Friday, June 10, 2011

Xbox Live Plans to Go "To the Cloud"

Everyone seems to be wrapped up in “the cloud” right now, and Apple is not the only one who has recently made an announcement regarding the cloud. Microsoft announced on Monday, June 6 that it would be adding cloud storage later this year for its Xbox Live.

"Yes, cloud storage is coming to Xbox LIVE. Your profile and game saves available wherever you are," Larry Hyrb, the director of programming for Xbox Live, tweeted on Monday afternoon.

When this update occurs, it will allow all Xbox Live users to sign into their accounts with the service from any console at any time. This will give them access to all of their game saves and full profile. This includes items like Microsoft Points for purchases, Achievements and friends.

"Cloud storage will allow you to enjoy the same great Xbox Live gaming experience even when you're not in your own living room by giving you the option to store your 'game saves' securely in the Xbox Live cloud instead of on a portable memory unit or your console's hard drive," Microsoft said in a statement. "Gone are the days of 'gamertag recovery.' Now all you need to do is sign in, no matter where you are!"

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not given a definite timeline as to when they will be adding cloud storage to their Xbox Live. They simply leave hopeful users hanging with “later this year.”

Think the cloud update sounds like a great addition? Well, that is not even close to the only update that Microsoft will be rolling out in the near future. Microsoft also promises that they will soon be offering a simpler, cleaner, easier-to-use dashboard. "All of your favorite content is categorized in a way that is easy to browse and find what you're looking for, plus you can use voice anywhere in the dashboard to effortlessly navigate and get to what you want," the company said.

On the morning of Monday, June 6 at the E3 Expo, Microsoft unveiled its Live TV, which included the voice component as well. This new experience from Microsoft will allow users to add live television streaming, built-in DVR capabilities and voice-powered Bing searches. "Quite simply we believe TV is more amazing with you as the controller," said Marc Whitten, vice president for Xbox Live.

Microsoft also unveiled a variety of new games that incorporate the voice-control functionality when working in conjunction with Kinect.

"We want Xbox Live members around the globe to experience the magic of Kinect's voice recognition technology so we are committed to bringing voice to eight additional markets by the end of this year with a total of 13 markets that will have Kinect voice," Microsoft said. "We are also exploring some innovative new ways to enable the Live community to help us accelerate the refinement of voice models in new markets and look forward to sharing developments on that front soon."

Xbox will also be adding what they are calling Beacons. These will allow users to notify Xbox and Facebook friends whenever they want to play a game on Xbox Live. All you have to do is set a Beacon and choose which game you want to play. Xbox Live does all the rest. It will let you know when your friends are playing and whether or not they want to play the same game as you.

"With Beacons no matter what you're currently doing on Xbox Live, your friends know that it's ok to ask you to play your Beaconed games," Microsoft said. "Imagine sending out a Beacon to let your friends know you're interested in playing 'Halo' while watching a movie on Netflix."

Sounds pretty cool to me. I just hope that Microsoft gets the updates out soon. I don’t want to sit around thinking about how cool these updates would be. I want to see them in action!

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