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New Kinect-free edition unlocks memory bandwidth reserved for Microsoft's camera sensor

Given Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) supply struggles, sales struggles, and privacy concerns regarding the Xbox One's "Kinect" video and audio sensor, it's perhaps unsurprising that Microsoft decided to at last offer a cheaper ($399) SKU of its console without the sensor.  Now that decision has brought about an interesting twist -- Xbox One users who ditch the Kinect may be able to enjoy better graphics performance.
 
It turns out that Microsoft's always-on sensor reserves as much as 10 percent of its graphics hardware's memory bandwidth and processing resources for watching its user(s).  Comments a Microsoft spokesperson to Eurogamer:

Yes, the additional resources allow access to up to 10 per cent additional GPU performance.  We're committed to giving developers new tools and flexibility to make their Xbox One games even better by giving them the option to use the GPU reserve in whatever way is best for them and their games.

According to Eurogamer and The Verge, Microsoft will for the first time be allowing game developers to use these freed up resources to enable special "Kinect-free" enhanced graphics settings.  While that's good news for Xbox One gamers, it also adds an interesting extra nuance to an already heated debate.

Xbox One Kinect

Microsoft's Xbox One has trailed its rival Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) console after committing a number of missteps, including initially planning to use DRM to ban used games and threatening to make users' consoles unplayable offline.  While it later recanted on each of these controversial terms, the console has continued to struggle through a number of controversies.  To add insult to injury, Sony recently announced that its rival offering, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) was already profitable.
 
Nonetheless it has moved millions of units and isn't too far behind Sony's PS4 in lifetime sales.  Microsoft has remained very committed to its console, releasing a major update in April.
 
The future of the Xbox One should be elucidated at next week's 2014 E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), which is being held in Los Angeles, Calif.  Stephen Elop, the new executive vice president of Microsoft Devices (which makes the Xbox), is expected to present his vision for the future of the console along with new Xbox chief Phil Spencer at Microsoft's Monday, June 9 press event.

Sources: Eurogamer, via The Verge, Microsoft



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Microsoft is re learning the business
By EyesWideOpen on 6/5/2014 11:58:15 AM , Rating: 4
There was a time when Microsoft was the upstart and they grew to be competitive; but forces inside Microsoft that believed in controlling their customer took control just like they did in the PC world. Microsoft failed to understand their gaming customer and with options the competitor has thrived. If there is one thing Microsoft knows how to do and that is chase the dollar, the real question is will the old guard that just about wrecked their gaming business is still present and just waiting to take possession of the prized pig so they can butcher it again. Some managers know how to build, some to grow, some to sustain and some to butcher a business. I feel that this business is too important for the growth of Microsoft as a brand for them to screw it up.




By HoosierEngineer5 on 6/5/2014 2:02:09 PM , Rating: 3
I remember the days when you shoved a CD/DVD in your computer and it would start playing. Once a game was sold, the vendor relinquished the right to tell you when and if you could play it. I wish those days would return.

Long Live GOG!


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