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Microsoft Takes a Cue From Apple at E3

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Back in May, we looked at how an upcoming “hands free” motion controller called the Leap is set to put Microsoft’s Kinect technology to shame. It seems Microsoft (MSFT), however, has been busy tinkering with their own revolutionary development: Xbox SmartGlass.
According to CNN, Microsoft revealed the "most visible iteration" of its Windows 8 revamp at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) this Monday. Windows 8 is, of course, the company's new operating system, which promises to run seamlessly with tablets, PCs, and smartphones -- iOS (AAPL) and Android (GOOG) devices included. The emphasis on seamlessly is mine -- one can’t help recall the lengthy list of Microsoft’s flops, and the functional nightmares of past operating systems like Windows ME.
Xbox SmartGlass is an app that takes full advantage of Windows 8’s tablet-based infrastructure. Conference attendees were given a sneak peek of the new software’s features, which are centered around the Xbox 360.

And the whole thing feels a lot like Apple's AirPlay.
It allows you to, for instance, use your tablet as a controller while paying games like Madden 2012, picking plays and calling audibles from your iPad. Does simply watching a movie sound boring to you? How about using your Galaxy tablet to access interactive features on a DVD? Need to hop a cab across town? Pause the movie on your Xbox and send it to your tablet where it will automatically resume en route, all while using your smart phone as a remote control. Now, that's pretty cool.
“We are lighting up entertainment across your phone, tablet, PC and TV in a completely new way,” Don Mattrick, the president of Interactive Entertainment said at E3.
SmartGlass was just one of slew of innovative features announced Monday that underscore a new direction for the gaming system. That is, away from just gaming. Microsoft wants to turn the Xbox into a multimedia hub that integrates devices across the board. Again, sorta like Apple's AirPlay.

It’s a smart move, according to technology critic Adam Sessler.
"They read the reality of the landscape and realized they can't compete in the tablet market. This allows them to get their stamp on every device with no risk," Sessler told CNN. "It shows a maturity at Microsoft about how people are handling their games and entertainment. I don't think [SmartGlass] works right now for gaming, but I have a few ideas on how it might work for the future."
While Apple continues to be the prize pony of the personal computing world, the one-time champ Microsoft seems to have realized their strengths lie in a nearby arena.
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