More details on the next generation Xbox has surfaced over on Kotaku. Microsoft's next product to succeed the popular Xbox 360 is set to be unveiled later this year. What the video game console will pack in terms of specifications and features is still unknown, but rumour and speculation (particularly on DRM) has taken place.
According to a source believed to be accurate, the next gaming console from Microsoft will run multiple games at once, requiring local installations to take place. This wouldn't affect a large number of consumers who actively install games to the local drive to prevent the disk drive from being constantly powered. What's more is the belief that the console will only function when a Kinect sensor is plugged in.
This information comes from a source who reports that he has access to development hardware. The same source claims to have a pair of Durango (codename) development kits. If that wasn't enough, the same soul reports that he's played some games on the new console, describing a graphical leap identical to playing Halo 2 on the original Xbox to playing Crysis on a powerful PC. It's hard to imagine how graphics can get that much better.
The source, named SuperDaE is the same guy who tried to sell a Durango development kit on eBay (and reports the sale was blocked by Microsoft - no way!). As well as the Xbox, SuperDaE is also well informed about the next generation Playstation, and has provided information from Sony's development kit documentation.
Unfortunately, no matter what this source (or any other) provides, Microsoft will not share details that may impact current Xbox 360 sales with consumers holding out on the successor. Be sure to take this with a grain of salt. What may be true right now may change when the console eventually comes to light and is officially announced.
Let's dig into what's being reported on.
What's interesting about the information published by Kotaku, the Kinect accessory would become mandatory. While it's said to be shipped with every console, it would seem slightly over the top to be required for video gaming to take place. But this could enable developers to include more functionality into games, such as profile detection and other visual features.
The camera technology is also upgraded with the capabilities of tracking thumbs, as well as reading facial expressions (or so it's claimed). The viewing angle is said to be so wide that the new version of Kinect doesn't need to "nod" to work out the best angle.
It's long been the case that Xbox 360 consoles can be purchased with bags of storage, or with a minimal amount of space available. This is said to be removed with Durango and will enable developers to take full advantage of hard drive installation. 500GB for each box will prove to be enough for game installs and media.
What's particularly special about the requirement to install games is that it's said this process can take place automatically, while the title is currently playing. In the background, the console would install the remaining sections of the game to the hard drive, eliminating the wait. Cool, huh?
As noted above, the Kotaku source claims videos games will be able to be run alongside another. Hate having to quit playing just to check Twitter on the current Xbox console? In Durango, the next generation Xbox, games are reportedly able to be suspended, enabling players to pause a game, switch to another app (or game) and return to the original game without losing the state.
Even cats can use the Xbox controller - source
Controller and app
The controller for Durango will be a "natural evolution" of the pad now available for the Xbox 360. According to their source, Kotaku suggests the Xbox 360 control pads will not be compatible with the next generation console as Microsoft is said to be implementing new wireless technology. For mobile, the companion app is set to be improved greatly to take advantage of new features.
This is the part that majority of consumers are interested in. What's going to power the next Xbox from Microsoft? We could be looking at an 64bit 8-core 1.6GHz CPU, 800MHz DirectX 11.x graphics processor, as well as various "custom hardware blocks" that would handle tasks to take strain off the CPU.
The sketches shared by the source show 8GB of DDR3 memory, along with a small amount of flash memory for system tasks. Finally there's a 50GB disk drive and 500GB hard drive (as mentioned above). The above more or less backs up what was rumoured previously, if we look back a few weeks.
3D gameplay is said to be supported and for those who have a capable TV will be able to enjoy a more immersive experience should developers support it. Let's also not forget Microsoft Research and its IllumiRoom concept. WiFi will be included as standard (as well as an ethernet port) - no more purchasing expensive dongles that simply don't work.
There you have it, folks. That's what was revealed by Kotaku's source. Take it how you will and remember that some things could change or be incorrect. We're still looking at rumours including a constant online requirement to help DRM enforcement. There's a lot to speculate on until Microsoft finally announces the next console.
Remember to take this how you will.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.