It’s been eight years since Microsoft launched the Xbox 360, a wildly successful gaming console that has gradually evolved into a home entertainment hub for many users. Today, the company finally got around to releasing details of the “Durango” project, its code name for the next generation of the Xbox.
“For the first time, you and your TV are going to have a relationship,” Microsoft declared in the opening of its announcement on Tuesday.
Promising an “all in one system,” Microsoft finally unveiled the Xbox One, a black box with a single slot for inserting a disc. There is a glowing Xbox logo, but no Red Ring of Death that we could see.
The new Kinect motion and voice-control sensor is also larger than the existing version. But it shoots in 1080p, with motion detection capabilities and more conversational voice-recognition. Microsoft claims the Kinect can detect your heartbeat while you work out. It is separate from the console, which only makes sense as having them integrated would require you positioning the console in front of your TV. Though they are separated physically, the Kinect will come with all Xbox One consoles.
The controller for the Xbox One is mercifully almost identical to the ones users have mashed for almost a decade. However, the company says there have been more than 40 tweaks to the controller, including “dynamic impulse triggers” that provide feedback right in the triggers themselves. The new Kinect can also identify the controller as something separate from the player, allowing it to be detected and tracked.
Via Kinect, the user can use gestures and voice to not only control the Xbox One, but also other connected devices like a TV. You can also launch Internet Explorer right onto your TV. No more switching of inputs — or at least that’s what Microsoft is claiming.
The Xbox One guide will supposedly have your channel listing and programming information right there on the screen for you, allowing you to jump seamlessly — and quickly, per the demo — from channel to channel without ever leaving the Xbox
The integration of Windows Snap Mode into the Xbox interface allows users to multitask. You can watch a movie in one window while browsing the web off to the side. You can have Skype call without interrupting what is going on elsewhere on the screen. The notion is that you no longer need to use your computer, phone, or tablet as a supplementary screen; you can have it all right there on your TV.
“The one place where you are at the center of your entertainment,” says Microsoft. “This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV.”
Video game giant, and reigning Worst Company In America champ, Electronic Arts was on hand for the announcement, saying it will have four of its big sports titles — Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, NBA Live, and UFC — coming out for the Xbox One within the next 12 months. Among the updates — 3-D crowds and a “daily stream” of new content that impacts the game.
Microsoft Studios showed off the Xbox One version of driving game Forza, which will be available at launch for the console.
There will apparently be 15 games made exclusively for Xbox One in its first year, with 8 of those being new franchises.
No release date yet; just “later this year,” and no pricing discussed. Presumably, this will be announced at the E3 gaming trade show later this summer.
Microsoft isn’t abandoning the 360 just yet, which is good, because there are many, many millions of them out there and people have invested billions in those games.
“Xbox 360 remains a vibrant platform,” said the company, which plans to unveil more for that platform at E3.