The wait is almost over fellow Xbox fans. Get ready because in under a month Microsoft is expected to finally unveil the next Xbox, sending out invites today to an event at their Redmond, Washington headquarters on May 21st. The invite sent out today teased a “special unveiling” that will “mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV, and entertainment.” According to Xbox’s Major Nelson (also known as Larry Hryb, the director for Xbox Live programming), the next Xbox announcement is really a two-part show. The unveiling of the next Xbox and sharing of some of Microsoft’s plans for the console will come on the 21st, while the full lineup of launch games will be announced 19 days later at E3 on June 10th.
In February Sony unveiled their next generation system, the PS4, but they didn’t actually give important details like what the system would look like or how much it will cost. Based on some of the responses to that announcement from Major Nelson and others on the Xbox team, it’s a pretty safe bet we won’t see the same thing happen here (at least when it comes to what the new Xbox will look like).
As for what we can expect, not much is known today but according to some of the more recent rumors expect a much more powerful system that is similar to the PS4 in graphics and specs, as well as updated versions of Kinect and the ability to use your Xbox to control your cable box. As for the name of the next Xbox, it’s still just as up in the air (online it’s been called everything from Xbox 3, to Xbox 720 to its codename ”Durango”).
Like with recent Xbox events Microsoft will be streaming it live for all to watch on Xbox.com and Xbox Live as well as broadcasting it on Spike TV, and we’ll of course have what you need to know covered back here. So stay tuned– the next Xbox is almost here.
Back in February Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4 and showed off its new controller, graphics and social features. And while Sony didn’t show what the PS4 actually looks like or say how much it would cost, it did promise that their new console would be available in time for the holidays of this year. The PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U make two of the three next-gen consoles, and over the last year the anticipation has been building over when Microsoft would announce their next Xbox (also known as the Xbox 3, Xbox 720, and Durango). While it was long believed that Microsoft would wait until E3 in June to announce the new Xbox, according to some of the latest rumors our long wait for the next Xbox may end even sooner.
According to a recent reports by The Verge and Paul Thurrott (someone who follows Microsoft and would know about some of their plans), Microsoft may be planning an event to officially announce the next Xbox as soon as May 21st. E3 starts only a few weeks later on June 11th, and The Verge expects Microsoft to announce the next Xbox in May and then use E3 in June to fully show it off.
As for what can expect in terms of the specs for the new Xbox, think of something that will rival the PS4. The next Xbox is rumored to pack an 8-core AMD processor, 8GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and a Blu-ray drive for playing games (games can also be downloaded from Xbox Live). By comparison, the Xbox 360– which still is a pretty great system with some impressive graphics– has a three core processor and 512 MB of RAM. If these rumored specs are true then expect the graphics on the next Xbox to pretty much blow your mind.
As with the 360, gaming is just one part of what the Xbox can do and the next Xbox is also expected to come with an updated version of Kinect that will allow for better use in smaller rooms, improved tie-ins with Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and the ability to control your TV and cable box. The next Xbox is expected to be available later this year and pricing is rumored to be in the $300-$500 range (or what the 360 was when it came out eight years ago).
All in all, between this and the PS4 it looks like the next video game console wars are finally almost upon us. As always, stay tuned.
Curious to try out Microsoft’s new Office 365? Just got a new PC or Mac and want a demo version of Office to use so you don’t need to buy it right away? Well you’re in luck as Microsoft just announced a new deal for students that you are going to want to check out.
Usually Microsoft lets people download demo versions of Office for just one month, but starting today Microsoft will allow college students and teachers to get 3 free months of Office 365 and an extra 20 GB of Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud storage (giving you 27 GB of free storage in the cloud. Skydrive is Microsoft’s version of iCloud/Google Drive/Dropbox and allows you to easily access any files you store on there from anywhere you have internet access). All you have to do to get this deal is go to the Office for Students site and sign up using your .edu email address. That’s it and it will get you the free 3 months of Microsoft’s latest and greatest version of Office, including full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint (if you’re on Windows or Mac) and OneNote (Windows-only). And if you share the offer on Facebook you will get yourself an additional 3 months of free Office.
Office 365 University usually costs $79.99 a year for students (for up to 4 years, after that it is the usual $99.99 a year non-students pay), but with this you can make that deal for cheaper Office last an extra semester longer.
More info: Microsoft
Windows 8 has been around since last October, and at just $40 it is a solid upgrade. We still like Windows 8, but tomorrow it’s about to see a major price jump all the way up to $200. You see, back in October when Windows 8 launched, Microsoft offered the Windows 8 Pro upgrade at a special price of just $40 for a limited time. Tomorrow, February 1st, is the day when that “limited time” officially ends. Even if you’re still on the fence about upgrading your Windows XP, Vista or 7 computer to Windows 8 it may be worth looking into buying the upgrade tonight while its $160 cheaper.
