Why an always connected Xbox wouldn’t be that bad

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A lot of people think the idea of an always connected console is a bad thing. They’re worried about DRM, being able to play offline and who knows what else. But in reality aren’t most devices ‘always on’ these days? Do you ever turn your computer off? I don’t. Do you ever turn your tablet or phone off? I doubt it. And these devices are most likely always connected to the internet as well (at least in the home).

An always online Xbox is a huge step forward. An Xbox not connected to the internet / Xbox Live is a very limited and nearly useless machine. The Xbox Live experience makes gaming a much better experience.

What I want from the next Xbox is live tiles.

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If there’s one thing I LOVE about Windows 8, it’s live tiles. It’s a really cool concept for a homescreen. You can see your e-mails, Twitter and Facebook feeds at a glance. You have the weather forecast, sports scores and news headlines constantly scrolling on your start screen.

Imagine the next Xbox, always on. Just leave your TV on and you can see all this information in front of you or in the background. Imagine it having the snap screen feature, where you can open an app and snap it next to another app…..Watch TV on one side and play Call of Duty on the other side during commercials (simply ‘click’ the screen to bring it full screen).

The ESPN and MLB.tv apps already offer a glimpse of this. The ESPN app will show videos in the upper left corner which you can bring full screen or search through more highlights, news or live feeds using the rest of the screen. MLB.tv functions very similarly with the latest update.

This is exactly what Microsoft wants the next Xbox to be, an always on, always connected media device feeding you news (and advertisements of course) throughout the day. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a convenient thing.

I barely turn my Xbox off now, but the current homescreen is rather boring. A Windows 8 style live tile interface would be much more useful.

9 days left: Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99

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If you have yet to upgrade to Windows 8 you only have 9 days to do so at the special price of $39.99. After January 31st the upgrade price will rise to the regular retail price of $199. You can upgrade from any previous version of Windows (as long as your PC is compatible). If you’re unsure if you can upgrade, you can download the Upgrade Assistant (here). Simply run the tool and you’ll find out if you’re eligible to upgrade on your PC. Using the tool is also the first step to upgrade if you do want to purchase the Windows 8 Pro upgrade.

If you don’t have a version of Windows at the moment, don’t worry. You can download the Windows 8 Release Preview and install it for free. Then run the upgrade assistant and you’ll be able to upgrade to the full version of Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99. I did this to get Windows 8 on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly (otherwise I’d have to purchase an OEM version of Windows 7 for about $100 and then pay $40 to upgrade).

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The Windows 8 Release Preview is no longer listed to download from Microsoft, but you can download the ISO files via the links below. Note, these links are from Microsoft and downloading the Windows 8 Preview is NOT illegal as it is simply a limited preview install of Windows 8. You can use it to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro if you like, or use it to try out Windows 8 before purchasing it.:

32 bit Windows 8 Release Preview:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=251533
Product key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF

64 bit Windows 8 Release Preview:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=251532
Product Key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF

I personally love Windows 8. It’s quick, convenient and looks sleek. It runs just fine on my MacBook as well (installed via BootCamp). Definitely worth $40. I’m not sure I’d pay the $199 for it, but $40 is a steal!

Upgrading to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99

So I installed Windows 8 Release Preview on my MacBook Pro via BootCamp and today I purchased the discounted upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99. That’s right, if you have a compatible version of Windows you can upgrade for just $40. If you don’t have a copy of Windows, all you need to do is find a copy of Windows 8 Release (or Consumer Preview) and install it and then run the upgrade assistant to make your purchase.

Microsoft no longer provides a means of obtaining the Windows 8 Preview versions (as far as I’m aware), but luckily I already had the ISO since I ran Windows 8 Preview on my PC before buying my Mac.

As you can see my download is underway (though the time remaining is much, much lower now 😛 37 minutes) and I’m excited to finally run a full featured version of Windows 8 on my Mac. Don’t get me wrong, I still love OS X more than Windows, it’s just a matter of being able to play some PC games. Windows 8 isn’t all that bad. It’s my favorite version of Windows yet to be honest. I love the way it looks, it’s fresh, new and flashy. Metro apps are pretty neat as well.

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Goodbye Microsoft Points? Not so fast.

It’s being reported (CNET) that Microsoft Points are being replaced by real currency…But don’t get too excited, as the change will apparently only take place for the Windows 8 store and not on the Xbox. I suppose it’s a step in the right direction, however it’d be happier news if MS points were disappearing across the board. The point system is odd (ex. 400 points = $5, if you don’t know, and they sell points in sets of 400 ($5), 800 ($10), 1600 ($20) and on from there) and I’ve always found myself with an odd 50-150 points left over with nothing to spend them on. Of course this works out in Microsoft’s favor, when say something costs 1000 points, and you have to purchase 1200 points for $15 in order to receive your content. Now you have 200 points leftover which you can pretty much only spend on avatar clothing or maybe a song in the Zune store.

Let’s hope there’s more to the story as the third generation Xbox gets closer to release.