Lots of exciting news today! First off, Microsoft has made a couple exciting announcements about Windows 10. Full disclosure: I am a Microsoft employee, so I am posting these for self-interested reasons, but I’m also genuinely really excited about what they mean for Windows.
The two new features are called Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport. Windows Hello is a software feature which, with supported hardware, offers “biometric authentication which can provide instant access to your Windows 10 devices.” But Windows Hello is not just the same old support for fingerprint readers that Windows has had for many years now; it “enables you to authenticate applications, enterprise content, and even certain online experiences without a password being stored on your device or in a network server at all.”
To accomplish that, Windows Hello works in conjunction with Microsoft Passport, which enables you to “securely authenticate to applications, websites and networks […] without sending up a password. Thus, there is no shared password stored on their servers for a hacker to potentially compromise.” You can read the linked article for the full details, but if you just want the overview, watch this video:
Second, as of today, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited has launched, meaning that ESO no longer requires a subscription to play. You’ll still have to buy the base game, but after that, no subscription is required to log in. I previously wrote a very favorable review of The Elder Scrolls Online, and while I haven’t had much time to play it over the past few months, I do still log in occasionally, and I still enjoy the game. I’m hoping this change to the payment model will bring in new players, because at this point the game’s biggest problem seems to be long dungeon queue times; I can only assume this is due to a population that has dwindled since launch almost a year ago.
Truth be told, I have mixed feelings about Tamriel Unlimited. I think there are significant merits to the subscription-based model that many players don’t recognize, and the progress that Zenimax Online Studios has made since ESO’s release is a testament to that: they’ve released six significant content patches with features including a new zone, multiple new dungeons and Trials (think raids), new facial and combat animations, a new endgame character advancement system and drastic rebalancing, a justice system, and dozens more improvements. I worry that the focus will now shift from gameplay enhancements to purchasable cosmetic items, because the latter may be more of a cash cow for the company. I also have more general concerns about the continuing trend of people expecting everything on the Internet to be free… but that’s a topic for another post.
That said, I’m willing to give Tamriel Unlimited the benefit of the doubt. It could be that this payment model change is just what the game needs to bring it the market success I’ve always felt it deserved. If you played ESO previously but have since quit, it’s well worth picking up again; if you’ve never played before, I would sincerely urge you to give it a try. Either way, take a look at the launch trailer below, which shows off some of the enhancements that have been made since the game’s release: