Wednesday, 12 June 2013 12:18

Don’t Like To Be Always Connected, Stick With Xbox 360…

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Almost two years ago we wrote an editorial on why Microsoft had problems when it came to launching new product (and keeping them in the market). The evidence of this is quite clear in past and present products from Windows Vista to Windows 8/RT. Microsoft has its own way of analyzing market data and their own telemetry data that they collect (which they admit is a small percentage of their user base). With Windows Vista Microsoft ignored user complaints about an implementation of HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) that would be “always on” and interrogate everything a user does to make sure it is compliant with third party DRM requirements (pronounce that MPAA and RIAA), this had such a large impact on performance that the OS was quickly replaced with Windows 7.

Microsoft stated (at the time) that they made the move to Window 7 with the user in mind. Their whole campaign for Windows 7 was “I’m a PC” and highlighted the many new improvements in Windows 7 that were a direct response to user feedback and requests. Windows 7 was a high point for Microsoft and after a short period of time began to even convert the steadfast XP users that were holding on. Sadly this lesson was not learned by the folks at Redmond (or at least by the folks in charge), they embarked on a complete eco system that was in opposition to the campaign they had just run.

We are talking about Windows 8/RT and the run up to their launch. During the beta and consumer preview programs Microsoft received many, many complaints about the functionality of the new UI. This was not just people that were afraid of trying something new, but about actual workflow and usage. Instead of making any real changes Microsoft continued to plow on with their plans which ended up being much deeper than just a removal of the start menu. Instead of developing their newest OS based on consumer request and real feedback, Microsoft tried to argue with the commenters claiming they would like it once they tried it (they are still using that argument) and that if people really wanted the Start Menu to stick with Windows 7. This became the mantra for Microsoft and has now bled over to their latest launch of the Xbox One.

With the Xbox One you are getting a small x86 PC running a hyper visor and three operating systems there are some very cool things going on in the background to keep all of this running. In fact it is one of the more impressive pieces of technology that Microsoft has released. The problem is in its implementation. Just like Vista Microsoft has decided to bow to software publishing companies and embed DRM into their device at the hardware and software level. This is beyond any individual game requirements that third part developers or publishers might have. The DRM requires you to check in every 24 hours if you are on your own console and every hour if you are on someone else’s. Microsoft has also put in major restrictions on how you can transfer games to other people through trade or resale. This is despite massive and fairly vocal backlash from the gaming community (perhaps they should call it the Xbox Vista…). We will not even get into the creepy required Kinect camera device and the recent NSA revelations, but they also serve to highlight how out of touch Microsoft is about their consumer wants and needs.

There are many reasons why Microsoft wants to create this eco system; all are very clever, but fall flat in the face of reality and the way the market now works. Microsoft is no longer the only player in ANY market. They cannot run on the “if we build it, they will buy it” method and Windows Vista should have been all the lesson they needed. The cloud is not the solution to Microsoft’s problems. I do not know of many gamers that really care that the Xbox One might have access to the Azure Computing platform. They want to use their Xbox to play games and should not have to worry about built in DRM, always on cameras, box check-in periods or any of that. Sony picked up on all of this and their launch of the PS4 shows that gamers are certainly receptive to what Sony is offering. Even with Sony’s RootKit past the fact that they are omitting any connection requirement to play games and not putting in DRM restrictions on the hardware has them very popular with gamers.

So what is Microsoft’s response to all of this? If you do not want to use an always connected device, stick with the Xbox 360. This is coming from multiple Microsoft Executives and appears to be their official statement. Right now Sony is probably having a party as this was the best thing Microsoft could do to help Sony sell consoles. If someone does not want always on they do not have to stick with the Xbox 360, they can buy the PS4 and probably will.

Microsoft’s attitude here is not unexpected, as we said they have already taken this line with Windows 8/RT and the start menu. They do not appear to realize that they are driving their own customers away from their products. Someone at Microsoft needs to take stock of the situation and see where their current strategy is leading them, if they do not and they keep their “if we build it they will buy it” mentality then Microsoft is destined to continue to fail, sadly as they have no pushed this into the enterprise they will fail on multiple levels.

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Read 2366 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 June 2013 12:22

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