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Microsoft announces the Xbox One

The new Xbox aims to make the living room "simple, instant, and complete"; coming this year

At its press event today, Microsoft revealed the official name of the system previously code-named Durango: the Xbox One. The centerpiece of the new Xbox experience is a connected living room.

"Can we take what you love, and make it better?" said Microsoft president of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick. "We had a new mission: Design and build an all-in-one system to light up a new generation of games, TV, and entertainment. It must be simple, instant, and complete."

The system's UI looks much like the current Xbox 360 dashboard, but the primary thrust of the presentation was instant switching between different types of content, all via an new Kinect with improved voice commands. Microsoft senior vice president of the Online Audience Yusuf Mehdi showed off using Kinect voice commands to change between games, live television, and movies. Microsoft services like Internet Explorer and Skype made an appearance in the presentation, in addition to a new Snap feature, which puts two different types of content side-by-side.

The all-in-one entertainment experience

Mehdi also showed off additional content for live television programming, showing ESPN-driven stats and information on top of a basketball game.

"This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV," said Mehdi.

Microsoft's Marc Whitten then took the stage to detail the hardware powering Xbox One. The system features an 8-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a Blu-Ray disc drive, 500 GB hard drive, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and HDMI In/Out. Whitten promised that the system would have "practically silent operation", unlike its predecessor.

The Xbox One is based on three operating systems in one. The first is an improved Xbox operating system, featuring the "best of Xbox". The second is a Windows 8 kernel, bring the system closer to Microsoft's flagship operating system and growing ecosystem. The third operating system connects both systems together.

The new Kinect has a 1080p wide-angle camera, running at 30 frames-per-second in full color with a brand-new microphone array. A Kinect will be included with every system. The Kinect can even detect small wrist movements.

"When you're exercising, it can read your heartbeat," said Whitten.

The Xbox One controller has 40 design changes, according to Whitten. The controller features new ergonomics, new "dynamic impulse" triggers with built-in feedback, and a new directional pad. Xbox Smart Glass is also a big part of the Xbox One, with Whitten explaining that the companion service has been downloaded 10 million times already.

"We're taking the world's best controller and making it even better," added Whitten. "The real magic is what happens when all of these devices work together to create all new experiences."

Xbox Live is also making the transition over to Xbox One, bringing over all your current achievements over to a "more powerful, more personal and more intelligent" experience. The new Xbox Live stores your games, game saves, music, and movies in the cloud. Like the PlayStation 4's Share feature, the Xbox One has a built-in game DVR, allowing players to record and upload scenes from their favorite games.

"Playing games is brought to a whole new level. Just imagine... you will now have a dedicated gaming DVR to share your moments," said Whitten.

The conference event was light on games, as Microsoft is planning to showoff the Xbox One's software lineup at E3 2013. There was an announcement for Forza Motorsport 5, the latest iteration of Microsoft's car racing rival to Sony's Gran Turismo series. Forza 5 is expected at launch for Xbox One.

EA Sports came to the show with four titles for Xbox One, all based on its new Ignite engine: Madden 25, FIFA 14, NBA Live 14, and the new UFC game. EA Sports executive vice president Andrew Wilson also confirmed that FIFA 14 would have exclusive content for Xbox One.

Alan Wake developer Remedy premiered Quantum Break, which looks to blend gameplay and live-action content into a single experience. Finally, Activision and Infinity Ward showed off Call of Duty: Ghosts, with Microsoft retaining its previous Call of Duty deal for early downloadable content.

Mattrick confirmed at the conference that the Xbox One would be launching "later this year", but no specific date or system price was given.

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Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.