E3 2012: Five questions about Microsoft's SmartGlass

SmartGlass might be the coolest tech innovation of E3 2012, but we won't know for sure until we know more details.

Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
2 min read

LOS ANGELES--Aside from Halo 4, the most interesting thing at Microsoft's E3 press conference was SmartGlass, the multidevice sharing app for games, videos, and Web surfing. But SmartGlass was only sketched out in the broadest of terms (and probably very carefully chosen ones at that), so we're left with several burning questions, especially about how it will work with Windows 8.

What devices will it actually work on? Microsoft says "all your devices." Does that mean all your Windows devices, or are Android and iOS included? (Update: We're hearing now that iOS and Android are included.)

Is it a downloaded app or Web-based? Will SmartGlass be a standalone app or an HTML 5-based Web service? Or some combination of the two depending on what platform you're on? Windows 8 tablets seem to be included, but are Windows RT tablets?

How many movies and TV shows will include second-screen content? We saw Game of Thrones get maps and trivia, but how far down the most-popular list will it go? So far Xbox Video and HBO Go are in, but what about other video services such as Netflix?

What sort of game integration is included? We saw a Halo 4 player looking at maps and accepting a multiplayer request, but that's a far cry from being to play simultaneously on PCs and consoles -- something that has only been tried a handful of times before.

Will SmartGlass compete with the Wii U GamePad? Both offer second-screen functionality for game consoles. The Wii version seems more tied into active gameplay, while SmartGlass feels more like a companion device. How much overlap will there be?

Those are the first SmartGlass questions that come to mind, although we're unlikely to find too many of the answers during the rest of E3 2012. What questions do you have? Post them in the comments below.

Click here for CNET's full E3 2012 coverage.

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