Microsoft has gotten over six years of faithful service out of the Xbox 360, but the time is approaching for the next generation of home consoles to arrive. Follow along here as we detail all the latest news, rumors, and innuendo relating to the development and specifications of the next Xbox.
Microsoft is building its own 7-inch gaming tablet. Multiple sources familiar with plans within Redmond have confirmed to The Verge that initial hardware planning for an Xbox Surface is underway. Specifications for an Xbox Surface 7-inch tablet computing device leaked back in June ahead of Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface Pro announcement. We're told that the initial specs were accurate and that the final implementation is being worked on.Read Article >
The Xbox Surface will likely include a custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM designed specifically for gaming tasks. We're told these specifications could be altered to accommodate an unannounced Intel SoC and that the Xbox Surface is being developed independent of specific hardware architecture. Microsoft's Xbox Surface won't run a full version of Windows, rather this 7-inch tablet will run a custom Windows kernel. Messaging and other tablet functions may be supported, but the focus is on gaming.
Microsoft is known for revealing additional product details in job postings, but a new round of listings has unveiled a brand new TV service. Described as a "Cloud-based TV platform," Microsoft is looking to hire engineers to build client applications for the service. LiveSide spotted several job postings related to Cloud TV recently that tempt job candidates to "get in on the ground floor of an ambitious new project."Read Article >
Some of the preferred qualifications include experience with mobile and browser application development, with iOS, Android, and Windows 8 / RT listed. The job listings are all part of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) division, the same team responsible for Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Zune, and Mediaroom. Microsoft appears to be hiring engineers for a team at the company's Mountain View offices. We've reached out to Microsoft for comment on its Cloud TV plans and we'll update you accordingly.
Aug 14, 2012Read Article >
The listing claims to be for a development kit for the next-gen Xbox and features the same non-descript image of a computer tower with no further description. The item comes with powercables and a wired controller.
Aug 10, 2012
Microsoft's next-generation "Xbox 720" console has seen a variety of leaks recently, including speculation over its planned launch date, but we've yet to see solid details on Kinect 2. That may have changed this week after a Twitter user posted what is claimed to be a sample from Kinect 2 running on a Durango (new Xbox codename) development kit. The image shows two users interacting with Kinect and what appears to be an increased amount of depth and movement data.Read Article >
It's hard to tell whether the image is real, but one of our own sources says this is a genuine test sample. Microsoft is working with the Durango Xbox Development Kit (XDK) and the user interface is the same as shown in the picture, according to one person familiar with Microsoft's Durango work. Microsoft's testing involves a focus on depth and movement data, something shown in the picture. Although Kinect 2 might be shaping up to be an incremental improvement over the existing hardware, Microsoft's leaked Xbox 720 document promised higher accuracy, stereo imaging, improved voice recognition, and support for four-player tracking. Kinect 2 will also support accessories that interact with the sensor for games such as darts and baseball.
Aug 9, 2012
At this point in time, it's a pretty sure bet that Microsoft won't be introducing any new Xbox hardware this year. After unveiling some software improvements at E3, the company is widely expected to launch a new dashboard update in October. However, Microsoft's next Xbox may arrive within the next 18 months, according to a recent job posting. "Over the next eighteen months Microsoft will release new versions of all of our most significant products including Windows (Client, Server, Phone and Azure), Office and Xbox," reads the job posting.Read Article >
Microsoft hasn't officially announced that it's planning a new Xbox console, but the company was forced to issue a clarification this week after a Microsoft manager suggested that a "new Xbox" was part of a new wave of product updates arriving soon. Instead, Microsoft says the manager was referring to the upcoming dashboard update. A recent "Xbox 720" document leak revealed some old plans for a $299 console with Kinect 2 and a lot of references to a next-generation Xbox in 2013.
Aug 8, 2012
Microsoft's Brian Hall joined us on The Vergecast last week to discuss the company's new Outlook.com launch. His appearance generated a storm of internet speculation around a next-generation Xbox console after Hall appeared to suggest that a "new Xbox" was part of a new wave of product updates arriving soon that include Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.Read Article >
"The comments to The Verge were not understood in their intended context," says a Microsoft spokesperson. "When Brian mentioned a ‘new wave of products,’ he was referring to the full lineup of products coming later this year from Microsoft, including Windows 8, Office, Windows Phone and of course our fall Xbox update which will bring a host of new consumer experiences like Xbox Music, Videos, Games on Windows 8 and Xbox SmartGlass."
Jun 21, 2012
A massive 56-page document on Microsoft's "Xbox 720" plans surfaced on the internet over the weekend, revealing some potential ideas around Kinect Glasses and more. The document itself was hosted on Scribd and removed at the request of Covington & Burling LLP, an international law firm that lists Microsoft as one of its clients.Read Article >
Microsoft's team of internet investigators has also started to send takedown notices to other sites hosting the leaked document. Ihned.cz, a technology site based in Czech Republic, received a notice over the weekend from Alan Radford, Internet Investigator on behalf of Microsoft:
Jun 16, 2012
While it's clear Microsoft isn't planning to introduce its next-generation Xbox console this year, all signs indicate that a 2013 launch is on the cards. A newly leaked 56-page document sheds some light on the company's plans, for what it calls the "Xbox 720." The presentation appears to be from August 2010, and references future improvements like SmartGlass, a Metro dashboard, and Xbox TV apps. Alongside its incremental Xbox 360 updates, Microsoft has a clear vision for its next-generation Xbox 720 console — we've dug into its plans to bring you the best bits.Read Article >
Microsoft outlines a competitive differentiation for its next-generation Xbox, including support for Blu-ray, native 3D output and glasses, concurrent apps, and additional sensor and peripheral support. Alongside a promised 6x performance increase, there's also mention of true 1080p output with full 3D support and an "always on" state for the console. A slide on core hardware indicates that the next Xbox will be designed to be scalable in the number of CPU cores and their frequencies. Microsoft appears to have been debating whether to use six or eight ARM or x86 cores clocked at 2GHz each with 4GB of DDR4 memory alongside three PPC cores clocked at 3.2GHz each for backwards compatibility with existing Xbox 360 titles.
May 28, 2012
It has been just over six months since Microsoft completed its acquisition of Skype to form a new division at the company. We've seen the release of Skype for Windows Phone recently, but Xbox gamers are eager to hear when the voice and video chat app will make its way to the Xbox 360. Despite already having video chat via Kinect or the Live Vision camera, Skype integration is a highly anticipated feature across the Xbox and all of Microsoft's products.Read Article >
One particular job posting at Microsoft this week hints at the future of Skype's integration into the Xbox. Microsoft says it is "focused on enabling amazing new in-game and in-console voice and video experiences for the next generation of Xbox," indicating that the type of Skype functionality on the company's next Xbox hardware could go deeper than a separated app. It's not clear from the job posting whether existing Xbox 360 consoles will receive this type of Skype integration as the listing notes "it is time-critical given the hardware lead times involved."
Mar 9, 2012
British video game trade magazine MCV is reporting that the next Xbox will ditch the optical drive in favor of downloads and solid state memory. It's not known if games will actually be offered on physical media at retail or if the console will exclusively rely on digital distribution. If true, the move would make sense to us — optical media is fast becoming an anachronism in modern hardware and games consoles are often ahead of the curve. The PS Vita dropped its predecessor's optical drive for flash memory, while Microsoft already offers various full Xbox 360 titles for download via its Games on Demand service. MCV also corroborates earlier reports that the new system will launch next year, and we'd certainly expect broadband penetration in the US to be high enough by then for Microsoft to comfortably rely on its audience having access to fast downloads.Read Article >
It's too soon to make any calls on the accuracy of this report, though — it's a single source, the mooted launch of the console is around 18 months away, and Microsoft has already stated in no uncertain terms that the next Xbox will not be appearing any time soon. In response to MCV's report, the company had this to say:
Feb 28, 2012
Last June, Videogamer reported that Microsoft's next home console would be revealed during E3 2012, and that Crytek was already using the hardware to develop TimeSplitters 4 as one of its launch titles; a rumor Crytek quickly denied. Earlier this month, Kotaku reported that the operating code name for the new console is Durango. Today, a now-pulled Tweet from Crytek senior technical artist Sean Tracy seemingly connects these two reports, saying, "Enjoying the Durango developers summit in London. So far, great swag and interesting talks."Read Article >
Tracy had earlier Tweeted that he was "seeing some CryEngine licensee videos," which will go public "later next week." We've contacted Microsoft for a comment on Tracy's reports, and will keep our ear to the ground for any more hubbub coming from this supposed conference.
Jan 30, 2012
Rumors about Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360 have been flying lately, but that doesn't mean a release is imminent. In an interview with Le Point, Microsoft France marketing director Cedrick Delmas stated that it was "certain" there will be no new Xbox released this year. This lines up with recent reports that the as-of-yet unnamed new console would be launching late in 2013, with a GPU based on AMD's 40nm Radeon 6000 architecture and perhaps even a Blu-ray drive. "The proof is that we haven't price cut this year," he told the paper (as translated by Eurogamer).Read Article >
Competitor Nintendo is prepping to launch the new Wii U in the second half of 2012, but Microsoft appears to feel no pressure for an immediate refresh. "We're not here to counter Nintendo, and they're not here to fight the other manufacturers," Delmas said. "Nintendo has put itself in a different cycle, it's going forward to its own rhythm, with success as we have seen with the Wii, and now it's their turn to present their innovation." Eurogamer also reports earlier rumors that Microsoft is actually working on two new products under the Xbox brand: a high-end successor to the current 360, and a cheaper "set-top box" aimed specifically at Kinect gaming. As for expectations that Microsoft will at least announce new Xbox hardware this summer at E3, Delmas was less definitive, saying only "it's too early to say."
Jan 25, 2012
Kotaku's anonymous sources are reporting what could be a video game industry coup: according to the rumor, the next Xbox will finally adopt a Blu-ray disc drive, years after the company's HD-DVD plans fizzled out. Apparently, though, there's more to the new drive than simple playback of 50GB optical discs, because one of the sources also claims that the supposed "Xbox 720" will also "incorporate some sort of anti-used game system." Anything you hear about how that system might work is pure speculation, as that particular report ends there, but needless to say it's a controversial idea. Video game retailers have recently experimented with ways to deter used games sales, such as single-use vouchers for downloadable content, but Kotaku suggests this may be some sort of actual lockout restricting owners from playing used games if they weren't the first to purchase it.Read Article >
The Kotaku report continues by introducing another single anonymous source who suggests a new version of the Kinect will ship with the new Xbox, including an "on-board processor" that was allegedly omitted from the first device. We're taking that with a grain of salt, because the last time we checked, the existing Kinect included a Marvell Armada SoC. Lastly, the publication says it's hearing that the console might have a smaller controller, too. Needless to say, Microsoft has refused to comment on any of the rumors. At this time, we also can't say definitively whether any of this is true: there are certainly good arguments to be made in either direction. We'll keep an ear out.
Jan 25, 2012
IGN is reporting that the next Xbox will ship in autumn 2013, with a GPU based on AMD's 40nm Radeon 6000 architecture and allegedly offering performance akin to the Radeon HD 6670 from last year. "Sources close to the project" are offering a ballpark figure of a six times performance increase over the Xbox 360, or 20 percent more power than the Wii U, though this doesn't really tell us anything in real terms. All this should obviously be taken as rumor and speculation, but it's worth noting that IGN broke reasonably accurate information on the Wii U months before its official unveiling last year.Read Article >
No details were given on a possible CPU the console would ship with, but if true, the report would mean that the next Xbox's theoretical power is unlikely to outstrip the gaming PCs of today. Of course, in practice the fixed and dedicated nature of console hardware means that developers are able to wring far more performance out of them than they would get from an identically kitted-out PC. Moreover, the majority of PC games today are limited by the need to run on consoles as well, meaning that they're effectively hamstrung by hardware more than five years old, and their performance advantage is often largely limited to resolution and framerate. A new Xbox running this hardware should be more than capable of catching up to and even exceeding almost all current PC games, but would also push the baseline forward for future PC development.
Jan 19, 2012Read Article >
Cutler's previous experience and technical knowledge make this a particularly interesting move. Mary Jo Foley notes that Cutler has effectively earned the right to do "whatever he wants" at Microsoft, and it appears that his future is Xbox related. Microsoft confirmed the move in a statement, noting that Cutler's Xbox project work will help the company advance its "goals in the consumer space as we continue to grow the Xbox from a game-centric console to a complete home entertainment device."
Dec 15, 2011
Andy Lees apparently isn’t the only guy switching jobs at Microsoft this week. CNET is reporting that Don Coyner, Microsoft’s General Manager of Design and Planning, will be leaving his position as head of the Xbox design and experience group. Instead, that job will go to Emma Williams, the General Manager of Xbox Experiences, whose most recent project was last week's Xbox Live revamp. The group she will be heading is a combined hardware / user experience team charged with providing a complete design vision for the platform. The company regularly employs third party firms to tackle the hardware design of its Xbox products, though, partnering with Astro Studios for the Xbox 360 design and MINIMAL for the Kinect and Xbox 360 S.Read Article >
After working at Nintendo for seven years as a marketing manager, Coyner joined Microsoft in 1995 and the Xbox team in 1999. He was a major proponent of a unified design for the Xbox interface, something we're all thankful for. CNET's sources say Coyner isn’t planning to leave the company, although it’s not clear what his next position will be or why he's leaving the job.
Oct 5, 2011Read Article >
The above screenshot is from the film Real Steel, which is about a man training a robot to box. The film is based on Richard Matheson's 1956 short story "Steel," and though we've never read that one, we're pretty sure it's not full of ads. Real Steel apparently is, however, and, in addition to Coca Cola, Budweiser, and Mercedes Benz, Microsoft has two rather large placements in the movie: one for its search engine, Bing, and one for the Xbox... 720. A console which doesn't exist. We don't want to read too much (anything?) into it, because it's possible that Microsoft is just winking at all those rumors, but it could also mean that by the year 2020, we'll actually get a new Xbox. Here's to hoping!