back to article Microsoft throws Kinect under a bus, slashes Xbox One to $399

On June 9, Microsoft will sell a cut-price Xbox One for $399 – without the Kinect voice and gesture controller. "We've heard from people that they just like to play games with a controller in their hand and what we wanted to do was make sure that for those people there's a version of Xbox that really meets the exact needs that …

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  1. Daniel B.
    Meh

    Meh.

    I wanted MSFT's failure to be massive, and these changes are probably going to stop the Xbox FAIL boat from leaking. If only Sony hadn't made PS+ mandatory for online gaming, MSFT might've just given up on Gold-for-online-play as well. But at least it does show that mandatory Kinect, mandatory Gold for stuff you're already paying for is a no-no in the gaming market. And of course, the stupid secondhand-banning DRM as well.

    I wonder if the Kinect-less XB1 will silently replace all the unsold ones gathering dust in the stores?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh.

      Unlikely to change anything. The Xbox One still has a 50% power deficiet over the PS4, and every game to date has ended up vastly inferior on XB1... Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone, DX12 and driver improvements will maybee claw back 1% at best, and Sony can do the same...

      THIS is why the Xbox One is failing so hard. The premium price for a less than premium console just made matters much worse.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone

        It's not like developers learn to tweak and wrangle code until the device can do things that no one thought possible. You'll never have more than 2 colours on the same character space on a Spectrum, for example.

        1. Brangdon

          Re: Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone

          That will happen on both consoles.

        2. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone

          You'll never have more than 2 colours on the same character space on a Spectrum, for example.

          Well, strictly speaking, some games did have more than two colours on the same character space. It's a minor detail that what they were actually doing was swapping two for other two so fast it looked like three or four to you and me...

          EDIT: yeah, okay, sarcasm filter fail. </tired>

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Meh.

        >>"The Xbox One still has a 50% power deficiet over the PS4,"

        I'd be interested to know how you quantified the XB1 as "50%" less powerful than the PS4.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meh.

          Look at the hardware specs, in partular, the GPU and memory. The PS4 has double the GPU pipelines, and the full 8GB of high bandwidth DDR5. The Xbox One skimps in both these areas, and added a last-minute bodge of 32MB of ESRAM, which is clumsy to code for.

          http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/166649-ps4-is-50-faster-than-xbox-one-report-game-developers

          "According to unnamed industry developers speaking to Edge, Sony's PS4 enjoys around a 50 per cent improvement in performance, to memory read speeds and arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) calculations in particular, over the Xbox One. In real-world terms, one developer said that a game running at 30 frames per second on a PS4 in 1,920x1,080 Full HD would have to run at a lower 1,600x900 resolution on the Xbox One and still only achieve around 20 frames per second."

          Plenty of other sources too.

          1. Brenda McViking

            Re: Meh.

            And yet, having both consoles and not really biased either way, it is clear at least to me that the Xbox is the more polished experience of the two. The PS4 was not *quite* ready when released and it shows.

          2. Joefish
            Boffin

            Re: Meh.

            In which case, if one has a 50% lead over the other, then the converse statement is that one is 33% behind, not 50% behind.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Meh.

            "added a last-minute bodge of 32MB of ESRAM, which is clumsy to code for."

            The same architecture that the Xbox managed to outperform the 'more powerful' PS3 with you mean - that developers have been using for years now?

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Meh.

              When ND and GG got the performance out PS3 was definately more powerful, just was a pain for the developers coming from single core and the last generation

        2. Piro

          Re: Meh.

          It has 50% of the shaders in the GPU which is of otherwise identical architecture and similar clock speed.

          The RAM in the Xbox One severely cripples the GPU, also. So 50% is a decent enough estimate.

          Obviously the difference in the real world will be smaller as most games will be multi-platform, so look similar from a distance, but that's simply because it's easier to change a few settings for each platform as opposed to create entirely different assets to make the best use of the hardware.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Meh.

            "It has 50% of the shaders in the GPU which is of otherwise identical architecture and similar clock speed."

            The Xbox One has a faster clock speed, and actually it has 67% of the shaders of the PS4.

            "The RAM in the Xbox One severely cripples the GPU"

            The RAM in the Xbox One is lower latency than the PS4 - and is designed for optimal CPU performance - the ESRAM cache making up for the memory speed for graphics.

            Seeing as you clearly don't understand the numbers and facts you are reciting (and are obviously not very bright at maths), you might want to read this simple explanation of the benefits:

            http://gamingbolt.com/crytek-shares-secrets-of-using-xbox-one-esrams-full-potential-resulted-in-big-bandwidth-saves

      3. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Meh.

