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'Xbox One' console is official: 'The ultimate, all in one home entertainment system'

By Tom Ivan on Tuesday 21st May 2013 at 5:07 PM UTC

Microsoft has officially announced its new console, Xbox One.

[ Xbox One: All the News | All the facts | Full gallery | All the videos | Early specs ]

Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, revealed the name of the company's third console during an Xbox reveal event at the firm's Redmond campus.

The exec said Microsoft's new console is "the ultimate, all in one home entertainment system". It will launch around the world "later this year".

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Microsoft said the "liquid black" console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio, sits horizontally and includes "a distinctive beveled edge". The system will play Blu-Ray discs and each unit will ship with a next-gen Kinect sensor. Watch the first Xbox One trailer.

The platform holder subsequently confirmed that all Xbox One games will require mandatory installation on the system's hard drive. To install the same disc on another Xbox Live user's drive, a fee must be paid.

Microsoft exec Phil Harrison elaborated in an Xbox One interview with CVG that players who activate a pre-owned retail disc will need to pay the same price as the original buyer in order to access its content.

Microsoft later added that it is "designing the new console to enable customers to trade in and resell Xbox One games", but the company's not yet ready to share details on how this process will work.

There is no sweeping mandatory always-online requirement for Xbox One games. However, Harrison suggested that Xbox One will require an internet connection once every 24 hours.

Xbox One won't be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games, with Microsoft citing fundamental differences in the architecture of each console.

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Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, was the second executive to take the stage at the Xbox One reveal event. He began by demonstrating how Xbox One turns on with a voice command, "Xbox on," and launches to a personalised home screen.

"Live switching" via voice commands instantly switches between games, the internet, movies, music and other entertainment.

Microsoft has developed a series of physical gestures such as "grab, pan and swipe up" to navigate between the system's features.

The console's "snap mode" allows multiple programmes to run simultaneously on the same screen. Microsoft said you can use it to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching a movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch a sports game.

Skype on Xbox One will enable group video calls on your TV in HD, Mehdi said.

Xbox One will let users navigate and watch live TV from cable, telco or satellite set-top box through the console. TV integration features will be limited to the US at launch, Microsoft has confirmed.

Users will be able to find TV shows on Xbox One in three ways: by using voice and motion controls, through a personal favourites area, or via a trending section which shows what's popular with the Xbox community. "This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV," Mehdi claimed.

Marc Whitten, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Xbox Live, then took to the stage to discuss Xbox One's specs and confirm a next-gen Kinect sensor. The next generation Xbox will host 8GB of RAM and be based on 64bit architecture. The system will transfer content via USB 3.0 and operate silently, Microsoft said. It is not yet known what speed the RAM runs at.

Whitten claimed that the console will co-habit three operating systems in one. One operating system features "deep and instant access to hardware", another appears to be a Windows operating system, and the third custom made for multi-tasking operations.

In a post-reveal interview, Greg Williams, GM of silicon development at Microsoft, said the company "purposefully did not target the highest-end graphics" with Xbox One", adding: "We targeted more as a broad entertainment play and did it in an intelligent way."

Whitten also detailed the new Xbox One controller, which he said has been "designed by gamers, for gamers, for the next generation".

Whitten then said that a new Xbox Live service will be "more powerful, more personal and more intelligent". At Xbox 360's launch, 3,000 servers powered the online system. That number now stands at 15,000. Xbox One's Xbox Live service will be powered by 300,000, "more than the entire computing power of the world in 1999", according to Whitten.

The new Xbox Live will offer enhanced cloud functionality, improved matchmaking, new social features, background downloads, skill tracking and an expanded achievements system, Microsoft said. It will also capture gameplay videos for sharing and support a friends list capped at 1,000.

Xbox One's online marketplace will not file games into discrete categories such as Xbox Live Arcade or Indie Games, it was confirmed. Instead, all games will be listed in a unified games section.

Phil Spencer, corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios, was next up to show off Forza Motorsport 5 running on Xbox One. Check out the Forza 5 trailer.

He then unveiled Max Payne and Alan Wake creator Remedy's new game, Quantum Break, with a trailer.

Spencer said Microsoft has "more titles in development now than at any time in Xbox's history". He promised to deliver 15 exclusive games in the first year of Xbox One, "eight of which are brand new franchises". A new Rare game for Xbox One will be revealed at E3 next month, Spencer added. Additionally, Crytek's Kinect-enhanced action game Ryse will be exclusive to Xbox One and will be re-revealed at E3 next month following two years of darkness following its initial unveiling.

Andrew Wilson, vice president of EA Sports, said the publisher has entered into a "broad strategic partnership" with Microsoft for titles on Xbox One. He confirmed the company will launch FIFA, NBA Live, Madden NFL and UFC games on the system in the next 12 months.

EA's next-gen sports titles will be powered by Ignite, a brand new engine that the publisher claims will "blur the line between real and virtual". Target footage for EA's next-gen sports sims was shown in this EA Sports Ignite Engine trailer.

Additionally, EA has confirmed that Battlefield 4 will launch on Xbox One, as will Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and Watch Dogs. Destiny, Bungie's first post-Halo project, will also be released on Xbox One. An Xbox One version of Thief has been announced too.

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Nancy Tellem, president of entertainment and digital media at Microsoft, and 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross, took to the stage at the Xbox One reveal event to share information about TV content on te console.

They introduced Steven Spielberg, who confirmed via a video message that he's executive producing a live-action Halo TV series in collaboration with 343 Industries.

The event was rounded off with a number of Call of Duty announcements. Microsoft confirmed the continuation of its timed-exclusivity deal with Activision, which will see Call of Duty DLC arrive first on Xbox One.

Activision also showed off the first proper Call of Duty: Ghosts trailer and a 'behind the scenes' video providing a good look at the series' next-gen visuals and gameplay mechanics.

Following the event, a number of UK retailers kicked off Xbox One pre-orders. Zavvi has predicted an Xbox One price of £400 and release date November 30.

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