Posted on 22 November 2012.
Microsoft is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Xbox Live gaming network, which has involved in recent years beyond its console-centric origins to become the software giant’s “premier entertainment service for the TV, phone, PC and tablet.”
Xbox Live was launched on Nov. 15, 2002 as “the first comprehensive, online game arena fully dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences,” Microsoft said in a blog postcommemorating a decade of supporting the service.
Initially available only in the United States and Canada, Xbox Live is now enjoyed in 41 countries and territories around the world, the blog noted. The service kicked off as an online network connecting users of the first-generation Xbox but really hit its stride with the growth of Microsoft’s current, wildly successful Xbox 360 platform.
Xbox Live is regarded as one of the prime drivers in the growth of gaming’s Achievement culture, with users encouraged to “rack up Gamerscores” on the network, Microsoft noted. Other milestones in the development of Xbox Live included the 2004 introduction of the Xbox Live Arcade, the emergence of customizable Avatars and the Avatar Marketplace in 2008 and 2009, and major Xbox Live dashboard overhauls in recent years.
Microsoft appeared most proud of the mushrooming of available features and services on Xbox Live, as well as the expansion of the network’s reach across multiple platforms beyond just its own Xbox console.
“Fast forward to 2012—now Xbox owners have entirely new entertainment experiences available at their fingertips, with great new apps like Xbox Music and Xbox Video, and Bing voice search now available in 15 markets. Xbox has become the entertainment hub in the living room with its more than 40 million members, and 2012 marked the year Xbox went beyond the console to create a new experience with Xbox SmartGlass,” the company gushed in its blog.
“The new app brings amazing multi-screen entertainment experiences to the devices you already own and love—your Windows 8 tablet or PC, Windows 8 phone, iOS or Android device—and enables them to talk to your TV through the Xbox console.”
During its stewardship of Xbox Live over the past decade, Microsoft has also managed to avoid a major security breach like the one suffered by rival Sony, whose PlayStation Network was crippled in the first half of 2011 by a hacking operation believed to have been carried out by the Anonymous collective.
Meanwhile, the U.K. magazine Xbox World recently offered a roundup of news and rumors about Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox console, known on the Redmond campus by its code name Durango but often referred to by the media as the “Xbox 720.”
Xbox World is ending publication after its Dec. 12 issue and apparently wanted to go out with a bang.
The successor to the Xbox 360 is expected to arrive in time for the holidays next year. The next-gen console likely won’t be dubbed the Xbox 760, the magazine contends, but instead may simply be called the “Xbox” a la Apple’s naming conventions for its iPad tablets for the past two product cycles.
“Xbox World has been at the cutting edge of Durango coverage for over 12 months. Unless something really dramatic changes, everything we reveal in our penultimate issue will be revealed long before E3 in June,” said editor-in-chief Dan Dawkins in an interview with CVG.
Among other details, Xbox World claims the new Xbox will finally be able to support Blu-ray playback, a rumor that’s been making the rounds for the better part of a year now, and will support a brand-new version of Microsoft’s Kinect motion-tracking accessory that, according to earlier rumors, might even include a dedicated CPU for enhanced detection capabilities.
The next-gen console is also rumored to feature both TV output and input, as well as directional audio, an “innovative controller,” and support for augmented reality glasses at some point in the future. Durango sports a 16-core processor and 8GB of RAM, extrapolating from the developer SDK that Microsoft has already released.
With additional reporting by David Murphy.
For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.
Author: By Damon Poeter