xbox_next

An incredible 56-page leaked PowerPoint slide deck purporting to reveal Microsoft’s plans for the next Xbox video game and entertainment console has leaked online. The document, which appears to be legitimate, also highlights how the software giant plans to market this new console and related technologies through 2015.

Notes attached to the presentation reveal why Microsoft plans to replace the console by holiday 2013: “[The Xbox 360 is] showing its age.” Goals for the new console include providing next-generation games; background digital video recording; multiple power modes; “transmedia” experiences that span TV, phone, and PC; a next-generation camera; a full support web platform; and a new embedded platform architecture that provides the capabilities of a $2,000 PC in a $300 box.

The limitations of the current Xbox 360 are rather interesting, given that the hardware—though already 7 years old—still seems strong enough to deliver modern, HD-class media. But Microsoft says that the Xbox 360 lacks Blu-ray support, doesn't offer native 3D output, and can’t run in always on/lower power states—all capabilities that users would expect of a modern living room set-top box.

To differentiate its offering from the competition—which includes traditional video game companies like Sony and Nintendo as well as entertainment-oriented offerings from Apple and Google—Microsoft plans to offer numerous advantages. The next-generation Xbox will feature exclusive next-generation “triple-A” game titles at a rate of four to six times the rate that occurred with the Xbox 360. It will feature a next-generation Kinect sensor—adding motion and voice control to the core console—as well as a unique new 3D glasses technology that’s code-named Fortaleza. And it will allow multiple apps to run simultaneously, something that isn't possible today on the Xbox 360.

The next Xbox will also feature a Blu-ray drive, native 3D capabilities, hardware-based video acceleration, different power states for managing different activities (game play, media playback, streaming, and more) efficiently, and an “A/V form factor” that is “quiet, cool, and green,” and will offer six times the performance of today’s Xbox 360, according to the presentation. Microsoft plans to sell more than 100 million units over the platform’s 10-year (2013-2023) lifecycle. (The Xbox 360 has sold just under 70 million units in a bit under 7 years.) There will be multiple device types, and unlike the first two Xbox generations, Microsoft intends to make money on every console sold, starting in the first year.

Kinect fans might recall that the current device was code-named “Natal,” which happens to be the name of a city in Brazil, and the home town of Kinect inventor Alex Kipman. “Fortaleza,” the code name of the coming connected glasses technology, is also a city in Brazil, and both locations are near a Microsoft Innovation Center, according to an email message I received.

The leaked roadmap also includes information about products and services related to Xbox, including an “XTV pay TV service” that will launch in 2012 and work with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 in addition to the Xbox 360. But after the next Xbox and Kinect V2 launch in 2013, Microsoft will also be pushing two generations of “Fortaleza” glasses, offering a “revolution in the living room.” The first will work with Wi-Fi only, while the second generation, due in 2014, will offer cellular data support. In 2015, Xbox experiences will be “served up from the cloud, instantly on any screen.”

The next-generation Xbox will launch in late 2013, according to the leak, and will cost $299 for a version that includes Kinect V2. That maps to today’s Xbox 360 4GB Console with Kinect (V1), which also costs $299.

I’m preparing a longer overview of the next-generation Xbox leak, which will be published on the SuperSite for Windows sometime on Monday. Stay tuned!