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Microsoft

Microsoft Freon 429

Veramocor writes "MSNBC.com has an article posted from the WSJ about MS's new plan for living room domination, codenamed Freon. Freon will be capable of 'playing games but also offering television capabilities, such as pausing live TV and recording shows onto a computer hard drive.' The article then goes on to explain future potential business plans for XBox incarnations. The system does seem to have some great advantages. I must question their naming question however, we all know what a disaster the actual chemical Freon was. Here's to hoping, Cheers!" We mentioned the Xbox's planned evolution the other day, too, but without the fancy codename.
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Microsoft Freon

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  • by Gopher971 ( 219910 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:55AM (#3806145) Journal
    Quote "I worry about what I call feature creep -- layering too many things into a product so the original intent of the product gets lost,"

    And I thought they were talking about Windows!
    • Re:Feature Creep (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cAPT_aARGH ( 589653 )
      If MS does get the online gaming going, one of the new "features" of your XBox will possibly be a virus since they use a "modular" Windows and a hard drive. Won't that do wonders to their track record? Since I don't know for sure, is the xbox system operated from the hard drive or from a chip?
  • Freon? (Score:3, Funny)

    by PacoTaco ( 577292 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:56AM (#3806147)
    This proves that Microsoft wants to take over your refrigerator as well.
    • Hey, don't knock that idea. They've been running mine for the past 3 months. Whenever it crashes, it's usually up in a few minutes, and most of the time the meat isn't spoiled.

      I draw the line at having them run my liquor cabinent, though. That's one thing I never want to lock up.
    • Re:Freon? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Charm ( 313273 )
      I thought they banned Freon

      Freon Banned [wtn.org]

      Microsoft not just content with control they need to destroy the whole freezin planet as well.

  • GNU games console (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:59AM (#3806156)
    What we need is a GPL-licenced games console hardware design, built from relatively common components, that can be assembled by the user, or bought.

    It wouldn't have to be very high-powered either, I would suggest an 68030 as the main CPU, with two 68000's one each as a sound and graphics processor - that's more processing power than is in a lot of the games in your local arcade, and perfectly adequate for the sort of games that most hackers like to play, (I.E. RPGs, beat-em-ups, shoot-em-ups, etc).

    Just another of my excellent ideas :-)
  • I like the name. It reminds me of something else all right thinking people wanted to rid the world of.
    • not too sure what your definition of right thinking people is, but in my world, it's this:

      Box for the cable/tivo. TV. Game Console. Computer. I like that they are seperate. I think the rest of the worl likes that they are seperate. Didn't they learn from their original webtv or what ever the heck it was called abortion?

      I know, there is POTENTIALLY a huge market for an all inclusive product. Problem is, we don't want it. And those of us that do, well, they are a small minority I believe. Maybe in another generation or two, this would be feasible.

      I can see it now, 50 years from now:

      "Dude, what's that?"
      "It's a Tivo. It only records and stores "live" *snicker* tv."
      "Man, those poor bastards...good thing I have my Linux 5750 Access port."
      "Yeah. Let's just hope the MAN doesn't get the free software Anti-DRM repealed."
      "Word*."

      *I am sure "word" will be replaced with something much cooler. Us old farts (well, by then anyway, won't know cool if it smackes us and takes our money.
      • Besides the TV, let's look at all the extra "stuff" the average person can hook up to their "Honme Entertainment System": 5.1 Stereo & speakers, Cable/Sat box, DVD, VCR1/2, Tivo-like recording device, game console. You can buy each of those "add-ons" for under $200 at the most, so they're attainable to your "average" consumer.

        Do you realize what a major pain in the ass it would be to hook up all those separate devices for your average person who can't even figure out how to program their VCR's clock? *THAT* will stop the masses from buying some (or all) of those components, not the cost. Read: loads of average people who WANT to spend their cash on these add-ons, but won't because the entry knowledge is simply too much for them to bother learning.

        This is where the "do everything" boxes come in. All you have to do is plug in perhaps 4 wires, all color-coded, and *viola*! Instant home entertainment center with all the bells and whistles.

        Now your average /. reader won't go for these all-in-one boxes, because we are willing to deal with the learning/troubleshooting curve to get everything hooked up correctly in order to get the *exact* components that we want.

        For every /. reader, or "home-entertainment buff", there are at least 100 people who just want to plug in a few wires and *have the darn thing work*. It's with that majority that the big bucks are.
  • by joshsnow ( 551754 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:02AM (#3806166) Journal
    Microsoft can only dominate your living room if you own a television.
  • What happens to all those people who shelled out almost $400 at the begining of the xboxes life?

    Do they now have to cough up another $500 for a X-Tivo just so they can play any new games?

    Releasing new box after new box, and cutting off your established user base isn't going to win this system any fans...

    At least an old pc can still play new games, albeit at lower resolutions, will the old x-box play new games, or will they handicap the new games so they aren't as impressive on the new box?
    • "At least an old pc can still play new games..."

      1. what you describe would be forward compatibility not backward (XBox playing XBox2 games which isn't going to happen)

      2. one of my biggest peeves with windows is lack of compatibility for games across versions. my daughter has something like a hundred PC games (bought!) that were written for various versions of DX and windows and all of which show an amazing lack of compatibility with the newer versions of windows. Win2K,WinME don't work -most- of the time. WinXP is a bit better (in compatibility mode). so I have to basically maintain an extra machine to play (Win98) to play these games. let's not even go on to my pile of DOS games. the PC is no better.

      3. sony has set a nice example with PS2 compatibility with PSX games. I would be surprised if the next version of XBox didn't do the same thing.

      "Releasing new box after new box, and cutting off your established user base isn't going to win this system any fans..."

      uhh.. hello? this is the way the console market has -always- worked. and it -has- won them new fans, year after year. I don't hear much complaining that the gamecube doesn't play NES games.
    • What happened to those people who shelled out $100 at the beginning of WIndows 95s life.

      They had to cough up another $100 for Win98, and then another for WinMe and then another for XP, so they can use new software.

      They released OS after OS cutting off their user base for years, and now they're the biggest company in the world. We've heard this all before. And it worked beautifully the first time. But this time there is an alternative. [playstation.com]
  • by BlackGriffen ( 521856 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:04AM (#3806169)
    The entire point of the console market is as follows:

    one: cheap
    two: uniform hardware (or as close to it as possible)
    three: a long upgrade cycle (about 5 years)
    four: sell hardware at a loss or paper thin margins to make money back on software

    My guess is that this will turn out to be the jack of all trades, but master of none. If they sell this thing cheap enough to be a successful console, then they'll lose money for every set top boxer. If they sell it at a respectable profit, it won't be a successful console. Granted, they could simply make it X-Box compatible, but then anyone willing to spring for a set top will probably buy them separately to get better features, or taylor their setup to their own needs. Not to mention the households like mine that have a dedicated gaming TV (nothing spectacular, really) so that other people can watch movies et al whilst the gamers game.

    BlackGriffen
    • Worse than this, If MS thinks it can make a Video set top box better than SONY can, they are plain wrong. SONY is now a major manufacturer of professional video devices, and a major maker of game consoles, they have the know-how to tie all this together with their own chips and manufacturing plants.
      Nice try microsoft, but this is not going to work... :-)
      • Worse than this, If MS thinks it can make a Video set top box better than SONY can, they are plain wrong. SONY is now a major manufacturer of professional video devices, and a major maker of game consoles, they have the know-how to tie all this together with their own chips and manufacturing plants.
        Nice try microsoft, but this is not going to work... :-)


        Business 101: Corporations have two basic resources: capital, and management attention. Corporate strategy is the decision making process that allocates these in ways that fulfill the company's objectives (which may be as nebulously defined as "enhance shareholder value"). Anything a company wants or wants to do can usually be acquired or fulfilled using these two resources. It's wrong to assume that Microsoft not owning a fab right now will make much difference in the long term.

        Also, there's something that savvy players in professional services (law, consulting, investment banking, etc) have known for a long time: unless you really want the brand, it's often not worth buying another company, since all the assets are intellectual. It's much cheaper to simply poach the key players and selectively encourage defections from their staff to yours. The same is true in high tech, witness Microsoft's strategy aagainst Borland. If Microsoft want to get people (all business is people, really) they can look to Sony or to Sony's rivals.

        The future is still very much in play.
    • You sound like a luddite. Look at it this way: let them surprise you with a new definition of the console.
  • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:05AM (#3806172)
    "The Xbox console isn't profitable for the Redmond, Wash., company and its costs are believed to be higher than Sony's, partly because of the hard drive and a version of its powerful Windows operating system included with each machine."

    Oh cry me a river. Like Microsoft is losing money because of all the billions they're pouring into the miraculous X-Box Bastardized Windows Operating System. Sure, maybe the hard disk is a lotta coin, but the cost of putting Windows on a console? Catastrophic.
    • Whoever modded this one as Troll is one stupid reader.
      I find your remark very much to the point. I can't understand how Microsoft is loosing money on each console because of Windows... Surely this is a one off R&D cost. Unless Microsoft (the OS division) is charging the M$ fee for each console sold. That would really be a funny one, but I doubt it works like that...
      • > Unless Microsoft (the OS division) is charging the M$ fee for each console sold. That would really be a funny one, but I doubt it works like that...

