Introducing “Mixer”

 

Congratulation to everyone on the Beam Mixer team for the rebrand and all of the new features launching today! Go check it out.

If you haven’t heard of Mixer before, I’ll let one of the co-founders, Matt, explain on the Xbox blog:

Mixer is livestreaming that’s actually LIVE, compared to the 10 – 20 second latency you typically get on other platforms. What’s more, viewers can actively participate in what’s happening on screen instead of just watching from the sidelines. With Mixer, you can influence everything from quest selection to tools to movement, mixing it up with your favorite streamers to create a new kind of gaming experience. The Minecraft team is experimenting with the interactivity that Mixer offers as a possibility for official game integration. And, some Minecraft community members have already created interactive experiences using this technology that allow viewers to do things like spawn in zombies or change the weather.

There’s tons of cool changes coming, including co-streaming, enabling “up to 4 streamers can combine their streams into a single viewer experience”; Mixer Create beta, “a new mobile app that enables self-broadcasting”; and Channel One, an always-on, moderated channel of content that lets you see what’s happening across Mixer.”

I’m working on the Mixer apps for iOS and Android, and can’t wait to help bring new features to the community.

New Investments for Xbox Developers and Gamers Kick Off GDC 2017

I generally avoid posting about topics that are specific to Microsoft, but there were some big announcements from Xbox at GDC this year with a couple in particular that I want to call out.

The Xbox Live Creators Program:

…empowers anyone to rapidly publish Xbox Live-enabled games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, in a totally open way. With the Creators Program, anyone can integrate Xbox Live sign-in, presence, and social features into their UWP games, then publish their game to Xbox One and Windows 10. This means their title can see exposure to every Xbox One owner across the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio this holiday, as well as hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs, and millions of folks using the Xbox app on mobile platforms.

Starting today, we encourage developers to download and start using the Xbox Live Creators SDK at https://developer.microsoft.com/games/xbox/xboxlive/creator, where they can learn all the details of the program. The Creators Program is currently in preview, so the program will pilot with a select group of developers initially. We will be opening store publishing submissions to all developers soon.

For context, currently only approved developers can release games on Xbox and at significant cost. While the ID@Xbox program makes this both easier and cheaper, it is still a significant hurdle. The Xbox Live Creators Program makes Xbox Live available to all game developers for just the cost of a Windows developer license ($20 USD at the time of writing), with some restrictions on the Xbox Live services they can utilize.

Xbox Game Pass:

…is a new gaming subscription service that gives you unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 backward compatible games on Xbox One – all for $9.99 USD per month.

Xbox Game Pass can be thought of as “Netflix for gaming”.

Congratulations to the folks in Xbox that are a part of making these possible. These are significant steps forward in the Xbox business and I’m excited to see them become a reality.

The Need for an Exception Process Under Last Week’s Executive Order

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer:

In last Friday’s executive order, the President expressly gave to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security the authority to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the national interest, to issue visas and other immigration benefits. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that will permit “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security. The important details for this proposal are included in our formal request and are outlined below.

At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order. Our company is one among many that has expressed its views, and we will continue to participate energetically and constructively in the public discussions that help define our democratic processes.

I’m proud to work for Microsoft for many reasons, but Brad Smith and Satya Nadella’s reasoned and actionable responses to legal issues is a big one.

 

OneCore to Rule Them All

Peter Bright at ArsTechnica has the detailed and fascinating story on how Microsoft came to have a single kernel for all Windows devices: OneCore. So far, Microsoft is the first in the consumer operating system space1 to achieve this feat:

Microsoft can now credibly speak of having one operating system (with Windows 10 as its most familiar branding) that can span hardware from little embedded Internet of Things devices to games consoles to PCs to cloud-scale server farms. At its heart is a slimmed down, modularized operating system dubbed OneCore. Windows 10, Windows Server, Xbox 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 IoT, and the HoloLens operating system are all built on this same foundation.

It took a long time to reach this point. Along the way, Microsoft built three major operating system families, killed two of them off, and even reorganized the entire company. In the end, all that action was necessary in order to make building a single operating system practical. Apple and Google will probably do something similar with their various operating systems, but Microsoft has managed it first.

This is an incredible feat, particularly that this was accomplished while still maintaining Microsoft’s sometimes extreme levels of backwards compatibility.

OneCore comes with initial benefits for Microsoft and third party developers; however, consumers will reap the benefits indirectly in the long term:

Perhaps the biggest gains, for both developers and users, come from unexpected new platforms. When the first work on MinWin was started, nobody could have imagined that one day HoloLens might exist. But with the OneCore platform, adding support for this new hardware becomes relatively straightforward.

The past decade has been an incredible period of technological innovation, with the next decade looking just as bright as all of the technology companies fire on all cylinders. I can’t wait to see and be a part of what comes next.

  1. Yes, technically Linux was first — by a long shot. Let’s be honest though: Linux has negligible market-share and impact on the consumer desktop market; its dominance is on server and, arguably, embedded systems.

Microsoft and Red Hat partner to deliver more flexibility and choice

Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft, on the new partnership with Red Hat:

The partnership we are announcing today with Red Hat extends our commitment to offer unmatched choice and flexibility in an enterprise-grade cloud experience across the hybrid cloud. With more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 using Microsoft’s cloud, for us to team with the leader in enterprise Linux allows even more businesses to move to the cloud on their terms. By working with Red Hat, we will address common enterprise, ISV and developer needs for building, deploying and managing applications on Red Hat software across private and public clouds…

I like the new, more open Microsoft and its willingness to partner with other technology companies. This cooperation will help make the technology world a better place for all involved by utilizing the strengths of both companies.