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MS Portable Not A Game Player? 81

Though Microsoft's 'Argo' (now known to be bearing the name 'Zune') is most assuredly a shot at the iPod, it may not be going after the handheld gaming market. Gamespot explores rumours stating that the 'Zune' is simply a first step on Microsoft's road into that particular sector of the games industry. From the article: "The Zune could also just be the first step towards something bigger. People are already speculating about Xbox 360 integration with the device, beginning with streaming audio, like the iPod currently does. But add a few buttons, a thumbstick, and a little more horsepower, and the Zune could soon be singing gamers' tunes." I'd imagine we'll see some simple Xbox Live Arcade style games, which will impact your Xbox gamertag via Live Anywhere. With Vista pushed out to January, they've got to have something to show this Christmas.
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MS Portable Not A Game Player?

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  • by SchwarzeReiter ( 894411 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:25PM (#15714207)
    They have spare engineers for this, but they can not finish Vista?
    • More people != more efficiency.
    • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:35PM (#15714266)

      They have spare engineers for this, but they can not finish Vista?

      Do you really think that everyone at Microsoft works on Windows? What would you expect a bunch of hardware guys to be able to do with a software project, anyway? This argument is silly. Adding more people to Vista won't necessarily make it ship any sooner (and more likely would cause even more delays), and that's assuming Microsoft would move the developers anyway. They have many projects in many markets, and they're not going to sacrifice that just because the bread-winner OS is struggling (there's still Office to bring in the cash).

      Should everybody at Sun work on Java? Should everybody at IBM work on WebSphere? Should everybody at Google work on search? Should everybody at Sony work on PS3? So why should everybody at Microsoft work on Windows?

      • No, I dont think everyone at Microsoft is working on Vista. What I know it is the main cash cow of M$, and history showed that if you diversify the company profile, the result will be a few millions thrown out the window, and spinning of the unit, and selling it to the people, whose main profile is that, what the unit does. That is exactly what Intel has done with the embedded units recently, but embedded is a market which is actually growing. Me thinks that this market where M$ wants to go now, is full, an
      • This is modded insightful? No wonder everybody is reading digg nowadays.

        Sony, they had once the walkmans. Where are the walkmans now? IBM actually made this thing we call PC, they are now a consulting company, mostly working on billing more hours to their customers. Should everyone at Google work on search? They are the ones really trying hard to diversify, but they are not nearly as successful with the other projects. Anyway search is in there in every piece of their projects.
    • Large companies act like several smaller companies. The XBox team has ntohing to do with the Windows team. The Xbox team has it's own budget and it it decides to spend that on having spare engineers, then that's their decision.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:44PM (#15714685) Homepage Journal
      As the old saying goes, hire one boy to mow they lawn, you get one boy. Hire two boys, and you get half a boy. Hire three boys and you get none.

      Why: because it's work dealing with colleagues. Or maybe play, but either way your get less productive time per person because of interaction overhead.

      Similarly, if ten engineers can finish a project in a year, it's almost certainly the case that 120 engineers won't be able to finish the project in a month. Some problems can't be cleanly decomposed, which means the limiting factor is going to be a sequence of such prblems that require a irreducible quantity of time on a lead engineer's brain. In fact, in a less than perfectly administered project, 120 engineers might take longer than a year, as your most experienced engineers find more and more of their time eaten up with supervisory issues and meetings. A perfectly managed project that could be done in a year by ten engineers, but had 120 at its disposal, might take a hundred of the surplus engineers and put them in a different building, occasionally sending them a problem to work on but not seeing them on a day to day basis. Or maybe it would break the 120 enginers up into six or more teams and let them work independently, and see who succeeds first.
    • There is likely such a thing as too many engineers working on one project, like the old adage "too many cooks in the kitchen..." and however that one ends
    • When have microsoft ever properly finished a product?
  • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#15714218)
    I can zee zat Microsoft iz actually tryink to push zis player out ze door. Just look at ze new name.

    Coming zune iz ze new Zune!
  • Yeah, right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WedgeTalon ( 823522 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:28PM (#15714231)
    But add a few buttons, a thumbstick, and a little more horsepower, and the Zune could soon be singing gamers' tunes

    Probably would also require some ergonomic reworking of its case and such.

