Microsoft: "If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards"

Clearly unsatisfied with the amount of negative press it has already attracted in the last 48 hours, Microsoft has moved to increase it.

Presumably that wasn’t Don Mattrick’s intention when he told The Wall Street Journal that if you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards” but then how could he have possibly conceived any alternative outcome?

The statement came as the exec hinted that Microsoft, unlike rival Sony, has no intention of announcing a backwards compatibility strategy. Although don’t be surprised to see the company try and sell you 360 game downloads in the future.

Mattrick also claimed that only five per cent of customers play older games on their consoles as that as a result there’s little point investing in the functionality.

The Wall Street Journal went on to detail Microsoft’s still sketchy cloud computing claims with the following explanation: [Microsoft] says the Xbox One, and revamped Xbox Live service, is designed from the ground up to allow game companies to use Microsoft’s servers to better their games.

Imagine a typical game: there are characters in the foreground that interact with the player, and a background landscape with trees, hills or an ocean. Mattrick said Microsoft’s new servers, which the company increased to 300,000 from 15,000 currently used by the Xbox 360, will be able to do some of the work creating images for that background landscape and then stream them back to the console and TV, while the Xbox One focuses on making the characters look as impressive as possible.”

Aside from the piece reading like it was written by someone who has never actually used a computer, wider questions are being asked about Microsoft’s cloud computing claims.

If I were a journalist, I would smell a big story in this ‘computation in the cloud’ line of rhetoric,” Braid creator Jonathan Blow said on Twitter. "’Computation in the cloud’ has never worked for real-time games. It was BS last generation with Cell, and it is BS now.

So, why is MS saying it? I am pretty sure I know why – it is tactical in preparation for details that haven’t got out yet. I would like to see some journalists asking Microsoft people exactly what this cloud computation is going to do, specifically. (And not accept the answer "well gee we can’t tell you, because that’s up to specific developers for specific games!".)

Easier said than done, Jonathan.

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