The New Screen Savers 130: The New Xbox One X

-Leo Laporte and Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ check out the new Xbox One X. Samit Sarkar, Senior Reporter from Polygon joins us to talk about the new games, 4k with HDR gaming, and if it’s worth it without a 4K monitor.
– The holidays are approaching quickly and we’ve got not one, but two Holiday Gift Guides! Padre and Leo will fill your suitcase with travel gadgets. – Plus, Tim Stevens from CNET’s Roadshow has his top six car picks!
– Megan Morrone introduces us to Gitanjali Rao. She’s 11-years-old and won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. We’ll learn about the challenges to make her invention.
– In Call for Help, Padre explains how the Raspberry Pi Pi-hole adblocker works without slowing down your internet connection

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GameStop has been repairing, reselling red-ringed Xbox 360s since 2009

The Xbox 360 remains a favorite among millions of gamers even nearly 10 years after its November 2005 debut. Unfortunately for Microsoft and buyers alike, the console was plagued by a high failure rate over an issue that became known as the Red Ring of Death.

While the company has never issued statistics related to the 360’s failure rate, they did address the matter early on by rolling out an extended three-year warranty for affected consoles.

Of course, not every dead console made it back into the hands of Microsoft for repair or replacement and that was just fine for one brick-and-mortar games retailer.

As outlined in a recent piece from Bloomberg, GameStop has been capitalizing on Microsoft’s misfortunes since 2009. In addition to its lucrative trade-in system which represents 27 percent of the company’s revenue, they figured out to how effectively repair the Red Ring of Death.

GameStop built a machine that is able to heat up the top of the system while simultaneously cooling it from below, thus repairing the faulty internal connection that leads to the hardware error. They’ve streamlined and perfected the process which is now carried out by a $10-per-hour labor operator.

Repaired systems are then sold as refurbished and can fetch close to its original price, further padding the company’s profits.

The method will no doubt squander away as the console continues to age and gamers migrate to next generation systems from both Microsoft and Sony, but it’s interesting to hear of yet another way that GameStop has remained relevant in the face of an ongoing migration to digital downloads.

via GameStop has been repairing, reselling red-ringed Xbox 360s since 2009 – TechSpot.

Microsoft ships 3.9 million Xbox Ones, Surface revenue doubles

In the second quarter of Microsoft’s fiscal 2014 (the fourth calendar year of 2013), the company exceeded expectations to post a significant rise in revenue and profits over the same period last year. On $24.52 billion in revenue, Microsoft achieved $6.56 billion in net income, both of which are a rise on last year\’s $6.38 billion net income from $21.46 billion in revenue.

In the earnings report, Microsoft revealed that they managed to ship 3.9 million Xbox One consoles in the quarter, which is slightly less than the 4.2 million PlayStation 4s Sony shipped in 2013. The Xbox One was the top selling console in the United States in December, which could be due to low PlayStation 4 stock at many retail locations, but nevertheless the next-gen console battle remains quite close.

Revenue from Microsoft’s tablet line, Surface, more than doubled in the quarter, rising from $400 million last quarter to $893 million. Sales were likely boosted by the release of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which featured similar designs to their predecessors, but packed more powerful internals and other refinements including Windows 8.1 out-of-the-box.

Bing income increased thanks to more users using the search engine over market-leader Google, and although Office and Windows revenues fell, Microsoft was glad to report 3.5 million Office 365 Home Premium subscribers. The “soft” PC market is having an effect on the Redmond company, but the diverse product range of Microsoft seems to be carrying it quite well.

via Microsoft ships 3.9 million Xbox Ones, Surface revenue doubles – TechSpot.

Microsoft matches Sony, sells over a million Xbox One consoles in the first 24 hours

Microsoft has managed to sell more than a million Xbox One consoles within the first 24 hours, much like Sony did with the PlayStation 4 a week ago. Redmond launched their next generation console in 13 markets on November 22 with 22 games (10 exclusive titles) which is now sold out at most retailers according to a post on the official Xbox website.

Sales surpassed day one Xbox 360 sales exactly eight years ago which makes it the biggest launch in Xbox history. Microsoft said they are working as quickly as possible to replenish stock to meet customer demand.

Sales figures aside, Microsoft also provided some pretty neat statistics on some of their launch titles. For example, over 60 million zombies have been killed in Dead Rising 3, more than 3.6 million miles driven in Forza Motorsport 5, over 7.1 million combos have been pulled off in Killer Instinct and more than 8.5 million enemies have been defeated in Ryse: Son of Rome.

That doesn’t mean everyone is just sitting on the couch playing games, however. According to Microsoft, more than 43.3 million Fit Points have been earned in Xbox Fitness thus far.

Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Xbox said they are humbled and grateful for the excitement of Xbox fans around the globe. It was truly exciting to see fans lined up to get their Xbox One, Mehdi said, and they look forward to fulfilling holiday gift wishes this season.

via Microsoft matches Sony, sells over a million Xbox One consoles in the first 24 hours – TechSpot.

DirectX 11.2 said to be a Windows 8.1 / Xbox One exclusive

Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 11.2 update, first shown off at the company’s Build conference last month, promises to deliver a host of new features and performance improvements in games and apps. But according to reports, the update is reportedly being limited to Windows 8.1 and next generation consoles like the Xbox One.

This exclusivity isn’t something new, however, as Microsoft pulled a similar move when transitioning to DirectX 11.1 as that update requires the use of Windows 8. Before that, DirectX 10 was a Windows Vista exclusive which left Windows XP users high and dry.

Perhaps this is one of Microsoft’s ways to help nudge Windows XP, Vista and 7 users toward upgrading to Redmond’s latest but whether or not it’ll work remains to be seen. Such requirements really did little to lead to the commercial success of Vista or Windows 8 but this time around, the timing is a bit different. Xbox One is just around the corner and if a number of games use it, perhaps it could take root better.

DirectX 11.2 brings with it a new key feature known as Direct3D tiled resources. Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond demonstrated the feature during Build which essentially lets developers easily use GPU and system RAM to store textures. This can be used to pull high resolution assets into a scene without overburdening the graphics card. For consumers, it could ultimately lead to an unprecedented amount of detail that won’t appear fuzzy or blurred when viewed close up.

via DirectX 11.2 said to be a Windows 8.1 / Xbox One exclusive – TechSpot.

First Windows, now Xbox: Why Microsoft is listening to the masses

Covering Microsoft is giving me whiplash lately.

After the last few years of watching certain parts of the company march forward, with a “we know best” attitude, the new Microsoft is bending to the will of the masses.

This new “responding to community feedback,” or “principled but not stubborn” or whatever new Microsoft motto you want to insert here isn’t the same old “we listen to our customers” rhetoric. This is Microsoft reacting in record time (for the company) to negative feedback and public perception and actually taking “corrective” action.

I use quotes around “corrective,” because I know a number of my readers are vehemently opposed to these recent course changes, though the majority of potential customers seemingly are not. I notice on Twitter, especially, that those who hated to see Microsoft add back a Start Button to Windows 8.1 are largely the same group who are furious that Microsoft is removing the used game and Internet connectivity requirements that it rolled out a few weeks ago as part of its Xbox One launch. (On June 19, Microsoft officials went public with plans to undo the DRM and used game policies which got a number of gamers riled.)

The thinking among some Microsoft fans seems to be this: Microsoft is innovating with things like its new Windows 8 UI and its “always on” console requirements. The company should continue to forge ahead, and not listen to critics, this group argues.

That kind of logic worked in the days when Microsoft was one of the rulers of the tech roost with its Windows monopoly fueling the growth for the rest of the company. But Microsoft in 1993 or even 2003 was a very different company from Microsoft today. Windows is now the third largest (out of five) business in the company. Microsoft has still been largely unable to grow its three percent phone marketshare and tiny tablet share against some much larger competitors. The company is dependent on the success of its newer businesses, like Xbox, to stay competitive.

At the same time, Microsoft needs to continue to curry favor with its sizeable installed base. Microsoft wants to keep Windows users in the fold. That’s why there’s going to be a Start Button in Windows 8.1. New users might not want or need it, but others do. Some users really cared about the new cloud-enabled gaming and game-sharing technologies promised for Xbox One. But more than a few of Microsoft’s loyal Xbox users were vocal about their disdain for the “phone-home” DRM and seemingly anti-used-game policies that the new console also required. Next week at Build, Microsoft execs have said they plan to try to undo some of the perceptive damage done in recent years to relationships with Microsoft’s .Net community with the company’s developer platform and tools.

Call these things 180s. Call them U-turns. It doesn’t really matter. The real story is Microsoft is actually listening and responding. And that’s a positive for current and potential new Microsoft customers, in my book.

via First Windows, now Xbox: Why Microsoft is listening to the masses | ZDNet.

Microsoft exec says gamers without Internet can stick with Xbox 360

Microsoft recently announced that its upcoming Xbox One would require an Internet connection every 24 hours in order to work. This, along with the $499 price tag and their stance on used games, has left the gaming community at least a little angry. For some it comes down to more than just anger, as the requirement could actually prevent them from playing games. After all, there are plenty of places where broadband is not available.

Xbox executive Don Mattrick has a solution: stick with the Xbox 360.

In an interview with Spike TV at this year’s E3 conference, Mattrick said, “Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity. It’s called Xbox 360.”

The new Xbox 360 design unveiled at E3 2013

At this point the interviewer jumped in and said, “So stick with 360, that’s your message?” To which Mattrick responded, “Well, if you have zero access to the Internet, that [360] is an offline device.” He then points to an example he read in a blog comment from someone who serves on a nuclear sub. “I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub, but I’ve got to imagine that it’s not easy to get an Internet connection.”

It’s not as if Microsoft is abandoning the 360 outright. The company has big plans to keep supporting the console going forward, and it actually just released an updated version of the device at the start of E3.

This might keep some players content, but many are not going to be happy to stick with last generation’s system, and they are going to want to upgrade. This puts Sony in a great spot as the PlayStation 4 works without Internet, and it offers all the next generation capabilities gamers are looking for.

via Microsoft exec says gamers without Internet can stick with Xbox 360 – TechSpot.

Explosions and exclusives: Microsoft’s E3 press conference wrap-up

Microsoft kicked off the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo bright and early Monday morning with a torrent of exclusive games, explosions, and bass drops for their upcoming Xbox One console, which we now know will arrive in November 2013 for $499.99 U.S. (€499 in Europe and £429 in the U.K.).

Now on the third iteration of the Xbox console, Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up after the tepid response to the unveiling event in May. However, the company just earned some serious public acclaim with an E3 press conference jam-packed with new games.

Coups

Microsoft led with a trailer for Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, delivering on their promise of “nothing but games at E3” after the TV-focused reveal event in early May.

Though a handful of Metal Gear games have been playable on Microsoft platforms in the past, the series is traditionally a Sony mainstay. Metal Gear Solid 4, released in 2008, was one of the first must-buy games exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation 3, so leading with MGS5 was a bold move for Microsoft.

Metal Gear Solid 5 kicked off the show.

Microsoft scored a similar coup later when it trotted out Ted Price of Insomniac, another developer traditionally in Sony’s corner. Insomniac’s Resistance series launched with the PS3, so it was a shock when Price debuted Sunset Overdrive, a cartoony open-world shooter with zombie-esque enemies, as an Xbox One exclusive. “It’s a living world game, and something we could only do on the Xbox One,” said Price.

Full Story: Explosions and exclusives: Microsoft’s E3 press conference wrap-up | PCWorld.