Microsoft Answers Your Questions (Finally!)

Late last year we asked you for questions and we thought we'd never get answers - but now, out of the blue, Microsoft finally got back to us. I know, I know! I was as surprised as you were. Check out the answers below.

QUESTION What is Microsoft’s opinions on the hacking of the Kinect sensors? and what do they think is the best things coming out of these hacks? (that is of course, if they approve of the hacks) -Grandmaster B-Funk

ANSWER The enthusiasm we are seeing in the scientific community, specifically researcher and academic communities, around the potential applications of Kinect for Xbox 360 is exciting to see.

Recently, there has been several articles implying that Kinect for Xbox 360 has somehow been hacked, which is completely untrue. Kinect for Xbox 360 has not been hacked in any way. To put it simply, the software and hardware that forms part of Kinect for Xbox 360 have not been modified. What has happened is someone has created drivers that allow other devices to display the raw data that is output from Kinect for Xbox 360. We are perfectly comfortable with hobbyists taking advantage of that raw data to explore the exciting possibilities of Kinect for Xbox 360 for themselves. We do note, however, that any of these uses of the Kinect for Xbox 360 are not licensed or authorized by Microsoft, and any modification of the Kinect would void the warranty.

QUESTION Why did Microsoft push the HD DVD so hard, yet never had the HD DVD player as a built in thing for the 360, or even bundle the external player with any of the 360 editions? -Jagji

ANSWER At the time, of the disc based formats we believed HD DVD to be the superior format for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately things don't always work out as well as you'd like and obviously the content partners had the casting votes, ultimately deciding the successful technology. The HD DVD player was never included in the console because we know that primarily people buy games consoles to play games, so we always want to deliver that console at the lowest price to get you into the Xbox world. We then offer customers a range of accessories from which they can then customize their experiences to suit individual tastes. Since then Microsoft has pioneered the delivery of multi-bit rate streaming technology via our Zune Video Marketplace service. This enables 1080p high definition instant start movies straight to your console without the requirement of expensive hardware or discs to truly enable a 'future proof' delivery of that content.

QUESTION How well has Kinect been received by the 'hardcore' gamer market, and what measures are in place to ensure that high-quality (AAA) titles are made that utilise Kinect as something other than a gimmick? Furthermore, what measures are in place to ensure that the Kinect games lineup isn't flooded with 'shovelware'? -The Cracks

ANSWER The Kinect sensor is the fastest selling Xbox accessory in Xbox history - that tells us that it's been very well received by anyone and everyone that has a love of playing games, regardless of how they may classify their tastes.

There is a strong line-up of new Kinect games scheduled for release in the next 12 months and we will ensure new genres are introduced to the Kinect platform that will appeal to a variety of consumers, including our core gaming community. Kinect also offers added functionality for Xbox owners with Zune Video Marketplace. As well as a gaming experience, Xbox becomes a complete entertainment offering which people will be able to control with the wave of a hand.

QUESTION I'm interested in the 'black boxes' we keep getting to plug into our TV screens. Microsoft is only responsible for one of them, unless you count Windows-based media PCs. There seem to be so many being introduced (from TiVo through to FetchTV, GoogleTV, and our game consoles) that it would seem like people could have 10 or 15 of them alongside a TV all doing a very slightly different, but similar thing. Does MS see any future where we could have one, oh I don't know, let's call it a 'computer' next to the TV that can do all this stuff? -Adam Ruch

ANSWER We agree that consumers ideally only want the one box under their TV and not 10-15 all doing slightly different things. Our aim is to provide interactive social entertainment to the television with compelling games, movies, TV and social entertainment content. Secondly, we want to continue to increase the non-gaming functionality of our console so that it does everything that you may want a device connected to your television to deliver.

Microsoft continues to bring entertainment to the Xbox through Zune and Windows Media Centre, social networking including Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, Video Kinect and most recently FOXTEL on Xbox 360 - delivering television and movies through the one device. We will continue to expand on this offering to integrate entertainment in the household through the Xbox and Xbox LIVE service.

QUESTION What is Microsoft doing in 2011 and onwards to improve their Games for Windows brand and what sort of commitment, if any, will we see in the development of PC games in the near future? -Serge

ANSWER Microsoft continues to invest in Games for Windows as a platform. Hopefully you have seen the recent changes to Games For Windows Live as a step in the right direction? We however have no additional announcements at this stage, but more to come into the future.

QUESTION Why do you (Microsoft) allow unrated games to be sold by indie developers to Australians on the Windows Phone marketplace, yet deny the same developers access to sell them to Australians on the XBox? The same requirement to get games rates applies to phone and XBox. -Cameron

ANSWER Without getting into a long legal discussion, let me say that Microsoft sees the Indie game market as an incredibly important one and want nothing more than to enable that for Australian consumers and developers. Mobile games and console video game classifications are actually covered under two different government acts - one by the Telecommunications Act & the other by the Classification Act. This is why you see inconsistency in content such as this today.

As it stands, our Indie Games channel works on a peer review classification system which is not consistent with the local laws and regulations. We continue to actively engage on this to find a solution in the future.

QUESTION Are there any plans to bring a play TV style device to Xbox? -James Mac

ANSWER Currently Windows Media Centre allows you to view and record live TV streamed your console. Xbox also offers live & on demand Pay TV through FOXTEL on Xbox 360

QUESTION As of this writing one Australian dollar will buy me at least 95 US Cents. One US Dollar currently buys 80 MSP so therefore it follows that One Australian Dollar should be able to buy 76 MSP, instead One Aus Dollar only buys 63 MSP.

When will Microsoft be re-evaulating the cost of Microsoft Points to Australian Consumers? -Jason Oliver

ANSWER Pricing is determined based on a variety of market factors, including but not limited to exchange rates over a period of time and local market conditions. We do re-evaluate our prices from time to time and take into account market factors when doing so.

QUESTION When is Microsoft going to allow Xbox accounts to transfer from country to country? As my account was originally setup when I was in New Zealand, but now as an immigrant to Australia I don't have the ability to set it as an Australian account. -Saruj

ANSWER We have nothing to announce at this time regarding country to country account transfers.

QUESTION We have a lot of talented people here who have little support, funding and all-round opportunity: does Microsoft have any plans to better encourage or invest in the local game/software development community? If so, are we likely to see anything substantial in the next couple of years?

Is there an underlying reason the functionality of Xbox Live account management differs from region to region? If not, is there a chance we can see a more simple and unified system? For example, automatic renewal cancellation is only available over the phone, while some regions can simply click a couple of buttons online. -AmbroseIV

ANSWER Microsoft does actively support local Australian game developers, educational institutions and government initiatives to better enable individuals to acquire the skills or resources to make their mark in the interactive entertainment field. Whether it's supplying free development kits to up and coming developers; setting up XNA game labs in universities and high schools; to free software for students; creation of easy to use tools such as KODU; development competitions such as the Imagine Cup, or working with established studios such as Krome who have developed a number of titles for Microsoft Game Studios, we like to support all elements of the ecosystem when we can.

Whilst it's not something that we discuss a lot in the press, it's something that we feel is really important - the ability to learn and create through the power of software is at the heart of what Microsoft does.

With regards to Xbox Live, each region has a unique experiences and unique demands and therefore the Australian experience is customized to our market. We will continue to develop this and welcome feedback from the community.

So that's that - it's only taken us three months, but finally we've gotten our answers. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Comments

    They actually seemed pretty cool - I like how they didn't turn every response into a complete advertisement, even though it sounded like it was written by PR people.

      Pretty much every statement made by developers, except direct quotes (and even they are pre-prepared sometimes) are written by PR people.

      The problem with letting developers answer these kinds of questions, is that they end up over-hyping the product to give the public expectations that the company can never meet (think Peter Moneluex).

        Q: Why can't open source programmes be released for Windows Phone 1?
        A: We're c***s. =)

    QUESTION
    Why did Microsoft push the HD DVD so hard, yet never had the HD DVD player as a built in thing for the 360, or even bundle the external player with any of the 360 editions?
    -Jagji

    correct answer

    answer: sony our enemies invented blu ray. We didnt' want to give them licencing money so backed the other guy who was always going to lose.

      Blu-ray was not invented nor developed exclusively by Sony, nor do they receive all of the licensing fees.

    Dear MS,

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Love,

    Nic

    Sorry Kotaku and Microsoft but this is pure PR drivel. I guess I can't blame Kotaku for it, they don't get to say what Microsoft send away but I read the first 6 or so questions and the answers are not really that informative at all, they are pure PR-speak (it doesn't take a journo to realize it either).

    Hopefully next time Microsoft will engage with some of the questions because some were absolute crackers that could have been really interesting.

      The total truth, and nothing but the truth! There's nothing worst than retorical spin. Reminds me of talking to salesman at Game & EB who just repeat what you say to them like primitive robots...

      "pure PR drivel"? Im not really a fanboy but what response would you like instead? Lets ask the MS Director of HR or the Director of Finance about xbox live accounts - WTF? When you ask a corporate a question, they have a way of coordinating a response - usually the PR department. True that most of these answer would be on their website but what else do you expect? MS: Yes, we do rip Australia off on MSP's but now that you have noticed, we will change our corporate greedy ways".

        A response that is un-scripted, that would be good!