        >>The Xbox One still has a 50% power deficiet over the PS4, and every game to date has ended up vastly inferior on XB1... Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone, DX12 and driver improvements will maybee claw back 1% at best, and Sony can do the same...

        What utter garbage. Punters don't buy based on CPU MHz and consoles have never been about raw power otherwise everyone would buy PCs instead. The PS2 and XBox were not evenly matched and the PS2 architecture was notoriously difficult to program for well (I worked at a game developer in this era).

        That you think better drivers can only claw back 1% performance increase at best, is a good indicator of how much you know about these things - drivers can be totally transformational depending how good the original ones are.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh.

        "The Xbox One still has a 50% power deficiet over the PS4"

        It's about 40% - on GPU - but the Xbox has a faster CPU - and it's CPU has more advanced hardware offload capabilities. And the 10% of GPU reserved for Kinect is going to be removed by a patch very soon (http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/175463-microsoft-to-boost-xbox-one-gpu-performance-by-making-kinect-optional) . And the forthcoming DirectX 12 is going to shrink that gap still further.

        "every game to date has ended up vastly inferior on XB1"

        Havning played every game that is available on both - on both - I can confirm that is utter dross. Any difference is simply not visible even very close to a very large (65") screen. Even when you look at static screen shot comparisons, you can barely see the difference. What is of note as gamer is that the Xbox One has the better controller, Xbox Live is still significantly better than PSN and the Xbox One has much better exclusives - for now at least.

        And that's without considering several major things the PS4 doesnt yet have that the Xbox One does - 4K output, Kinect 2 and an HDMI input.

    2. RAMChYLD

      Re: Meh.

      Well, no. The biggest problem with the XBox fail boat is XBox Live Gold still not available in many countries i.e. Malaysia. PS+ is available in any country where there is PSN, which in turn is available in most countries that has an internet connection. That, and the XBox One is still not available in many countries as well. So keep your dreams alive, unless M$ rectifies this and takes a page out of Sony's books and remove these regional exclusion hooplas, nothing changed.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Meh.

        >>"You wanted less competition and a Sony monopoly? Are you retarded?"

        Maybe they just wanted everyone who bought one to lose out big time and all the companies and people who invested time and money into games for it to suffer huge losses. They could be nice like that.

        1. dogged

          Re: Meh.

          @h4rmony - clearly I've just insulted a moderator (somehow) so thanks for keeping the sentiment alive.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Meh.

            >>"@h4rmony - clearly I've just insulted a moderator (somehow) so thanks for keeping the sentiment alive."

            I imagine it was because you asked the poster if they were stupid. Possibly an unsympathetive moderator regarded that as too much of a personal attack. Though wanting Sony to have an unchallenged monopoly on consoles doesn't seem the brightest of ideas to me, either.

            1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

              Re: Meh.

              "Stupid" might have worked but:

              ' "You wanted less competition and a Sony monopoly? Are you retarded?" ' is a no-no.

              I tend to use the word to apologise to others if I'm late - makes the buggers think for a change.

        2. Daniel B.

          Re: Meh.

          >>"You wanted less competition and a Sony monopoly? Are you retarded?"

          Maybe they just wanted everyone who bought one to lose out big time and all the companies and people who invested time and money into games for it to suffer huge losses.

          Anyone who bought an XB1 even after MSFT repeatedly showed they don't care about end users (ramming DRM until Sony 0wn3d them on that area; ramming mandatory Kinect "always on" smack in the middle of the Snowden affair, only relenting a few weeks before release; and it is until now that they offer a Kinect-less device).

          And most gaming firms should have plenty of multiplatform games to offset losses from failing platforms. Pretty much every console generation has had one casualty, or at least one console underperforming, the sole exception being the Wii/PS3/360 where none of the three platforms was a failure. Anyone must have smelled the blood after the XB1 DRM fiasco and it would be stupid to bet all their marbles on that platform.

          I do find it funny that MS shills seem to think that an Xbox failure will leave Sony as the only player in town. Nintendo may have hit a dud with the Wii U, but they're still in the game, and they're still going strong with the Wii installed base anyway. Then there's the Steam console, and I'm pretty sure that an Xbox void would be filled rapidly by newcomers. After all, Sony rose from nothing to #1 gaming platform in a matter of years with the PSX, dethroning the big N and surpassing Sega at the same time.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh.

      "I wanted MSFT's failure to be massive"

      Sony - loosing hundreds of millions. Micrososft - making billions. Nope.

    5. bex

      Re: Meh.

      I have been hoping Sony would go bust for years anyd it's nothing to do with the consoles which I have no interest in.

  2. NoneSuch

    Meh...

    Too little too late as far as I'm concerned. Once Linux can support my Steam games my Win7 install will be zapped and I'll be running my Linux distro full-time.

