After a prolific run across 8 years with over 70 million units sold for the Xbox 360, Microsoft announced its next generation system, the Xbox One, in Redmond, Wash. today. The Xbox One will be "available around the world later this year," though they did not give any information on pricing.
It is the last of the next gen systems to be announced, with Sony's PlayStation 4 unveiling capabilities and game footage -- but no system -- in February and Nintendo's Wii U on shelves since November.
In an introductory video that featured Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams and more, the company said that the Xbox One would be the first time that "you and your TV are going to have a relationship." And they might have a point.
Hyping the Xbox One's ability to be an "all-in-one entertainment system," Microsoft showed off a console that is capable of seamlessly flipping between the multimedia in your life. Saying "Xbox on" will see the system recognizing a users voice and instantly logging them into their gaming profile. Using voice commands, the user can then flip between Xbox's applications or dashboard and live television without having to switch inputs.
In the demo showcased by Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s president of Interactive Entertainment Business, the speed at which the console was able to make these changes was met with audible gasps from the audience. Commands such as "what's on HBO?" or "watch CBS" changed channels or brought up guides.
Microsoft kept up with their push to fully invade your TV by also announcing that Xbox Entertainment Studios will apply the model of a game studio to produce original video programming. The big news here was that Spielberg would be involved in the production of a live-action TV series based on the "Halo" universe.
The console's "Snap Mode" will allow the Xbox One to run multiple apps simultaneously. Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated this capability by watching "Star Trek" before using his voice to bring up Internet Explorer on the screen, where he was able to look up trailers for the film's sequel or buy tickets.
The ESPN app was also revealed, which will allow users to watch live sports on their TV while browsing things like a players fantasy stats or other scores around the world on the same screen. Later in the event Microsoft would speak about an exclusive partnership with the NFL, a move they hope will position the Xbox One at the forefront of the interactive experience of watching football.
The system's specs include 8GB RAM, an 8-core CPU, a 500GB hard drive, both HDMI in and out and a USB 3.0 port. The One will also finally see an Xbox with a Blu-ray drive, this coming after the 360 bet very wrong on the future of HD DVD.
The controller has also seen an internal facelift with 40 design changes that include a redesigned "precision" directional pad in addition to impulse triggers and integrated battery compartments and WiFi. The controller will work together with the new Kinect to recognize players, with Kinect now featuring a 1080p wide-angle camera that is better equipped to follow a gamers movements and even read their heartbeat.
The One will also have a built-in DVR for gamers to record gameplay footage which they can later share online.
In-game footage was unveiled for the EA Sports collection of titles -- including "NBA Live," "FIFA" and "Madden" -- along with "Forza Motorsport 5" and "Quantum Break," a new title exclusive to One that blends TV and gaming from the creators of "Max Payne" and "Alan Wake." "FIFA 14 Ultimate Team" will be exclusive to the Xbox One, a huge pickup for Microsoft considering it's the most popular sports video game in the world. Unfortunately for users with a large library of Xbox or Xbox 360 games, the Xbox One will not offer backwards compatibility.
Microsoft saved their big guns (literally) for last when they premiered the trailer for "Call Of Duty: Ghosts." One users will have exclusive access to downloadable content for the game. You can watch the trailer below:
Microsoft should hope that their new console has better luck than what Nintendo has seen so far with the Wii U, whose sales figures have been described as "atrocious" when compared to both its predecessor, the Wii, and the older faction of systems released in the mid-2000s.