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Xbox One is Microsoft's biggest play for living room domination

Xbox One is Microsoft's biggest play for living room domination

May 21, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

As revealed just moments ago at Microsoft's Redmond campus, the Xbox 360 successor, dubbed the Xbox One, is being positioned as an "all-in-one entertainment system" due to launch later this year.

Xbox One's new Kinect 2.0, which will be packaged with the console, will feature a verbal "on" command and promises "instant switching" between live television viewing, gameplay, web browsing, Skype.

On the hardware end, the Xbox One will feature an 8-core CPU, 8GB RAM, USB 3.0, WiFi Direct, a Blu-ray drive, 500 GB hard drive, native 64 bit architecture, and variable power states, affording "practically silent operation."

Microsoft also indicated that game developers would have access to its Azure cloud computing platform, enabling players to sync games to the cloud, participate in massively multiplayer online matches (up to 64 or 128 participants) and free up local processing power.

Visual verisimilitude was heavily touted throughout the reveal, with emphasis on the expanded technical specs to model "visuals so real, you'll see imperfections and the effects of time, weather and wear and tear on the world around you."

Much of the first half of Microsoft's presentation was dedicated to showing off the new, sharply-angled console's ability to multitask between live TV and apps, by simply talking to the machine.

Microsoft's Don Mattrick said the Xbox One is meant to defragment your entertainment. Through an "all in one system" that is taking a heavy cue from multi-purpose entertainment computing devices like tablets.

He added that the Xbox One's mantra is to be "simple, instant, complete."

The console takes commands through motion and voice via a new Kinect motion tracker and microphone. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said it was "human control for a human experience."

The new Kinect has a broader range of motion tracking, and the updated traditional dual-stick controller lets programmers assign feedback to its triggers.

Users can also use their mobile devices to interact with the device thanks to Smart Glass.

Whitten said the online focus of the console will be greater. To draw a comparison he said Xbox Live had 500 servers in 2002. Today there's 15,000, but this year there will be 300,000 servers dedicated to the console.

He said cloud storage will also be a key component of the Xbox One, and will feature native video and editing tools.

Whitten also confirmed in an interview with The Verge that the Xbox One would not be backwards compatible with existing Xbox 360 games, as was expected. "The system is based on a different core architecture, so back-compat doesn't really work from that perspective," Whitten said.

The rumor that the new console will require an always-online connection has also been officially squashed, according to The Verge.

Wired has also stated that games must be installed on the Xbox One's hard drive, requiring that purchasers of second-hand discs pay a fee to install the game on a new system. UPDATED: OXM's John Hicks has stated via Twitter that "At no point when I was talking to MS did they say there was a fee for used games." The publication suggested that game installation installs would be tied with a player's account, and players who sell their discs will be able to deactivate the license, removing the need for a second-hand owner to pay a fee.

Several large-scale franchises were on display, with a heavy showing of sports titles from EA including Madden, NBA, UFC and NFL, the last of which ties into a further program of live sports streaming. Activision's newest entry into the Call of Duty franchise, Ghosts, was also given its official unveiling.

On the game-adjacent front, 343 Studios announced a live-action Halo television seriest to be streamed over the console, produced in conjunction with Steven Spielberg.

In all, Microsoft promised 15 console exclusives for the Xbox One, eight of which being original IPs. The only original IP exhibited at the press conference, however, was Remedy's Quantum Break.

More to come.

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