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Xbox 360 Launch Lineup Announced - 15 Nov 2005

Xbox 360 Launch Lineup Announced

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In the News
- Xbox 360 Launch Lineup Announced
- Microsoft Ships Enterprise Version of Windows Desktop Search
- Report: Microsoft Considering Free, Ad-Supported Windows

==== In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Xbox 360 Launch Lineup Announced
On Monday, Microsoft revealed that it will launch the new Xbox 360 on November 22 in North America, along with18 games and 13 accessories. Microsoft believes this collection of products constitutes the "strongest launch in the history of video game consoles," although I think that's a bit of an overstatement. In my opinion, there's no "killer" game among the titles that consumers "must" purchase for the upcoming holiday season, somewhat dampening enthusiasm for Xbox 360.
Few of the 18 initial Xbox 360 game titles are original or groundbreaking. Instead, most games are sequels or adaptations of previous titles. Oddly, three out of the four original titles: "Condemned: Criminal Origins" (SEGA), "GUN" (Activision), and "Perfect Dark Zero" (Microsoft Game Studios and Rare) are first-person shooters. The fourth, "Kameo: Elements of Power" (Microsoft Game Studios and Rare), is an action-adventure title set in a fantasy world.
The remaining 14 launch games are sequels or ports of existing games. These titles include: "Amped 3" (2K Sports), "Call of Duty 2" (Activision), "FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup" (Electronic Arts), "Madden NFL 06" (Electronic Arts), "NBA 2K6" (2K Sports), "NBA LIVE 06" (Electronic Arts), "Need for Speed Most Wanted" (Electronic Arts), "NHL 2K6" (2K Sports), "Peter Jackson’s King Kong" (Ubisoft), "Project Gotham Racing 3" (Microsoft Game Studios and Bizarre Creations), "Quake 4" (id Software and Activision), "Ridge Racer 6" (Namco), "Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 06" (Electronic Arts), and "Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland" (Activision).
Pricing for the Xbox 360 games will start at $49.99, but most games will be about $59.99. Additionally, Microsoft will offer between 12 and 15 "bite-sized game titles" through Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360 on launch day. These titles include Xbox Live Arcade games, coin-operated and retro classics, board games, card games, casual sports games, and other similar titles. Microsoft will also be providing various Xbox Live packages, ranging from $40 to $70 each.
On the hardware front, Microsoft is offering a wide variety of accessories, including the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Controller (wired), Wireless Networking Adapter, Universal Media Remote, various custom face plates, Hard Drive (20GB), Headset, Memory Unit (64MB), Play & Charge Kit, Rechargeable Battery Pack, Component HD-AV Cable, Xbox 360 S-Video AV Cable (US only), and VGA HD AV Cable. A variety of third party accessories will also be available this holiday season.
I'll have a more comprehensive write-up about Microsoft's Xbox 360 launch line-up available later today on the SuperSite for Windows.

Microsoft Ships Enterprise Version of Windows Desktop Search
This morning, Microsoft issued an enterprise version of its Windows Desktop Search (WDS) product, which provides a managed way for businesses to deploy this next-generation document search functionality on all their PCs. In May 2005, Microsoft shipped the consumer version of this product, called MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search.
"These new enterprise-class enhancements to the desktop search capabilities we introduced last spring will empower IT professionals to deliver higher productivity, lower IT management costs, and greater ease of use throughout their organizations," says MSN Search Corporate Vice President Christopher Payne. "Gaining rapid access to more relevant, up-to-date, and action-oriented search results will enable information workers to make better, faster decisions."
Unlike the consumer version, WDS for enterprise deployment separates the WDS and MSN Search Toolbar components, allowing businesses to separately deploy the components. You can use the WDS Deskbar to search for files on a user's hard disk, the corporate Intranet, or on the Web. One nice touch: WDS can replace the horrible Search Companion that has plagued Windows for years. Now, when you choose Search from the Windows Start menu, an attractive and more functional WDS search window appears. Naturally, WDS supports a number of enterprise-deployment solutions.
WDS is free for licensed users of Windows 2000 or Windows XP and is available in 15 languages (with more coming soon). For more information, please refer to the Microsoft Web site.

Report: Microsoft Considering Free, Ad-Supported Windows
According to a report on CNET, Microsoft is considering releasing a version of Windows that would be free to the public but would include advertisements. The company is also considering ad-supported versions of Microsoft Works and Microsoft Money, according to CNET.
"As Web advertising grows and consumer revenues shrink, we need to consider creating ad-supported versions of our software," an internal memo presented to Chairman Bill Gates earlier this year reads. Microsoft officials later told CNET that although the document is authentic, it doesn't represent any concrete plans but was rather part of a brainstorming session.
"It is not policy, it is not a plan, and no decisions have been made--it's just some thoughts from our research and business units," a source told CNET's Ina Fried. Recently, Microsoft unveiled the Windows Live and Office Live services, which will connect with the company's most popular products. Apparently, the company is concerned that competitors such as Sun and Google will launch free, ad-supported versions of the StarOffice 8 office productivity suite, which competes with Microsoft Office. If that happens, Microsoft researchers warn, Microsoft will need to respond with a competitive action.
A few weeks ago, I complained that Microsoft's mid-1990's attack on Netscape's perceived threat caused Microsoft to forever damage Windows by bundling it with Internet Explorer (IE). If Microsoft creates an ad-supported version of Windows in response to Google, the company will simply be responding in a similar manner and the result could make Windows less valuable and viable. For a company that claims to be an innovator, this sort of reactive product planning seems counterproductive.

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