Microsoft has announced their next-next-generation console, the Xbox One. In a stark contrast to Sony’s ‘gamer’s first’ reveal of the PlayStation 4, Microsoft has positioned the Xbox One as an entertainment solution for everything for everyone. The mantra for the new system repeated ad nauseam throughout the press conference was “All in One”.Microsoft further elaborated this goal as to “Take your passion for gaming and apply to your entire TV experience.” Even the big Halo news revealed wasn’t about a game but about a live-action, “premium” TV series produced by Steven Spielberg.
So what does this mean? Instant switching between your cable TV (assuming you are subscribed with a supported provider), digital movies, gaming, and web browsing via Kinect’s voice and gesture command system. Even more interesting, the Xbox one will allow users to open multiple windows and utilize Internet Explorer along side your live content. Also sure to tickle early adopter’s fancy is the integration of Microsoft’s Smart Glass mobile integration and the ability to use your smartphone as a remote control. A cloud based DVR service is also promised, though very unlikely to be available at launch, for customers who continue to dump money into Microsoft’s Xbox Live online service.
Also in contrast to the PlayStation 4 show, Microsoft showed off the physical incarnation of their console. The form factor of the Xbox One certainly shows MS’ commitment to becoming the new set-top box for your living room. The Xbox Box one is a giant, black box bearing no trace of the style or attention to aesthetics that dominated the gaming machines of the past seven years. It is a brick of a electronics meant to be dumped into a dark corner and never looked at again.
The rest of the revealed features are pretty much what you expect out of a modern connected device. Hulu, Nexflix, ESPN, and the rest of your favorite online video pushers are on board. Twitter, Facebook, and Xbox Live will scavenge the usage habits of your contacts to decide what to sell you. Skype is also part of this next-Box experience promising HD video conferencing from the comfort of your couch.
Tech specs are a little light at the moment with this first peek emphasizing the capabilities of the new version of the Kinect motion tracking camera. We know it will have 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0 ports, built-in 802.11n, and support for Wi-Fi Direct. For more tech info, I highly recommend Wired’s Gadget Lab’s exclusive first look.
What? Games? Oh, yeah. There’ll be some sports and driving games. Microsoft has once again teamed up with Remedy, one of the very few game creators with any skill at storytelling in the medium, for a new title called Quantum Break and has something to do with seeing the future. Most of the scant time spent addressing the gaming crowd was dedicated to Call of Duty: Ghosts which is… well, Call of Duty. It’s safe to say that MS is holding the big game presentations for E3 later this year.
It was later confirmed that none of your old Xbox 360 software will be compatible with the Xbox One. Hard drive installs will be possible, but only for the first owner of a particular disk. Fans of used titles will need to pay for the privilege.
Xbox One will be available in a world-wide launch “Later this year” for an undisclosed, but probably exorbitant price.
Watch the Xbox One May 21, 2013 press conference for yourself below. The show starts at 1:08:40 and runs for about an hour.
Watch live video from gamespot's channel on TwitchTV