We could all be soon be ditching our USB drives for storage within Microsoft's cloud architecture according to Microsoft's E3 keynote which took place earlier today. The keynote also referred to an additional cloud based aspect known as 'beacons'.
Starting at the beginning for those who are unsure, cloud storage is a chunk of space allocated to you on Microsoft's network meaning you hold no local copy of your data, be that a game save or your Xbox LIVE profile. This means that when you travel to a friends place, a USB drive with your files on isn't necessary.
The following extract from Microsoft's Press Release clarifies the premise:
Here at Xbox LIVE we listen to your feedback. We are making it easier for you to sign into your Xbox LIVE account from any console at any time to access your game saves and full profile, including items such as Microsoft Points to make purchases, Achievements and friends. Cloud storage will allow you to enjoy the same great Xbox LIVE gaming experience even when you're not in your own living room by giving you the option to store your "game saves" securely in the Xbox LIVE cloud instead of on a portable memory unit or your console's hard drive. Gone are the days of "gamertag recovery." Now all you need to do is sign in, no matter where you are!
No more marathon Gamertag recovery sessions? Count me in! But what about this somewhat less obvious 'beacon' system? Microsoft are going to use beacons as markers for things you want
to do. For example, at the minute, via your list of friends, you can see what everyone is playing, watching or accessing, but not what they want to play, and when.
Beacons will allow you to show your friends, 'hey, I want to play some Borderlands
and clean up some co-op achievements'. When a friend drops a beacon of the same nature, you get an alert. Or if they fire up a game you've been wanting to play MP in, you'll get pinged to let you know. Here's some additional clarification:
We want to make it easy for you to connect with friends over your favorite games on Xbox LIVE, so we are introducing Beacons to the service. Beacons are a way to tell your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends that you want to play a game on Xbox LIVE. By setting a Beacon, you tell Xbox LIVE what you want to play. Then, Xbox LIVE lets you know when friends are playing or want to play the same game. With Beacons, no matter what you're currently doing on Xbox LIVE your friends know that it's ok to ask you to play your Beaconed games. Imagine sending out a Beacon to let your friends know you're interested in playing "Halo," while watching a movie on Netflix. It's about making it easier for you to share and discover games and multiplayer opportunities with friends on Xbox LIVE.
As most of us use the boosting sessions here on TA, I'm sure many of us will welcome an additional way to organise ourselves and our friends online. As for the cloud, it had to happen. The real question here that is as yet unanswered is how much space will we have to work with in terms of game saves etc, and is this a Gold offer only? Only time will tell... that and leaks. Most probably leaks.