Train2Game News New Windows 10 Microsoft Products

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It’s been an incredible few months for Microsoft. Since the launch of Windows 10 in July, we now have 110 million devices around the world running our new operating system. At an event in New York on 6th October, we announced the next chapter, unveiling a new era of Windows 10 devices from Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced a new Surface, Lumia and Band devices, as well as the latest developments from HoloLens and Xbox. They also announced the first ever laptop from Microsoft, the Surface Book.

Windows 10
Windows 10 is off to the fastest start in history – seeing upgrades at three times the rate of Windows 7 in the same period. With over 8 million business PCs already running Windows 10 as well, we’ve been so excited by the response from IT professionals and the public alike.

There have been more than 1.25 billion visits to the Windows Store too, signalling that people are enjoying everything the new store has to offer. With this huge interest, developers are seeing the benefits, meaning we are now attracting more and more universal Windows apps to Windows 10. Today Microsoft announced that Facebook will be building universal Windows apps for Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, and are excited to welcome new universal apps for Uber, Box, Candy Crush Soda Saga and many more.

New Windows 10 Devices from Microsoft
With Windows 10 already proving a hit, Microsoft are also excited to unveil a range of new devices designed to make the most of the new operating system and unlock new Windows 10 experiences.

Surface Book

Building on the companies reputation of reinventing new categories in hardware, they are introducing the new, ultimate laptop which brings together a powerful, high-performance laptop with accurate and responsive pen and touch support. Ultrathin, Surface Book comes with up to 12 hours of battery life, an impressive 6th Generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors and a 13.5 inch PixelSense Display which makes it not just beautiful to look at but natural and fluid to write on. The screen can also detach, so it can be used like a clipboard to sketch and take notes. UK pricing and availability will be confirmed soon.

Surface Pro 4

Microsoft has also introduced Surface Pro 4, the thinnest, lightest and most powerful tablet that can replace your laptop. Not only is it 30 per cent faster than Surface Pro 3, it’s quieter, runs cooler and is more efficient, with up to nine hours of battery life. At only 8.4mm thin, it also has a five million pixel screen, covering a 12.3 inch display which can be annotated on using a surface pen – complete with an eraser – which allows you to take screenshots and draw. Packed with new features, Surface Pro 4 enables everyone from students to professionals to get more done on the go. Starting at £859.99, the Surface Pro 4 is available in the UK for pre-order from 7th October and available for purchase from 12th November.

Lumia

Also announced were three new smartphones: the next generation Lumia 950 and 950 XL, the first Windows 10 Lumia phones, and the Lumia 550. With more people using multiple devices during the day, Windows 10 provides a consistent experience so users can enjoy a seamless transition from one device to the next. With the new Microsoft Display Dock accessory, users can now connect their phone to a monitor and use it like a desktop PC, with a keyboard and mouse. Lumia 950, which has a 5.2 inch screen, and 950 XL, which has a 5.7 inch screen, will also feature 4K video capture, a 20 megapixel camera and Windows Hello log-in. Lumia 550, Microsoft’s most affordable 4G smartphone running Windows 10, is for people who value affordability with uncompromised quality. Lumia 950 and 950 XL will become available in select markets in November, whilst the 550 will begin rolling out in select European markets in December.

Microsoft Band 2

The new Band can help you live healthier and achieve more. It features a new curved screen, a barometer and apps for email, text, running, biking, the gym and golf. It’s more comfortable than ever to wear and comes with a two-day battery life, allowing people to set wellness goals and track their progress. Starting at £199.99, Microsoft Band 2 is available for pre-order 7th October and available for purchase in the UK on 19th November.

HoloLens

The world’s first holographic computer, powered by Windows 10, allowing developers to mix holograms into their world. Whether it’s for education, design, healthcare or entertainment, HoloLens creates innovative experiences that are impossible on any other device or platform. Following an impressive demonstration in New York, they announced that we are inviting applications for the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition.

Xbox

The upcoming update bringing Windows 10 to Xbox One in November will provide the fastest and most social Xbox experience ever. Microsoft will also be launching backward compatibility so you can play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One for free as well as a host of exciting new games, making this Christmas one of the best lineups in Xbox release history.

Train2Game News: Microsoft post good sales results

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Microsoft, the world’s largest software firm, has posted better-than-expected earnings for the October-to-December quarter.

The firm reported a net income of $6.56bn (£3.94bn) for the quarter, up from $6.38bn a year earlier.

Its earnings were boosted by strong sales of its new Xbox game console and its Surface tablets during the holiday season.

The company also saw strong demand from businesses for its cloud services.

Overall, the firm’s revenue rose 14% during the quarter to $24.5bn. Its shares rose close to 4% on the news in after-hours trading.

Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, called it a great quarter and said that investments the firm was making in devices and services was driving the strong results.

The quarterly results showed a 13% increase in consumer sales. This was boosted by 7.4 million unit sales of Xbox consoles, up from 5.9 million a year earlier.

The new Xbox One, which was launched in November, contributed more than half of overall Xbox sales numbers in the quarter.

Sales of the firm’s cloud programs, such as Office 365 and Azure, more than doubled in the December quarter from a year earlier, while sales of its Surface tablets doubled from the previous quarter.

Train2Game News: Halo: Spartan Assault coming to mobile

Halo Spartan AssaultA new Halo game is being added to the franchise, this time for the mobile market. The game will be released in July.

Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down shooter built for mobiles and tablets, with the iconic sights and sounds you would expect from a Halo title.

Spartan Assault however is only available for Windows Phone 8 and tablets such as the Surface. Dan Ayoub, the executive producer for publishing at 343, explains that the purpose here is to drive interest in these Microsoft platforms, which is pretty honest and straightforward of him.

Whether or not it’ll make you buy one of those cool Nokia phones, Spartan Assault is nevertheless a high quality experience when it rolls under your thumbs. Though it plays like it was born in the 16-bit era of top-down shooters, the presentation is excellent.

Ayoub said that his team’s main goal was to, as he puts it, “un-tether Halo”.

“We had to let it be something that you can take with you wherever you go. But we also had to make the right Halo game, we couldn’t just copy and paste the experience onto mobiles and tablets.

“We also wanted to change the dialogue about what’s possible on mobiles. A lot of people have preconceptions about what a mobile game is. They think it’s not going to look great and it’s not going to sound great. We wanted to crush those perceptions.”

The biggest achievement is the controls. Those familiar with using virtual analogues on touch-screens will notice how, due to the lack of resistance, thumbs will naturally glide away from the analogues. Spartan Assault, however, features virtual sticks that follow your thumbs, meaning that control remains on the tip of your fingers.

It’s not perfect but it’s as close as any mobile developer has come.

Other elements are more traditional. Set within a narrative that bridges the gap between Halo 3 and 4, in Spartan Assault players will command an UNSC Infinity Spartan who is limited to two weapons, an assortment of grenades and a trusty melee attack. Enemies come in waves and shields need to be recharged before the next burst of action.

Other parts are entirely new. There will be microtransactions for certain upgrades and new weapons. The game saves to the cloud, meaning you can start on mobile and continue on tablet or desktop.

The game’s 25 levels will take about several hours to get though, and certain milestones will unlock Achievements on Halo 4. This being a mobile game, post-release content is already planned, with weekly challenges in place and content add-ons penciled in.

Series custodian 343 Industries has partnered with Netherlands studio Vanguard Games to build this, which in itself is interesting as that studio was co-founded by Martin de Ronde – the man who helped establish Killzone outfit Guerrilla.

“We are a team of console developers learning a new space, so we had to unlearn things really quickly,” says Ayoub.

While it’s been a challenge for those console developers to un-think their approach to a project, what they have brought to the mobile games space is encouraging. This is an attractive, light-weight version of Halo for both commuters and hardcore fans of the series.

You can enjoy the trailer for the game below