    So in other words, if you completely change the Zune, it would be perfect for video games! Woohoo! PSP and DS killer, HERE WE COME!
    • It's not that hard, really. All you have to do is make a completely new device that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Zune, and it could possibly play some form of game!
    • Woohoo! PSP and DS killer, HERE WE COME!
      actually, the PSP has already been killed BY the DS...remember? and if the Zune's main purpose isn't going to be gaming, then microsoft obviously isn't trying to kill the DS. in fact, this is just more evidence that microsoft is trying to "team up" WITH nintendo to fight sony (a Zune for your music and PDA needs, a DS for your gaming needs).
    • Probably would also require some ergonomic reworking of its case and such.

      With one simple and affordable surgery, you, yes you, can have Microsoft's new Zune handheld permantely attached to your hand for easy access and ergonomic glory!
    • Yes, with a new engine, transmission, and body, my 1979 Pinto could smoke any Formula One car.
      • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:13PM (#15714509)
        A pinto can "smoke" just about any car as it is. All it has to do is stop suddenly when the other car is close behind it.
        • A little known fact about Pintos... If you were lucky enough to have the 2.3 OHC then with a bit of mods you could actually have smoked people by hitting the gas instead of the brake. I've seen a 2.3 do very well in brackets and time trials. Even better is when ya drop a V8 into a 2000 pound car. Of course, that means serious tranny and front end mods and never starting up in first gear!
  • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:33PM (#15714261)
    30 days hath September, Argo, Zune, and November.

    All the rest might be released sometime in the next century.

    (Except for DNForever, which will never make it).
  • Give me this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the computer guy nex ( 916959 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:34PM (#15714262)
    Dear Microsoft:

    Make an MP3 player with a slick interface that plays Xbox Live Arcade games and has public development kits for homebrew. I'll buy 2.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft has decided to take on the PDA market, after it had died a peaceful death in the mid 90s. No comment from the Redmond based software developer on their plans to also tackle the Digital Pet market.
  • by InfinityWpi ( 175421 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:38PM (#15714282)
    Weren't we all amazingly shocked that Origami wasn't a portable game player, even tho they never said it was? Now we're all shocked that this thing isn't a game player, even though they never said it was? Are we really waiting for their first game player -that- -much- that we keep jumping the gun on it?
  • Is it or isn't it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:38PM (#15714285) Journal
    it may not be going after the handheld gaming market. Gamespot explores rumours stating that the 'Zune' is simply a first step on Microsoft's road into that particular sector of the games industry.
    If Microsoft is not going after the handheld market, then how is it venturing into the portable game sector at all? Just because they'll make something portable? My cellphone is portable and has really cheesy games, but that does not mean the company will venture into the handheld game market. phone's a Nokia.
    • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:12PM (#15714495) Journal
      I think part of it might be the inherent connectivity between a Game System and a Handheld finally kicking in.

      Until now, the only popular Game Systems that could interact with a handheld came from Nintendo (yes there were others but Nintendo has dominated the handheld market for a while now).

      Fast forward to the 'new' generation.

      The Wii can connect with the DS (and/or GBA?).
      The PS3 can connect with the PSP.
      The XBox 360 can connect with the?

      I know a few Nintendo and Playstation titles have started exploring this in the generation thats ending (Gamecube/PS2), but this crossover play is something that really hasn't been explored much (although ironically, in Japan, cell phones are being hooked into the equation as well).

      If you are expecting to see this sort of thing as a "wave of the future" then of course [sarcasm] MS must be developing their own handheld, or else be ready to give up that advantage to their competitors [/sarcasm]

      I don't expect MS to tackle the handheld market just yet, competing with the iPod seems an easier target (the content already exists, you don't have to develop/publish it).

      It also seems a harder target (most people love their iPod more than their handheld, of course a good device that did both would ROCK :D )

      • The 360 can connect with PMC 2.0 devices, I believe. Although the only one that works with it now is the Toshiba Gigabeat S. And all that link does is allow you to just about any music-related task with the device.

        At least, this shows that there is potential for connectivity with games.
      • Not to contradict you too much, but that "crossover play" has been around unsuccessfully for years. Not only can the Gamecube connect to the DS and the PS2 to the PSP (sort of), but others as well. The Playstation 1 had a portable memory card / player in the form of the Pocketstation []. The Dreamcast proved the potential for online gaming. But every Dreamcast memory unit was also a little playable portable console called a VMU [], functionality which many people now have forgotten as nothing good came of it.
        • I hadn't forgotten the Pocketstation or VMU.

          I don't think the Pocketstation was released outside of Japan, and my impressions were that the Dreamcast never really achieved a high market penetration (and the VMU even lower).

          I still believe that the N64 and GBA were the first pair of systems with wide spread adoption to be able to achive such "crossover play", with the current and next generations continuing the trend.

