Microsoft's next Xbox console will have all sorts of bells and whistles, including Blu-ray, broadcast DVR, and—eventually—augmented-reality glasses, according to one report.
Xbox World, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, has published a long feature article on what it believes Microsoft's next console will be like, citing “industry experts and Microsoft's own leaky boat.” The report is based in large part on leaked planning documents that surfaced in June—eventually taken down at the request of a law firm that represents Microsoft—but with additional comments from industry sources.
The magazine claims that the next Xbox—often referred to as “Xbox 720,” but possibly just dubbed “Xbox”—will launch in November 2013, and top developers are already making games for it.
Here's a rundown of the features that Xbox World expects to see in Microsoft's next gaming console. Keep in mind that all of this is rumor or speculation, and Microsoft hasn't confirmed any of it:
- Hardware may include four hardware cores, 8GB of RAM, four USB spots (two in front, two in back), and a removable hard drive.
- A “Kinect 2.0” may detect subtle finger movements and track up to four players in a single room.
- Augmented reality glasses could work with Kinect to create virtual reality in your living room. Hello, Holodeck.
- To further enhance the virtual reality vibe, the next Xbox could have 3D sound to project audio to specific parts of a room.
- Microsoft may finally embrace Blu-ray in its next Xbox, but may eventually ship a slimmer console that skips optical discs altogether, possibly around 2015.
- Rumors hint at a traditional Xbox controller, but with a touch screen or programmable buttons. Xbox World's report adds some speculation from experts, but the controller still seems like major question mark.
- Microsoft may try to build its own cloud gaming service, similar to OnLive and the Sony-owned Gaikai, which would let players stream their games to tablets, phones and other devices. That would certainly make sense if an Xbox Surface tablet was on the way.
- The console may strive to be “always-on,” so users can quickly wake it from standby and start playing. Favorite games may even be pre-loaded into memory so they start up faster.
The story also includes a mock design for the future console, “based on our own interpretation of Microsoft's newfound sense of industrial design.” The mockup sports the same VaporMG coating found in Microsoft's Surface tablets and a silver band that takes after the company's Wedge touch keyboard.
In all, the story is an interesting look at what might be the next Xbox, assuming all of Microsoft's high-minded plans come to fruition. That's a big “if,” and it's likely that the console won't deliver on everything that the rumors promise, at least not right away. But for the next year or so, we can certainly dream.
Xbox World, which will cease publication after its February issue, appears to have put together its future console report as a sort of last hurrah. It's a good read if you want to dig into what might be possible in the next wave of game consoles. The issue is available on the iPad for $5.