During the Xbox event this morning, Microsoft announced its vision for the next-generation of game consoles and entertainment. The philosophy governing the next Xbox is everything going through one console. As such, the next Xbox will be called the Xbox One.
The Xbox One is being designed to improve a living room that Microsoft sees as fragmented. With the next console, Microsoft hopes to bring games, TV and entertainment into one place with you as the center.
Instead of showing games first, Microsoft decided to show how the next Xbox is going change entertainment and television. The first major change is that everything is controlled via voice or gestures. The voice commands have also become more conversational.
The Xbox One will also be bringing a bit of Windows 8 to it with Snap Mode - the multitasking feature in Windows 8 that allows users to have two applications open at once. With the Xbox One, a user can be watching a movie and open Internet Explorer on the side. The side view can then be controlled with a tablet or phone via Smartglass.
Speaking of television, ESPN on the Xbox One has received a substantial improvement. Fans will now be able to access their fantasy leagues while watching games. Microsoft has also entered into an exclusive contract with the NFL to provide live updates to fantasy football rosters during games.
Microsoft has also teamed up with Steven Spielberg to produce a live action Halo TV series that will be a premium series only on Xbox One.
The final addition to the overall Xbox experience is Skype. With it, users can make video calls with the 1080p camera that's in the new Kinect. It also supports Snap mode so users can make calls while watching movies, and presumably while playing games.
So, what's powering all of this? Microsoft said that the next Xbox will sport an 8-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, a Blu-Ray Drive and USB 3.0. It's also claimed that the machine will be cool and silent.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft says that the Xbox One will also be powered by three separate operating systems combined into one. The regular Xbox OS will be used by game developers while all other applications will use the Windows kernel. The other OS combines the two together for when you want to instantly switch back and forth between games and applications.
The new Kinect sensor sports a 1080p camera and more advanced tracking algorithms. Microsoft says that the new Kinect can even read your heartbeat.
As for the proper Xbox One controller, Microsoft says it has implemented over 40 changes to the design. One of which is impulse triggers that will deliver more feedback. The company also claims to have redesigned the d-pad.
Xbox Live is by far the most exciting part of the new system, and Microsoft seems to have noticed this. It has upgraded the Xbox Live server count to 300,000 so that players can do more. The first turns every Xbox One into a dedicated DVR capture device that lets players capture game footage and edit the footage on the console itself. Achievements will be revamped to be more about how much you play, and multiplayer games will search for matches while you play other games or watch TV.
After all of this, Microsoft finally decided to talk about some games. First up was EA Sports with an "unprecedented partnership" that will see four franchises being released on Xbox One - FIFA, Madden, NBA Live and UFC. For FIFA 14, the game's popular Ultimate Team mode will be exclusive to Xbox.
Microsoft also announced Forza Motorsport 5 and Quantum Break as titles it's publishing. The first speaks for itself, but the latter is the latest title from Remedy. It sounds like the guys at Remedy are trying to create a game that ties in with an in-game TV series. Both will influence the other or something. We'll probably find out more at E3.
To end the show, Activision showed off the first footage of Call of Duty: Ghosts running on the Xbox One hardware. Of course, all DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts will still launch first on Xbox.
As for other games, Microsoft says that there will be 15 exclusive titles for Xbox One in its first year with eight of them being new IPs. We will probably find out more about those titles at Microsoft's E3 show in early June.