What is Going on at Microsoft?

I am not really a fanboy of any company (other than Sega), but I do appreciate when a company does something well. For Microsoft, there have been a few bright spots over the last few years (even if they haven’t all been commercially profitable). Among those, I’d include the Zune as the best portable media player (note, I didn’t say “handheld entertainment device”, as the Zune and the ZuneHD were basically designed to do one thing, and do it extremely well); the Xbox 360 as quite possibly the best modern gaming console (though I do love my Wii, the Kinect kind of tipped the playing field slightly in Microsoft’s favor – or so I’ve been told; I don’t own a 360, yet); and Windows Phone 7 has, as much as Android and Apple fanboys would hate to admit, somewhat revolutionized the mobile touch interface.

Do I expect to see whole-hog clones of the WP7 Metro UI, the way we did with iOS? Absolutely not; but I do suspect that we’ll see subtle changes to touch interfaces over the next year or so as a result of the way the Windows Phone OS works.

All of that said, I can’t help but wonder what the Xbox team was thinking when it came up with the pricing structure for Microsoft Points or when they integrated Netflix into the Xbox ecosystem.

Sony Prepares to Release PS3 Slim

Sony Playstation 3 SlimApparently, Sony announced a new version of the commercially-struggling Playstation 3 console a few weeks ago. The new version is known as the PS3 Slim and will boast almost all of the same features as the original PS3. The new PS3 Slim will apparently be available on Tuesday, Sept. 1. At this time, only one version, a 120 gig model, of the PS3 Slim is being released. The new model will be priced at $299, nearly $200 less expensive than the cheapest version of the original PS3.

Yahoo! Plugged In gaming news reports that the new version of the console will consume 34% less electricity, be almost 4 pounds lighter than the original and is only about two-thirds the size of the original.

So, what’s the one apparent drawback of purchasing the PS3 Slim instead of buying the old mammoth version? The PS3 Slim will not include backwards-compatibility; meaning that you will not be able to play your Playstation 2 games on the new PS3 Slim. Will this make a major difference to consumers? Only time will tell. Microsoft caught a lot of flak when the Xbox 360 console was released with extremely limited backwards-compatibility.