Tech News

Microsoft Merges PC and Xbox, Kiddle Causes Controversy… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 02-03-2016

Microsoft unifies its gaming platforms, Kiddle coddles kiddies, Sony kills off PlayStation TV, Reddit 3016 takes a look at the future, and Gerard Butler answers questions sourced from Google.


Microsoft Brings Xbox Games to PC

Microsoft is seeking to unify the PC and Xbox into one gaming ecosystem, with games released in the future working on both platforms. In addition to this, Xbox hardware will become more PC-like, with hardware upgrades available to those who want them. These two things combined represent a massive gamble for Microsoft.

Essentially, Xbox games will be Universal Windows Applications (UWAs) — see here if you’re confused Are You Confused by the Windows App Terminology? Did you ever wonder what's the difference between an application, program, or software? Or whether that Windows app is metro, modern, universal, or plain straight? You're not alone. Let us clear things up! Read More — meaning they will also work on Windows on PC and (if the hardware is up to it) on tablets and smartphones too. As for the hardware, Microsoft wants to break away from the traditional console cycle which keeps everyone using the same machine for several years before the next one is released.

As Phil Spencer, head of the company’s Xbox division, stated:

“In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so. We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs.”

The problem with this is that console gamers are console gamers Switching From Console to PC Gaming: 8 Big Differences Explained Thinking about switching from console to PC? Here are some of the biggest differences between gaming on PC and console. Read More for a reason. If they wanted to continuously upgrade their machines in order to play the latest and greatest games they would be PC gamers. Microsoft may want the Xbox One Microsoft Xbox One Review And Giveaway The console wars are officially raging, and we've had sufficient time with both of them. That begs the question: how does the Xbox One compare? Read More to behave more like a PC, but there is little evidence the average console gamer wants anything of the sort.

Kiddle: The Search Engine for Children

Kiddle is a new search engine aimed at children. Powered by Google safe search, but with no official affiliation with the Internet giant, Kiddle aims to give children a better way of searching the Web. Unfortunately, not everybody is happy with what words and phrases are being blocked.


As reported by BBC News, LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual) search queries are blocked, even though lots of children turn to the Internet for information on these issues. The people behind Kiddle claim they “cannot guarantee the safety” of such searches. “Sex Education” has been blocked for the same reasons.

Kiddle seems, on the surface at least, like a good idea, but it has its limitations, especially as it’s subject to the idiosyncratic beliefs of its moderators. Parents would be better off creating their own sanitized version of Google Keeping Children Safe In An Online World: 8 Ways To Set Up Kid-Friendly Search The Internet can be a dirty place and you have to take steps to stay safe online, but it can also be a wonderful world where kids can let their creativity and imagination run free.... Read More based on the words and phrases they themselves deem inappropriate.

The PlayStation TV Is Dead

It looks as though the PlayStation TV PlayStation TV Review And Giveaway Read More , a micro-console designed to help you game in any room in your house, is dead. Sony has discontinued shipments to the United States and Europe, and the device is slowly being phased out in Japan. Sony has issued a statement on the matter, saying:

“PS TV shipments were terminated at the end of 2015 in SCEA [Sony Computer Entertainment America] and SCEE [Sony Computer Entertainment Europe]. Shipment is still continuing in SCEAsia (as of the end of February, 2016), and we have nothing to announce regarding the timing of termination.”

We can only assume sales were so low that Sony felt the need to kill PlayStation TV just one year after launch. Why? Because fewer people than Sony expected were interested in gaming in rooms other than the one their PlayStation 4 Sony PlayStation 4 Review And Giveaway Ladies and gentlemen, the next generation of video game consoles is here, with the Sony PlayStation 4! Read More was in. The PS Vita has also sold well, further curtailing demand for this particular product.


What Will Reddit Look Like In 3016?

Reddit is a website you will either love or hate, but it’s one of the tent-poles of the modern Internet 7 Most Important Websites We Can't Live Without The World Wide Web (now more commonly known simply as the Web) has been with us for over 20 years now, and in that relatively short space of time it has unequivocally changed the world.... Read More , whether you like it or not. However, have you ever wondered what “the front page of the Internet” will look like in 1,000 years? No, neither have we, but we know a guy who has.

It’s a phenomenal undertaking, with working links and everything. However, Reddit doesn’t seem too keen on being parodied in this way, as all references to Reddit 3016 are being purged from the site. Which suggests a thin skin I have never previously associated with Reddit top brass or the moderators who do their bidding.

Gerard Butler Answers Google Queries

And finally, if you’re any kind of celebrity you’ll have a presence on Google. Hell, even a lot of us proles do thanks to a lack of making sure we’re keeping things as private as we should be doing. And if you’re a Hollywood A-lister, Google can throw up some extremely interesting questions OK, Google: 20 Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Google Assistant can help you get a lot done on your phone. Here are a whole bunch of basic but useful OK Google commands to try. Read More .


Take Gerard Butler, for example, who, keen to promote his new movie London Has Fallen, gave an interview in which all of the questions were set by Google Search. Or, more specifically, by the common questions people type into Google. So, we now know he’s alive but not Irish, amongst other things. [H/T Wired]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Do you like Microsoft plans to unify the PC and Xbox One? Do you like the idea of Kiddle? Do you have any interest in the PlayStation TV? What will the world look like in 3016? Does your name elicit any strange Google Search results?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.


Image Credit: Cathy Smith via Flickr

Related topics: Google Search, Microsoft, PlayStation, Reddit, Xbox One.

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  1. Anonymous
    March 3, 2016 at 7:14 am

    @goodthings2life --I wish I shared your optimism. I don't mean to come off snarky but what you just described: modular system to quickly swap out and install upgrades, a singular base coding which will allow for players with faster "souped up" versions of a system to play either a co-op or PVP titles with their friends etc. I think is just wishful thinking, with all due respect. The latter isnt even the case now with direct X

    First of all, when has MSFT ever demonstrated the ability to pull off something with this degree of difficulty with the ultimate benefits falling to the consumer i.e. spend a little -get a lot? And, the example of buying a title once and making it accessible from multiple devices isnt new either... Sony did the same thing. What's surprising is how conditioned you are to the whole notion of having additional disposable income at the ready for the "freemium" IAP micro-transaction circle jerk that have become so prevalent now. So yes, you spend your initial money but no longer get a complete game...

    But I digress..

    The single most surprising element is your assertion MSFT would be benevolent and generous -since that's what profit hungry corporations are known for- and simply make all this work together all nice and neat with no frills? That's surprising coming from someone working in your field...

    I may not possess the technical understanding but I have a PHD in common sense. They will use titles to move equipment and vice versa. If they don't, their board of directors will find someone who will.

    In my humble opinion.

    -Crazy Chicken

  2. goodthings2life
    March 3, 2016 at 1:05 am

    If you read further into Phil Spencer's comments, he specifically called out a solution the "upgrade cycle" issues. What he suggested, in a nutshell, is that instead of developers coding games based on a high end PC and optimizing it down to lowest hardware, developers would target a "base" model Xbox hardware and optimize upwards based on the "hardware modules" available to consumers to "upgrade" their Xbox/PC hardware.

    This makes sense, to me at least as an IT guy who has spent years building custom systems and standardizing on consistent hardware devices too. Let me explain:

    When I build an image for Windows, I install it on the oldest model I have in my inventory. I install all the drivers, software that I want in the image, fine tune, and lock it down. I then clone that image over to each newer model repeating the drivers and fine tuning phases, so that I can build a "master" image file. (There's tools that make this easier than it sounds, but I'm explaining it this way for more basic understanding.) Once I have that master image, I roll it out to all of my systems as needed and it will auto-choose the best driver set for the hardware and run consistently, because the core OS and apps are the same. You have to do this from oldest to new, however, to ensure that the drivers don't overwrite new ones with older ones that are less optimized for the newer hardware. It scales very well doing this, and it's something I've done for going on 20 years now.

    So how does this relate to coding for an upgradeable Xbox One? Well, simple... XB1 today has a "base set" of specs that everybody knows. That's the initial image target for developers. So they build and fine tune the game for that and then say, "OK, now we've got the following CPU/GPU improvements that we can build UP on and expand our capabilities"
    ... so they take the base code, and start doing that based on those new specs. Just like I have in IT, they'll have tools to make that easier and hardware detection APIs to enable the higher end features.

