least. We now know that if it's possible for something to be done to spy on someone, a court can and will order it. And Microsoft don't seem to have a history of pushing back very hard... seems they went out of their way with Skype to install backdoors and wiretaps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Until we turn it back on again...

      Maybe I'm subscribing to paranoia by upvoting your sentiments but I can't disagree with you. The harsh truth is they can't be trusted. Just look as what we've learned so far this summer.

      In particular note the DEA and IRS tactics, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will target individuals any way they can and lie about it ad-infinitum later. Add that to the revelations of the NSA spying for American companies to help them win lucrative contracts and hey-- there is no fine line anymore!

      And of course the corporate owned US media have undertaken zero investigative research, despite the scandal. They don't even challenge defence committee members about the DEA / IRS revelations. Instead they just keeping BSing us with 1.6% trawl stats....

      But money is the name of the game. This is the only thing America pays attention to. This will hurt US Cloud companies. But that will be the sole net affect and nothing else will change!

  22. NotSmartEnough
    IT Angle

    Impact on devs?

    How will this decision impact developers? I guess they were all told that Kinect was mandatory and would be always-on, and that they should make use of it wherever possible. Either they need to rework to remove the dependency on Kinect for those users who are going to keep it unplugged, or a load of games are going to need it anyway, which would make the announcement meaningless.

    I'm not sure how they can maintain the position they've got themselves into where it's a mandatory purchase but not actually required.

  23. Stu

    Don't worry.

    They'll sneak this and the always-connected feature into the next iteration of XBox, or if we're extra lucky, into a firmware update a year on.

    That's how the conservatives magicked poll-tax into council-tax don't you know.

  24. IGnatius T Foobar

    "The console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor".

    There's that word again. "Experience." It's everywhere in Microsoft propaganda. When are they going to understand that we don't want to have an "experience" -- we just want things to work properly.

  25. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Its a choice between .....

    ...... Microsoft changing their minds about features before you buy or Sony removing them after you buy.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sick of all the "I'm getting a PS4 instead" comments

    I've had both PS and Xbox in the past, and I'll probably get both again. Sony have just not got the online environment or multiplayer gaming right compared to Microsoft, and that will drive more sales of XBox than all this "it's got a camera and is watching me do things!" FUD will prevent them.

    I also prefer the XBox controller, but that's because I have big hands and prefer something with some size and weight.

    PS3 currently does better graphics over Xbox, but that advantage will disappear with the next releases.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sick of all the "I'm getting a PS4 instead" comments

      O'Really.....

      PS4 50% more powerful

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-spec-analysis-xbox-one

      PS4 controller:

      http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/156628-how-do-the-xbox-one-and-ps4-controllers-stack-up

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sick of all the "I'm getting a PS4 instead" comments

        Quoted from the controller article "Neither controller is extraordinarily different from the current generation"

        So if you prefer the Xbox 360 controller currently you will probably prefer the Xbox One controller over the PS4 controller.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sick of all the "I'm getting a PS4 instead" comments

      "PS3 currently does better graphics over Xbox, but that advantage will disappear with the next releases."

      Nope - most games on both consoles have better graphics on the 360. The 360 has a more powerful GPU than the PS3...Best graphics of any game award last year went to HALO4 - an Xbox exclusive...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Eye of Sauron

        Plugged in, not plugged in. Set to on, set to off.

        I'd like to know what difference it will make with a bit of duct tape or blu-tack over the camera.

        I doubt any of the new generation of games-I-buy will be "Kinect only" as far as controlling the game goes. If they are, I won't buy them.

        I also don't get this whole "teams" thing. It's like a bunch of teenagers arguing over fictional vampires being more attractive than fictional werewolves.

        I currently own both a PS3 and an Xbox 360. I can't be alone.

        I'll probably end up owning both of these too. Pretty much the only thing up for debate (from my POV) are which order to buy in and how fast.

        Do we all have to pick sides? Or have a seriously misjudged the average age of readers here. At 30 I always ass-u-me-d I was amongst the youngest.

    3. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
      Coat

      Re: sick of all the "I'm getting a PS4 instead" comments

      " I've had both PS and Xbox in the past, and I'll probably get both again. "

      Well well. There's a perfect balance in the universe - I've had neither and won't get them either.

  27. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Backpeddle, backpeddle, backpeddle...

    The amount of reversals Microsoft is making on this is starting to make me think that the XBone will actually be just the 360 in a different box!

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Backpeddle, backpeddle, backpeddle...

      But why then would they make it such an ugly box?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "keen to make the Kinect a central part of the gaming experience"

    How many supporters of Kinect give it glowing reviews? Reviewers of Forza 4 and Mass Effect 3 basically state its a distracting gimmick that's been bolted on. Take Kinect with Forza 4, the game has to control the accelerator and brake-- WTF? Most console games are not Kinect sports titles either, they are FPS, RPG etc. So how does the Kinect enhance the overall gameplay experience? Merely adding voice commands doesn't cut it!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great, so where's the "mandatory" Price Reduction?

    "Xbox 180: Microsoft scraps mandatory Kinect policy"

  30. Fading Silver badge
    Joke

    I can see multiple packages of the XBox One available

    Premium edtion - includes 1 Surface RT

    Classic (cheaper edition) - includes 2 Surface RTs.....

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I can see multiple packages of the XBox One available

      You forgot one:

      Professional (most expensive) edition - doesn't include either a Surface RT or a Kinect

  31. Mephistro Silver badge
    Unhappy

    MS is not getting the message, and probably never will.

