Monday, June 18, 2012

Leaked document outs 2013 launch for next-gen Microsoft gaming console 'Xbox 720,' priced at $299

A Microsoft document that was posted to, then later removed from document sharing site Scribd, revealed Microsoft's plans for its next-generation gaming system, including its name: the Xbox 720.

That name makes a lot of sense, considering the Redmond, Wa.-based company's current gaming console is called the Xbox 360.

Described in the Powerpoint slide deck were features such as Xbox SmartGlass, Blu-ray support, 3D glasses, cloud-based gaming and an improved Kinect system, despite Microsoft likely not knowing at the time of the document's writing (mid-2010) how Kinect, its motion gaming controller, would be received.

Kinect was not launched until November of 2010 and has since been modified for various other purposes in addition to gaming. It took some time for the realization to sink in, but Microsoft, finally noting the gadget's myriad possible uses, released an SDK for Kinect Windows development in the middle of the following year (2011).

The Kinect 2 hardware will feature improved voice recognition, hardware processing and stereo imaging. The documents said the console is se for a 2013 debut. That's not a surprise, as Microsoft has been quite clear in saying that the next iteration of its gaming console would not launch this year.

The slide deck also noted aggressive pricing - at $299. Microsoft’s stated goal from the deck is to sell 100 million units in 2013. Also in the slide deck is a description for what Microsoft called "Fortaleza" Kinect Glasses. That appears to be a codename for a research project akin to Google's Project Glass. The smartglasses appear to be wi-fi- and/or 4G-enabled and incorporate augmented reality.

According to the slide deck, the system will run with six to eight ARM/Intel x86 cores running at 2Ghz with 4GB of memory. The Xbox 720 will also carry three PowerPC cores for full backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Software will ship on dual-layer Blu-rays discs with 50GB of optical storage.

It should be noted though that the document, once again dated mid-2010, didn't appear to be a mandate, but instead somewhat of an internal discussion about the new console.

On one slide labeled "Why do we need a next gen Xbox in 2013?," the presenter theorized that its Xbox 360 business will begin to decline next year, while next-gen gaming consoles from rivals such as Sony and Nintendo challlenge Microsoft's console, and with new threats emerging from Apple and Google.

It does appear that Microsoft wants to take over your living room, something posited as a goal for the long-rumored Apple TV. The suggested marketing tagline for the Xbox 720 is "All Your Entertainment. One Box." The product life cycle of the next-gen Xbox 720: ten years.

Naturally, there's no way to authenticate the document, but nothing is says is out of the realm of possibility. In addition, the link that once hosted the document now returns a message saying it was removed at the request of Covington & Burling LLP, an international law firm that lists Microsoft as one of its clients.

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