Microsoft Reveals First Details of Next-Generation Xbox


xbox logoToday at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft Corp. announced the first details of its next-generation Xbox® video game system platform, highlighting how hardware, software and services are being fused to power enhanced game and entertainment experiences.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA (TM) Architect J Allard further outlined the company’s vision for the future of entertainment, citing the emergence of an “HD Era” in video games that is fueled by consumer demand for experiences that are always connected, always personalized and always in high-definition.

“In the HD Era the platform is bigger than the processor,” Allard said. “New technology and emerging consumer forces will come together to enable the rock stars of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it.”

Building on 10 years of innovation with the DirectX® API, the Microsoft® Windows® and Xbox platforms will enable ground-breaking game experiences in the HD Era. Illustrating what that means for gamers, Allard shared the first details about the next-generation Xbox guide. Persistent across all games and media experiences, the guide is an entertainment gateway that instantly connects players to their games, their friends and their digital media.

Features of the guide include these:

  • Gamer Cards. Gamer Cards provide gamers with a quick look at key Xbox Live (TM) information. They let players instantly connect with people who have similar skills, interests and lifestyles.
  • Marketplace. Browseable by game, by genre, and in a number of other ways, the Marketplace will provide a one-stop shop for consumers to acquire episodic content, new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins and new community-created content.
  • Micro-transactions. Breaking down barriers of small-ticket online commerce, micro-transactions will allow developers and the gaming community to charge as little as they like for content they create and publish on Marketplace. Imagine players slapping down $.99 to buy a one-of-a-kind, fully tricked-out racing car to be the envy of their buddies.
  • Custom playlists. This feature eliminates the need for developers to support custom music in games. The guide instantly connects players to their music so they can listen to their own tracks while playing all their favorite next-generation Xbox games.

Typifying the HD Era game experience, the guide requires hardware designed with software in mind. System-level features of the guide such as custom playlists, the Xbox Live Friends list and voice chat are enabled at the chip level, liberating developers to focus on creating games, not developing for technical certification requirements (TCRs).

To support consumer demands for the HD Era, the next-generation Xbox is designed around key principles that let developers maximize real performance, using concepts they are already familiar with.

The next-generation Xbox hardware design principles include the following:

  • A well-balanced system that will deliver more than a teraflop of targeted computing performance
  • A multicore processor architecture co-developed with IBM Corp. that provides developer “headroom” and flexibility for the HD Era
  • A custom-designed graphics processor co-developed with ATI Technologies Inc. designed for HD Era games and entertainment applications

In addition, familiar software technologies such as DirectX, PIX, XACT and the recently announced XNA Studio — an integrated team-based development environment tailored for game production — complement the new hardware to help game developers unlock increasingly powerful and complex silicon.

The HD Era gaming platform will strike an elegant balance of hardware, software and services to power the new experiences consumers demand. Games and entertainment features such as the next-generation Xbox guide represent a shift toward more immersive and integrated consumer experiences. This shift will be further illustrated by a significant leap to high-definition graphics, where character movements and expressions are intensely vibrant and nearly indiscernible from real life; by multichannel, positional audio fidelity so clear and precise that players will be able to hear the faintest enemy footsteps sneaking up behind them; by richer online communications; and by an abundance of on-demand content for game consoles.

To listen to a podcast or watch video of the keynote, click here.

About Xbox
Xbox (http://www.xbox.com) is the video game system from Microsoft that brings people together for the most exhilarating game and entertainment experiences. Xbox delivers an expansive collection of breakthrough games, powerful hardware and the unified Xbox Live online service. The tag line “It’s good to play together” captures the spirit of Xbox as the social hub of the new digital entertainment lifestyle. Xbox is now available in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.





Filed in: Entertainment PCs


  • mar2k

    Waiting to see how the new-gen XBox will interact with MCE. Interesting that it will have a non-Intel CPU.

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    mar2k said: Waiting to see how the new-gen XBox will interact with MCE. Interesting that it will have a non-Intel CPU.