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: Meh... - steam on linux

      "Once Linux can support my Steam games my Win7 install will be zapped and I'll be running my Linux distro full-time."

      The only games I've got working on Steam Linux are Half-life2 and Portal2, only Valves own game.

      And it was a bloody nightmare. I had lots of files missing I had to probe around the internet and on my original dvds to find. But it was good error messages. Maybe my problem is that I run OpenSuse. Friends with Ubuntu says it works much better.

      1. KjetilS

        Re: Meh... - steam on linux

        I'm testing Steam on Mint (don't like Ubuntu and Unity), and it works pretty much perfectly, right out of the box.

      2. Fibbles

        Re: Meh... - steam on linux

        "And it was a bloody nightmare. I had lots of files missing I had to probe around the internet and on my original dvds to find. But it was good error messages. Maybe my problem is that I run OpenSuse. Friends with Ubuntu says it works much better."

        You installed Steam on a distro that is not officially supported. It really shouldn't have been a surprise that you had to do some legwork.

  3. hplasm Silver badge
    Devil

    Ah-

    The sound of another MS U-turn- featuring samples of the lyrical stylings of M Thatcher...

    Play on.

    1. Joefish
      Facepalm

      Re: Ah-

      Also known as the 'XBox 180'.

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: XBox 180

        But MS Marketing refers to it as the XBox 540!

        1. ColonelClaw
          Joke

          Re: XBox 180

          Or maybe, going by the handful of games that have been released, the XBox 720p?

    2. busycoder99

      Re: Ah-

      U-turn indeed. And clearly not a first for the company.

      See:

      http://semiaccurate.com/2014/05/15/microsoft-now-irrelevant-computing-want-know/

  4. Jarin

    Easy to blame the old leadership for stupid decisions, but considering that the dude left for ZYNGA of all places... yeah, I think he'll fit right in there. Microsoft needs to distance itself from his decisions as quickly as possible. This is long overdue.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Disagree. I think it's another stupid move. The big advantage of the Kinect is that everyone has one - meaning game developers aren't giving up money by making use of it. Also, it's a key part of the plan to make XBox a popular home media centre. MS backtracking on this is a desperate move to try and boost sales and pacify critics. But it wont work. All it will do is shoot themselves in the foot.

      MS keep doing this - come up with something really cool and then blink as soon as a bunch of angry people start forum posting.

      1. Fibbles

        "The big advantage of the Kinect is that everyone has one - meaning game developers aren't giving up money by making use of it."

        That strategy made sense when the console was first released but since then Microsoft has learned 2 new things:

        - Developers don't want to make games for the Kinnect.

        - Those who have produced Kinnect games have found the market to be very small.

        Even if the Kinnect comes as standard with the Xbox One, it is at this point essentially just a niche/novelty game controller. Hampering sales for their console in an attempt to flog a niche game controller is not good business.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Developers don't want to make games for the Kinnect."

          I think its far to early to believe that. Kinect Sports is out soon for instance, and Dance Central is probably on it's way too.

          What Microsoft have done is built up a nice installed base of ~ 5 million Kinects that will encourage developers to build games - even if Kinect is optional for new installs. And that was mostly during a period where Microsoft were ramping up console production to meet demand anyway.

          1. Daniel B.

            Ummm nope

            "Developers don't want to make games for the Kinnect."

            I think its far to early to believe that. Kinect Sports is out soon for instance, and Dance Central is probably on it's way too.

            Kinect Sports should've been out on release day, if the Kinect-as-a-main-feature hype is to be believed. After all, it was there from day one on the Wii, which is what both MS and Sony were copying when they made Kinect and the Move systems.

            Dance Central is… probably not going to come. Harmonix hasn't announced much beyond "great plans for Rock Band and Dance Central", if they were serious about bringing Dance Central 4 to the XB180 they would've done so already. I'm so reminded of game franchises that never got sequels even when announced; I'm still waiting for that ObsCure sequel we were promised… noticeable that ObsCure 2 was a PS2 game. I wouldn't be surprised if the "next" Dance Central ends up being vaporware or indefinitely postponed.

        2. Isendel Steel

          But the space required for Kinect to be usable for action games (at least on the V1) precluded it from being used in the XBOXs natural environment - a small room with a usually small display.

          Granted the XBone is touted as an entertainment centre - not all installation areas will have the requisite space to play games in.

          1. Lamont Cranston

            re: "space"

            Very much this. We had an Eye Toy on the PS2, which worked out little more than a brief novelty, as standing up and flailing your arms to play video games is not really very much fun (and it didn't work too well). The Wii controller works (reasonably) well, but experience has shown that sitting down and not having to point the controller at the screen is the preferred mode of play - anything that involves multiple players standing up to play together will inevitable get switched off after a couple of rounds (during which at least one person will have taken an elbow to the face).

