Before we get to this juicy bit of news, let's get the standard disclaimer out of the way first: As with all such items that appear on the Internet and seem to contain a treasure trove of information that large corporations would rather we not have, it's entirely possible that the document we're about to discuss is a hoax. Granted, if that's the case, it's a very elaborate hoax, and whoever created it certainly put a massive amount of time and effort into making it seem legit, but without any sort of official confirmation, we can't say with absolute certainty that any of the information contained within the document has a basis in reality.
Now, with that out of the way, here's the scoop: At some point Saturday morning, a 56-page document began circulating throughout the ‘net. Supposedly this document originates from a 2010 Microsoft meeting at which employees were briefed on the firm's plans for the upcoming successor to the Xbox 360. According to the document (which you can read in its entirety via Scribd), the "Xbox 720″ -- that's the official name, if the document is to be believed -- will hit store shelves in time for the 2013 holiday season and feature a $299 price tag. Additionally, the console will be bundled with the next iteration of the Kinect peripheral, which, while similar to the current Kinect, will feature an improved camera, support for up to four simultaneous players and improved, hardware-based player tracking technology.
As for the technical specs of the new console, Ars Technica describes the document's claims as such:
The "Xbox 720″ described in the planning document will be six to eight times more powerful than the Xbox 360 (depending on where you look in the document). A vague "snapshot" of the Yukon architecture for the system shows a core application architecture featuring six to eight 2Ghz ARM/x86 cores, with two additional ARM/x86 cores powering the system OS and three PowerPC cores handling backward-compatibility functions. The document strongly suggests that this base hardware will be available in multiple configurations with different feature sets, using an the architecture is "designed to be scalable in frequency/number of cores," and a "modular design to facilitate SKU updates later in lifecycle."
As a result of the improved tech, the console will supposedly be able to output imagery in full 3D and true 1080p resolution, and function as a DVR (even in standby mode) with the ability to stream captured video content to a host of devices. That concept, more than anything, offers hope that this document is indeed legitimate, as that last feature sounds quite similar to the SmartGlass initiative that Microsoft outlined at last week's E3 conference.
Intriguingly (or horrifyingly, depending on your personal feelings on the subject), the documents spends quite a bit of time detailing how the Xbox 720 would have features similar to that seen on the Wii. Particularly notable is a section dubbed "Feel The Experience With Props." It includes a picture of a player holding a baseball bat at the ready, while a pitcher on his TV screen winds up to throw a pitch. Below that a caption reads: "Feeling is believing. Feel the crack of the bat, the kick of the rifle or the shake of the wheel as you speed through the turn." It seems like that this indicates that the system would have expanded functionality when combined with these aforementioned "props," though no further information is offered beyond that ambiguous caption.
While we're still unable to confirm or deny the information contained in the document -- Microsoft remains mum on the issue -- it certainly makes for interesting reading. Even if proven to be a fake, it serves as an excellent hypothetical glimpse of the future of console gaming. Even the oddball bits -- according to the document Microsoft is working on a wearable set of glasses that provide 3D, interactive vistas for multiple players to simultaneously interact with -- seem exactly like the kind of thing a big gaming company would throw out in an effort to differentiate its latest tech from that of its competitors, while everything else seems quite in line with what we'd expect Microsoft to roll out. Only time will tell if this thing's predictions come to pass, but in the meantime feel free to speculate and argue over the documents claims.
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