Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has told a financial analyst meeting at the firm's Redmond headquarters that there will be "no new Xbox in the next year," prompting new speculation over the release date for the system.
"There's no new Xbox in the next year, but man, are we hard at work on that next Xbox - that's all we'll say," Ballmer told the analyst meeting, referring to the company's ongoing development efforts on the next-generation console codenamed Xenon.
His comments have prompted fresh speculation on the launch window for the next-gen Xbox, which is generally expected to be the first console to market of the forthcoming fifth-generation machines. Comments from senior Microsoft executives have repeatedly hinted at a 2005 launch, while both Sony and Nintendo are thought to be aiming for 2006 with their next systems.
Given the audience he was speaking to, Ballmer's statement most likely refers to Microsoft's fiscal year 2005 (which ends in March 2005) rather than the calendar year, and as such does not rule out a launch for Xenon in late 2005.
It could also simply refer to the next 12 calendar months, which would rule out a launch before autumn 2005 - again in line with current expectations. The other option, which is that the company has pushed the system back to 2006, seems unlikely, as senior publishing sources today indicated that they had been informed of no change to Microsoft's launch plans and continue to work towards an autumn/winter 2005 schedule for their early Xenon titles.