    There seems to be a point in the evolution of big IT companies where they start treating customers as a commodity. They don't mind cheating/robbing/insulting their customers 'cause their corporate culture says that they are abundant and easily replaceable, so the big company -MS. in this study case- screws up too often. This particular Xbox SNAFU show that u-turns aren't enough to regain customer's confidence, as the public now is aware that they can't trust MS, and that any 'good' u-turn they perform now will probably be reversed in the future, when -supposedly- the public isn't paying attention.

    Also, if you edit my former paragraph and substitute 'customers' with 'talent' - i.e. techies- you get the other side of the equation, that relates closely to Windows 8 and other similar SNAFUs. As 'talent' is commoditized it loses weight in the company's technical decisions, which is a sure way to disaster.

    When both circumstances apply, the company in question becomes a dying husk, that is slowly devoured by its internal parasites, the money men, the bean-counters, the lawyers and its own management. It may take many years, but it's quite obvious MS will never recover from this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      :)

      "When both circumstances apply, the company in question becomes a dying husk, that is slowly devoured by its internal parasites, the money men, the bean-counters, the lawyers and its own management."

      Also sounds eerily like Apple. ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "There seems to be a point in the evolution of big IT company's"...

      ....'where they start treating customers as a commodity'.. Its the ethos of US Corporations in general. They think if they screw up they can just hire Reputation Management PR law firms and it'll soon be business as unusual. We need to punish them to set an example...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That you CAN turn it off...

    ...doesn't mean they'll make it easy for you to turn off, or that it will be easy to keep it turned off.

    How many xbone owners will turn off the kinect if it requires surfing multiple menu levels down to find a scarily worded option which comes with a big *WARNING!* popup when you try to enable it? And how many of them will then KEEP it turned off if it must be turned back on for some common tasks, or if there's constant warning messages?

    One percent? Less?

    Microsoft can have their cake and eat it too, and I wouldn't put it past them to try.

  33. rcorrect

    At this rate...

    We're gonna see Office for Linux!

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: At this rate...

      Some of us already do... Its called Wine, perhaps you might have heard about it?

  34. Jerky Jerk face

    Yet another huge step back for M$.

    “Market leader dominates indiscriminately and dictates YOUR future of gaming”

    “Gets kicked to the curb by the punters”

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Now excuse me while I laugh all the way to the shops to buy a PS4, I don’t even want one, I just want to stick it to xbox, one more console sale further :D

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    . "When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won't work."

    So the plan all along was for the sensor to collect information when the Kinect was required to be connected?

  36. Shrimpling

    The Xbox actually looks quite promissing for online games.

    The cheaper console will end up with the more annoying online players because parents will buy whichever is cheaper over anything else. This will cause all the annoying kids to be playing on the PS4 meaning I can play on the Xbox one without them annoying me.

    Most parents won't have seen all this rubbish about DRM or always on Kinect so won't have any prejudice against the xbox, its just that it costs more that the ps4 so they buy that instead. Why do you think the Wii sold so well compared to the more powerful ps3 and xbox 360?

    1. Daniel B.
      Meh

      Re: The Xbox actually looks quite promissing for online games.

      Most parents won't have seen all this rubbish about DRM or always on Kinect so won't have any prejudice against the xbox,

      But the kids definitely have. If they were pissed off, they will ask for a PS4 even if it were more expensive than an XBone.

      Why do you think the Wii sold so well compared to the more powerful ps3 and xbox 360?

      Indeed it was cheaper and it sold most, but it wasn't the only reason it was a smash hit. The novelty of the controller stuff appealed to the non-gamer community so people that would usually not buy a gaming console bought up the Wii. And well, according to the previous logic, the Wiiverse should be full of shouty annoying kids, shouldn't it?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely MS will have to lower the price and make the Kinect optional?

    Another step-down by MS still to come? Most games and gamers don't use Kinect i.e. FPS, Driving games and RPG's. Those that do use gimmicks like Kinect for voice commands...

    I'll be buying the Sony if they don't price match, and may buy Sony anyway because I now know the direction MS wants to push us towards. I was a loyal 360 owner before, in multiple regions, but no more! They've been trying to shaft us through this entire diabolical pre-launch process...

  38. j.desu
    Paris Hilton

    This might be unnecessary, but I still don't want to buy it. Will be sticking with Sony again for this generation, same with the last 3 generations.

  39. Tristan Young

    Too bad for Microsoft, a huge swath of gamers have already earmarked their money for Sony's PS4.

    Personally, I don't trust Microsoft anymore. They could say the sky is blue, and I'd call it into question. They could say their stuff won't eavesdrop, but for all I know, their hardware will get up and walk over to the side of your bed, apply a liberal amount of lube, then have a go at your behind while saying, "my precious" in a gollum-like voice.

    XBox One - Playstation Four, therefore Playstation wins ;)

  40. dan1980

    Do I still have to pay for it?

    Excellent news.

    Now I am just waiting for the announcement that, since the Kinect is finally entirely optional to USE, it is also optional to BUY. That would be nice. Because, you know, paying for something you don't want and don't need kind of makes you feel like you're being taken for a ride.

    What this whole series of changes has done is raised a question - do you punish MS for trying to screw us over in the first place (if that's your position) or do you reward their moves to listen to feedback and adjust accordingly?

    I'm still not sure. I'm definitely going to get a PS4 so the question is do I get a 'bone as well?

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