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Xbox Author Discusses Microsoft Handheld 65

Posted by Zonk
from the xbox-in-your-pocket dept.
Dean Takahashi wrote an authoritative book on Microsoft's original console, called 'Opening the Xbox'. We're fortunate enough to be able to read a similar work on their next-gen console, a book entitled The Xbox 360 Uncloaked. Takahashi did an interview recently with Kyle Orland, of Videogame Media Watch. There he lays out the challenges of reporting on the industry, and getting publishers to understand the subject matter. Eurogamer reports that part of the book discusses a Microsoft handheld gaming system. From that article: "Takahashi claims the team was split in two following the launch of the Xbox 360, leaving the other half to work solely on reducing production costs for Microsoft's next-gen console. According to the writer, the portable is planned to be released halfway into Xbox 360's lifespan, a strategy to assuage the crippling costs of moving through hardware cycles. A Microsoft gaming handheld has been long-rumoured, the latest occurrence adding fuel to this particular fire being the release of a movie for the company's Origami project. A promotional video for the handheld PC showed Halo 2 running on its screen."
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Xbox Author Discusses Microsoft Handheld

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  • Typical Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@ c o mcast.net> on Monday May 08, 2006 @02:19PM (#15287000) Journal
    They could have at least looked closely at the handheld market to see that the industry needs a 3rd handheld as much as they needed a third system, not at all.

    Maybe Microsoft should focus more on how to keep from hemoraging money out its ass and take a cue from Nintendo on how to run a profitable company.

    • by hal2814 (725639) on Monday May 08, 2006 @02:21PM (#15287021)
      "the industry needs a 3rd handheld as much as they needed a third system, not at all."

      Yeah really. There's already the GBA and the DS.
    • Odds are it'll be a PSP that uses cartridges and standard flash media instead of proprietary Sony media, and has slightly better graphics, simply because it came later. Maybe Xbox-ish level graphics, if you sized proportionally to a full-screen TV, which implies something about a quarter as powerful.

      It might succeed, because I think the PSP screwed up by trying to use discs and not catridges. There may yet be room on that end of the market for a higher-end game machine with better graphics, but without the
      • Odds are it'll be a PSP that uses cartridges and standard flash media instead of proprietary Sony media

        Unlikely, at least for retail games, as proprietary media is pretty much the only weapon the handheld market has got against piracy - imagine the furor if handheld gamers had to deal with registration keys and things. I could see MS in particular using an extra flash card for optional downloadable stuff in the vein of XBox Live, but not as a format for games on the shelf.

        • Standard flash media for what the PSP uses Sony Memory sticks for, user-added movies and music, not games themselves which will still come on proprietary carts. That's why in my phrase "cartrigdes and standard flash media", it says "and" and not "in the form of".

          If I had to guess, they'd simply completely block execution off of the flash media, which can be done very effectively if they put their mind to it (never allowing it into memory marked as "executable").
    • \begin{sarcasm}
      Yeah, 'cuz if there is one thing Microsoft doesn't know how to do, it is make a profit [google.com].
      \end{sarcasm}
      • oh in general Microsoft knows how to make a profit, but its gaming division has seen NOTHING but red. They are spending more on advertising and getting the 360's into peoples hands than they are making money. Its only the continuous flow of money from elsewhere in the company that helps them out.

        Nintendo on the otherhand has not sold a system for a loss in it's entire history (even the Virtual Boy apparently sold for profit). When Nintendo recently reported a profit loss, it was a PROFIT loss, they still

        • Nintendo on the otherhand has not sold a system for a loss in it's entire history

          That is not true. I love Nintendo, and while they rarely sell at a loss, they still do occassionally. However, it's only in the single digits, [nintendoinsider.com] and not for very long.

          • considering the GC has been selling for 99 for years at this point, i dont think its at all accurate. Im sure they are still profiting off it.
            • Oh, I'm sure they are profiting off of it now, and probably have been for a long time. I'm just letting you know that there was a time, albeit it a short time, that they sold at a loss, albeit slight loss. Granted, their losses are still no where near comparable to what Sony and MS lose.
    • People are always complaining that Microsoft shouldn't be in the business. Before the N64 generation of consoles, there were two companies : Nintendo and Sega. When do I hear poeple complaining that Sony got into the business? Never. Is it different in Sony's case because they are not Microsoft, or is it because they got the most market share for the past two generations. (Probably both) What if Microsoft had taken number one by a good margin last generation, followed by Sony and then Nintendo. What would y
      • Re:Typical Microsoft (Score:3, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847)
        Gamecube beat the Xbox worldwide. Xbox only won in the US. The Xbox also lost over 3 billion dollars, even after game sale revenue is added. The Gamecube made a profit on every unit sold and every game. Their total profit may have beat Sony's, but I don't have numbers on that. Their per unit profit definitely did.

        So we basicly have a convicted monopolist using money from their monopoly to horn in on another market, at losses no other company could even consider taking. Yeah, I think theres lots of roo
        • "So we basicly have a convicted monopolist..."

          Your post from there on out lost me for a minute until I realized that you weren't talking about Nintendo. MS and Nintendo are both convicted monopolists.

          IMHO, what Nintendo did was far worse from a video gaming perspective than packaging a Web broser into an OS or even taking losses to sell more hardware. Nintendo used monopolistic practices to keep game companies from publishing their games on other platforms. Funny how Nintendo's marketshare has steadily d
          • . Nintendo used monopolistic practices to keep game companies from publishing their games on other platforms.

            What games? Besides the ones nintendo makes themselfs?
            • I can't find specific games from a source I trust. However, here is a general rundown of the issue as part of a speech given to the American Law Institute and American Bar Association by Carl Shapiro from the US Department of Justice in 1996:

              "As a condition for an independently-developed game to be allowed to play on Nintendo machines, Nintendo required that the game not appear on the rival systems sold by Atari and Sega for a two-year period.

              Without delving into the details of that case (and Nintendo
      • Microsoft shouldn't be in the home console business because they're competing against themselves - Windows is a major gaming platform.

        If they'd focused on improving Windows by e.g. adding features from Xbox Live, making a standard install-and-play process which is as simple as putting a disc in an Xbox, and insisting that their OEM partners like Dell et al bundle gamepads with a standard layout with their PCs (so developers can count on having dual analogs available if they want to make a PC game that uses
        • Although that argument is logical and sensible and the console does compete with the windows PC gaming platform fracturing their own market, sections of management still drive it. In terms of losses microsoft also does not count the windows os licencing loses, as they do not charge for it but sections of management argue that they were failing to gain a return by forcing other game publishers to pay a licence fee for each windows compatible game sold (sections of microsoft management really do think like th
    • There is plenty of room in the market for another hand-held gaming platform [gbax.com], especially an open one .. noticed something? All the handhelds, bar one [gp32x.com], are closed to open development.

      This means there's a market for an open-development handheld ..
    • Hi, Yes I totally aggree. All microsoft is doing is competing with SONY. Everything Sony does, microsoft does. Nintendo have just been sitting there making things as the technology comes along. Yet they have one of the most profitable companys out there. The only major step Nintendo made was the Game Cube (which went crap) there next one is the Wii. Microsoft went form Windows (OS on the PC) to entertainment system in a matter of about 3 years. Sony have always been entertainment system creators (beside th
  • I am trying to figure out how this would possibly work. The 360 uses full size DVD media, for one. The accessing of data on the disc is not optimized for power conservation but for load times, which tells me that this unit would last maybe an hour on battery life (unless some really amazing battery advances come about in less than two years). Also, Microsoft have blasted sony for trying to attempt a console battle on two fronts (portable and home market) saying it was a bad idea. If they could pull this
    • I think you're leaping to conclusions. Half the Xbox360 team has been tasked to build a "portable gaming console", not a portable XBox 360, which would just be absurd.
    • >unless some really amazing battery advances come about in less than two years

      Two words: Wind-up powered. Double kudos from happy parents for both keeping their kids busy and fighting obesity by requiring physical activity!
  • by MindPrison (864299) on Monday May 08, 2006 @02:34PM (#15287148) Journal
    Biggest, fastest isn't always the best. Portable is an entirely different area than your basic console at home.

    Picture this: Your're on the train, the train doesnt have a power-outlet and you've been playing your PSP for hours...naturally draining it's batteries to the last bit - in just 2-3 hours. Furthermore the PSP is bulky beyond belief, huge screen ...sure! Coolness factor - WOW! But it sucks batteries because of the spinning disc and the backlight.

    Let's take a look at what the winners of portable gaming knows, they know stuff that the rest of them dont - saving on power, not on the entertainment! A Nintendo DS lasts for at least 10 hours (with 2 backlit screens!) and the older Nintendos lasted up to 40 hours - straight! Now that's more like it, always there - ready to play.

    I remember my "superior" Atari-Lynx, can you belive it? 16-bit, 4096 colors and games that would beat the living sh*t out every competitor around at the time, but it FLOPPED! Why? It drained the batteries after 1.5 hours, people simply didnt use it.

    Nintendo knows it (and thats why they're now launching the DS-lite, smaller - more portable - better lights...and still pretty cool 3D).

    In short: Learn from experience (even if others) - make your handhelds simple, entertaining and last forever.
    • And the DS goes into sleep mode just by closing the lid - both screens are protected from harm, and your battery is conserved.

      The PSP has a sleep mode, but even it is "turn off, put back in case (if you don't already have a Logitech clamshell, which is bulky", then put away to protect the screen from dirty fingerprints".

      Don't get me wrong - I like my PSP (great handheld emulator, and "DJ Max Portable" is sweet), but some design elements were from the "bigger is better" campaign - which in the world of handh
    • points to you.

      I had a sega game gear, good graphics... stupid short battery life (and it killed 6 AA's each time). got the point i couldnt play it without plugging it in as i couldnt afford the batteries.

      Make it small, make it light, and make it run for a LONG time
    • I smell bias (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbellis (142590)
      "the PSP is bulky beyond belief"

      It's smaller than the original GBA form factor.
      • by Valdrax (32670)
        According to the Wikipedia:

        GBA: 144.5 mm X 82 mm X 24.5 mm @ 140g (w/o batteries)
        PSP: 170 mm X 74 mm X 23 mm @ 161g (w/o batteries)

        The GBA is shorter and weighs less, but is thicker. The DS, however, is bigger than both. I just got one recently, and it's a bit of a shocker how much heavier it feels after a few years of using an SP. I don't have a PSP to compare, however.
    • I remember my "superior" Atari-Lynx, can you belive it? 16-bit, 4096 colors and games that would beat the living sh*t out every competitor around at the time, but it FLOPPED! Why? It drained the batteries after 1.5 hours, people simply didnt use it.

      I tend to think the size worked against it as well, as it was tragically released between the fashions of parachute pants and cargo pants, which are the only pants with pockets large enough for either the skateboard or the stereo chunk varieties. And yeah, that
      • (and the DS Lite looks like what the Lynx (c|sh)oulda been, down to the 'one cart for all'..)

        Very true! The lite DOES have some caveats though...such as protruding GBA cartridges :/

        About the Atari: the only pants with pockets large enough for either the skateboard or the stereo chunk varieties.

        LOL, yeah. I bought the FIRST version, that one kind of resembled the design of a skateboard too, maybe on purpose? At that time I was actually *geeky* enough to have a jacket that could fit it, but it was a
    • To be honest I've never gotten more than 6 or 7 hours out of my DS. 8 hours tops, but I don't think I've ever gotten 8 hours out of it and I've owned 2 of them and about 30 different games.

      I'm not sure about 40 hours either, but I dunno. I've never let my SP die all the way and it just blows me away how long that thing lasts. 40 hours though?

    • Damn straight. Can't wait for the DSlite to hit, smaller and more battery life. My PSP gathers dust because of the size, limited battery life and fragility. Remember, the gameboys are also well near indistructable and use flash for storage. And don't forget the play yan mp3-mp4 cartridge.
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel&johnhummel,net> on Monday May 08, 2006 @02:45PM (#15287241) Homepage
    The issues with the PSP has mainly been in the UMD, leading to longer load times (depending upon the developer - "Popolocrois" is awful, while "Daxter" has no problems) and lower battery life.

