Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed that the next Xbox video game console, code-named Durango, will be revealed to the public during a special event at its Redmond campus on May 21. That event will kick off a multi-event unveiling that will continue through June and culminate with the release of the device, which is expected in early November.
On March 28, I exclusively revealed via Twitter that Microsoft had changed the original reveal date for the next Xbox from April 24 to May 21. So yesterday’s confirmation is interesting for two reasons, the least obvious of which is that the news came on April 24—the original date that the firm intended to reveal the next Xbox.
Related: "Microsoft Touts Xbox Momentum and Future"
Here’s what I know about the next Xbox (along with some clearly identified conjecture).
Early announce. The initial reveal date was pushed back from April 24 to May 21 so that Microsoft could better position the device against the PlayStation 4, which Sony announced in late February.
Full (end user) announce. Microsoft will fully reveal details about the next Xbox, including the launch lineup of games, on the eve of the E3 tradeshow in early June 2013.
Developer announce? It appears that Microsoft will discuss the next Xbox developer platform at the Build conference in San Francisco in late June, based on clues on the Build website.
Launch. The next Xbox will launch in early November 2013.
Windows 8 Core. The next Xbox is based on the "Core" (base) version of Windows 8. This suggests a common apps platform or at least one that is similar to that used by Windows 8. It also suggests that Microsoft could open up this platform to enthusiast developers. (That last bit is supposition on my part.)
Price. Microsoft will initially offer two pricing models for the console: a standalone version for $499 and a $299 version that requires a two-year Xbox LIVE Gold commitment at an expected price of $10 per month.
No entertainment box. Microsoft originally planned to offer both a “full” version of the next Xbox (with video game playing capabilities) and a lower-end entertainment-oriented version, code-named “Yuma,” that didn't provide gaming capabilities. But plans for Yuma are on hold, and no pure entertainment version of the next Xbox will appear in 2013 (or possibly ever).
Blu-ray. The next Xbox will include a Blu-ray optical drive.
Internet-connected. The next Xbox must be Internet-connected to use. This is the source of the “always on”/“always online” rumors and isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe.
Another Xbox 360. Microsoft will also deliver a third-generation Xbox 360 console this year that will be significantly less expensive than the current models. The new Xbox 360 is code-named “Stingray,” but it’s not clear whether this device is required because the next Xbox isn’t backward-compatible or because Microsoft simply wants a low-cost entertainment box alternative. (A third possibility—and to be clear, these possible reasons are all speculative—is that the Xbox 360 simply has life left in it and with dwindling component prices in the 8 years since the original launch, the firm can still make money selling such a device.)
There’s a lot I don’t know, of course. The name is a big area of speculation, and while I’ve heard nothing official, I’d be surprised if Microsoft didn’t just called it Xbox. I’ve never seen the console, nor have any idea what it might look like. And in addition to the aforementioned confusion over backward compatibility and the apps platform, there are questions surrounding Kinect (which I understand is integrated and non-optional) and of course the fabled (and possibly imaginary) Xbox Surface tablet. We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft announces—or what it leaks—to find out more.
On that note, Microsoft’s May event will be broadcast live via Xbox.com, over Xbox LIVE, and on Spike TV if you're in the United States or Canada.