SmartGlass hits Xbox as Windows 8 hits desktops

Windows 8 goes live this week – and so does Microsoft's SmartGlass, a platform designed to sync up the Xbox 360 console with tablets, smartphones and PCs. 

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    Microsoft introduced Xbox SmartGlass, which syncs with Windows 8 devices, at an event this summer. SmartGlass will officially launch this week, Microsoft says.
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After months of hype, Microsoft will finally launch the Windows 8 OS at a press event on Friday. 

And according to Microsoft's Larry Hryb, the company will also use the occasion to officially release SmartGlass, a new application designed to sync Windows-powered devices with the Xbox 360 gaming console. Think of SmartGlass as a kind of remote control. With the app, users can stream Xbox Live videos and music, as well as control certain aspects of Xbox games. 

Microsoft has positioned SmartGlass as a "second portal" into gaming, and Hryb says it will support a range of games at launch, including Ascend, Forza Horizon, and Halo Waypoint. (More games will be added in coming months.) In addition, streaming content from the NBA, the UFC, ESPN, and HBO Go streaming video content will also be available. 

Recommended: Ten ways Windows 8 outshines the iPad

"Xbox SmartGlass will be a free downloadable app that takes your Windows 8 tablets and PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices, and converts them into a smart second screen for the entertainment you are enjoying through your Xbox," Hryb wrote on his Major Nelson blog.

SmartGlass seems like a smart move for Microsoft, which has said that Windows 8 will mark a move away from desktop-centric computing, and toward a mobile-friendly interface. SmartGlass fits that paradigm. It opens up the Xbox experience. But is it any good? Well, yes, says Kyle Wagner of Gizmodo, who had a chance to put SmartGlass through its paces. 

Games are fun with SmartGlass, Wagner writes, but he reserves special praise for video and music streaming. 

This is "where SmartGlass really shines, and is probably where you'll get the most real world use out of SmartGlass. You can use SmartGlass to control your music, either your local files, or streamed songs over Xbox Music. The controls are intuitive, and make your TV seem like a big, visual entertainment center," he adds. 

Eager to try out SmartGlass? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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