A document which many call Microsoft Corp.'s two years old roadmap for Xbox has emerged on the Internet. The document details Microsoft's steps to transform multimedia and video game experience from 2011 to 2015 and includes Xbox 720, Kinect V2, Fortaleza Glasses as well as multiple of software enhancements to bring high quality Xbox entertainment onto any screen, be it TV, PC, tablet or smartphone.
Microsoft projects the Xbox Next (also known as Loop, Durango and 720) as the center of the digital entertainment for the future. The console itself is expected to feature six times higher compute performance than the Xbox 360, Blu-ray optical disc drive, compatibility with X360 titles and numerous other innovations. Microsoft wants Xbox 720 to be able to render games in 1920*1080 resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode, hence, the hardware under the hood should be very powerful even by today's standards.
The key thing about the Xbox Next is not its hardware that processes data, but its ability to connect to many different sensors and peripherals, including augmented reality glasses, Kinect v1 and v2 motion sensors, various advanced controllers and many more. Microsoft is expected to position the Xbox 720 as the only "box" needed in the living room for premium experience, therefore it is natural to expect very broad feature-set of the product, including digital video recorder capabilities, remote server capability to stream video games to any device, very sophisticated Xbox TV service (to get rid of set-top-boxes) and many more.
Microsoft's ultimate plan is to not only to make gaming even more immersive and interactive as well as to make Xbox experience available on any device, but to also use various mobile technologies to create contextual applications that utilize real time information from the Internet and from various sensors that enhance physical world.
In order to achieve that, Microsoft will have to go through several milestones and introduce a number of new hardware devices:
- Xbox Next is projected to be released in 2013 and become the foundation of Microsoft's vision of the future.
- Kinect version 2 is also due in 2013 and is expected to feature higher accuracy, stereo imaging, better tracking and better voice recognition.
- Fortaleza Glasses for Wi-Fi are expected to emerge in 2014 and bring augmented reality and new types of gaming to the living room. The version with 4G/LTE is claimed to be due in 2015 and expand the range of Xbox entertainment and AR to everywhere.
- By 2015, Microsoft expects to advance its cloud services so significantly that the "complete Xbox experience" will be available anytime, anywhere on any screen.
Keeping in mind recent announcements around Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, project SmartGlass and other promising technologies by Microsoft, it becomes obvious that the company is trying to create the world's most sophisticated ecosystem that one can imagine. The eco-system will be based on three pillars: Windows PCs for creation, Xbox for entertainment and Windows for smartphones for mobile productivity and entertainment.
While the plan looks unquestionably good, a number of questions remain. How does Microsoft plan to improve its WP platform to gain any serious market share? Will Microsoft let other platforms (Apple iOS and Mac OS as well as Google Android) to be a part of that ecosystem on device level, or will prefer to keep its features exclusive despite of drawbacks on certain hardware levels? Only time will tell the right answers.
The data released by WPCentral web-site is claimed to be obtained from a Microsoft's document called "Xbox 720 9-24 Checkpoint" that is said to be about 2 years old. In fact, there are notices that the document is "an old discussion deck", which probably means that not all technologies will emerge on time if ever. While this should be kept in mind, it should also be noted that some of the features advertised for 2011 - 2012 period of time have either emerged or have been announced.
Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.