The latest ambitious endeavor by Microsoft might have "monopoly" written all over it, but we have a feeling they wouldn't want it any other way. Microsoft's new Live Anywhere that they announced at today's E3 keynote takes their Xbox Live concept and extends it to the PC, Windows Mobile and even Java-enabled phones. Whether you're at your PC or rocking a mobile, you'll be able to track your gamer tag, message friends, purchase content for that device or set it to download to another device, and of course compare rankings with your buddies on various gaming titles. Halo isn't going to run so well on your RAZR, so for actual cross platform titles, Microsoft is sticking with XBLA-esque games that can translate easily to different platform, such as Bejeweled. There will, however, be major games that can be played on your Vista PC and Xbox 360. Microsoft is banking heavily on third party support for Live Anywhere, in the form of mobile friendly value-adds for 360 games, and just straight up phone-friendly casual titles. In order to get more support, they're claiming to approach this from a "platform agnostic" (hah!) angle, and after supporting the 360, Windows Vista and Windows Mobile, will move on to Java, S60 and possibly even Palm if they deem it worth their while. Microsoft obviously has the muscle to launch a service like this, and the features they demoed look quite entertaining and welcome, but we'll still be (pleasantly) surprised if they actually manage to pull it off. Keep on reading for screenshots and impressions.

After the keynote we got a personal showing of prototype Live Anywhere functionality, mainly running off of a Windows Mobile device. Here's what we saw.



Teh Gamez. Once again, if you were hoping for some mobile version of Halo or even something like Geometry Wars, you'll be sorely disappointed. With that said, everything looked fairly snazzy, and there is definitely a difference between games supported by the more powerful Windows Mobile and those plain-jane Java phones.



In keeping with its XBLA roots, Live Anywhere allows for trials of games, which are suddenly terminated with a request for payment to purchase the full version. A bit janky, but at least they offer trial versions in the first place.


Be sure to bother MajorNelson with challenges to beat your high score, everybody else seems to.


That Gamercard is looking good.


There's enough platform support here already that it quickly seems like overkill.


Friends and what platform they're on.


Messaging isn't just email, it can include  video, voice, or even game content.


Java version doesn't look too different, but most of the games are different.


Our friendly presenter.


They finished up with a bit of Gamercard trading, which works over IrDA between phones and syncs across all platforms. In this case they showed the Xbox 360 Dashboard show the request, ask for approval, and then update automatically once the request was approved with the other mobile phone. Pretty slick.

Today in Engadget Mobile: May 9, 2006