        Microsoft may not be actually writing itself a cheque, but this could be the start of some great 'creative' accounting, if put in the right (wrong) hands.

        "But Judge, we're LOSING money. Protect us from those nasty competitors!!"

        • That would really be a funny one, but I doubt it works like that...

          Ummm Maybe the cost is related to the fact that running Windows requires more memory and a hard drive which runs the costs up more than the competition.

          • Ummm Maybe the cost is related to the fact that running Windows requires more memory and a hard drive which runs the costs up more than the competition

            I don't think the special version of Windows that comes with the XBox does necessarily, for example it doesn't have virtual memory support. It could probably be run from firmware like CE does. As far as I know, the OS actually comes on the game disk.
  • Patents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kwishot ( 453761 )
    You'd think that TiVo has some sort of patent on this kind of thing....
    Oh wait....thats right....
    OurCourtSystem: Money=Influence Microsoft=Money, therefore Microsoft=Influence. Patents and other such laws no longer apply!
    Anyways...seriously...does TiVo (or someone) have this patented?
    • Um... Why are you being such a troll

      Microsoft has already have a TiVo like system, it's called the Ultimate TV [ultimatetv.com].

      So until next time, please don't start the trolling and stupid MS bashing until you get all the facts straight
  • by Popocatepetl ( 267000 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:07AM (#3806178)

    Microsoft is running out of destructive chemicals/materials to use as product codenames.

    Here are some suggestions so they can continue to innovate:

    Plutonium - the "most powerful" platform
    Asbestos - Microsoft's new embedded platform
    Acrylamide - for next generation restaurant machinery
    Lead Paint Chips - top-secret, pervasive computing initiative

  • Interesting. According to this [ddj.com] (note the URL, someone has a sense of humor) MS would turn down feature requests that didn't improve the Xbox's "gaming" performance/ability. I'm glad to see that that was all a lot of bull shit.

  • funny names (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dago ( 25724 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:18AM (#3806198)

    I think that some of the marketing/PR people of MS have been sick / on holidays / away these times.

    Palladium : was originally the name of the statue of Pallas-Athenas, which was supposed to protect the city of Troie. Which was later invaded by greeks which used a subterfuge which will be known for centuries as trojan horses.

    Freon : according to this web page [about.com], apart from evident utility in refigerators, "Only decades later did people realize that such chlorofluorocarbons endangered the ozone layer of the entire planet." and, even worse for MS : "The trade name Freon® is a registered trademark belonging to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (DuPont)."

    • Re:funny names (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @06:04AM (#3806280) Homepage Journal
      Actually, a lot of Microsoft's advertising belies a subtle sabotage by their PR types. Remember the Stones song whose refrain was "You make a grown man cry"? How about the Office ads with a requiem for a soundtrack? Or the way the Windows logo looks like it's going down/to crash?

      I definitely think that it's a subtle jab at clueless leaders, that the marketing types are playing jokes on the computer geeks that supposedly run the place.

      They were probably having trouble keeping a straight face as they suggested Freon. "Oh yeah, it'll connotate 'Free' and 'on'! (snicker) Um, I gotta go to another meeting! (burst of laughter as the door closes)"
      • Re:funny names (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Vulture_ ( 106594 )
        Perhaps Open Source is not the greatest threat to Microsoft after all. The great Roman empire was destroyed from within; the invaders from without merely finished it off. Perhaps we'll soon see a similar scenario here, where Open Source is merely a coup de grace?
      • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @07:01AM (#3806404) Homepage
        Strange though it seems, surely this can be the only explanation for an OS called 'winCE'...
      • I've long suspected that MS marketing had been infiltrated by Linux and Mac fanatics. That it still sells just proves how damned little these fanatics understand about users and corporate purchasing decisions...

        OTOH, maybe MS has a large secret slushfund to hire people to post utterly over-the-top pro-Linux messages and make the real Linuxers look like idiots. And to write Linux how-to's that take you through a dozen typed commands when most distros have a simple GUI program to do the same thing in 3 mouse clicks.
      • Remember the Stones song whose refrain was "You make a grown man cry"? How about the Office ads with a requiem for a soundtrack?

        The OfficeXP commercial featured the start of the song "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider. I guess they were attempting to directly address their customers who are willing to buy the same product over again.
    • Re: funny names (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )


      > Palladium : was originally the name of the statue of Pallas-Athenas, which was supposed to protect the city of Troie. Which was later invaded by greeks which used a subterfuge which will be known for centuries as trojan horses.

      Funnier yet when you find out that some people think the Palladium was actually a gigantic dildo.

      No, stop, don't mod this up as 'funny' - I'm serious.

