Microsoft's Ballmer Says Natal-Equipped Xbox 360 Coming 2010?

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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has, according to a few warp-published blogs, revealed that a new version of its Xbox 360 hardware will arrive in 2010 with the company's ballyhooed motion-control Project Natal integrated. In a speech given at the Executives' Club of Chicago about innovating in the current recession, Ballmer reportedly let slip that the company's "new" console would come equipped with a "natural interface" and an integrated camera that could recognize motion and voice. TG Daily covered the event live, and reported the "surprise" news nugget.

Here's the salient bit from the TG Daily piece:

The new device will be equipped with technology that is "really, really, close" to an actuality. The console, which was described as having a "natural interface," will have a built in camera with the ability to recognize movement and voice.

Okay, back up, stop the press, reality check. Based on that snip, I'm frankly seeing all kinds of interpretive possibilities, though very few that lead me to something like 1UP's Microsoft-dismissed "upgraded Xbox 360" claim. Is the "new device" referred to above the Xbox 360, or just the Natal add-on itself? When TG Daily says "the console [will have] a 'natural interface'," do they mean the physical console or the Natal add on peripheral as an extension thereof? And does "built in camera" refer to the console, or just the Natal peripheral itself?

I'm thinking Microsoft's probably revealed nothing, that Ballmer was talking about Natal and the 360 interchangeably, and that even if he was (and I can't confirm that he was) slinging around phrases like "new Xbox 360," he may simply have been capitalizing on a marketing point that Natal ostensibly changes the way we'll interact with the existing Xbox 360 so radically, it might as well be a whole new system (and so on, and so forth).

I've tagged my Microsoft contacts for comment, and I'll swing back if they offer clarification or issue a formal statement.

Update: Microsoft's responded to my request for comment and clarified what's what here.

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