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Bill Gates chats with Dean Takahashi on all things Xbox 360

Engadget reported two weeks ago that a new revision of the Xbox 360, Zephyr, was due to be launched this year. Engadget posted a rather grainy image of an Xbox 360 which sported an HDMI port for native 1080p support. Xbox-Scene followed up with some clearer shots of the HDMI port along with a revised motherboard featuring the new HANA scaler chip.

Along with the new HDMI port, Engadget also reported that a new 120GB hard drive would be included in addition to already anticipated cooler-running 65 nanometer IBM Xenon PowerPC processor.

Not surprisingly, the inclusion of an HDMI port sparked the most debate on the internet. Discussion boards across the web turned into flame zones as techies argued back and forth over whether Microsoft was justified in releasing an HDMI-equipped Xbox 360.

When Microsoft was asked directly, Microsoft's Chris Satchell confirmed the existence of prototype Xbox 360s with an HDMI ports, but declined to expound on the possibility of seeing it in the future. Satchell also deflected questioning on the larger 120GB hard drive.

Dean Takahashi, always a close confidant to Microsoft executives, had a chance to press Bill Gates on future upgrades to the Xbox 360 including his thoughts on a larger hard drive and IPTV.

While Satchell deflected questioning on the possibility of a larger hard drive for IPTV, Gates simply said that it isn't needed. "In an IPTV environment, there is no reason to put anything down on a hard disk because you created a broadband infrastructure that has enough capacity to stream individual video streams to everybody on the network," said Gates. "In terms of videos and music, there is no reason to put it on the local hard disk."

Bill Gates also made mention that content providers are likely to be elated with the idea that no IPTV content would be stored on the Xbox 360's hard drive. “It means you can insert ads that are up to date. You can control how much ad skipping you allow. And you’re less vulnerable to getting at the bits. Xbox is a very protected environment. No one is going to go and get bits on an Xbox.” He went on to say “By being more secure than anything else out there, it’s pretty good. It’s really just the simplicity. You have to get permissions to do server-based DVR. You have to get the copyright owner’s permission.”

Also, contrary to what Paul Thurrott said in the January 12 edition of the Windows Weekly, no new revision of the Xbox 360 will be needed for users to take advantage of IPTV. "No, we don’t need to change it at all to do an IPTV thing."

Takahashi questioned Gates on the subject of the Xbox 360 competing head to head with Windows Media Center PCs. "Xbox has a slightly better hardware protection model. We may have some content we don’t get for everywhere. It’s very valid to point out that some of the good things we are doing in Media Center we should share with Xbox and some of the good things we are doing on Xbox we should share with the Media Center," Gates responded.

He added "If people are comparing Microsoft to Microsoft, we have no concern. It’s OK. Should we pick one form factor and worry about that? Should we be concerned if someone puts their media on my Zune or media on my Blackjack? There is enough uncertainty about who wants PC coming down in the living room and Xbox coming up that I don’t mind them meeting and even overlapping as long as the point system, the user interface, the development tools - as long as we get this incredible alignment.”

Gates also took the time to take a few jabs at Sony's PlayStation 3. Gates stated that Sony wouldn't have anything better-looking than the upcoming Halo 3 for the Xbox 360. "They were going to have the Cell be the video processor. But they didn’t know what they were doing. They said the Cell is the video processor. But they turned to Nvidia at the last minute, but Nvidia can’t do embedded DRAM. Go look at the bandwidth problems. Go ask the guys running ... now."

Gates seems very optimistic about the future of the Xbox 360 in the interview and is looking forward to working with content providers like AT&T for IPTV. Though Microsoft is downplaying the importance of hard drives larger than the 20GB currently in use (actually, only about 13GB are useable), the company is more likely than not to cave in to the demands of gamers and the market to deliver a considerable boost in storage.



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RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By Circle T on 1/20/2007 5:25:24 PM , Rating: 3
Your car analogy doesn't work here. If a car has no wheels, it doesn't drive. Those are critical items, not features. But, the things this new version of the 360 are going to come with are just MORE features.

You don't need HDMI to play games. You don't need a bigger HDD to play games. You don't need the smaller, cooler processor to play games. Those are all just things that they will/might add to the console to give people more options. No wheels and your car doesn't move. But, whether you have a 1st gen Core unit, or this new version with all the extra stuff, you will still both be able to play games.

