The new Xbox has just been revealed at an invitation-only event at the Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington. The next Microsoft Xbox console is not going to be called the Xbox 720, NextBox, Infinity or simply the Xbox - it will be known as the ‘Xbox One’.
The event started when Don Mattrick, President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, came on stage and said “We've spent the last four years working on the next generation Xbox”. He talked about the achievements of the Xbox 360 before asking – “Can we take what you love and make it better? Can we take a living that has become too slow and fragmented, to harmonize your experiences?” He spells out the mission, the aim of the new Xbox One; “Team Xbox is on a new mission: to design and build an all-in-one system for games, movies, and entertainment”.
“The ultimate, all-in-one entertainment system”
After this introduction and first glimpse at the Xbox One and the new controller Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi took to the stage to use the console. He says “Xbox On” and it turns on, recognising his voice and logs him into his profile automatically. The interface is pretty similar to what users know from the Xbox 360. The first screen you will see is a grid of your favourite apps called “My Pins”.
Say it, do it
Mehdi demonstrates the Xbox switnching to live TV, he simply says “Xbox, watch TV” and it switches to a live TV channel instantaneously. He says “Xbox, Game” and it switches back to the game interface, again without delay, simply by voice control. Now Mehdi decides he wants to browse the internet so says “Xbox, internet explorer”, we are switched straight to IE. Then he demonstrates some motion control; he makes a grabbing gesture and pinches the air, the Xbox returns to the home screen, “I can get back to the homescreen from any media” he explains.
Now ‘Snap mode’ is demonstrated. This should be familiar to Windows 8 Modern UI users but again Mehdi opts for voice control. He says “Xbox, Snap mode, Internet Explorer”, then an IE panel opens next to the video that is playing. Now Mehdi switches back to his video and, what do you know, a Skype call comes in to interrupt his movie... He commands “Xbox, answer call” and the Skype app slides in and turns down the volume on his video so he can chat.
Watching and navigating TV shows are demonstrated next using voice commands to switch program channels and genres and check the guide. As the Xbox is connected to the internet we can check what is popular with other users; “Xbox, Trending” shows what friends are watching.
Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live comes on stage. A slideshow reveals that the Xbox One hardware is roughly what had been expected; an 8 core CPU, 8GB of RAM, 500GB HDD, a Blu-ray drive, 802.11 Wireless with Wi-Fi direct, HDMI in/out, and USB 3.0. Hopefully more details will be revealed about the architecture shortly.
Also every Xbox One comes with a new 1080p Kinect sensor “processing over 2 gigabits of data per second to understand your world”. The Kinect will recognise your voice and your gestures, as demonstrated by Yusuf Mehdi. The new Kinect can sense such subtle things as the turn of a wrist, when you shift your weight from one foot to another, and even your heart beat!
Now we get to hear about the new Xbox One controller. Indeed it looks like an evolution of the current popular Xbox 360 controller design. There are no touch functions to compare with the PS4 design but Whitten says it has “over 40 design innovations”.
Andrew Wilson, head of EA's sports franchises, came on stage and talked excitedly about the Xbox One, which will host EA’s FIFA, Madden, UFC and NCAA games. There are some videos of the games being played and of course they appear smooth, glossy and realistic in all the right places. Following the EA representative a new ‘Forza’ racing title is announced, Remedy Studios show a new game called ‘Quantum Break’ and 343 Studios talk about the new ‘Halo’ game.
Incidentally Steven Speilberg will be lending a hand in making a live-action Halo TV series. Premium Xbox One subscribers will be able to watch the TV series streamed to their consoles.
To round off the games presentation, and actually the event as a whole, Eric Hirshberg, head of Activision Publishing, takes to the stage and shows the game ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’. Hirshberg describes how the new Xbox One has facilitated far more detailed graphics in the game and we see close-ups of a game character's hands, including dirt under the fingernails. Also apparently dogs will have a prominent role in this game.
E3 for Xbox One and PS4
Full details and lots more games for the Xbox One will be revealed at E3 which starts on 10th June. Also during Microsoft’s event Sony’s official PlayStation Twitter account announced the official hardware reveal of the PS4 for 10th June 6.00 Pacific time.
We will update you on any more details regarding the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as they are revealed. Particularly I think there will be some good quality videos coming out from this initial Xbox One reveal event.