July 10, 2014, 6:04 AM —
Ever wonder why big corporations seem so sly when it comes to making public statements? I'm going to use Microsoft as an example but this kind of behavior certainly isn't limited to them. Microsoft just seems to be particularly hard to pin down at times.
Early yesterday there was a report from Digital Spy about Microsoft dropping plans to allow the use of any Xbox One as a development kit. This feature was promised last year; the idea is that if a retail Xbox One can work as a development kit, almost anyone can create games for the Xbox One.
The initial report quoted Xbox Advanced Technology Group's Martin Fuller, speaking at Develop, as saying
"We were in the early stages of Xbox One looking at the idea of a retail kit that could be turned into a development kit, and vice versa."
"In the end, although that was a very admirable goal, it hasn't happened unfortunately. Can't tell you the specifics of exactly why not."
When asked to elaborate on whether the feature would arrive eventually, Fuller replied: "As far as I'm aware there are no plans. I'm not aware of the reason why we didn't manage to do that."
What Fuller stated is apparently not accurate. It didn't take long for Microsoft to send out an update correcting the various sites that ran this story. Now they could've said "Mr. Fuller spoke in error. Our plans have not changed and we are still working on an update that will allow any Xbox One to work as a dev kit." That's pretty clear, right? But that's not what they said. What a Microsoft spokesperson said was:
The comments today were inaccurate. We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date.
Now if you're an easy-going type you'll read that and think "Great, plans haven't changed" and move on to other business. But if you're a gamer like me, you're a suspicious lout that takes nothing at face value, particularly if you have a beef with Microsoft.
Notice the Microsoft quote doesn't mention dev kits at all, just that they are committed to 'the best possible solutions.' Why would they phrase things like that? It still seems like maybe there's no retail <-> dev kit functionality coming.
But, you might say if you're pro-Microsoft, they clearly stated that the comments weren't accurate. Well, which part of the comments? Fuller said they were in the early stages of the project. Maybe that's not accurate. Maybe they haven't even started. "It hasn't happened" is certainly accurate. What else could be inaccurate?
Yeah, I'm being pedantic, nit-picking Microsoft's statement and playing devil's advocate here. But I'm not the only one doing that; just skim through the comments at someplace like Polygon and you'll see what I mean (search for the exchange between "Nicka187" and "Germ80" for an example). My question is, why isn't Microsoft more straightforward in refuting the comments? Why leave things open to interpretation, particularly when you're dealing with a product that has a customer base that can be particularly prickly about these things?
It's been almost a year since they promised this 'every retail unit is a dev kit' functionality and this is really the first news we've heard about it. That's enough time to let doubts form. Maybe Phil Spencer or someone less anonymous than "a Microsoft spokesperson" will give us a more straight-forward answer to the question of the retail dev kit. I hope it is indeed still coming, but I'm no longer 100% sure that's the case.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.