This is really no shock. Consoles get updates all the time. The 1st gen PS2 got many updates, I don't hear people complaining about that. Should I have been mad when the slim PSTwo came out?? It was much smaller, quieter, had progressive output for DVD playback, and had the Network adapter built in. People with original PS2, like myself, didn't get that. Should we be mad?? No. New, cheaper technology comes along all the time, and updates are inevitable.

This newer version 360 will most likely not come out until late this year. That will be basically 2 years it will have been on the market. Its not like this thing is coming out 6 months after launch. Consoles are always updated, get over it.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/20/2007 6:57:53 PM , Rating: 1
The slimmer ps2 does not have progressive scan for DVD playback, it is still 480i. Also, smaller and quieter is irrelevent, what is relevant is the fact that though the network adapter was built in, YOU COULD GET IT FOR THE ORIGINAL PS2. They are giving HDMI (something they should have done in the first place) and a bigger HDD (granted I'm sure you can get that for the original 360). I think people are getting pissed with the fact that this upgrade is giving things the original can not imitate and that why people are mad. The only difference the slim ps2 had with the original was that it was smaller (not quieter, both were pretty silent) and had built-in adapter. And they waited well over three years before introducing the upgrade, and not months after the launch of the other two competitors.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By logaldinho on 1/21/2007 5:03:43 AM , Rating: 3
actually the slim model _did_ include progressive scan. should my friend be upset because his old ps2 is not white like the latest ps2 release is now? THEY COULD HAVE MADE IT WHITE TO BEGIN WITH with your reasoning.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/21/2007 7:04:19 PM , Rating: 2
.....um...we're talking about features, not design.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By Circle T on 1/21/2007 8:29:52 PM , Rating: 2
But, are any of these features REQUIRED to do anything you can't accomplish today with the current hardware?? No.

Can you play the same games now as you will be able to with this new version?? Yes. Can you watch high-def TV shows and movies, along with HD-DVD movie content with the current hardware?? Yep. With the current 20GB HDD, can you take advantage of all the things XBL offers?? Yes. And, will you be able to take advantage of the IPTV service with the current hardware, even Core systems?? Yes, again.

I think all of these features are very nice, and will make an already good system even better. But, none of them are required, so its a CHOICE for the consumer, not a REQUIREMENT for use.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/21/2007 10:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
When are features ever required? We can all play with composite just fine. My point is that upgrades, though nice, should not have things that its predecessor cannot imitate (I'm only really talking about HDMI). If there was a usb HDMI adapter for the 360 then awesome, but that ain't gonna happen. The slim ps2 had ethernet and modem built in, but you can get that for the original as well (also, the original had progressive scan, what are people saying? We played God of War at 480p using the old ps2; my slim ps2 doesn't do progressive scan for DVD movies either.) And the reason why HDMI is such a big issue is because though the 360 can do 1080p via component and VGA, a lot of televisions cannot handle 1080p via analog channels (though, admittedly, the more recent televisions are doing a better job of it).


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By andrep74 on 1/22/2007 3:42:33 AM , Rating: 2
It might be too early to call the PS3 a failure, but if consumers, film studios, and the adult entertainment industry are siding with HD-DVD; PS3 consoles are collecting dust on the shelves, compared to the Wii and 360, making it difficult for Sony and developers to recoup costs; Microsoft has Gears of War to hold the title of the best-looking game, ever; Sony's history of creating even what many people called superior technology, and having it not do well for various reasons (like: Betamax, MiniDisc, SACD, and MemoryStick): then there is something to worry about. Of course, if PS3 owners think that Resistance: Fall of Man is the shiz-nit, then maybe there are enough "blind" fans to help Sony break even on this console.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/22/2007 1:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
Where are you hearing about the film studios siding with HD DVD? Can someone (YOU!) explain this to me? Also, porn is a very small percentage in the DVD industry (less than 5%, actually). PS3 aren't "collecting dust" (though it attracts it pretty well, shiny comes at a price). Agreed that developers are recouping costs, but this is common in the beginning of a console and will compensate as soon as production costs of the blu-ray drive and cell processor go down, thus making the ps3 cheaper (most likely by the end of this year or beginning of next). Gears of War looks great, but the AI just pissed me off (also, wait for Metal Gear Solid 4, I doubt it will come on 360 at the same time as ps3). And the fact that Resistance: Fall of Man is one of the very few console games allowing you to have that many people on at the same time online, being able to break a hole in a window so you can snipe...I don't know what people are saying that Resistance doesn't look great, what is bad looking about it? Granted Gears looks slightly better, but not by much. And Fall of Man isn't the only game coming for the ps3 that will be jaw dropping (Motorstorm, Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4 , Tekken 6, NBA 2K7, Devil May Cry 4, Final Fantasy 13, Fall of Man 2?, Killzone 2?, Oblivion, FEAR, Fight Night 3, Armored Core 4, etc.)


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By ViperROhb34 on 1/22/2007 2:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
If you say that Gears is slightly better then Resistance Fall of Man.. I'd have to say you haven't played them both on a High Def Tv as I have and seen the difference.

The difference is more then slight in detail. On a regular tv.. Resistance looks much closer to Gears because you lose so much detail. Ona regular TV you can see Gears is good, but it doesnt compare to watching it a 50 some inch Plasma..


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/22/2007 9:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no doubt, visually Gears of War is amazing, however in different aspects of Resistance. For instance, the texturing and mapping on Gears of War is no doubt superior, however the 40 players simultaneously with very little frame rate drop, amazing physics and more fast paced action on Resistance ups its points, so overall Gears of War's superior mapping and texturing visuals is downscaled to slight because of this.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By DingieM on 1/23/2007 6:03:36 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen video comparison on GameTrailers between Gears and Resistance and its obvious that Gears is miles ahead of Resistance in terms of visual quality.
I demand the highest visual quality in games and its very clear the Xbox360 has a vastly superior GPU.
Period.
But the PS3 has a much faster main CPU for physics etc, granted that only the most highly skilled game programmers may understand the programming model of the Cell for game applications.

At the end it comes down to the games people will be able to play on the machines.
For me its Gears, Mass Effect etc. I want to play and games with such quality can only be achieved on the Xbox360 and the PC.
PS3 will have its nice games and some of them will look great but graphically it lacks behind.
If I look at screenshots of the latest Final Fantasy (which is still in development), MGS4 etc. I clearly see images that are not entirely crisp and I don't want that. Maybe people will notice it less while playing but sometimes I want to stand still and look at the graphics of a game.

Seriously Sony really screwed up by overhyping the PS3 and people are falling for that. And people will get less than Sony promises and fooling themselves into believing it will come...
Shame on Sony.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/23/2007 1:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
Are you gonna sit there with a straight face and tell me this:
http://media.ps3.ign.com/media/748/748488/img_4150...

and this:
http://media.ps3.ign.com/media/714/714044/img_3975...

and this:
http://media.ps3.ign.com/media/826/826843/img_3975...

AND this:
http://media.ps3.ign.com/media/748/748483/img_4060...

Are not entirely crisp? Note that this images are in fact DOWNSCALED. You are picky as hell! WAIT for the games to come out and make a judgment. Remember back in June when they said Motorstorm looked bad? Look at it now!


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By Circle T on 1/22/2007 8:59:23 AM , Rating: 2
First, the original PS2 did have progressive scan. But only when it reached the 5th or so revision. If you got a PS2 at launch, or within a couple years of launch, you don't have it. And yes, my slim PSTwo will play movies in progressive scan. Not sure whats up with yours.

But, I guess what I'm getting at is, we should just be happy that MS is ADDING these things to the unit, not taking them away. The slim PSTwo couldn't use the HDD and some accessories from the larger PS2. And the Gamecube, in later revisions, got rid of the port that was required if you wanted to use the component cables and play in progressive scan. We should get mad at them for taking things away, not MS giving more options.

I just don't see where people can get mad. Newer, better stuff comes out all the time. To think a console will launch and have its hardware design and specs frozen is a bit unreasonable. And as I said before, these things aren't required. If MS released, say, Halo 3, and it would only play using the large HDD or HDMI port, there would be an uproar. But, these things are just more options.


RE: Xbox 360 RELEASED FIRST
By daftrok on 1/22/2007 1:04:13 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. But damn, I found the progressive scan option in settings during a DVD but it won't freaking let me turn it on! ARGH!


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