    • When I think about palladium I think of it as a component used in producing nuclear weapons and it has got a radioactive isotop: Pd-103.
  • This just in... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ferrocene ( 203243 )
    Company makes product which is thought to increase revenue! Seriously, what's the point of this "news". Companys make products all the time, it doesn't mean you have to buy them or it will increase world domination. This is now law, it's consumer choice (ok, ok, there's that little "monopoly" thing"). But that's mostly MS-centric thinking.

    Word on the street - Nike to make new shoe; increases running speed!

    Kodak to make picutes more sentimental! Kodak moments to increase!

    Lexus is rumored to make an expensive-looking car, and charge a lot of money for it!

    What Linux (as a community) REALLY needs to do is create a sexy commercial featuring a scantily-clad Britney Spears doing an 'apt-get install' with wild camera angles and dance music. I'm thinking directed by Hype Williams, fish-eyed lens and all. Because we all know that advertising is the only REAL way to increase market share...or something. ;)
    Oh shit! The commercial will also have to feature this guy:
    http://www.thelinuxpimp.com/

    Trust me, no matter how monopolistic M$ will try to be (or is), teenagers will flock to a sexy OS.

    Hmmm...so this is a bit off-topic. The point is, new M$ products don't excite me or qualify as news. Unlike a sexy linux/tux commercial. Did I say sexy? 'Cause I meant sexy. As in sex. Sexy.

    "Uh, how about no, ok Scott?" -Dr. Evil
    • Unlike a sexy linux/tux commercial. Did I say sexy? 'Cause I meant sexy. As in sex. Sexy.
      Don't they show penguins having sex on the Discovery Channel or something? It's either that or Linus doing a hot little number, take your pick.
  • by falsemover ( 190073 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:20AM (#3806205)
    Microsoft expect to lose money on the box and make on going money when you are on the net playing games or maybe just surfing with a souped up copy of Explorer. So it's not likely to be free-on at all.

    Some marketing genius says: well lets attack the negative and code name it Freon.
    another marketing genius says: but isn't freon an unpopular gas?
    the first marketing genius: But people will think that it is FREE ON, did you see what I did there? Did you see that?
    second genius:Hey, the number one marketing word is FREE. You are a genius.
    first genius (smug mode on): Hey, I'm living proof that Micro$oft recruit from the top.
  • Freon isn't very good for you [cdc.gov]...
  • Step carefully... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weave ( 48069 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:31AM (#3806226) Journal
    Being quite an old flock()er, I can recallthe video game boom of late 70s early 80s. Atari was champ, then something happened. The market became too fractured. Atari 5200, Colecovision, and some others I can't remember. Then Atari announces 7800 shortly after 5200 was out and no one wanted to buy a 5200. Eventually, it all just died out.

    It wasn't until the NES rose out of the console market's ashes did things kick back in gear. One thing that was great about the NES was it was stable and long lived. The same goes for the next market leader, Playstation.

    Microsoft could very well risk killing the entire console market if it introduces too much confusion and churn into it. If they make consoles as complicated as PCs, a lot of buyers may just be turned off. Think of all the people, right down to the poorest you know, that have a console but no computer in their house.

  • This article didn't really say a whole lot about where things are headed. Lots of speculation, but I'm sure the X-Box team doesn't know a whole lot themselves yet. I'm still not convinced that the hard drive is really worthwhile for the price range. I can see some benefits for online gaming, but with sufficient RAM it shouldn't be a necessity.

    I think the idea of replacing the TV with the X-Box is a really good one for a lot of obvious reasons, but unless they provide a CD or DVD burner, there's no way I'd toss my VCR. You simply want to archive stuff (favorite episodes and such), and if you've got an X-Box hard drive full of MP3's or whatever, you're not going to want to go around deleting things prematurely. If they make it in to a full TiVO-like service and provide a really huge hard drive (and a burner too!) they would have a potentially killer product on their hands.

    I think what'll be really interesting is to see whose online gaming model will play out better. Sony's model is more anarchic, while Microsoft's is better planned and more centralized. Kind of like the difference between Id and Blizzard. In my experience, the random Quake server is a hell of a lot better than a Battle.net game of Starcraft, but we'll see if this will extend to console-based online gaming.

    I'm betting that the online gaming thing won't become critical at least until the PS3 hits. It's pretty much a fringe thing right now, but I have no doubt that it'll become much more important once the console makers really get their acts together. Still, I always think of console gaming as being a lot more social than computer gaming, with a bunch of people clustered around the TV playing Smash Bros or Goldeneye to be more likely than a bunch of people clustered around a hub playing Quake on their own monitors. Because of this, I'm betting less people will feel the need to hit the network to play games when they can just call a few friends to come over and play.

    Munching tacos and swilling soda while beating your friends to pulp is a lot more fun when they're right there next to you doing it too.
  • by Daniel Quinlan ( 153105 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:39AM (#3806240) Homepage
    When Freon was introduced, it replaced very dangerous/poisonous/explosive chemicals (such as ammonia) which caused a number of fatal accidents.

    I remember an anecdote about a du Pont employee demonstrating the safety of the chemical by inhaling a good breath of Freon and blowing it out to extinguish a candle, demonstrating that it was both non-toxic and not explosive. Try that with ammonia!

    Even if it may have had an impact on the ozone layer, there's more than just the safety component of the refrigerant chemical to consider. Where would food safety and preservation be without refrigeration? Without refrigeration, say hello to E. Coli and friends. Get used to salt-curing, preservatives, and freeze drying (yum). And then say goodbye to fresh seafood, out-of-season produce, frozen pizza, and a lot of the food that we eat.

    Here's an article about the history of Freon [about.com] and another about the history of the refrigerator [about.com]. (Oops, it wasn't just a du Pont employee who did the demo, it was the actual inventor... sounds like a lot of technology demos.)

  • by phunhippy ( 86447 ) <zavoidNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:46AM (#3806252) Journal
    I would find it highly amusing if someone managed to crack the XBOX & write PVR software for it as well :) since it has the HD on it already..

  • xbox as VCR (Score:2, Funny)

    by Joseph Lam ( 61951 )
    Son: Dad can I play Halo now?

    Dad: boy don't touch my little Freon tonite

    Son: (WTF...)

    Dad: I've scheduled recording of Britney show

    Son: ...but it ran out of disc space last night already. I told you to clean up those pRoN thing...
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @05:54AM (#3806262) Homepage
    I mean, one thing is selling a game console at loss -- you can license games, and another thing is to sell at loss a device that is perfectly capable of independent operation. And if they expect that they can tie PVR to a mandatory subscription, their worst enemy would be a... PC.
  • Freon just isn't cool enough for me (*cough*)

    How about:
    CFC
    Ozone destroyer
    Aerosol
    cancer box?
    Defender of capitalism against the demon hordes of cancerous GPL software?
    F-box
    money-pit
    DRM testbed
    We Control Your TV Set
    Tivo+
    What were we making again?

    I'm sure someone will be able to come up with more names.
  • Are they nuts?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @06:10AM (#3806292)
    This is really quite amazing to me. Microsoft truly is the most braindead company.

    Why in the world would anyone buy an xbox now? We now know it's going to be replaced with "something much much better" in a little while.

    Now instead of making money selling xbox's and xbox games, everyone will just hold on to their cash and wait for Freon(tm).

    In the meantime xbox-exclusive game makers will bleed red, and drop support for the xbox.. when Freon actually makes it out the door, it'll have no games because the game makers aren't going to invest the time and money on a product that already burned them once.

    Freon will kill all of MS's hopes in the console market. And you can bookmark me on that.
    • Hrm, aren't PS1s still selling despite "something much much better" being available now? Perhaps that's died off a little, but ISTR that the PS1 was selling better than the Xbox, certainly in Japan (but that's a weird market anyway...).
      • the PSone is only 49.99, thats why it is still selling... that and there are about a zillion games out there for it...
      • But that is probably down to two factors. The PS1 has vast amounts of software available to it (admittedly much of it is pretty poor), and it is £50, and therefore almost a impulse buy. I suspect many of the people that are buying them are parents after a cheap console, with large amounts of software to choose from, to keep their kids happy. An X-Box, with few titles in comparison, and with a price tag of £200 is probably out of reach of these sort of buyers.
    • Great ! So when we get Linux on the xbox, we'll have tons of discounted hardware to run it on.

      Go Microsoft !

    • The idea is just to add a bigger hard disk and a TV tuner to add some Tivo functionalities to the X-Box.
      I doubt it they will make a $500 console and expect people to make games only for that console. This is never going to work!!!

    • Re:Are they nuts?! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tlh1005 ( 541240 )
      Well that depends on what your perception of a "little while is". Assuming this article is correct and things won't change timetable and market wise, (A BIG ASSUMPTION) an improved version of the Xbox console will not be released until approx 2005. This isn't any different than what Sony plans to do, and has done in the past. The way I read the article Freon is only an Xbox with additional NON-gaming features like the PVR. MS may lose based on the initial problems of when they released the Xbox but I can't see them losing more just by adding a PVR next year or so.