    This way the XB1 user doesn't HAVE to upgrade at all, and if they do, it's at their own timing and discretion based on what they want to do and play. Over a period of 4-5 years, let's say (not trying to conspire here, lol) they realize that 85% of their customers have upgraded to CPU/GPU configuration, so they can establish that as a new Base Model "generation" and keep the cycle going and keep it fresh... which is essentially what they already do today with going from XB360 to XB1 or PS3 to PS4.

    Obviously those older bases still work and won't be shutoff, but they may eventually lose the ability to get new games, just like happens today when devs say "No more 360/PS3, we're on new console only." I think consumer gut reaction isn't always the best reaction when they hear scary news like this, but it's not as bad or scary as some might want to believe.

    There's another big advantage to this approach too-- cost. Over time, the cost of the base unit and certain upgrades become cheaper faster as the newer configs can launch at the previous high point which forces the older specs down in cost. This also happens today with consoles, but at a much slower pace-- usually annually for big holiday sales.

    Final thought here-- complexity. Not everyone here likes the thought of cracking open a computer case and swapping hardware, right? No worries! If they do it the way I think would be done, it would be a modular case and system board that would be like changing the hard drive in XB360 and PS3 was. Shut down, pop it out, and pop in the new module. It could be USB based, or some other methodology too... I don't really know, just speculating, but I do know it likely wouldn't require opening a case and tinkering.

    Anyway, just my long-winded thoughts on the matter!

  3. Anonymous
    March 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    This is IMHO a huge gamble by microsoft. The pressure this model would implicitly put on gamers to have the latest and greatest upgrades in-order to play pvp or coop titles with friends may very well turn off the balance of gamers who kept the faith after the xbone - kinnect debacle coming off the 2013 reveal, which also gave air to the perceived "way too familiar" relationship with publishers like EA.

    Clearly MSFT is looking to leverage its Direct X monopoly - I hope for the sakes of those of us who view competition in this sector as a good thing that they... uh, succeed? I admit, I'm not sure how a successful transition here is good for those of us that make up the majority of gamers... I for one am not particularly thrilled at the prospect of constant hardware upgrades for 'saving face' sake.

    • Deezy
      March 2, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Pollo: I agree. No one has been able to pull this off so far. Have to wish them luck; I think its a cool idea.

    • goodthings2life
      March 3, 2016 at 1:21 am

      I don't think it's about a DirectX monopoly so much as building a new base for Windows 10 growth. Remember, an Xbox One is also a Windows 10 device, and they want to grow Windows 10 to 1 billion devices within 2 years. They're 1/4 of the way there in just 8 months, so very likely to hit that. Getting developers on board with putting their games universally on Xbox and Windows 10 benefits consumers in a big way.

      I have a Surface Book with the Nvidia graphics so I can play QB, for example, while I'm on break at work or on a trip... yeah it'll scale down a bit, but so what? It's got my game save data anywhere, and when I get home, I fire up the Xbox One and pick up where I left off. And I only paid for it once.

      That's for complicated AAA games, but now consider the smaller games like Fruit Ninja and Candy Crush and all the stuff we play on the go. I buy Fruit Ninja and my game status and IAP upgrades can follow me from my phone to my Surface Book to my Xbox One. And maybe now I'm more inclined to spend a few bucks on IAPs because I only bought the game ONCE at a low price or got the game free and I want to move along faster. Whatever, it's an idea that I think they're following, at least.

      I hope it works out. I do. I know the gaming community is such a fickle bunch of people. I've dealt with a lot of smart folks that just cringe at this, a lot of "trolls" that are dumber than rocks that love this, and every combination in between.

      Anyway, at the end of the day, what SHOULD matter more to gamers is the games they can play. They should go wherever the games they want to play are at. If Microsoft works this out... those games might literally be everywhere-- phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, console, HoloLens, whatever... and you will pay for it once. Sounds like something as good for them as it is for consumer, IMHO. :)