    I think those were pretty reasonable answers. A little out-dated now (like with the Foxtel questions) but pretty balanced and seemed to be honest. I liked the one about HD-DVD, he gave an honest response without actually naming Blu-Ray in the process :P

    There are some well thought out answers here, it was a pleasant surprise

    Interesting how many of those answers can be translated as "We will not answer that, but here is some marketing information."

    I'm guessing I didn't wake up in bizarro land and Nintendo did theirs and I missed it right?

    Some alright responses, but I don't feel like I know much more than I did before.

    The very last part was a bit BS though, we're unable to easily stop a renewing subscription, because they customized that feature out of our market? That doesn't make sense to me. Are they saying we're incapable of using online services?

    Thanks for your time Microsoft PR Bot.

    Wow. They managed to plug Zune 3 times in 3 different answers. Who owns Zune....Oh...I see

    I don't know why I expected any revelations, but I did. It was disappointing to see the answer spun into PR and marketing.

    They only really deep answer was to AmbroseIV's first question, but then only because it highlighted their community investments.

      They kind of ignored the bits they didn't feel like answering.

      They only minimally answered the first part of my question, and completely ignored the shovelware part.

      Many of the other answers were 'more info at a later date' style responses.

      Sigh.

    These answers outdid my expectations (and they weren't set super low), considering they were pretty straight-forward with most answers... too bad they took so long.

    Props to you Microsoft Australia - I think you just edged out Sony (who seemed a bit disingenuous in their answers) and are miles ahead of Nintendo, who must've misplaced their questions :P

    Interesting how interpretations of the response range from well thought out, honest answers, to non-informative drivel.

    One question that will always keep coming up and I continue to bring it up whenever I can when speaking to M$ is WHY is software that is downloaded completely cost wise different to USA costing. Our dollar is strong and sometimes stronger and yet we spend more when paying downloadable or digital copies. Please ask them about this and push really hard for an answer that isn't what was seen here "Pricing is determined based on a variety of market factors, including but not limited to exchange rates over a period of time and local market conditions. We do re-evaluate our prices from time to time and take into account market factors when doing so"

    Thank You

    One may think it's pure HR-drivel, but they're definitely telling the truth about the XNA development kits in Schools! My school received 8 Xbox's and a few TVs as well as some other cool stuff, free.

    At least the answers weren't arrogant boasts and petty insults like typical Sony ones...

    "Currently Windows Media Centre allows you to view and record live TV streamed your console. Xbox also offers live & on demand Pay TV through FOXTEL on Xbox 360" Hmm, I have tried this and the Media Center portion of 360 does need some refinement. I D/L a lot of TV and stream through media center, and it JUST holds together for that. I cant imagine the pain caused when trying to record live TV, which I am assmoing you need a TV card for your PC. Not really taking it to PlayTV, they need to improve in this area. Codec compatability is great though.

      Yeah, I'm not exactly thrilled with their answer regarding this.

      A friend just got a ps3 with play tv, and that just shows how easy something like this could be.

      Also, streaming requires a pc with media centre... and it's not exactly a simple method of recording tv.

    "We have nothing to announce at this time regarding country to country account transfers"

    I dig this answer, short and to the point!

      "No" would have been shorter and more to the point.

      Sorry, I'm just sore because their website I used to sign up for GFWL registered my region as US (which I verified by creating a second dummy account and having it happen again), and apparently changing a single field in a database is beyond their abilities?

    Interesting that they took the time to answer the account transfer question by saying they have no intention to answer it...

      Man, that one was hilarious.

    Aha I forgot about this! I have to say that their answers are MUCH better than the ones sony gave. While they weren't saying too much, they at least got to the point instead of then turning it into a massive ad for something else about the console.

    Thanks for posting my question! And props to MS for giving an honest answer, despite being sort of expected.

    Statement: Kinect is the fastest selling accessory in Xbox history.

    Translation: We have paid tens of millions worldwide just for marketing, to bombard everyone and convince them that this is NOT a souped up EyeToy. THEN we took every single X360 S-model in the world, and hard-bundled it with Kinect such that it has been impossible to buy an X360 WITHOUT Kinect since November last year. Each console sold then means a Kinect attachment- if Nintendo can do it with Mario and WiiSports, we can too.

    I skipped the comments to preserve my own opinion. Which is that this smacks of an interview with a politician. Which means that the questions that make MS look good are answered directly, while the challenging questions are sheepishly tip-toed around. I wonder whether it's worth giving a crappy answer to 75 percent of these questions in order to look hood for 25% of them.. Max respect to CHOC re: hd DVD. You nailed it :)

    And for the record I'm sure Sony or nintendo wouldn't fare much better! I don't know and am prepared to accept my ignorance there :)

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