      I've got a PS2 and I think its the better machine, but admittedly I am partial to Sony products, I know they have a larger market share on game titles, and also I haven't been exposed to playing the Xbox. I'm not an MS junkie and Kudos to anyone who can do anything better... but really, whats the point in always expecting or wanting them to fail. I for one would rather see them produce better products :-)
    • the prices are different... so what you're really asking is "Why would someone want to save $300?".

      This is no different than buying hardware: There will always be something better. Why do people buy the latest and greatest hardware when they will surely be able to get better hardware for the same price (or a substantial price reduction on the same hardware) a few months?

      Logic, anyone?

  • by rattler14 ( 459782 )
    Every time there is an article about microsoft trying to take over our living rooms, everyone freaks out and no one can seem to understand why they are so desperate to do such a thing.

    Well, simply put, they have to. Microsoft is a huge company, used to churning out huge profits. That was all fine and dandy as long as they could continue to create (or copy, incoporate, etc) new operating systems and software packages that people would continually purchase on a somewhat regular basis (every software/hardware cycle). The problem that they seem to be facing over the past few years is that NO ONE wants to upgrade their systems anymore. Their software, a huge part of their profits, has reached a point where users are quite happy (i know, how sad to be happy with their products) with them. SO, no matter how many rebates or promotions they offer, there are still a lot of computers out their running windows 2000 and even 98 and NT4. Why? Cause the new features that office XP has are worthless to many people.

    So, how does this all tie in? Microsoft needs to find a new way to generate continual profits. It can't push people into buying software upgrades as they could in years past. The only way they will be able to sustain this money influx is to expand to new markets (video games, TV, various website services) as well as try and charge monthly costs for their OS (i believe that they are still trying to do so).

    So, stop being suprised about all of this. It's gonna happen. And if you don't like it, don't buy their products/services. They currently don't have dominance in these other markets, and they won't as long as people don't buy all of their crap.

  • by nvainio ( 135908 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @06:18AM (#3806320) Homepage
    Freon will be capable of 'playing games but also offering television capabilities, such as pausing live TV and recording shows onto a computer hard drive.'

    Does this mean that I will get three hours of recorded Blue screen of Death on my hard disk?

  • Freon, the chemical, represents a moneymaking scheme that Bill Gates can only have wet dreams about.

    See, the patents that DuPont held to the Freon compound expired in 1992... the same year the UN adopted a treaty banning the use of CFC-based refrigerants [greencity.com] with support from DuPont and a lot of enviro-hype. The approved refrigerant, HFC-134a, is less efficient, highly toxic, and protected by exclusive patents owned by DuPont.

    It's a bit like if Microsoft somehow got a law passed declaring Windows 98 illegal, and requiring all users to upgrade to Windows XP, replete with customs agents stopping smugglers of legitimate, but now contraband, Windows 98 copies at the border.

    Believe me guys, MS is just small-time evil. Quasi-evil. Not evil enough.
  • weak name (Score:2, Funny)

    by mieses ( 309946 )
    maybe someone at MS was impressed by the cool gassy names the SGI Octane, O2, and Fuel but the best they could come up with was Freon.

    Freon seems much more passive than the sgi names. but it is for couch-potatoes after all..
  • ...[The XBox's] costs are believed to be higher than Sony's, partly because of the hard drive and a version of its powerful Windows operating system included with each machine.
    I can't help but wonder how much Microsoft is paying to license the "powerful Windows operating system" for each machine from itself. Development costs will surely have been an issue, but using it to explain the current loss is stretching it a little.

    Anyway, the article is quite a good overview of the current console scene. I can't help but wonder, however, if Microsoft's "go it alone" strategy is the best choice, or whether they'd be better off licensing gaming technology [eetimes.com] to other manufacturers as they are planning for WMV (see link). It would reduce financial risk to them, mirrors their current strategy for OS dominance in the personal computer industry, and Nintendo has started to do this with its GameCube (Panasonic DVD/Gamecube combo). Or would this wind up suffering the same fate as the Nuon chipset [everything2.com]?
  • The Xbox offers benefits to many parts of MS, and the investment necessary to establish a beachhead is small compared what they could win.

    It seems clear that there is a huge marketplace in the home entertainment / home management space. The traditional PC / laptop and Office type apps aren't going to take this area by storm so some new thinking is needed.

    First off it isn't clear what will turn out to be the paradigm shifter. New ways to run e-mail? Video interaction with chat groups over broadband? New games? Management of CD music centre? TiVo style access to TV content? Automating household security and energy management?

    Any or all of these could be the key, but maybe something not on this list at all. The big thing for MS is to leverage current strengths to absolutely dominate the space they target.

    From this point of view they need to establish a new common platform for H/W, S/W and comms under MS control.