Now for students this price jump won’t be as steep as Microsoft will be offering Windows 8 Pro to any US college student or faculty with a .edu email address (so college students only) for $70. That’s still $30 more than the “limited time” pricing but it’s still much better then what you would be spending if you aren’t in college.
In other student news, Microsoft has also announced that starting on February 18th they will be doing a campus tour, visiting over 150 colleges across the US to show off the latest Windows 8 PCs and tablets. To see when they will be visiting a campus near you check out Microsoft’s site here.
To get in on the Windows 8 $40 pricing, head over to the Microsoft Store here.
More info: Microsoft
Whether you are in high school or college, PC or Mac, there is one program that pretty much everyone uses, and that is Microsoft Office. Yesterday Microsoft released the next version of Office, called Office 2013 and Office 365. Both versions of Office have the same Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel at its core that we all know and love and you can still easily take notes and make documents, presentations and spreadsheets. In Office 2013, Microsoft has added some pretty useful features including the ability to edit PDFs in Word (so when someone sends you a form to fill out you don’t need to print it and fill it out by hand), and better templates and themes for PowerPoint including some new themes designed for widescreens (so your presentations look better even when shown on an HDTV). Microsoft also made some improvements to make Office look much nicer and be much easier to use on Windows 8 touchscreens and tablets.
And while these are just some of the many nice improvements to the classic Office apps, the biggest news here is the pricing. In the past you had one option when it came to getting Office and that was to buy it. You would own that version of Office and be able to put it on up to 3 computers (assuming you bought Office Home and Student). While you can still buy Office, Microsoft today also announced the availability of Office 365, a version of Office 2013 that you pay for monthly or yearly instead of just buying it outright. With an Office 365 subscription Microsoft offers some interesting benefits including 60 free Skype minutes a month for calling cell phones or landlines from Skype (Microsoft bought Skype a couple of years ago), constant software updates so your version of Office is always up to date, the ability to install on up to 5 PCs or Macs (the Macs would the most recent version of Office for Mac, in this case Office for Mac 2011), and 20 GB extra of SkyDrive storage (Microsoft’s version of Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive etc.) so you can save all of your work online “in the cloud.” The coolest feature of all though is the ability to go online and stream your version of Office to any computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8. This means that you can go to a friend’s house or a computer in school and be able to use the latest version of Office on that computer without having to re-download the new Office. And on other computers like Macs or Windows XP computers you can do this through any browser just by going to office.com.
Pricing for the versions of Office you’ll most likely be interested is like this:
- Office 2013 Home and Student– Includes Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel. $139.99 to own for one PC forever.
- Office 365 Home Premium– Includes Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook (the famous email app), Publisher (for creating things like brochures and flyers– a very under-rated Office app), Access (for creating databases). Renting for $99.99 a year or $9.99 a month. This also has all the Office 365 features mentioned above like the Skype minutes, installing on 5 PCs or Macs, streaming Office apps and extra Skydrive storage.
- Office 365 University– All the benefits of Office 365 Home Premium but for students. The pricing of Office 365 University is $79.99 a year for 4 years, though you can only install on two computers instead of 5. As of right now this looks to be for college students only, but we’ve reached out to Microsoft to see if high school students can take also advantage of this deal.
Now what version is best for you? That’s a tough question. Microsoft is pushing the Office 365 version hard, and its got a lot of great features. If your family has multiple computers or you and a couple of friends all just got new computers and all need to buy Office– and someone in either group is still in college– it may make sense to get the Office 365 University pack. Yes you don’t actually “own” it and will need to pay $79.99 a year, but when divided between multiple people it looks like a great deal. If it’s just you, then getting the Office 2013 Home and Student edition could be your best bet as you will actually be owning all the main parts of Office– Word, OneNote, Excel and PowerPoint– forever. We’ve only spent a couple of minutes with Office 2013, and while its very good and we like it, we still need to look at Office 365 to see which will be the better deal.
For those curious about to try out the new Office for themselves, Microsoft is offering a free one month trial here, though be careful to make sure that it doesn’t accidentally delete you older, purchased version of Office by mistake (it shouldn’t but better make sure you don’t see a screen saying “we need to remove older versions” just to be safe).
For all the details on whats new in Office 2013 check out Microsoft’s Office site here.
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson let us know that only “full- and part-time enrolled university and college students, faculty and staff” will be able to take advantage of the Office 365 University deal. Sorry high school readers.