            I'm sure Kinect is technically very accomplished, but I don't think it's what people want in their living rooms (or bedrooms).

  5. Greg J Preece

    It really is the Xbox 180, isn't it?

    Remember when Microsoft said this would never happen?

    http://ca.ign.com/articles/2013/08/22/microsoft-xbox-one-will-never-come-without-kinect

    So now we have two consoles at the same price, with the same general capabilities, but one is getting PS Now, wasn't locked down, has better games (though naturally that's subjective), and is more powerful to start with.

    Making your product more like the PS4 to stop people buying the PS4 isn't gonna work, just like making your game more like Call of Duty to take down Call of Duty does jack shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It really is the Xbox 180, isn't it?

      Xbox 180 was my preferred term early on, too. Xbone just seemed childish.

  6. Arachnoid
    Joke

    It was simply a marketting decision

    Brought on by honest customer feedback and a review of our future contextual needs......

  7. K Silver badge

    between 50 and 75 per cent off the cost of new titles

    That roughly translates to "These people will be able to buy new games from XBox Live for the same price as they would from a store!".

    Also I'd wager this discount only apply's to B rate games.

    Microsoft once again left playing catch up, rather than taking the opportunity to put themselves ahead. I love my XBox, but XBox live could take a lesson from Steam, with mega-offers on games that people actually want. Do this, then people would not begrudge paying the $10 per month, I'd also guarantee they would clock up more sales. There was an article on El Reg a few weeks ago mentioning that a high percentage of steam games are never played, because buyers see a bargain that is too good to turn down.

    1. Ian Yates
      Coat

      Re: between 50 and 75 per cent off the cost of new titles

      "a high percentage of steam games are never played, because buyers see a bargain that is too good to turn down"

      I resemble that remark!

  8. st4yr4d

    We may aswell just start calling them tfosorcim

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Popular commands...

    "Xbox On," "Xbox Broadcast," and "Xbox Record That," are the most popular commands, he said."

    I would have thought "Xbox Off" would have been pretty high in the list too...

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Popular commands...

      "I would have thought "Xbox Off" would have been pretty high in the list too..."

      Nah, people always yank the plug out when they rage-quit.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Popular commands...

        If they know how many commands, and what commands, people are using then surely this must give xb180 owners pause for thought regarding their privacy..surely? anyone? no? thought not.

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: Popular commands...

          It's the same as when they were reporting how many enemies had been killed in games, how many combos had been done, etc. Microsoft's willingness to use these figures in their marketing demonstrates that everything you do on an Xbox 180 is tracked.

          1. dogged

            Re: Popular commands...

            Yes, but only to the extent that everything you do in Chrome is tracked. Or possibly less.

            Assume that they're counting how many enemies are killed - with each kill, a counter is incremented on a server somewhere (or an Azure instance). Nothing there to indicate that this statistic can be linked to the user account of the gamer that made the kill.

            Paranoia may be a useful trait in this day and age but given that the XBone doesn't advertise at you beyond the level of the 360 - ie, generic "Promo! Get stuff cheap!" ads that are identical whichever account is logged in - there doesn't seem to be any benefit to MS in cross-referencing this kind of data.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Popular commands...

              "Yes, but only to the extent that everything you do in Chrome is tracked. Or possibly less."

              I don't have Chrome, but why would I install a voice-controlled browser that recorded what I said to my wife about the latest government policy-gone-bad, or discussions around support for UKIP for instance?

              Oh, Chrome can't do that? Well the xb180 can (whether it does it to this extent or not is irrelevant). Look up NSA and them capturing pictures from Kinect.

              Couple this data-stream with voice and facial recognition plus 'always on' and 'always connected' (which was how it was for xb180 at the start remember) and you have a very effective spy network. If it's there and can be tapped, the NSA *will* tap it - they have some form in this area I believe.

              Paranoid? I only wish I were.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Popular commands...

                "Oh, Chrome can't do that?"

                Sure it can. Except that Chrome also has piles of vulnerabilities - both itself and in the Flash libraries that can interface with your camera and microphone. If you use Chrome, the NSA are probably already getting a direct feed on top of the built in Google spyware....

            2. Greg J Preece

              Re: Popular commands...

              Yes, but only to the extent that everything you do in Chrome is tracked. Or possibly less.