    Xbox offers

    * A foothold in the livingroom via a games console, with a cashflow attached

    * Testing out of the control technologies that will be needed to enforce a monopoly:

    * Xbox architecture for coupling the OS and hardware so that only controlled, approved apps can run

    * The chance to test out DRM and distribution apps (at least in the next Xbox release)

    * MS mediation of interactive services, e-mail home shopping etc that are currently set top box based

    * A viable platform for whatever does turn out to be the killer app/service in the home

    A lot of people would love to see these kind of services up and running, but lack the muscle to do it on their own. If MS can ship enough Xbox class machines they should be able to attract third parties to deliver whats necessary (within MS rules of course)

    Whatever happens I'm sure that Xbox and derivatives will not be money down the drain for MS
  • I don't have a games console, I've probably out-grown them - the last one I brought was a Sega Megadrive. But some of the TV/cinema ads I've seen recently have tempted me - a great one for Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation, and various ads for Nintendo games. I've also seen some great ads for PlayStation games at the cinema.

    What I don't understand is - Microsoft say they are investing a few billion on the X-Box over the next few years - but where are the ads? Maybe it's different in the USA, but in the parts of Europe I frequent I've seen hardly any X-Box advertising recently. There was a burst of TV ads at the launch, but now virtually nothing.

    I'll admit to not being as brilliant a businessman as Bill Gates, but I can't help thinking that spending a bit more on regular and compelling TV advertising might be a better idea than adding more functionality to the X-Box hardware.

    What's happening with console advertising in other parts of the world?
  • recording shows onto a computer hard drive

    Sure... but only if the production company says you can.

    Given their plans for "Palladium" and the EULA for the WMP service pack, does anyone think this thing isn't gonna be chock full o' DRM?
  • "The Xbox console isn't profitable for the Redmond, Wash., company and its costs are believed to be higher than Sony's, partly because of the hard drive and a version of its powerful Windows operating system included with each machine" ROFL!!! Powerful!??? As ever MSNBC continues to show its dedication to impartial, unbiased reporting.
  • combo-x-box? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geoff lane ( 93738 )
    Will it record TV while playing a game?

    Probably not.

    Pointless.
  • by fw3 ( 523647 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @07:26AM (#3806452) Homepage Journal
    Though it is unclear whether such a product will ever be built, its core concept appears to have the backing of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who wrote in an internal memorandum in January

    So much for other companies trying to raise funding to develop products in this market.

    Oft-observed MS behavior:

    • see a new technology;
    • (sidebar: contact nascent developers of the new tecnology and express interest in 'partnership', get a feel for their approach);
    • write press release announcing newest MS brainstorm, including vagues statements about timing;
    • watch competition die off;
    • maybe develop the technology, maybe not
  • Ooooooh, I just can't wait until I can get Nimda on my Television!
  • Disaster (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ONOIML8 ( 23262 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @07:39AM (#3806467) Homepage
    "...we all know what a disaster the actual chemical Freon was."

    Big assumption there cuz I don't know about any disaster. I do know that Freon had some very important uses in refrigeration and electronics which saved lives and improved the quality of life for millions.

    How about just reporting the news without the emotional enviromental bullshit panic phrases. Thanks.

  • Then Microsoft would have a seller! I've written on this before. [matrixlist.com]

    I don't know why Microsoft doesn't take advantage of its PC dependence and use that to keep them on the Windows platform. I mean, if you've got the capabilities in the unit, why not exploit them as much as you can? Especially in a set top unit that would be easier to maintain than a PC, but will do everything that 50% of what homes need?

    Sure, there are issues with the screen display, but when it comes to balancing your checkbook, checking your on-line porforlio, writing simple letters, and a few other details that a good 50% of homes use, it's sufficient. Most of us /.'ers will still have a PC, but most home users aren't as savvy. A set-top box would be much better, since the PC is far too much more them. They just want gaming, TV recording, Internet browsing, checkbook balancing, investment tracking and writing letters -- nothing more. Heck, if it ran Quicken, I'd probably buy it (a 100% Linux user, both at work and home, for the last 4 years!).

    I don't know why I'm the only one that seems to see this? I also don't know why Nokia or some other company in the TV Linux Alliance [tvlinuxalliance.org] hasn't been able to team up with AT&T, the regional Bells, etc... to offer such a Linux-based "set-top box" for their cable (or, limitedly, DSL) subscribers yet. I've heard rumors, but nothing solid yet. If Microsoft wants to "take over," it should make a move on this. But, instead, it looks like they'll keep doing the "minimum required" combined with "dumping" [matrixlist.com] and losing to other vendors again and again and again at a huge loss. And they probably won't wake up until someone else has a 50% marketshare with one of these devices either.

