Introducing the Xbox One - Due Later This Year
The rumors on Microsoft's next Xbox have been around just as long as those on the PlayStation 4, but then Sony went ahead and revealed its new system to the world this past February. Now it's Microsoft's turn to show off its next console, which we've known the date for a while but that's pretty much all. Until now, that is, as Microsoft has formally unveiled the Xbox One. It isn't the Xbox Infinity, Loop, or even 720, but Xbox One. It's designed to be the center of your living room, with games, movies, music, and more all being controlled by the console. It does require an Internet connection, but you can still play games and watch movies/TV if it drops out. There's a new Kinect sensor, a controller that pretty much resembles the current X360 one, and, oh yeah, a look at the Xbox One itself.
Microsoft's Xbox One is similar in size to the 360, except it's much more angular without a curve in sight. Since it's meant to be the center of your living room, it can turn on your TV just by telling the console: "Xbox on." There's no need to change inputs manually either if you want to watch TV, just another voice command changes it over for you. The Xbox One features near instant switching if you want to get back to gaming, or browse the Web, or watch a movie; Microsoft is touting less than a second delay for the switching. It features a snap mode similar to the PC one, where you can have the browser on one side while you're watching TV on the other. It's multitasking on a console, which is great to see in this day and age.
The Kinect sensor comes bundled with every Xbox One, so it's no longer another accessory. It's been improved with a 1080p camera and can process 2GB of data a second to read the room. Skeleton and 3D tracking are more precise, plus it can even read your heartbeat (useful for exercise/dance games). Since the Kinect is included with every console, it means your living room is now the perfect spot to make and receive Skype calls. Oh, and it's the only way to do group calls, too. Microsoft has worked in a TV guide into the Xbox One, with the Kinect (or a smartphone) controlling that side of it.
Alright, so enough about what the console can do in the living room, let's see what's powering the Xbox One to see how it stacks up. For starters, it has an eight-core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM that is shared between the CPU and GPU, 32MB cache of SRAM for the GPU, a 500GB non-replaceable HDD, a Blu-ray drive, 802.11n WiFi with WiFi Direct, HDMI in/out, and USB 3.0. The CPU is of the 64-bit variety, although exact specifications are lacking at this time. The Blu-ray drive looks to be of the slot loading type, so no more disc tray that needs to take up more space. The built-in hard drive can't be replaced, but Microsoft is allowing external USB 3.0 drives to store everything the internal one can, like games.
The Xbox One is, well, rather large in size, as is the new controller. Like I said before, it resembles the current X360 one, but with some refinements. The Xbox jewel in the middle is moved up top, vibration sensors are built right into the triggers, the D-pad has been reworked to hopefully remove frustrations, and the battery compartment is flush with the body.
Xbox One uses a rather unique method for the OS, as it runs not one but three simulatenously. There's the main system OS that's a paired down version of Windows for apps and non-game software downloaded from the store, an "Xbox OS" to handle games, and finally a third OS that's really more of a virtualization helper to make sure the main and Xbox OSes can talk to each other. The Xbox OS is a fixed component throughout the Xbox One's lifespan, so developers know that won't change regardless of what kind of updates Microsoft rolls out to the main OS. These OSes enable the multitasking of the console, especially with the HDMI passthrough for a cable/satellite box. However, even though Xbox One runs a modified version of Windows, developers won't be able to drag and drop PC apps onto the console. Microsoft says it's possible, but it requires some coding and UI tuning to make it work.
There's no release date or price mentioned, with Microsoft planning to reveal a lot more at E3 next month. Forza Motorsport 5 is a launch title, but information on it is very lacking. EA was on stage to show off its new EA Sports Ignite engine that's going to be powering the likes of Madden, FIFA, NBA Live, and UFC, with those four games due "in the next 12 months." Activision showed off the new Call of Duty: Ghosts, which includes timed DLC exclusive for the Xbox One. CoD:G features a new game engine and an impressive-looking world, complete with 3D textures for better immersion. As for any other games, it seems we're left waiting until E3.
If you're wondering how the Xbox One's PC architecture will handle current Xbox 360 games, well, it won't. The Xbox 360 is based on PowerPC and that means games built for it, including Xbox Live Arcade games, won't be able to make the transition to the Xbox One. No backwards compatibility may be an issue for some people, but Microsoft isn't concerned about that as it still plans to support the 360 with new games and apps. Your Xbox Live Gamertag and Gamerscore are going to transfer over to the new system, however, so at least there is that.