          Still, you are right that it is a feature that relatively few games have exploited as anythi
      • The XBox360 connects with your PC, your phone, your MP3 player, even that new laundry machine [].

        Handheld games linking with consoles sounds like a great idea but, so far, I haven't seen any killer-app that makes the effort worthwhile. Right now it is a solution in search of a problem.

  • by EggyToast ( 858951 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:38PM (#15714292) Homepage
    It's not too surprising that they would be more interested in the portable music and media player rather than portable video games. There's more money in getting a format licensed and having other people support it, paying licensing fees, compared to maintaining and supporting a portable video game player and games.

    They also seem to be embracing Nintendo for this generation, but not just the Wii, but the DS as well []. They're letting Rare develop games for the system, which would be unheard of if they were planning their own system.

    Still, I don't see how they plan on offering a "better iPod." The iPod succeeds due to simplicity, and having a system that "will always work" with iTunes. Not supporting dozens of different configurations and media organization tools. I wish the iPod would support more formats both for video and audio, but at least the target formats are relatively simple and straightforward for most people to understand -- not "set VBR off and max resolution to less than 480x352 with trellis quantization turned on for best results" or other lingo-riddled instructions. Quicktime has an option "Save for iPod" that works, and even I'm pleased with the results.

  • MS could make a great portable media player that incidentally plays games if they gave the device a touch screen.
  • competitiveness (Score:2, Interesting)

    by militaunt ( 988730 )
    microsoft has this problem, see. too much hard cash laying around, not enough to do with it. so they invent ways to blow it. except they don't invent at all - they merely copy what everyone else is doing, only throw a huge budget at it the first and often the 2nd generation, just to play catch-up with the originators.

    this poses the problem of market saturation - too many devices from too many companies. consumer dollars are spread too thin, and even the originators have a tough time justifying throwi
    • You are right, M$ has too much money laying around. But I think Bill should not try to create more cash cows in this marketing machine, he should take that money, and create an other project, and spend some on basic research. Then he could maybe build up an other M$, but with this Me too! attitude, I dont think he can do it again.
    • That's been Microsoft's modus operandi all along:

      Copy (steal?) idea....sometimes not even as good as the original
      Market it like crazy
      Sell to everyone
      Bully competition
      Move on to the next idea

      The other option is to buy the idea (Visio comes to mind) and then proceed through the rest of the steps. MS is not an innovation company but a very good marketing company.

  • WTF! (Score:3, Funny)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:59PM (#15714423)
    From the fires of Mount Doom, are you telling me that's this is not the one gadget to rule all gadgets?! No wonder everyone wants to throw it back in.
  • by TaggartAleslayer ( 840739 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:04PM (#15714453)
    What we're looking at is the beginning of a new product line. We all know how Microsoft does things -- piece by piece.

    This round it's more likely than not that we'll get a very high profile, seriously marketed, media player with a few minor games and the potential for expandability within their overall product line and future focus.

    Microsoft really wants focus to be on the 360 this year. They have a major battle to win, and diluting their own market would be a serious mistake. I expect it will be mid-way through this console generation that we'll see them making serious portable gaming moves.

    Many of us drew the same conclusions as this article [], days ago.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @04:06PM (#15714464)
    it's a computer!
  • Ehhh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zullnero ( 833754 )
    I'll still use my old trusty Tapwave Zodiac II for my combo music/gaming handheld. Even if there aren't going to be any new games for it anymore, it still plays music great, I can surf the web with it, IM, play games, and whatever else I feel like doing with it without having to hack the crap out of it to do so.
  • there is only Zune?

  • Should be looking at a gp2x. Don't reply with 'but does it run Linux?' cos the answer is YES. It is a fully open-source linux-based media and entertainment player, with nearly every good linux emulator and good game project already ported over, and a thriving community at . Currently emulated (allowing playback of a massive retro library) is Atari 2600, 8-bit and 16 bit computers, Sega Master System, Genesis/Megadrive and Gamegear, Neo-Geo, MAME arcade (based on the .36b romset) TG-16/PC
  • is if MS brought out a higher priced Live Platinum service and provided an all you can eat music subscription service.
    Use the 360 to choose what music you want, construct playlists, have the music playing as you play your games, play through your stereo and then just wifi it to your Zune.
    As long as they provided it cheaply enough to get people hooked it would boost live sales, boost zune sales and tie peoples music and gaming to MS equipment forever.
    In fact if you were trying to convince yourself to reac
  • Woah, watch out for those zandworms! Seriously, they should keep these goofy codenames internal... If they're going to publicize every single one maybe they should get marketing involved...

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."