Pic of PowerPoint from The Verge
Later this week Microsoft will release Windows 8, their latest and greatest version of Windows. Unlike all earlier versions of Windows, Windows 8 is pretty much a complete re-working of the Windows we have today. It isn’t just a few speed improvements and some nicer looking graphics (though it does have those too).
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s view for the future of the computer, but before you run out and buy a new PC, or upgrade your current one, read on. We’ll explain what’s new and different here and what it means for you.
Thought all those changes coming to computers were big? Well, they’re nothing compared to what’s about to happen with phones. All the big players– Android, Windows Phone and of course, the iPhone– are due for major upgrades within the next month (we’re talking iPhone 5 big). And while there are some great deals available for today’s phones, we really think you should wait a little bit longer before signing that new 2 year contract. As we’ve said, these are huge changes.
So, what can we expect? Read on.
With school right around the corner and back to school shopping in full swing, it’s very tempting to go out and buy that new computer, phone or tablet. Stores such as Staples, Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy are all strongly advertising their back to school and Labor Day deals (in addition to the usual deals from Microsoft and Apple).
But while the deals may be great, we think you really might want to hold off on dropping a lot of money on those new gadgets. You see, the technology industry is right now in state of major updates. Pretty much every group of device– from Windows and Mac computers, to iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, to the iPad and Kindle tablets– are due for major upgrades over the coming months. And when we say major upgrades we mean major upgrades. More >
Well it’s that time of year again. Yup, the school year is almost over, summer vacation is just weeks away and you know what that means: time for back-to-school deals to begin. Last year at this time Microsoft was just taking the wraps off of their back-to-school Windows PC deal and it was so good that this year their bringing it back. Yes, Microsoft will be giving away free 4 GB Xbox 360s with all new PC purchases of $699 or higher as well as a $15 upgrade to the all new Windows 8 when it comes out later this year. And like last year this deal applies to both high school and college students and all you gotta do to get this offer is show your Student ID if your buying in a store or a enter your .edu email address if you’re buying online (this is the email address your college gives you once you enroll).
Unlike last year however, this deal is available in more stores than just the Microsoft Store and Best Buy. In fact Best Buy, Dell.com, Fry’s Electronics, HPDirect.com, Microsoft Stores, and NewEgg.com are all partaking in this years deal.
The Samsung Series 5 Windows 8 Hybrid– one of the many new tablet/laptops you can expect later this year (pic via The Verge)
Now here’s the real question– is this deal worth it? Usually we’d say its a pretty much no brainer of a deal– I mean, you’re getting a brand new computer AND a free Xbox– but with Windows 8 coming later this year things are a bit more complicated. Windows 8 is a major upgrade over Windows 7, with one of its biggest updates being it’s completely optimized for tablets. Now that’s not to say that it doesn’t work well on “traditional” mouse and keyboard computers that don’t have touchscreens, just that later this year we can expect all new computers that look to combine the best of a tablet and a laptop (like the upcoming Samsung in the pic above. Think of it as having all the best of a tablet– apps, awesome battery life and really thin designs– combined with all the power of a normal Windows PC). So for $700-$800 you can get a full Windows computer AND a very good tablet in one.
The downside to this of course is that Windows 8 PCs and tablets aren’t expected to come out until September or October (or around the time school actually starts), so if you’re looking for a new PC we really would recommend to try to wait until then (and if you’re planning on buying a Mac we’d also recommend waiting a week as Apple is rumored to be updating its entire Mac line next Monday at their annual WWDC conference). If you need a new computer right now and can’t wait, then by all means this is stll a solid deal, if not for the Xbox then for the fact that you’ll get Windows 8 for just $15.
Again though, if you can, try to hold out a couple more months– trust us, it’ll be worth it.
Looking for a new Windows PC for school and want to take advantage of Microsoft’s buy a Windows PC and get a free Xbox 360 back to school deal? Then we recommend you hurry as the deal ends this Saturday, September 3rd.
For those who’ve never heard of this deal, it basically works like this. If you’re a student and you buy a new Windows PC at $699 or more Microsoft will throw in a free 4 GB Xbox 360 to go with it. The deal is open to both high school and college students and all you have to do to get it is show your Student ID if your buying in a store or a enter your .edu email address if you’re buying online at sites like the Microsoft Store, Dell.com or HP.com (this is the email address your college gives you once you enroll). If you’re a high school student and don’t have that .edu email address, try chatting with an online sales rep or calling the company’s sales line (their phone numbers are usually listed at the top of their sites). And remember, the deal also isn’t necessarily done by all stores (Staples and Best Buy, for example, don’t offer it), so you’re probably better off buying online or calling your preferred store before you go to make sure you get the deal.
So yeah, if you want that new PC and free Xbox you better hurry before the deal ends.