Microsoft has arrived in full force at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, an inspirational Steve Ballmer keynote and everything. While we're still digesting the news influx related to the first Windows Phone update which should be out in early March, we couldn't help but share a technology showcase video that Microsoft's boss showed to the crowd of technology journalists at pundits.
In the clip, the company envisions a future scenario in which you play a game called Rally Ball on your Windows Phone with your Xbox pals across the globe, in real-time. The game has you using gestures like swipe and circular motion to toss balls to virtual characters that represent your real-life opponents many miles away who play the same game on their Xbox, using a Kinect motion controller. Even though it's just a tech demo, it's guaranteed to blow you away.
And why is this a big deal? For starters, all the pieces are now falling in place for Microsoft to enable cross-platform gaming between Microsoft-branded consoles and phones. More importantly, such a tight integration could give the software maker a significant advantage over its rivals in the mobile space because they lack console products to tie with.
The secret sauce making this possible is Xbox Live, Microsoft's online gaming service that powers multiplayer games on the Xbox 360. As you know, Windows Phone features pretty basic Xbox Live integration via a hub that only lets you check out your profile on Xbox Live, achievements, scores etc. We have yet to see a simultaneous game release on the Xbox and Windows Phone, but we're getting there and Microsoft is obviously mulling such a possibility. The only problem with their vision, as we see it, is the dreaded network lag.
As you know, cellular networks are far less responsive compared to your console's broadband connection and way more prone to coverage and signal strength issues. Nevertheless, the idea has legs because on-the-go gamers could engage in cross-platform multiplayer gaming sessions via WiFi networks. Additionally, fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology could lend itself well to gaming applications due to the latency enhancement.
With 3G networks, you can expect a two-second or longer delay to set up the first connection, and then a 50-millisecond one-way latency afterwards. With LTE being all Internet Protocol (IP) and having a much flatter architecture, the initial data packet connection should be much faster - typically 50 ms, and then a five-millisecond one-way latency afterwards. For more background on LTE technology and its advantages over GSM and CDMA, we suggest checking out John's handy guide.