After months of speculation, Microsoft finally showcased its brand new video game console –– dubbed the Xbox One.
Unlike Sony's PlayStation 4 presentation, Microsoft actually had the Xbox One console on hand. It delivered a system that looks quite unlike the Xbox 360 –– extremely rectangular and boxy –– but that is clearly packed with much more power and capabilities.
Although Microsoft didn't reveal a specific release date or price, it did say that the Xbox One will be available around the world "later this year." The system will also come with the next-generation version of the Kinect packed into the box alongside a traditional controller.
For a press conference revolving around a game system, there wasn't actually much in the way of new game announcements. A significant amount of time was spent detailing the Xbox One's television features since, as the company said when it opened the conference, "For the first time, you and your TV are going to have a relationship."
For starters, the Xbox One will be able to detect audio and respond to you almost instantly. Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated the new console's power by saying, 'Xbox, watch TV" and having the console switch immediately to live television. It can even search for specific content, and much of the navigation was done via voice than controller. Similar commands can make the system play music, go back to the game you're playing, and more. New motion gestures, meanwhile, allow users to minimize screens, move between menus, and even multitask.
Xbox One looked as if it was running on some form of Windows 8. The Start screen will look awfully familiar to anyone who's seen Windows 8 in action, and the console even supports Snap Mode, which is Windows 8's multitasking ability. Even Skype can be used in Snap Mode while playing games or watching TV.
Much of the conference was spent focused on the Xbox One's multimedia features. That's hardly a surprise considering the Xbox 360's capabilities, but Microsoft is clearly positioning the device as an all-in-one living room experience, not just a gaming machine. In fact, the focus on television content and partnerships (it is even collaborating with Steven Spielberg on a Halo television series) was so strong that the event seemed more like a broadside against the television ambitions of Apple, Google, and Samsung than against Sony and Nintendo.
Still, there were some games at the show. Electronic Arts showcased four new EA Sports titles –– Madden NFL, FIFA, UFC, and NBA Live –– and Activision was on hand to reveal new footage from Call of Duty: Ghosts. The racing game Forza Motorsport 5 and a new game from the developers of Alan Wake, called Quantum Break¸ was also revealed that mixed live-action footage with gameplay.
Meanwhile, Microsoft detailed the ability of the new Kinect as well. It'll be able to sense the slightest rotation in the wrist or shoulder, as well as the transfer of weight. It cans sense your heartbeat, and the device will recognize people individually, meaning it can launch you into your latest game save just by recognizing your face.
The Xbox One controller was also on display, though it looks very similar to the Xbox 360's. Microsoft said it features about 40 new innovations, but anyone who's played an Xbox game before will likely feel right at home with it.
Microsoft didn't reveal much in the way of specs, either, but it did mention that Xbox One sports 8GB of RAM, Wi-fi, and a Blu-ray disc drive.