              Have a guess why I don't use Chrome.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dictators always fail in the end

    This is what happens when you think you own your customers. M$ decided to dictate what could and could not be done with your purchase. You had to have 24hr internet connection to play off line games. You couldn't lend games or rent them and they had no resale value. You can't change the hard drive. You need to pay to watch youtube, netlix, etc. You had to have the kinnect connected in order for the unit to work. All these rules for an underpowered games console. No wonder nobody with sense bought it. Even though they 180ed most of it, I know that these things will always be in the shadows waiting to be reintroduced. I really hope they learn from this. But being M$ the company that listens to its customers I doubt it.

    1. h4rm0ny
      Flame

      Re: Dictators always fail in the end

      >>"You had to have 24hr internet connection to play off line games. You couldn't lend games or rent them and they had no resale value"

      Many people kept shouting that you needed to have 24hr Internet connection. You didn't and it was explained over and over this wasn't true, but it was like some kind of mass hysteria. You just needed a brief connection once every 24 hours to verify your games. You could do that just by tethering to your mobile phone for a minute in extreme circimstances. I cannot believe that any but a tiny percentage of people would be affected by this. Most people have their console connected all the time and when they do disconnect it, it's to take it to a friends who also has Internet. But suddenly everyone on the Internet was spending weeks at their uncle's cabin in the mountains where you couldn't even get mobile signal. I don't believe it.

      In return for that DRM, MS would have been able to shelve the entire concept of plastic discs. And you're wrong about not being able to lend games (or rent them). Because of the DRM, you could have leant games to people on the otherside of the country if you wanted. You could lend the game whilst still playing it yourself under the deal.

      Reselling was the best thing of all under the original model. Instead of going via Gamestop, who pay you a pittance for it and sell it for barely less than new, you could have resold via the game's developers. That keeps money in a closed loop between customer and developer and thus makes the entire cycle more profitable meaning either more investment in games or greater ability to compete on price, or more likely both. As opposed to Gamestop which is a giant machine grafted onto the side of the customer-developer symbiosis which just extracts money to pay for useless things like store space, staffing costs, etc. (Useless from the point of view of customers and developers).

      That stupid video from Sony saying "This is how you share a game on PS4" with two people standing next to each other, one handing a DVD over? If I were Microsoft I would have responded with a video showing: "This is how you share a game on XB1" and it would be someone sitting at their console, clicking "share to..." on one of their buddies' names and someone on the other side of the USA at home suddenly having the game pop-up. Oh, and the original person carry on playing.

      MS were going to turn discs into nothing more than a means of data exchange. It would have been full of advantages. But hate won, logic lost.

      1. noboard

        Re: Dictators always fail in the end

        "This is how you share a game on XB1"

        Errm you never could, they only said that in time they may bring it in. The online DRM was to kill off second hand sales nothing more. Everything else was just spin to try and convince people it was a good idea. They also said if they did implement it it would be down to the publishers to allow it, which means most games would not be allowed to share.

        The fact is MS could allow this for downloaded games right now and show people how good it is, but they wont as downloaded games can't be re-sold or loaned out, so these changes would only benefit the consumer and they don't care about them.

      2. Knives&Faux

        Re: Dictators always fail in the end

        Well said h4rm0ny, the downvotes show this lack of logic is alive with some .

      3. robmobz
        Flame

        Re: Dictators always fail in the end

        "Most people have their console connected all the time and when they do disconnect it, it's to take it to a friends who also has Internet. But suddenly everyone on the Internet was spending weeks at their uncle's cabin in the mountains where you couldn't even get mobile signal. I don't believe it."

        Some people live in areas where internet connectivity is less accessible and don't want to have to go to great extents to connect to a slow connection that then may take a while to authenticate. EVERY DAY!

        "Reselling was the best thing of all under the original model. Instead of going via Gamestop, who pay you a pittance for it and sell it for barely less than new, you could have resold via the game's developers. That keeps money in a closed loop between customer and developer and thus makes the entire cycle more profitable meaning either more investment in games or greater ability to compete on price, or more likely both. As opposed to Gamestop which is a giant machine grafted onto the side of the customer-developer symbiosis which just extracts money to pay for useless things like store space, staffing costs, etc. (Useless from the point of view of customers and developers)."

        1 word: Ebay.

    2. HipposRule

      Re: Dictators always fail in the end

      Ooh - M$, how original!

    3. Blitterbug
      Unhappy

      Re: M$ decided to dictate what could and could not be done with your purchase

      Dude, c'mon - I do agree with some of what's being said on this thread, but you risk cheapening your argument by using pejorative terms like 'M$' - that's so dated an attack. They are a business. They have an obligation to make plenty $$. Did you think they were a charity? It's just daft continually bunging that symbol in there.

  11. dan1980

    I am a bit unsure how to feel about this decision.

    On the one hand, like the previous u-turns, it shows that Microsoft can actually change. This type of thing is really what we all want - we talk about 'voting with our wallets' and in this case it appears to have worked.

    Yes, the XBox One is not as powerful as the PS4 and to some people that matters more than anything else and so, for them, these changes are irrelevant. But many others were more concerned about these issues than raw graphical ability.

    So, on almost all of the issues that the community had with the Xbox One, Microsoft has ended up listening and making the required changes.

    This, surely is a win, no?

    On the other hand, it shows that the only way to communicate with Microsoft is money. Whatever their rhetoric, they simply don't care about the people using their products. If one option will annoy consumers but result in more profits then that's the option they will choose.

    I just wish there was a similar situation with OSs and business software. Yes, yes, Linux, etc... but MS has HUGE market share there and it's very much a captive market. In that market, they continually make unpopular decisions but it's much harder for people to change so they get away with it.

    In that comparison, it also shows the problem with monopolies - it is highly doubtful that any of these changes would have been made if the PS4 didn't exist . . .

    1. Kevin Johnston

      I have to agree with you about the OS and business software side. There are a number of products I use for work which simply do not have a Linux flavour available and while you can use 'equivalents' in a small environment this is not always an option when you have to work in an Enterprise scale environment. There is also, on the domestic side, the issue with things like DVDs which detect they has been inserted into a computer and then try to launch the Windows run-time app. Yes, you could try ripping to a usable format etc etc but it is at minimum an extra level of complexity which discourages moving away from MS products.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "the issue with things like DVDs which detect they has been inserted into a computer and then try to launch the Windows run-time app"

        The DVDs detect they have been inserted into a computer ?- smart DVDs you have!. What's it got to do with Linux ?

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Not smart at all

          Oh dear time to try to get over a fairly basic lesson.

          Apparently you do not know but the way a DVD player reads a disc is not the same as the way a computer reads the disc. When you load it into a computer it checks specific tracks/sectors to look for various information which it needs to know where everything is and what type of data the disc holds. When you try to play a DVD with a movie it can instead launch a run-time version which is intended to stop you ripping the DVD and bypassing all the unskippable anti-piracy sections. Various music CDs have a similar setup.

          The problem is that this runtime system is a Windows only process (actually there may be an Apple version on there but I don't have the kit to check) so if you insert the DVD into a linux PC it will not work.

          Hopefully I did not use too many complicated phrases in there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not smart at all

            "so if you insert the DVD into a linux PC it will not work."

            Nobody would expect it to work under Linux - that's the point. Linux is set to NOT load executables when a disk is inserted.

            1. Chemist

              Re: Not smart at all

              If you want to play encrypted DVDs on a Linux machine just use VLC after making sure libdvdcss is available. libdvdcss is not always installed by default but is readily available.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not smart at all

              "Linux is set to NOT load executables when a disk is inserted."

              So is Windows.

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Not smart at all

            "Oh dear time to try to get over a fairly basic lesson."

            *cough* I wouldn't normally have replied, but your rather condescending tone to the original poster means you have to be correct - pedantically correct.

            "Apparently you do not know but the way a DVD player reads a disc is not the same as the way a computer reads the disc. When you load it into a computer it checks specific tracks/sectors to look for various information which it needs to know where everything is and what type of data the disc holds."

            .... which is exactly what a DVD player has to do, unless you have one of those rare psychic DVD players that don't actually exist.

            "When you try to play a DVD with a movie it can instead launch a run-time version which is intended to stop you ripping the DVD and bypassing all the unskippable anti-piracy sections. Various music CDs have a similar setup."

            Errrrr, what? What do you think launches programs? The DVD? The DVD player? Or maybe..... just maybe..... it's Windows and it's misguided autorun system!

            As for audio CD's, standard red book CD's don't even contain a filesystem. Any sort of CD with an ISO-6990 filesystem in addition to the normal CDDA section would again require that a consumer player skips the unknown section, whilst a computer recognises the filesystem, mounts it, and autoruns some shite from there.

            Again, though, it's the OS that decides to do this. The drive doesn't command the OS what to do!

            Basically, your consumer DVD player is a computer. The software on your personal computer can basically behave exactly like a consumer player if it wishes (indeed, many do, as they even allow the running of customised DVD virtual machine bytecode - the software on video DVD's that runs in hardware consumer units is nowt to do with Windows)

            If hypothetically, the DVD contains some non-standard encoding requiring a windows program to play it, then it won't play on a consumer player either (and would then be more accurately described as a windows DVD-ROM)

            "The problem is that this runtime system is a Windows only process (actually there may be an Apple version on there but I don't have the kit to check) so if you insert the DVD into a linux PC it will not work."

