Regular viewers will be well aware of my feelings towards Sony. As a technology company go they develop cool things that tend to be a massive disappointment for one reason or another.

Sometimes it’s pricing and positioning, other times it’s a lack of joined-up thinking, and occasionally it’s a bizarrely dumb technological blunder.

The PS4 actually appeals to me. I won’t be buying one, obviously, at least not until things shake out and it becomes clear whether Sony have managed to deliver on their rather lofty promises. Oh and when the price isn’t completely nuts.

Today Microsoft let it slip that the new Xbox will be announced on the 21st March. About damn time.

Admittedly to normal folks I doubt the gap between the PS4 and the new Xbox is even noticeable. Hell, I doubt they even know that the PS4 is inbound. Still, rumours have been annoying, particularly with people deliberately fabricating them.

Anyway, over the lifetime of the Xbox 360 there have been two tiers of Xbox Live – “Gold” and “Silver”. The former is paid for whereas the latter is severely crippled and free. The PS3’s basic online capabilities are free and their premium service offers useful upgrades.

What’s interesting about this is that even with a paid subscription the Xbox’s dashboard is covered in advertising and has become increasingly hostile to the user. I’d say “decreasingly user friendly” but it just doesn’t sound right to me.

The question is whether that has been kept going as a status quo thing (people might moan but how many can be bothered to actually cancel payments?) and whether it’ll carry over to the new console or not. What can Microsoft bring to the table to compete with Sony’s fairly impressive promises?

There’s speculation that it’ll bring more “set top box” functionality and target that kind of usage but that sort of thing should be incredibly easy for Sony to provide too, should that becoming a flashpoint.

Either way, I hope 360s come down in price. I want a copy of Rockband and Guitar Hero to play!

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