Watching the game

Apart from that means for the linear TV service, by making nice with the service providers Microsoft may be able to use those integration deals to ensure that Xbox Live game play and downloads also don’t count against a user’s bandwidth cap.

Chasing cord-nevers

Viacom needs to cultivate over-the-top distribution platforms because its position with traditional pay-TV distributors is growing weaker.

Microsoft looks for input

The Surface’s ability to support multiple input modes and to run software designed for anything from keyboard, to touch, to game-controller input will enable Microsoft to tap existing networks of developers already working in multiple related ecosystems, none more important than the Xbox ecosystem. If Xbox games can easily be ported from console to tablet without needing to be rewritten for multitouch input the Surface could prove to be a very popular portable gaming device, and Microsoft will have a vast installed base of potential users to market to.

Microsoft gets Smart about the digital living room

Once the SmartGlass SDK is available, developers will have what amounts to a write-once, deploy-anywhere development environment to work in. Presumably, apps can be written to the SmartGlass APIs without having to devote additional development resources to creating separate versions for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

Tied to the drive

Though sales of new games through brick-and-mortar retail channels are falling rapidly, game publishers, including the major console makers, have an incentive to prop them up as long as possible. No corner of the media content business has survived the transition from analog to digital distribution with its analog pricing power intact and there’s no reason to believe game publishers will fare any better.

Today in Connected Consumer

Microsoft announced yesterday that it will soon begin rolling out a major upgrade to its Bing search engine that will integrate data from multiple social networks with search results. Initially, the new “Friends who might know” column that will appear alongside search results will only include data from Facebook, but integration with Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, Quora, Foursquare and even Google+ is coming. It’s certainly the most comprehensive bid yet to make social search a broadly useful tool. Meanwhile, The Verge reported yesterday that Microsoft may be bringing Internet Explorer 9 to the Xbox 360. ┬áThe Xbox currently includes Bing voice search, but it’s limited to media results and has been criticized as being difficult to use. According to The Verge, the IE 9 integration would include full Kinect functionality and would enable Xbox users to search the whole web. If the report is correct, it could mean bringing ┬áBing’s new socially powered search to the Xbox, which eventually could add an important new element to content discovery to what is already the most popular over-the-top video platform in the digital living room.