            How, then, does my non-windows, non-mac, non-linux, OS plays every Video DVD that's thrown at it?

            You seem to be getting confused with DVD data disks (not video disks) containing windows code.

            *TL; DR* : The original poster was correct, and you just 'corrected' him with a load of old bollocks!

            "Hopefully I did not use too many complicated phrases in there."

            *snigger*

  12. Michael Jarve

    This, I think, is a good thing, and I hope that Microsoft learns from this. With XB1 and Windows 8, Microsoft has tried to force the market and consumers to follow Microsoft's vision instead of offering consumers the products needed to realize their vision; Microsoft's history of vision has not been successful, especially in areas where their customers mostly want what they already have, but "better."

    Microsoft tried to sell Kinect and Touch where people just wanted Games and A Reliable OS. Trying to foist what should be a compliment to the main experience is like a restaurant trying to force it's customers to eat the sweet potato fries and coleslaw when they really just want the steak.

    1. dan1980

      @Michael Jarve

      "This, I think, is a good thing, and I hope that Microsoft learns from this.

      And that's the problem - decisions like this give us hope that MS will start thinking of the consumer more, but that hope almost inevitably leads to disappointment.

  13. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Not Surprised - The console is dead.

    Had to happen sooner or later once they started to fall behind their competitor.

    They've realised that having a higher price bundle for something extra which many people don't really consider a must-have has hurt them. Simple enough to disinclude the item in question and be able to drop the price to parity with their competitor. The drop of the subscription for certain services is a nice touch though.

    The core console market is all about the games. Extra stuff like video/audio/internet is all very well, but I doubt any are must have reasons for buying one, especially at the prices consoles are sold for these days. If you don't have the games people want to play, you have nothing.

    Sony/Microsoft and Nintendo are chasing the dream of getting a console in every house they possibly can by trying to widen the appeal of one. Nintendo managed a certain popularity with the Wii, born partly of novelty facter, game simplicity and affordability. They failed to hit that sweet spot with their next gen machine.

    Personally, I got into consoles from PC gaming late into the 90's after games on consoles became more compelling from the generic platofrmers of earlier consoles and it seemed I had to upgrade my PC every time a new game came out. I stayed with consoles for a long time for the convenience and the fact they were a cheapish outlay for five or six years entertainment. With the PC market having slowed, and consoles up in price I'd much rather spend that kind of money on the PC side and money on games that are going to remain playable for longer (not join the pile of PS2/Dreamcast/Xbox games that are no longer playable because the console is dead.

    Consoles are dead, they died slowly as they became non-upgradable PCs that sell a locked set of services and that sit under the tellly. Any general purpose PC can do almost all that a console can do as regards games/music/video, and more, and now cost the same. And tablets/phones can provide the simple games that satisfy the non-hardcore gamer and the same other services, what does that leave the expensive console.

    1. Timbo 1

      Re: Not Surprised - The console is dead.

      Mini yawn because it's not one of the PS4 vs XBone diatribes that some forums are riddled with.

      Convenience is also part of a console's appeal, not just specification.

      PS4/XBone, put the power in, connect it to TV, power up, play game. Done. Additional services, such as Netflix en all also provide other options quickly available.

      Naturally, the PC environment as a continually evolving hardware platform and software platform will outpace consoles, and games will mostly outshine their console counterparts especially further down the line. But some folks just can't be bothered with having to install monthly windows updates, a new version of DirectX, or whatever. They just want to power up and play.

      You know that a PS/XBox console is unlikely to have their successor for 7 years or so after release? Add another year or so after release before game releases are flowing maybe. Games bought during the lifecycle of the console will be written with that in mind.

      I'm not certain (so please correct me if i'm wrong here) that developers of the latest and greatest PC games ensure their specification will run optimally on a seven or eight year old spec system. Or if they do run, then it will be at a level that the current console will be able to easily do anyway......

      More than room for both IMO.

      1. Ian Yates
        Joke

        Re: Not Surprised - The console is dead.

        "PS4/XBone, put the power in, connect it to TV, power up, pray it isn't bricked, activate online, wait for mandatory updates, pray it isn't bricked, insert game disc, wait for game to install, wait for mandatory game updates, play game."

        Fixed it for you.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Head screwed on better

    Things are looking better for Xbox since Phil Spencer took over, how does he have time for this and Location Location Location?

    Anyway the price cut is not enough, for the same money you can buy the more powerful PS4.

    The main issue with this new generation are the game prices, £10 more than last generation is rather a lot.

    I am playing a waiting game on new games as having a new console doesn't stop the old ones working.

    1. g e

      Re: Head screwed on better

      Playstation+ is pretty good value for money, mind you... There must have been at least five big titles given away last year for the forty quid sub you pay.. stuff like Bioshock Infinite, etc and it covers both the PS3 and the PS4 at home. I binned XBOX Gold membership ages ago when I realised it was a waste of money for the most part. The '360 only ever gets turned on when my daughter plays Skyrim and I'm not even considering an XB1 at all.

      Will be interesting to see if SONY get Gaikai working this summer for legacy games (and then get it working in EU)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Head screwed on better

      "Anyway the price cut is not enough, for the same money you can buy the more powerful PS4."

      Microsoft still have some key features PS4 doesnt though - HDMI input and full TV integration are going to be big sellers to many.

  15. Alan Bourke

    This not-requiring-Gold-for-streaming change ...

    Does it apply to 360 also?

    1. g e

      Re: This not-requiring-Gold-for-streaming change ...

      What, and take away a tiny reason to upgrade to XB1 ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This not-requiring-Gold-for-streaming change ...

        It does. I fired mine up last night and there was a big splash advert telling me I could now use NetFlix without having Gold.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Windows 8 of Game Consoles

    The title says it all.

  17. Robert E A Harvey

    shame

    Kinect is about the only cool thing Microsoft have done in aeons.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: shame

      You forget about Bob!

  18. Grubby

    Slashes price?...

    How does removing something that is sold for about $100 from a package and reducing the price by $100 work out to be a price cut? You're not getting what you used to get in the original package and so it's not the same thing you're buying, it's not a reduction it's a marketing spin on what is actually exactly the price for the console.

    1. Tom 260

      Re: Slashes price?...

      The sillier thing is that the new UK price without Kinect is £349, which is the same price that some places have been selling the console with Kinect for in order to shift stock! (and about £370 for the Titanfall bundle).

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Slashes price?...

      Did you have a choice to buy it without Kinect before? If you don't want kinect, it is a price reduction to the consumer regardless what it saves the producer.

  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Terminator

    I'm sorry Bill, I can't just let Sony do that...

    The Japanese firm is spanking Redmond's console in the US market that Xbox considers its own

    Hell hath no fury than True AI spanked!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We listened to our customers...

    my ass. We listened to ourselves, then we checked the numbers, then we listened to the customers...

    I think history will look back at this as a most hilarious case of corporate backtracking. Edward Snowden's revelations clearly sobered up a few fanbois too....I bet MS wished they had now released the new box in early 2013! But you can't have it every way MS, if you bend over to help the government spy, you can't expect us to trust this invasive always-on camera / mic based device.

    Never mind the fact that most games don't lend themselves naturally to a Kinect experience, not in the way Oculus and other VR headsets will be a game changer...

  21. Mussie (Ed)

    Always been an xbox fan but....

    Always been an xbox fan but thier money money money attitude has lost them a customer, Sony is helpping to keep them honest and I will be helpping Sony do that....

  22. Belardi

    Blah! Even if the Xbone was $350, I will still pay $400 for the PS4.

    Other than a few MS game titles, all games are available for the PS4 with more power.

    Also, the Xbox is like an ugly 80s VCR, just like the 80's looking Windows 8.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "all games are available for the PS4 with more power."

      You realise it's pretty much impossible to see the difference without looking at high resolution static screen shots?

  23. JDX Gold badge

    No games, a shame

    I think it's a shame developers aren't pushing the Kinect aspect for games. Previously PS3/XB360 developers had a tough choice, most people didn't have motion-sensitive controllers so requiring them was taking a big risk, whereas on the WII you knew it was there and could build around that foundation.

    Personally, proper motion-controlled games are a real new lease of live when done well, in sports games mainly. Obviously, gratuitously forcing it for every game is silly but a console with guaranteed Kinect sounded like a wonderful opportunity to push things forward. But presumably having to release on other platforms still acts as a "lowest common denominator" anchor - you want to develop a motion-control-only game, not try and tack on motion-control (or game pad support) for another platform.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Yawn...

    ....here we go again, my games console is better than your games console...nah nah na naaah naaaaahhh.

    What time does scholl start, I think some may be late.

    Seriously, grow up.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Xbox One owners in denial is a really funny thing.

    I have already been through 20 bag os popcorn looking at their desperate posts about how suddenly graphics don't matter anymore (after suffering years of having 400x zoomed in pictures of how GTAIV was better on Xbox360 than PS3...)

    To have ended up with the utter turd that the XB1 has turned out to be, and the endless string of about turns to try and make the Xbox One more like the PS4, it's really funny...

    I I were a popcorn seller right now, I'd be rolling in money....

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Xbox One owners in denial is a really funny thing.

      OS popcorn. ..for when your kernel overheats

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