Senior industry sources, speaking to gamesindustry.biz over the weekend, have indicated that it is extremely likely that Xbox 2 - currently codenamed Xenon - will be unveiled during Bill Gates' keynote address at the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 5th, 2005.
Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief-software-architect, was unveiled as the keynote speaker by the Consumer Electronics Association late last week, prompting speculation that Microsoft would use the platform to unveil Xbox 2.
However, high-level talk amongst industry insiders, including analysts and publishers, suggests that there's more to this particular rumour than idle gossip. Microsoft has so far declined to comment, taking the line that it does not respond to "rumour and speculation", but has not issued a denial.
However, the platform holder has also yet to confirm plans for X04, this year's version of its annual press event, and given the company's apparent desire to gain first-mover advantage in the next generation of home consoles, CES now seems like the most obvious chance to do that before Sony and Nintendo roll out their future hardware at E3 next May.
The event also has some historical significance for the format - CES 2001 marked the debut of the first Xbox, when Bill Gates demonstrated the console and game controller and showed off Oddworld Inhabitants' Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, and Argonaut's platform game Malice.
Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a financial analyst meeting that there will be no new Xbox this year, but that does not rule out an unveiling within that time frame. "There's no new Xbox in the next year, but man, are we hard at work on that next Xbox," he told analysts.