    I know… I thought that was taboo or something. I guess Microsoft doesn’t want to get left behind in the mulitcore battle with PS3. I’m curious if the IBM developed multicore CPU is any better than the dual-core Intel CPU (Pentium D) recently announced.

  • jingoro

    Any word on whether XBox 1 games can be played on it?

  • melvin

    There is already a media center extender DVD for the current xbox, so I’d be shocked if they don’t do at least the same. Hopefully, it will go a little beyond that. Given some of the new features (i.e custom playlist), making xbox a full fledged media extender seems very logical.

    Speaking of the new features, I’m I the only one who has very little interesting in competing online? I play games to get away, and don’t really need to get that into it. Besides, the xbox is really more for the 4 year old then me. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    Anyway, I’m not crazy about this trend of games that can only be played online with a subscription service.

  • mar2k

    There was also a rumor about a separate XBox version with PVR/MCE functionality built in with a hard drive standard, at a higher cost of course. More or less an MCE box on its own. Not sure the accuracy on this. Supposedly it would be out several months after the next-gen XBox comes to market.

  • http://www.alexandergrundner.com Alexander Grundner

    I updated the link to J Allard video and podcast address at the Game Developers Conference: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/press/gdc05/default.htm

    I’m just going along calling Microsoft’s MP3 and WMA audio web page links podcasts (because that’s what they’re calling them), but in reality podcasts are audio enclosures in an XML/RSS file.

  • melliott

    melvin said: There is already a media center extender DVD for the current xbox, so I’d be shocked if they don’t do at least the same. Hopefully, it will go a little beyond that. Given some of the new features (i.e custom playlist), making xbox a full fledged media extender seems very logical.

    Speaking of the new features, I’m I the only one who has very little interesting in competing online? I play games to get away, and don’t really need to get that into it. Besides, the xbox is really more for the 4 year old then me. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    Anyway, I’m not crazy about this trend of games that can only be played online with a subscription service.

    I do not want this to come across as a flame so do not take it that way but have you ever played on live? For the most part it is a PITA but with the right group it can be really entertaining.
    http://www.xboxmaturegamers.com/forum/portal.php
    I would say the xbox is geared more toward the mature gamer than say the GC. Great gaming system that in my oppinion is a shame they are already pushing out the door. I think it still has a lot of life left in it.

  • 00h00m

    They are not “pushing it out the door” just yet. They have to release specs to get the hype machine going on the net and in the gaming mags. It probably helps sales of the current generation by making people believe that the current gen is going to port to the next gen device and in such allows them to buy games now and not worry about them being obsolete down the road. Not to mention is gives fanboys something to argue about endlessly with their GC and PS2 friends.

    That said, I have almost never played a PS1 game on my PS2, but my wife stills plays the “shooty” games that are made for the PS1 and light guns.

    Hype is such a large part of how systems sell that marketing has become a very large part of these press releases.

  • melvin

    melliott said: I do not want this to come across as a flame so do not take it that way but have you ever played on live? For the most part it is a PITA but with the right group it can be really entertaining.
    http://www.xboxmaturegamers.com/forum/portal.php
    I would say the xbox is geared more toward the mature gamer than say the GC. Great gaming system that in my oppinion is a shame they are already pushing out the door. I think it still has a lot of life left in it.

    Doesn’t look like a flame at all. I really just had one point…that being that I’m really not in to devoting much time to multiplayer games over the net. I’m sure theyre great fun if you find the right game and group to play with. I just hope the single player games don’t die out as a result of multiplayer and subscription game popularity.

    I actually have played some many years ago with Age of Empires backed when everyone had dial-up. It was fun and all, but I prefer to play a single game for an hour at a time or so, then pick it up another day.

    As for my comments about xbox being for the 4 year old, I should clarify. We actually got xbox specifically for my son on his birthday. so I don’t really spend any time on that except with him as it’s not my toy. In other words, I realize xbox is designed for adults, but in our family, it’s for the boy. I should have been more clear about that.