Microsoft announces Xbox One next-generation console
Microsoft announced its next-generation Xbox One gaming console at a press event held at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters Tuesday morning, finally revealing the device that’s been the subject of rampant rumors and speculation for months.
Xbox One combines Microsoft’s Xbox operating system with the kernel of Windows, bridging the gap between gaming and other entertainment services and applications. The console’s 64-bit architecture enables users to switch between the two environments on the fly or multitask between them. Users can snap separate programs or activities to different sides of the screen, as in Windows 8 – a demonstration of this capability was presented with a user simultaneously watching TV and video chatting with a friend through Skype.
Television will be a point of emphasis for the console, as Xbox One is capable of integrating with set-top boxes from television service providers, though the feature will only be available in the U.S. at launch before a global rollout. The console has an integrated television guide that will pull information from the Internet and also monitor trending topics of interest.
“This system is built to amaze on Day One and continue to advance in the days ahead,” said Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.
Xbox One is powered by an eight-core CPU and 8GB of RAM and features a 500GB hard drive, a Blu-ray drive and built-in 802.11n WiFi. In terms of input, Microsoft is focusing on three methods: a physical controller, the next-generation Kinect motion sensor and its SmartGlass technology used in apps available on tablets and smartphones.
Kinect’s voice commands and physical gestures were touted exclusively at the event, with users able to simple say “Xbox on” to power on the console as it idles in the background. The camera of the next-generation Kinect is now capable of 1080p motion capture and tracks more joints to provide more accurate information. Additionally, the console can also read a user’s heartbeat.
Xbox Live has also been advanced with the new console, allowing living and persistent worlds for massively multiplayer games. More users will be able to connect to traditional matches in games such as “Call of Duty: Ghosts” as well.
Despite the emphasis on television and other entertainment services, Microsoft is investing heavily on the console’s gaming capabilities as well. Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, said the company plans on releasing 15 exclusive games for the console’s launch, eight of which are brand new franchises. One of those new franchises, Remedy’s “Quantum Break” blends the console’s two major features – gaming and television – by featuring gameplay that impacts a television show.
Xbox One will be launched “around the world later this year,” Mattrick said, though no concrete release date or territories was provided.