Microsoft Readies Xbox One Services for the Connected Living Room
Slick new pixel-pushing hardware is only part of the plan. Xbox One is a gateway to some major Microsoft services.Microsoft unveiled its next-generation video game and multimedia console, the Xbox One, on May 21. Shrouded in an angular black enclosure, and joined by the updated versions of the Xbox controller and Kinect sensor, the new hardware is capable of generating the fast, fluid and high-fidelity graphics that gamers clamor for. But video games are just part of the Xbox One story. In a telling move, Microsoft officials first demonstrated the new console's Kinect-enabled personalization features and live TV viewing capabilities, followed shortly thereafter by entertainment search, Web browsing and video-calling capabilities. Microsoft is making it clear that while consumers may come for the games, the company wants them to stick around for the services, namely Skype and Bing. Tony Bates, CEO of Microsoft's Skype division, noted in a May 22 blog post that Xbox One is a big step in an effort to "re-humanize communications" and popularize video calls in the living room. "For the very first time, Skype for Xbox One lets you enjoy your Xbox games, apps and live TV with friends and family as if they were right there with you in the living room, all through features such as group video calling and Snap," he wrote.
In contrast to a majority of Webcams and the imaging components of most smartphones and tablets, the new Kinect's camera features a wide-angle field of view, allowing group calls from a couch without crowding together, Bates revealed. Additionally, Skype on Xbox One enables full 1080p HD resolution video calls (bandwidth permitting) and advanced noise-canceling capabilities that single out voices and filter out extraneous noises.