Microsoft Gets It

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2006-05-15 Print this article Print

Commentary: Interactive gaming is becoming a pervasive part of modern society. For good or ill, we'll all be gamers someday.

Microsoft gets it. I never thought Id actually write those three words. However, Im not talking about operating systems or Windows Media. Im talking about games—and not just about the Xbox 360, but lets begin there, anyway.
For people who dont own an Xbox 360, the killer app for the Xbox 360 isnt any one game. The killer app is Xbox Live. For people who own the original Xbox, and not the 360, Xbox Live was a messaging system that allowed gamers to see whether their friends were online and to set up multiplayer games easily.
But Xbox Live on the 360 is more elegant, with a slick interface that allows users to connect to other users simply, to download game demos and updates, and to buy stuff. The killer app for Xbox Live is one of the subsets of buying stuff—Xbox Arcade. Xbox Arcade is probably worth the price of getting an Xbox 360 all by itself. Xbox Arcade extends gaming to people who dont play hardcore games. You may not be remotely interested in Halo 3, but pixelStorms, Bankshot Billiards and Bejeweled 2 will appeal to people in your house who may normally regard a game pad as an artifact from an alien civilization. In addition to these so-called "casual games", small games from independent studios show up, like Geometry Wars and Outpost Kaloki X. Now Microsoft aims to evolve Xbox Live into Live Anywhere. Check Jason Crosss article on how Live Anywhere will work over PC and cell phone connections. Whats really significant is Microsofts willingness to port to cell phones that dont use Microsoft software. Thats good, since most phones use still use Symbian. Microsoft is even using—*gasp*—Java, as a development tool for Live Anywhere on mobile phones. Read the full story on ExtremeTech: Microsoft Gets It
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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