Monday, 18 June 2012 12:13

Xbox 720 Documents Most Likely Real, But Far Out of Date...

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Halo4-01After the leak (and subsequent removal) of an alleged set of documents showing Microsoft’s plans for the next generation of Xbox (the Xbox 720?) complete with a 2013 launch timeframe we have started to try and piece together what is going on and if there is any credibility to the original posting. The original presentation appears to have been prepared in 2010 (again if they are real) and outline some very interesting inclusions for the gaming console. Some of these have actually appeared recently (like Smart Glass) while others are things we already know Microsoft to be working on. We should probably start off by saying that we do think the posted documents are real, but that they represent a direction that Microsoft has probably changed since these were produced.

What makes things interesting is that we know the Xbox is going to be the center of Microsoft’s new eco system. They see it as a driving force behind greater sales of Windows 8, Windows RT and even (yes believe it or not) Windows Phone. Now another factor into this is that there is a chance that Microsoft will be incorporating the Nook eBook service into the mix and, again, tie it all into the same big happy connected home.

The original push for this connected ecosystem started back around 2008-2009 so the timing of the document seems accurate. We also know that this would be around the time frame when Microsoft would start looking into a replacement for the Xbox 360 so again we have some correlation to the timing. There is also some evidence that Microsoft started working on the Xbox integration back in 2010 considering they showed part of it off at the Build conference in Mid-2011. Of course you can always create a document and date it to meet the existing facts to while this information supports, the documentation it is nowhere near proof of anything.

As for the technology we do know that Microsoft has been fascinated with augmented reality and 3D for some time. Incorporating these into the next Xbox would be a very good move and one we are sure will happen, but it might not happen with glasses like the pictures indicated especially with the move to panels that do not require glasses to produce good 3D images. We have seen that Sony does not need glasses to produce augmented reality images so there is no reason to suspect that Microsoft would.

Now beyond 3D and augmented reality there is the next generation of the Kinect. Again, the 2013 time frame would be logical for a release of this. We are certain that Microsoft is working on a new version anyway. We would expect this new version to take 3D gaming into account as well as a few other things such as voice search, motion control of a browsing experience (remember IE 10 will be in Xbox at some point) and other options for the control device that will focus on the more media consumption role that the Xbox will be playing (which makes the Blu-ray player look more convincing).

Smart Glass has already been demonstrated so we know that that will look like, but it does seem to differ from some of the other information as Smart Glass was much more content consumption oriented than what we saw in the docs.

Now here is where things get interesting… Microsoft has changed their direction (as we mentioned). The Xbox was a gaming console, but with more and more people using it as an entertainment device (Netflix etc) Microsoft is making it more into a content consumption device. The addition of Internet Explorer is to allow users to access more internet TV and movie Services from the Xbox. Microsoft will also have their own movie, music and possible eBook service that you can access from the Xbox. This could mean that Microsoft will also move new games for the Xbox to online only.

Remember, Microsoft wants (actually needs) that gravy revenue from their subscription services. Removing the optical drive make it more likely that people will use their services especially if they make them cheap. Now imagine if they let you access your games from any console that you are logged into in the same way that Steam does. If they bundle this with even a minor discount to the titles many will jump in both feet. Once they have the Xbox service and their Microsoft account they are actually more likely to use other services from Microsoft (you can see where we are heading).

So you can see that while the technical details of the documents are probably correct, the direction is most likely not. We were not surprised to see them pulled down by one of Microsoft’s legal firms, Covington & Burling LLP, even if they were not accurate they still could hurt future plans that Microsoft has. We do want to point out that one of the biggest things that point to at least partial accuracy is the length of time they were left up. Think of the talk this 56 page PDF made in just the last few days and the fact that Microsoft has two “secret” announcements to make in the next week, one of which will be happening later today.


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Read 3287 times Last modified on Monday, 18 June 2012 12:21

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