Microsoft & Partners Introduce New Era of Interactive Entertainment

Of all the screens in our lives, the TV has changed the least – until now. Watch TV. Turn the knob. Grab the remote. Put in a (tape/disc). Stream something. A few months ago, I said (to paraphrase), prepare for the world to change. Today, it changes.

For context, a couple years back, we used to talk a lot here about “three screens and a cloud.”

By that, we meant that in the developed world, there are three primary screens that we interact with throughout our days – A PC, a phone and a TV. In recent years, the energy and focus within the industry has primarily been on the phone and PC, and of course that continues. But now the TV viewing experience is being transformed as well, through the magic of software and internet-connected services.

Look no further than this morning’s announcement that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO, Syfy, Verizon FiOS in the U.S., BBC in the UK, Rogers in Canada, Telefónica in Spain and Televisa in Mexico and many others, will begin providing live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season. Now, you’ll be able to watch your favorite HBO or Syfy series like Game of Thrones (gimme a dwarf!) or Paranormal Witness, listen to your favorite music (I’m loving the new Coldplay) and view the latest must-see web video on Xbox 360.

Viewing all that content on that large screen in your living room or family room becomes an entirely new experience with Kinect, Xbox LIVE and Bing search services. I’ve had the opportunity to engage with some of the early beta services, and I know you’ll find that your Xbox 360 entertainment experience is unique and a cut above the rest because of your ability to easily search and discover content from multiple providers on Xbox LIVE and interact and enjoy the content in extraordinary new ways. For me, the biggest frustration has been the delta between what I know is out there and what I can easily find via my remote, or even my PC.

Xbox Live
Xbox LIVE now has a unified dashboard for greater, easier navigation, whether customers use Kinect or a controller. Customers can access more entertainment content from numerous content providers and enjoy on-demand or live programming.

As a college football fan (Go Ducks!), I can attest to this. The ability to watch multiple Pac-12 games simultaneously via split screen is great, but the experience is completely transformed by my ability to voice and text chat with friends throughout the game. The term “smash mouth football” is taking on entirely new meaning in my household. And overall, watching my favorite college football team play is an order of magnitude more enjoyable and interactive.

Ten years ago next month, Xbox debuted as a gaming platform, and it will always be the very best console for gamers (I’m playing “Gears of War 3” right now – listening to the baddies sneak up behind me on surround sound is epic). But today its value extends dramatically beyond its gaming core, and this holiday it’ll be clear that it’s now the best way for you to interact with TV, video, movies, sports and music.

As Don Mattrick, president of our Interactive Entertainment Business, and team indicated at last spring’s E3 show, our vision is to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy.

Consider today’s exciting announcements from our TV and entertainment partners around the globe another down payment on that vision. But what’s even more exciting is the knowledge that while this holiday’s family viewing experiences are going to be a WHOLE LOT more enjoyable and engaging, we and our partners have only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible.

There’s LOTS more to come from our interactive entertainment business as we continue to deliver unique entertainment experiences that take advantage of Kinect and Xbox Live. As we do, it’s becoming more clear that all the screens in our lives are not only reaching parity (in terms of the energy and investment Microsoft and others are applying to them), but each day they get a little bit better at singing in three-part harmony.

We said then, when you say it, Xbox finds it. Go ahead. Say it. I promise, we’ll find it.

Posted by Frank X. Shaw
Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications, Microsoft