A couple of months ago Sony launched a preemptive strike and announced the hardware specifications for the PlayStation 4. Obviously, it was trying to court game developers by revealing the specs of its next generation console, before Microsoft could have the jump on it. Sony seemed quite desperate, and it did not even showcase the final console hardware. It was quite apparent that it was done to gain ground on Microsoft, which rules the roost in the console gaming space with the Xbox 360. Today, however, it’s Microsoft’s turn and at an event in its campus it will reveal details about the next iteration of the Xbox. Here’s what we expect to happen. Also Read - A new Windows 11 teaser released ahead of launch: Here's a look
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When we talk about a next generation console, the first thing one thinks of is new processing firepower. The next Xbox will certainly have more power on tap. According to gaming site Kotaku, it will have an eight-core AMD Jaguar CPU that will be clocked at 1.6GHz and a Bloomberg report has claimed that it will have around 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
This may sound a lot when compared to the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3, but when we compare these specs to modern gaming PCs, they sound decidedly mid-range at best. In all likelihood, it will share the same eight-core AMD Jaguar CPU as the PlayStation 4 which is not exactly high-end. There may be eight-cores chugging, but these are not state of the art Intel Ivy Bridge cores. It’s a system on chip solution. Additionally, 8GB of DDR3 RAM has become quite common these days.
In fact, going by all the reports, one believes that the new Xbox and the PlayStation 4 will be very similar in terms of processing power. Graphically, there will not be a major gap in quality, like some notice between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. The one big advantage of this situation is that developers will be making games for more or less the same internal hardware, which should encourage more interoperability between the two platforms. Unlike the Xbox 360, the new console is also expected to come with a Blu-Ray drive and 50GB of internal storage.
As far as the controllers are concerned, the new console will have a redesigned controller according to a Kotaku report. While Sony has added a screen and a touch pad to the PlayStation 4 controller, the new Xbox controller is not expected to be a major redesign. Microsoft is said to be using wireless controllers exclusively for the new console.
KINECT 2 AND MORE NEW STUFF
Back in 2010, Microsoft managed to breathe new life into the Xbox 360 when it launched the Kinect camera that allowed users to use gestures to play games. It proved to be immensely popular. A new version of the Kinect camera is expected according to the Verge. In fact, there was a massive leak regarding the Xbox 720 back in June 2012, which revealed many details about the new variant of the Kinect. The Kinect 2 is expected to have higher accuracy, stereo imaging, improved voice recognition, an improved RGB camera, and dedicated hardware processing. The Kinect 2 will also support four players, and there may also be accessories like a baseball prop. Sony has already attempted something similar with the Move controller and various ‘Gun’ attachments. A more recent leak via Twitter user SUPERDAE revealed enhanced depth and movement data via the Durango developer kit.
The Verge also revealed that the next Xbox will have improved speech to text capabilities and support for voice and natural language. The Kinect sensor will be able to detect users in the room and support appropriate multiplayer games after the user interfaces with Xbox using voice. Additionally, users will also be able to start video content where they left it before using just voice.
SOFTWARE PLATFORM AND SERVICES
As far as the software platform is concerned there have been reports that the new Xbox will run on a version of Windows 8. while the Xbox 360 used the Metro interface for the dashboard, the new Xbox is said to be based on the underpinnings of Windows 8 which would unify the development platform for game developers as they could perhaps use the same tools to create games for the PC and the Xbox alike.
Additionally, we have already seen Microsoft develop a version of Internet Explorer for the Xbox so there is no reason why this cannot happen, considering the Xbox is expected to run on a PC architecture. There could also be synergies between Microsoft’s smart glass apps.
According to the Verge, Microsoft is also said to be pitching the next Xbox as a Google TV rival, and the console will be able to take over TV and set-top box functionality. This feature will need a connection all the time, and it will involve “taking an HDMI signal and overlaying interface and features from the Xbox onto the existing TV channel”.
A recent WSJ report talked about the Xbox having a Glass peripheral that will augment content. This could be an interesting feature, and this feature is said to compete against 3D gaming and technologies like Google Glass.
Additionally, similar to Sony, Microsoft is said to be toying with a streaming service that will allow users to stream Xbox 360 games directly on the console in the vain of Onlive and Sony’s Gaikai.
According to Kotaku and VGLeaks, the next Xbox will be an always on and connected console. The new console will have a new game activation mechanism so that it will curtail piracy and not allow users to play used games. Games will need to be installed on the hard drive.
WSJ has also talked about a 7-inch Surface tablet that could be launched under the Xbox brand and could perhaps act like a companion device.
Not a lot is known about the new software that is in the works for the next Xbox, but we can be rest assured that Microsoft will line up the developers for the announcement. In fact, we already know that EA will show off the FIFA 2014 today running on the new console, and we can also expect Bungie, the former Microsoft owned studio to showcase its upcoming game Destiny.
And finally, what will be the name of the next Xbox? Well, the development kit was called Durango, but many believe it could be the Xbox 720. There has been some chatter on Reddit that suggest that it could be called the Xbox Infinity, but to be honest nothing is clear at the moment.
Anyways, we expect Microsoft to focus more on the hardware and features tonight, but at E3 starting next month the boys from Redmond will focus on the software and release dates for the console. Going by history, we can expect it to be launched by the end of the year most probably in the holiday season.