    If MS decides to make a handheld gaming device, the best bet might be to make it a great MP3/WMV player (the gamepad would be fine for navigation, maybe with a center button so they're not exactly ripping off the iPod Wheel, but same functionality), and use the HDD for storage. Let people download games either through their 360 (plug in, get games/movies/music, walk away - which would make it a useful media hub) or through their main computer.

    They have a lot of potential here - I'd say the key is leveraging the Internet and their existing base to draw people into their Live service. Odds are, knowing Microsoft, they'll just add in tons of extra hardware and bloat and try to make it look like Windows rather than a handheld, but if the 360 interface is any indication, they at least have *some* idea how to do it.

    Of course, this is just my opinion - I could be wrong.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This way, Microsoft can fail at defeating the iPod and the Game Boy at the same time!!!
    • That's where Sony messed up. What they need to do is make a portable gaming system. Not a multimedia box. Anyone who wants multimedia already has a iPod.
      • Yes, but not everyone who has an iPod has an iPod video, and not everyone who has an iPod wants to carry it in addition to a PSP/DS, Phone, etc.

        If they would have put a half-decent hard drive into this thing and done some Music/Video sync service, they could have driven it right down the Nano's throat.
    • Microsoft already did some of this - it's called Portable Media Center. Unfortunately it's too expensive and doesn't play games ... but with some work they could probably pull this off in the future.
  • by Tom (822) on Monday May 08, 2006 @03:12PM (#15287459) Homepage Journal
    After the huge success that the PSP is (not!), I'm sure that's the right horse to bet one.

    The PSP is great, no questions asked. But it isn't good enough. If Sony can't get it right - what will Microsoft come up with? A 3-pound ugly box that runs out of batteries after 30 minutes of playing the latest DX10 game on a 320x200 screen?
    • "After the huge success that the PSP is (not!), I'm sure that's the right horse to bet one."

      I'm not a fan of the PSP, in fact I had one and ended up taking it back. There are lots of things about it I don't like and that I feel Nintendo did a much better job on. Heck, I'm a foaming-at-the-mouth Nintendo fanboy. With that in mind, I really cannot call the PSP unsuccessful. They've got millions of machines out there and a decent library of games. No other non-Nintendo portable has done this well.

      "If Sony
      • I agree. I wouldn't call it unsuccessful either. You're right that it has probably done better than any other non-nintendo portable.

        There is one problem though. It hasn't been selling games very well.

        I don't understand why people judge success of a console based on number of consoles sold and not the number of games sold for that console.

        Who cares if a million people buy something that they never play or buy games for? The console maker doesn't make any money this way, the gamer doesn't have much fun this w
        • "I don't understand why people judge success of a console based on number of consoles sold and not the number of games sold for that console."

          I haven't been able to find information on the total games sold for either platform, so the best I've got is the number of consoles sold with the assumption that each console sells a game or two. That would be the main reason. I'd love to see sales numbers for games. The DS has had quite a few million+ titles. I don't know if the PSP has had anything like that. Lu
    • Actually - the installed base of PSP's is now over 10 million units worldwide. That's a success, although Sony would have liked more I'm sure. It's still growing at a healthy rate as well.

    • "A 3-pound ugly box that runs out of batteries after 30 minutes of playing the latest DX10 game on a 320x200 screen?"

      Well, that pretty much describes the new ThinkPad with Windows XP I'm configuring, so I'd say you're right on target.
  • From the website:
    eBook: PDF, 404 pages (with color photos), $14.95 US

    Where the hell are the pages?
  • I would have expected apple to bring us the 3rd handheld. When will apple open up their Ipods so third party developers can start building games? I mean Ipods have a color screen and good battery life already.
    • So far as I know, there's already a distro of Linux that can be installed on the Nano and will run Doom. Granted, it still needs some work (if I remember correctly, the bots just stand there and let you shoot them), but it's a step in the right direction.
  • I feel this would be totally ripping off the PSP. I mean fair enough we have Game Boys, PSP's, MP3 Players etc. They are all trying to develop around the same thing that is; PORTABLE ENTERTAINMENT. As out lives get buisier, we cant stay at home and listen to music or play games anymore we have to be able to carry it. PDA's are an example of portable internet, IPods, MP3 Players- music, PSP's, Game Boys- gaming. What i'm trying to say is that Microsoft and Sony have always been battling, trying to beat each

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