Microsoft unveils Xbox One next-generation console



Microsoft unveils Xbox One next-generation console


Microsoft's Don Mattrick launches the Xbox One


Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One which will go on sale later this year.
The next-generation console was shown off alongside a new Kinect camera-and-voice sensor and a redesigned gamepad.
The US firm described the voice and gesture-controlled machine as an "all-in-one" system offering games, live TV, movies and music.ors
The firm's Entertainment and Devices Division accounted for $9.6bn (£6.3bn) worth of sales in Microsoft's last financial year.
That only represented about 13% of its total revenue for the period - but one analyst said the importance of this launch should not be underestimated.


"Microsoft is very strong in business software and the enterprise cloud business, but its consumer businesses are facing tremendous challenges: PCs are declining rapidly and Windows Phone handsets have only a fraction of the market shares of rivals," said Jia Wu from consultants Strategy Analytics.
"Xbox represents Microsoft's core strategy in the consumer entertainment market, especially after it sold its Mediaroom video distribution business to Ericsson earlier this year.
"This is also the unique asset which Microsoft has that can differentiate itself from Apple, Google and several of the other large tech companies. "
New features
The new machine sees Microsoft add a Blu-ray drive and Skype functionality to its console, built in feedback into its gamepad triggers, and upgrades its Kinect camera sensor to 1080p high definition resolution.
It said the Kinect would allow the device to better analyse body movements allowing users to more accurately control game characters and navigate other entertainment options.
"When you're exercising, it can read your heartbeat," claimed the firm.
New tools will also allow users to record and edit gameplay so clips can be easily uploaded to the web.
EA Sports was first to announce new titles for the machine revealing Fifa 14, Madden 25, NBA Live 14 and the fighting game UFC would all launch on the platform within the next 12 months using a new games engine called Ignite.
It said the new machine allowed it to carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more "animation depth and detail".
Xbox OneMicrosoft has added the ability to watch live TV with channel selection controlled by voice
Microsoft Studios also revealed that Forza Motorsports 5 - the latest in its own racing car franchise - would be available when the console launched.
The division added that it planned to release 15 games within the console's first year, eight of which would be new franchises.
Another Microsoft unit, 343 Studios, revealed it would release a live-action Halo television series co-developed with movie director Steven Spielberg.
Activision also provided a first look at the next title in its Call of Duty series - Ghosts. It will use a new games engine to take advantage of the latest console's improved graphics capabilities, offering more detailed textures such as human skin. The title will also be released on rival platforms.
"The integration of voice and gesture control with social features and real-time sharing are crucial and create the opportunity for consumers to have a complete entertainment hub of which Xbox is the epicentre," said Fred Huet from research firm Greenwich Consulting.
KinectMicrosoft indicated the new Kinect would address criticism that the first one was not accurate enough
"Combined with exclusive video content, Microsoft stands in a prime position to make valuable market gains in the increasingly competitive and profitable connected TV space."
Processor change
Microsoft is planning to launch its new console at a time when many video games makers are trying to reduce costs.
Electronic Arts, Square Enix and Activision Blizzard are among firms which have announced layoffs over the past couple of months.
But the updated machines may put the companies under fresh strain.
Games engine developer Epic has warned that if studios want to take full advantage of the advances in graphics power that will be available, then their design costs could be double what they were when the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched.
"The additional rendering capabilities of these consoles will demand larger budgets for the marquee high-end games," said Lewis Ward, video games analyst at tech research firm IDC.
"That creates a risky proposition for developers.
"But the costs are going to be mitigated to an extent - studios have said it will be easier to make games on next-gen platforms because they're going to be closer to the development environments that are common on the PC side."
Mr Ward was referring to the fact that Microsoft has decided to power its machine with an x86-based CPU (central processing unit) rather than continue with IBM's PowerPC technology. The move means its console will run off a chip that is similar to the that found in most PCs.
Call of Duty: GhostsActivision said the new console's processors allows it to offer improved texture resolution
Sony has also opted to switch from its proprietary Cell processor tech to the x86 architecture meaning, in theory, it should be easier to port a title across different platforms.
However, the move means neither machine will be backwards compatible with the former generation's catalogue of games.
Sony held its a press conference in February when it revealed details about its upcoming PlayStation 4 - but it has still to show off the console itself.
Both Microsoft and Sony plan follow-up "keynote" announcements at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles on 10 June.
Nintendo launched its next-generation console, the Wii U, last year and has said it will not host a major press conference at the event.

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