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Microsoft Surface As A Gaming Platform

Microsoft’s Surface is a pretty cool looking platform with many possibilities, but thus far we’ve mostly seen just photo management and some cool visual effects. In this video, you can finally see what gaming is like on a device that can detect the position and movement of every one of two players’ fingers. The game is called Firefly, where the player must corral fireflies into a bucket by pushing them with his fingers, and not accidentally squash their own flies:

Looks like fun. While playing casino games, especially card games, is pretty obvious on Surface, but cool ideas like this are going to make Surface unique and fun. I imagine a lot of games where the challenge goes from pressing the right button at the right time to moving your hands all over the table quickly to get the task done.

March 3rd, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Microsoft Looking At Buying Xobni

TechCrunch reports that Microsoft is in discussions with email startup Xobni about a possible purchase of the company. Xobni makes a really useful plugin for Microsoft’s Outlook, which creates a profile for every person you interact with and displays statistics and history based on whatever you are looking at. Xobni shows all past conversations with a contact, threaded conversations, past attachments, people in common, and email usage statistics, all using only information gleaned from analyzing your inbox.

Essentially, Xobni creates a social network around Outlook, and could be built to support more platforms. Xobni’s has a lot of buzz since it launched five months ago, and it’s easy to see why Microsoft might buy it. TechCrunch said Microsoft first offered $20 million and was rejected, but they’re back at the table, presumably with a larger offer.

Interestingly, here’s Bill Gates praising Xobni:

March 3rd, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Outlook, Corporate, Applications | one comment

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Free Settlers Of Catan For Xbox Live Gold Signups

If you sign up for a year of Xbox Live Gold between now and March 25, you’ll get a free download of the Xbox Live game Catan, the console version of the classic tabletop game Settlers of Catan. It normally costs 800 Microsoft Points, or $10, so that’s a nice gift from Microsoft. I’ve got an Xbox Live 12-month subscription card in my drawer, and it looks like this is just the right time to activate it.

Settlers is a fun game, one I’ve played on several occasions with some buddies. Basically, you put together a board of different randomly arranged hexagonal tiles, each with a different land resource. You build roads and place settlements and cities, and must spend resources to get to build those things. On every turn, a roll of the dice determines what resource is produced, with players owning cities and settlements next to those resources earning some. The real fun of the game comes from trading and making deals with the other players, and the Xbox version features multiple unique AIs to make trading really interesting.

If you picked up Caracassonne when it was free and liked it, you’ll probably like Catan as well. They’re different games that appeal in very similar ways, and are each seperately completely worth playing. If you can’t get Catan for free, I still recommend buying it.

To get the free game, register at this site for a free download code.

March 3rd, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments