The new head of Microsoft Japan's Xbox division, Yoshihiro Maruyama, has commented on the company's plans for its next-generation console, stating that the hardware will be smaller and is due to launch in 2006.
Speaking in an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu, Maruyama-san confirmed that the system will not launch in 2005, but is expected to arrive in 2006 - with the exact date still to be decided.
That date will depend heavily on when Sony decides to launch the PS3. "Whether we'll release the successor of the Xbox before the PS2's needs to be decided carefully," he commented. "It has strong pros and cons."
Nothing particularly new there, although further confirmation that the next-generation consoles won't be rolling out until 2006 is always helpful. However, Maruyama-san was adamant on one point - Microsoft's next console will certainly be smaller than its current offering, responding to perhaps the most common criticism of the Xbox.
"In terms of hardware, we get a lot of requests asking us to reduce the console's size," he admitted. "Actually, I was thinking so myself before coming to Microsoft. We promise that we'll make the new console smaller."
Maruyama was hired to head up the Xbox Japan operation last autumn following a difficult period for the team, which was said to be suffering serious internal rifts over the manner in which a large number of employees were laid off. He had previously worked at Square Enix, where he was involved in the effort which saw the company being installed as a major name in publishing in the USA.