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Microsoft will reveal Project Scorpio Xbox console details at E3 on June 11

By Darrell Etherington as written on
Microsoft just sent out invites to members of the media for its big reveal of Xbox Project Scorpio, the upgraded console that will be the “first true 4K console for gamers” according to the company. We’ve long expected E3’s press event to be the big consumer debut for Scorpio, but Microsoft spelled out that it will indeed be the star of the show in a blog post on Thursday.
The E3 press event will happen on Sunday, June 11 at 2 PM PDT (11 AM EDT), and will fully unveil Scorpio to the world. We’ve seen a lot in terms of technical details behind the forthcoming console, thanks to comprehensive reports about what the developer kits for the Scorpio contain, and the specs developers have been provided in order to help them prepare software for the device’s consumer launch.
Some topline specs to get you excited – Scorpio’s GPU is around 4.5x as powerful as the Xbox One, and 1.4x more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro. It’ll also have an integrated power brick so you just have to hide a single, svelte cord, and it’ll feature an integrated 4K Blu-ray player.
We’ll find out what the final consumer console looks like at E3, and hopefully when to expect it and how much it’ll cost. For now, here’s a peek at what the developer kit hardware looks like, courtesy of Gamasutra, which could provide some hints about the shipping console’s industrial design:


Get in-depth with the future of game development at Microsoft

By Alex Teodorescu-Badia as written on
At GDC Europe 2016, the Microsoft developer platform team is excited to showcase the technologies we’ve been working on to make both game development and gaming better on Windows 10. Not only are we bringing games from our partners to play on the show floor, but we’ve also set up a hands-on area with workstations, where developers can engage 1:1 with Microsoft experts and get a free in-depth consultation on topics like Visual Studio, UWP, Unity, Azure gaming services, Windows Store, and Xbox. In the article below, we’re going into more depth into what gaming technologies are being rolled out as part of Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer, and how Microsoft envisages the future of game development across Windows devices. You can also stay connected with us at future events or online on our game developer site.
Game development has come a long way since the first game of Tic-Tac-Toe appeared on a vacuum tube display in 1950. At Microsoft, we’ve been engaged in making game developers more productive for several decades, with the release of the Windows Games SDK in 1995 as only one example. Starting with the launch of Windows 10, and with the ongoing release cycle that moves away from monolithic OS releases, our vision for game devs has included constant integration of customer feedback to improve the developer experience. Moving forward, our developer platform and tools investments reflect this commitment.  Combined with our broad vision of enabling developers to maximize their reach across devices with the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), we are building our vision future of game development on Windows devices – PCs, tablets, Xbox consoles, and HoloLens.
The way Microsoft is approaching the process of integrating customer feedback is by listening to developers’ needs and pain points, and constantly doing original research to come up with better ways to address them. This articles goes into depth on our key initiatives to make Windows game development better, what we’ve learned from that process over the years, and where our roadmap will lead us, starting with the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update in August 2016. We are happy with the rapid embrace of Windows 10 by gamers, with over 45% of Steam users on Windows 10 as of July 2016, but understand that we need to remain responsive and engaged with this passionate audience.
When we were thinking about how to talk about our goals for game development tools on Windows 10, the conversation kept circling back to what we, many of us being software developers ourselves, expected from our dev environment. Together with asking game devs what they want, this has been our north star throughout: making sure game developers never having to ask themselves if Windows 10 is really the best possible dev box for creating PC games. This question informed how we’re thinking about building the over-arching goals we’ve set for ourselves: openness & community, power & capability, and finally engagement & reach.
Openness & Community
From the release of the new UWP technologies on Windows 10, our long-term vision has been to build a truly inclusive, open gaming ecosystem that spans device families and offers a great experience for all gamers, and an easy way to reach all of those customers for game developers.
In Windows Anniversary Update, a lot of the promise of openness is being realized. One concern that had previously been raised for the ease of selling and distributing UWP applications to users without using Windows Store, whether it’s a free download, or distributed through your own or a third-party online storefront. It’s clear that in prior Windows 10 releases, it wasn’t as intuitive to install UWP games obtained outside of Windows Store for many users. The end user had to either run a PowerShell script to install the certificate and install the game, or even type a command directly into PowerShell. Users were at times confused by certificate errors, or by the perception that sideloading games wasn’t the best way to install something. What we’re calling the “App Installer” is a pre-installed tool in Windows Anniversary Update that handles easy app installation: this enables a user to double-click any .appx or .appxbundle for straightforward installation, without the need for scripts or commands.
Just open Explorer and find your .appx or .appxbundle file, double-click, tell App Installer about your app, click Install, and that’s it. For advanced users, be aware that the game you’re installing needs to be trusted by your device, which safeguards against malware and other issues: this means that if you’re installing a developer or enterprise app with special rights/permissions, you need to have the signing certificate on the device you’re installing on. And unlike random .EXEs downloaded from the Internet, the App Installer specifically calls out what capabilities your game needs, such as accessing your Contacts.
We also keep openness in mind when building the Windows Store experiences on PC, which has traditionally been – and will remain – a rich, vibrant ecosystem, with competing and complementary platforms that allow developers to fully express their creativity, building and selling their games in any way they want. We are acutely aware that bringing games to market through Windows Store, for instance, needs to be a smooth, friction-free experience that gets out of the developers’ way whenever possible, but empowers them with tools and insights to improve their game experiences. Thinking about Store openness means having an easy onramp to sell your PC game in Windows Store: there’s no complicated account management process, requiring you to speak personally with someone at Microsoft to sell in Windows Store: simply create an account on Windows Dev Center, upload your content, and you’re ready to target the hundreds of millions of devices running Windows 10 today.
As Dev Center is evolving, we are adding new features and capabilities all the time, we roll them out first to the free Dev Center Insider Program. Recent dev-centric features added to the program were for instance targeted push notifications, allowing you to create custom notifications to send to specific groups of users only, for instance based on specific criteria you define, or bulk IAP management to avoid having to make submitting individual updates for each purchase.
As we roll out Windows Store to additional device families, we’re evolving the experience to where your games will be able to reach more gamers. With that in mind, we realize that many game developers have existing Windows games (Win32) that they’d like to bring to Windows Store. We are helping those developers with the Desktop Bridge, a set of technologies that game developers can use to convert, enhance and extend their games.
The bridge enables you to take your existing Windows game and convert it using the Desktop App Converter. After conversion, you will have a UWP app package (.appx or .appxbundle), which targets Windows 10. If you choose, you can then add UWP APIs to extend your game with Windows 10-specific functionality. To bring your existing game using the Desktop Bridge to Windows Store, please let us know.
Finally, we understand that games are often best played with others, and that game developers look for simple, powerful ways to plug into social gaming ecosystems to give their games staying power and build lasting communities. We are very proud of the success of Xbox LIVE, which has nearly fifty million monthly active users playing with and against each other, sharing gameplay videos, building clubs and making new friends. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to integrate LIVE into your games, including on Windows 10: the ID@Xbox program offers a simple sign-up process for getting access to the right Xbox APIs to reach those tens of millions of gamers.
Being part of ID@Xbox also gives game developers easy access to some of the most exciting gaming features we’re rolling out in 2016: Play Anywhere and Cross-Device Play. With Play Anywhere, participating game developers can make their game available on Windows 10 and Xbox One with the purchase of a single SKU, ensuring that your customer has your game playable on all of their gaming devices. Their progress is saved, and they can continue seamlessly from where they left off, including their game add-ons. Cross-Device play takes the promise of seamless gaming to another level: participating developers can enable play between different platforms, including Windows and Xbox One, in their games, reaching the widest audience of gamers and building the biggest possible community.
We are incredibly excited to see where game devs will take this, and what they’ll be building – IDARB, the first game to leverage the cross-device functionality is a great preview into what the future holds.
Power & Capability
The biggest reason why we talk about device families when we address game developers is because our goal is to build the best possible platform & APIs for each type of device, which in itself has multiple types – which make up the device family. A mobile experience, for instance, can come in different screen sizes and power levels, but shares commonalities around input method, rotation, and so on. Similarly, a desktop PC can have integrated graphics and limited RAM, for instance, but will usually have a mouse & keyboard connected. Consoles are often experiences at a ten-foot distance, with the resulting concerns around input mechanisms, UI display on screen, etc. Yet game developers will often want to target multiple device types without having to rewrite substantial chunks of code. The biggest challenge has been to accommodate device-specificity without requiring that ground-up rewrite, even when leveraging middleware and game engines that do a lot of heavy lifting.
This was the pain point we had in mind when building the Universal Windows Platform, enabling developers to write once and target multiple device families. Each device type needs code tailored to its unique capabilities. UWP provides that guarantee – both the core APIs that are available on every Windows device, and then unique APIs that are accessed conditionally depending on the device the code is run on. For game developers looking to target desktops, laptops, tablets, Xbox, and Windows Holographic, UWP will provide the seamless scalability requires on each device family.
Features are lit up by device type, presenting a differentiated, appropriate experience: if your UWP game is run on a tablet, for instance, it seamlessly adapts to touch controls and rotation, for instance. The same applies to UI and controls – UWP layout panels allow for tailoring across many screen sizes & resolutions.
The same applies to input handling – UWP games support universal controls that handle any input, such as mouse, keyboard, touch, pen, and controller (such as the Xbox controller). Scaling across displays and input modalities is only the beginning, however: UWP provides the building blocks for ensuring your game truly leverages the full capabilities of the multi-device family paradigm. Cloud services power your game no matter where the game’s users are, and game developers can build notifications to follow their user across Windows devices.
2016 is a big year for proving out the multi-device promise of UWP for game developers: the first huge block was the availability of Dev Mode for Xbox One, allowing any owner of a retail Xbox One console to start developing UWP games on their Xbox immediately. Coming soon, game-centric features from the Xbox Store will start appearing in the Windows Store, with the eventual combination of both stores into a single cohesive experience on Windows devices. Looking ahead, the announcement of Project Scorpio in 2016 also showed that developing for UWP is a straight path to deployment devices: creating UWP games today ensures compatibility with new Microsoft hardware initiatives.
Another peek at the future of game development on Windows was the introduction of DirectX12 on Windows 10. The best way to think about DirectX 12 is that it allows many gamers’ PC hardware to not just talk better to each other internally, squeezing out graphics performance out of existing GPUs and CPUs, but that it’s a technology that allows game developers to write closer to the metal than ever before. CPU and GPU performance is significantly increased, partially by reducing API overhead and by increasing overall efficiency.
Also in the graphics category, gamers and developers alike also asked us for broader support for core gaming features in UWP that they expect from classic Windows games. In May, Microsoft rolled out UWP support for AMD’s Freesync™ and NVIDIA’s G-SYNC™ in Universal Windows Platform games and apps, as well as unlocked frame rate support.
The last puzzle piece for capability is the support for Universal Windows Platform and Windows 10 in the most popular and powerful game development tools around, as well as their integration into the overall UWP ecosystem. Unity is a great example of a popular game engine integrating support for UWP, with easy creation of new UWP projects built into the interface. In turn support for new Unity projects is easily accessible from Visual Studio, with VS tools for Unity natively supported in Unity and both tools bundled in a single installer.
Similarly, recognizing of the popularity and power of Unreal Engine and game developer demand, Microsoft developed and released the source code of a UE4 fork with UWP support on GitHub in July, providing a clear development path to UWP for the most popular game development engines on Windows and game consoles.
Engagement & Reach
One of the biggest pain points we keep hearing from game developers isn’t necessarily around coding itself, but rather in how to reach an audience. The gaming market is getting crowded, with huge backlogs, tons of sales, and overflowing merchandising surfaces in online stores. Getting attention is getting harder all the time. Our goal is to ensure game developers have an end-to-end go-to-market pipeline that can maximize both the reach of their game, and engagement with potential customers. Unfortunately, this is often the least sexy part of making games, especially for indie devs, but crucial to driving developer success on a platform.
The first step is to make your game available in as many markets as possible; Windows Store is currently accessible in over 240 markets world-wide – knowing how to correctly engage with all of those potential customer is crucial. The advances promotional approaches available or coming soon to Windows Store are a result of listening to game devs’ long-running concern about how it’s sometimes very challenging to gain visibility, merchandising space or any kind of exposure when selling their game online.
  • Reach gamers directly inside Windows: UWP games can send notifications and Live Tile updates to segments of your users directly from Dev Center. This helps connect your users directly with new offers, features, updates and other news.
  • The promote your app feature is available in many markets, allowing developers to target regionally-relevant ads with localized content
  • New community ads are a mechanism to share unused ads-in-games space to promote each other at no cost
  • With Facebook Install Ads, devs can choose the type of user they want to reach, and deliver relevant ads directly to acquire & engage them. In addition, the Facebook Audience Network (SDK) allows devs to monetize through Facebook ads in Windows Store apps – more info coming later this year
Just as important as promotion and merchandising is your ability to understand what gamers are doing inside your game, and engaging with them in a way that deepens your game’s lifecycle and staying power. Some of the UWP development tools we offer are:
  • The new feedback API allows gamers to provide more targeted feedback/reviews about your game, giving you the ability to solicit feedback about a flight or version, prompt customers for their opinion on a specific feature or level, and more
  • Improved usage reports give you better insight into how customers are using your game
  • App Health reports that go deeper into what’s happening with your game, including crash event breakdowns, failure logs, debugging tools, and a lot more
  • Improved A/B testing for UWP games – by creating different experiences and rolling them out to different user segments, you can run experiments without modifying or republishing your game
Looking Ahead
So what does the future for game development on Windows devices look like? Above all, it’ll end up being even more about the gamer than today. The reason why the gaming market is rapidly getting crowded is because gamers are a passionate group of fans, and why many of us got into the gaming industry in the first place. For game developers, we think this means a couple of things:
First, attempts to limit game developers’ creativity or the desire of gamers to explore new types of games aren’t going to work, and shouldn’t be attempted. Success in this business means empowerment. The Windows gaming ecosystem can’t be locked down, and will defend itself against attempts to do so. For Microsoft, this means a commitment to preserving the open nature of the PC platform by making UWP as open as Win32 applications in terms of distribution, installation, and commerce.
Second, gamers want to play their content wherever they are, and where the game modality makes sense. If someone has both a console and a PC (or tablet with a connected controller), they usually don’t want to double-dip. But making a SKU available in multiple places will unquestionable deepen the gamer’s engagement with the product. We talked a lot about ‘scaling gracefully’ to the device the game finds itself on, and in the long run we will find that gamers are going to be expect their games just “be there,” a lot like what we’re seeing in music and video services.
Third, game development is undergoing massive changes right now to make it clear that it really is for everyone. Gamers have always come in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them have always felt that the culture was for them, even if they enjoyed gaming. This isn’t just about diversity in audience but also about inclusion in design. We’re incredibly aware of many gamers’ desire to have gaming become more accessible and welcoming.




Surface + Xbox One Bundle for Students
Starting at $878
Save up to $499
The Student Surface + Xbox One Bundle for Students1 includes:
Your choice of Surface Book or Surface Pro 4
Xbox One console2, plus extra Xbox One controller
Free select game of choice
$50 Microsoft Store gift code

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Your portal to productivity
Engineered to be the ultimate classroom companion, you can easily take notes with Surface Pen, or record a lecture with the integrated front-facing and rear-facing 1080p cameras. It'll even convert your handwritten notes to text. Unwind after an intense study session and watch your favorite movie, play your iTunes library, or edit photos of your roommate from vacation on the stunning PixelSense display.

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Classroom to the dorm room
Unwind after a late-night cram session and stream Xbox One games to your Surface anywhere on campus. Xbox has the best games, TV, movies, music, and sports all in one place, so it's easy to access your favorite apps including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and more4. And with Xbox Live built into Windows 10, you get access to the greatest gaming community in the world.




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Buy once, play anywhere
When you buy an Xbox Play Anywhere title, it's yours to play on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC at no additional cost.

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Greatest games in Xbox history
Experience the greatest games lineup in Xbox history with exclusives like Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6, and Quantum Break, and the biggest blockbusters like Fallout 4, FIFA 16, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. Play your digital and disc-based Xbox 360 games, and all new EA games before they launch, exclusively with EA Access.


Xbox adapter managed solution

Back in June, Microsoft introduced the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows. “With the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows, you’ll be able to plug the Adapter into the USB 2.0 or 3.0 port of your Windows 10 PC and get same gaming experience you’re used to on Xbox One, including in-game chat and high-quality stereo audio,” stated Microsoft.
If you want to get the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows, you can get it here for $24.99. And if you want to get a new Xbox One Wireless Controller, you can pick one up here for $79.95.
You can also order it on Amazon.


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This Week’s Deals With Gold And Spotlight Sale Include Assassin’s Creed Unity, Evolve And More

These discounts are valid now through 14 September 2015.
For more details visit

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Microsoft researcher Jamie Shotton honored as one of MIT Tech Review Innovators under 35

Jamie Shotton at Microsoft Research Cambridge is among the latest MIT Technology Review’s Innovators under 35, a distinction that goes to exceptionally talented young innovators whose work the editors believe has the greatest potential to transform the world. Previous winners include Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Shotton was among the researchers who played a key role in bringing Kinect to market. The system has been a differentiating feature for Xbox, and it’s also been used in countless other areas, from improving healthcare to making meetings more productive. Shotton has continued to build on that work with a more recent project called Handpose, which aims to track hand motions to millimeter precision.
Find out more about Shotton and his work over on Inside Microsoft Research.
As written by Athima Chansanchai, Microsoft News Center Staff on

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Kinect Bundle Squid Hero + Boom Ball is now available for download on Xbox One.

Game Description:
Get up and play! This double fun bundle for all ages contains two active Kinect games from Virtual Air Guitar Company that are easy to learn but challenge your accuracy and dexterity with active, responsive and satisfying gameplay. Squid Hero takes 1 or 2 players on a cheery and colorful arcade adventure, where you’ll smash ice cubes to save the world from a new ice age. In Boom Ball, you get to hit balls, smash bricks and solve puzzles across 55 inventive levels.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is nearly upon us, and from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like a seriously huge improvement over the disaster that was Windows 8.
But regardless of how much better Windows 10 is than its predecessor — which, again, was awful — the big question on many minds will be: How does Windows 10 compare to Apple’s OS X?
And, sure, while there are plenty of things that Windows 10 seems to have “borrowed” from OS X — the new notification panel is just like the Notification Center in OS X, and Windows’ Task View is a dead ringer for Apple’s Mission Control — there are a bunch of features in Windows 10 that OS X can’t match. Here are five of the most notable.

1. Scribble on web pages

Yep, we’re going there: Touchscreens were both a curse and a blessing for Windows 8. When Windows 8 first came out, using a touchscreen on a laptop or desktop felt strange and confusing. But after a while, you came to expect your PC to have a screen that responded to your touch.
Windows 10 is doubling down on touchscreen capabilities by letting you do things like annotate webpages using the new Microsoft Edge Web browser by writing directly on the screen, so long as your computer has a touchscreen display. Once you write on the page, you can save your chicken scratch as an image file or share it with your friends and colleagues.
Oh, and you’ll still be able to play touch-based games like Fruit Ninja.

2. Switch between desktop and tablet

Speaking of touchscreens, Windows 10 will also work much better when used on laptop-tablet hybrids such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, thanks to its new Continuum Mode.
With Continuum, you’ll be able to use your Surface Pro 3 like a regular Windows 7-style laptop and then automatically switch to the Windows 8-style tablet mode when you disconnect the Surface’s keyboard.
Your Apple friends, on the other hand, will still have to carry around their iPads and MacBooks if they want to have both a tablet and laptop.

3. Search by voice

OK, the concept for Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant is a pretty big rip-off of Apple’s Siri. But whereas Siri is trapped on the iPhone and iPad, Cortana is coming to your desktop and laptop PC, which means you’ll be able to search the Web and your PC using just your voice.
But Cortana is more than just someone to talk to when you’re lonely: She, er, it will also provide you with weather updates and sports scores, help manage your schedule, and more — all on your desktop, laptop, or laptop-tablet hybrid.

4. Stream Xbox One games

Xbox One and Windows 10 are going to be excellent bedfellows, thanks to Windows 10’s new Xbox One game-streaming. As the name implies, the feature will let you wirelessly stream your Xbox One games directly to your Windows 10 desktop, laptop, or tablet over your home’s Wi-Fi network, so you’ll be able to play Call of Duty from the comfort of wherever.
But that’s not all Xbox One streaming gets you. It will also let you play multiplayer games with your friends who have an Xbox One from your PC — a feature gamers have wanted for years.

5. Play the hottest games

Of course, like its predecessors, Windows 10 will be the go-to operating system for anyone who wants to play the latest and greatest computer games with the best graphics possible. Sure Apple’s App Store offers some game titles. But the selection is nothing like what’s available for Windows. So if you want to be able to play things like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Mortal Kombat X, you’re going to need a Windows 10 PC.

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