  • I wonder if WebTV users will get a $200 rebate to upgrade to the new Freon system, with a 3 year subscription to MSN?
  • Someone mentioned earlier about running out of disc space. Will we be able to plug in a USB hard drive to add a few hours of record time?

    It would be cool to offer a way to carry your movies(and games) to friend's house and play them.

    FYI: Xbox uses a modified USB port for all external devices. Thus a USB device could be used as a travel device.
  • Game console, PVR, ... sounds like Digital Audio & Video Entertainment and Digital Interactive Networked Amusement to me... or in short DAVEDINA [apestaart.org], a project doing all of this under Linux.. Check it out, it's cool, it's almost apt-gettable and it's free (beer/speech)!
  • club or what? I remember reading an interview with Gates a long time ago where he related in reasonable detail the early days of MS. His viewpoint then was that they were lucky to have survived as they were just thrashing about. The more time goes on, the more I think that this is even more true today. They *do* have a bazillion dollars in the bank nowadays but they seem to have adopted the "trial ballon" approach to everything and are still thrashing. I do give them a lot of credit though, once they latch onto something (like the internet) you can forget about it. It only took a couple of months and they where fighting it out with every other company on the planet to see who could get more "internet" into their products.
  • There have been times in the past when I have wondered if anyone at Microsoft (Gates perhaps) reads Slashdot. I can honestly say that this discussion is not of a high enough quality that anyone at Microsoft would gain anything from it. This might just be a trend at /. as of late, but the quality of discussion and level of critical thought sinks through the floor whenever a story about Microsoft is posted. Oddly, there are typically one or two Microsoft stories posted to /. every day. Why can't the /. community get the chip off its collective shoulder and remember the fascination that got us interested in computers/technology in the first place. What a bunch of cynical bozos.
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @09:38AM (#3806895)
    I'm not quite sure how MS plan's on evading the patent issue. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the PVR industry is laden with patents like a minefield. Both TiVo [com.com] and ReplayTV [videobusiness.com] hold a number of them on PVR technology. Unless these companies plan on surviving on license fees like a tick on Microsoft's neck, it seems to me like Microsoft is going to have quite a wait (about 15 years) before it can get into the PVR biz.
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @10:13AM (#3807115)

    Once you have Freon, it costs a lot of money to dispose of it.

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @11:06AM (#3807433)

    ...to code name this project. It'll have the same chilling effect that all of Microsoft's other product plan announcements tend to have on competitors. Who's going to get VC funding for a living room computing product now? Funny, though, with all of Microsoft's talk about digital ecosystems that they'd name a project after a chemical that's done a good job of destroying part of the most important ecosystem.

    Even though it'll probably be a piece of crap, it'll have no competition. No doubt that it'll have more features than any family will ever use, cost too much, and be more complex than anything else people have ever put in their living room. (I'm reminded of that old Apple commercial with the two office managers tinkering with the PC to make it easier to use. ``Honey, you done fiddling with that thing yet? I wanna watch my soaps.'') But... I'm betting that the clock function won't flash ``12:00'' and, as a result of that, Bill Gates will be hailed as a genius.

    Is Freon going to improve the quality of what I watch on my TV? Hmm? Ah... didn't think so.

  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:11PM (#3807847) Homepage Journal
    This is interesting. The closer they get to some form of gaming/TV convergence, the more Microsoft will have to deal with the potential conflicts of interest between their hardware and software efforts.

    Microsoft has always come down heavily in favor of aggressively protecting copyrighted material. They support the media giants in their efforts to make copy-proof one-time use media. They are talking about integrating code checking (intellectual property validation by another name) into future OS releases.

    They've always taken this stance because first and foremost, they're a software company. But now they're moving into hardware. Companies like Dell and Apple, which have been up in arms about the media conglomerates' strong-arm tactics, have a vested interest in standing up for fair-use rights as computers become more tightly integrated with media creation and playback.

    So far Microsoft has skirted the issue with ReplayTV, but if they try to take TV integration to the next level, they'll run smack-dab into the media giants.

    Of course, based on their history, MS is likely to make deals with the media giants that restrict fair use by creating micropayment schemes or some other method of tracking and billing users for the wonderful things they're doing with the TV/game box.

    This would alienate users in droves, especially when there are plenty of other competitors out there who aren't primarily software companies. Of course, MS could just wait for the hardware companies to do all the hard work of fighting the intellectual property battles with the media industry. Then they could step in after the dust clears, and reap the benefits without exposing themselves.

    Whatever happens, Microsoft is literally getting so big and diversified that some of its products are bound to compete with each other in significant ways. I wonder, can Bill, as clever as he is, continue to advance Microsoft on all fronts without at some point having to scale back his ambitions?

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