Thurrott Daily: June 11

Posted on June 11, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, iOS, Music + Videos, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One with 0 Comments

Thurrott Daily: June 11

The Crown Pub, Fort Collins, CO

I’m in Fort Collins, Colorado for the weekend, but here are some tidbits from around the web.

6/11/2016 12:25:05 PM

Sony confirms it is working on the PS4.5

I mentioned this in Short Takes yesterday, but it bears repeating: Sony has confirmed that it will sell a higher-end PlayStation 4 model alongside the existing device sometime in the months ahead. The Wall Street Journalreports.

Sony is preparing a more powerful version of its popular videogame console PlayStation 4, the company confirmed on Friday, although the new product won’t be featured at the E3 videogame show next week.

“We are developing high-end PlayStation 4,” said a spokeswoman at Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The new version will come with a faster processor and graphics enhancement including ultra high-definition 4k resolution for games, Sony said. The high-end console would be priced higher than the current model, but Sony declined to elaborate on its pricing plans and release date. No formal name is given to the device, which is currently called “PS 4.5“ or ”PS4 Neo” by fans and the industry.

The new version of PlayStation 4 will share the same software catalog as the current version, Sony said. Sony said it won’t reveal then new version at the E3 videogame trade show.

As I have already discussed, this is smart. And Microsoft will do the same thing with the Xbox One, and hopefully catch up to Sony in the process.

Sorry, but nothing related to video games is “Microsoft’s most ambitious bet”

Forbes claims that Microsoft is about to make its “most ambitious bet,” so you’ll be forgiven for believing that this is an opinion piece about the software giant’s move from traditional software to cloud services. It’s not. It’s about … video games. Yes. Really.

This week at the annual E3 video game expo, Nadella’s peace-and-love philosophy is going to get its biggest test to date, as the company will get up in front of the notoriously finicky gamer community to share the latest on the ongoing merger between the Microsoft Xbox One video game console and the Windows 10 PC.

Sorry, I’m going to have to hit the gong on this one.

It’s not that video games don’t matter, they do. But if you look at Microsoft’s quarterly/annual revenues and play some simple games with numbers—try doubling or even tripling what it makes from Xbox, for example—you will see something very obvious. Games can be big business. But they do not compare in any meaningful way to the money Microsoft made from Windows, Office and Server, and could make from the cloud. This is a bet on a sunsetting business—Windows—not something that could change the future.

Or let’s look at it from the perspective of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which is the focus of this piece. So far, there are 300 million active Windows 10 device, a figure Microsoft achieved in less than a year. So far, there are less than 18-20 million Xbox Ones out there (depending on who you ask), and it took Microsoft 2.5 years to reach that number. Math is your friend: The potential market for UWP apps on Windows 10 is several times bigger than it is on Xbox. And that’s before you even try to account for the fact that the Xbox One is a more heavily curated experience, meaning that fewer apps will get in.

Put simply, this isn’t Microsoft’s biggest bet.

Speaking of which.

Microsoft will not port Halo 5 to the PC

Which kind of pokes a big finger in the eye of the notion that cross-platform anything is job one for Microsoft these days. Microsoft told PC Gamer this week that, no, it will not ever port Halo 5 to Windows. Kind of a weird message to send right now.

A Microsoft spokesperson denied that Halo 5 will ever come to PC.

“Our approach is to deliver epic Halo experiences designed for PC gamers and Windows 10, such as Halo Wars 2 and the recently announced Halo 5: Forge. There are no plans to port Halo 5: Guardians to PC.”

Dumb.

“Your next iPhone could have Intel inside”

Gross.

Report: Amazon to launch a streaming music service

Reuters is reporting that Amazon will launch a streaming music service:

Amazon.com Inc is preparing to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service, placing it squarely in competition with rival offerings from Apple Inc and Spotify, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The service will be offered at $9.99 per month, in line with major rivals, and it will offer a competitive catalog of songs, the sources said. Amazon (AMZN.O) is finalizing licenses with labels for the service, which likely will be launched in late summer or early fall, the sources said.

Amazon [already] offers a free streaming music service with a limited catalog to subscribers of its Prime shipping and video service.

If you’re a Prime subscribe, Amazon’s digital services—offered as perks of that subscription—are hard to ignore. But this is a new twist on Amazon’s strategy, as it would apparently require an additional monthly fee over the cost of Prime. Still, I give them credit for really diving in when it comes to consumer services. Let’s be honest with each other: This is something Microsoft half-asses.

Report: Chromecast is outselling Apple TV, will continue to do so

So far, Chromecast has handily outsold the much more expensive Apple TV. And according to the market researchers at IHS, it will continue to do so.Recode discusses the report:

Google’s Chromecast media streaming dongle shipped 3.2 million units during the first quarter, beating the 1.7 million units of the pricier Apple TV, flipping the market position for the first time.

“We anticipate that this reversal will persist,” IHS analyst Merrick Kingston wrote.

Chromecast, which goes for $35 a pop, is a key part of Google’s media and home products strategy. But Cast, along with Apple TV, suffers from a big blockade in distribution: Amazon booted both devices from its store in October, and it hasn’t changed its mind.

Again, simplicity should always win out, and in this case it clearly is. The new Apple TV is decent hardware, but the remote is a crime against humanity, much like the hockey puck mouse that shipped with the first iMac. We should demand more from a company that touts its design expertise and commands such high prices.

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