Microsoft Announces Xbox One

Nearly a year after being one of the brighter blimps on our radar, Microsoft's next-generation entertainment system, which we've come to know as "Durango," has taken shape as Xbox One. Notice they didn't use the term "game console," because its predecessor, which started out as a game console, eventually outdid its purpose, becoming one of the biggest web-enhanced home entertainment platforms in existence. The new Xbox One is designed with that in mind, without deviating on the core gaming aspects of the device.

The console, which looks more boxy than its predecessor, and resembles the original Xbox, brings along a newer generation controller that adds more control, without changing the ergonomic design of its predecessor. It also brings along a new generation Kinect controller. The console itself is horizontally oriented, so it could find room next to your other living room goodies, such as satellite/cable box, and home theater receiver. Turning it on is as simple as saying the words "Xbox on," which starts the system and fires up your home screen. Your TV connection can be routed through the Xbox, so it acts as program manager, and DVR.

The new Xbox user interface and Xbox Live don't look unlike the modern UI from Windows 8 or Windows Phone 7+. Information, controls, and even video and game overlays are neatly arranged in tiles that are easy to locate and quick to select. The home screen that shows up after you wake the device can feature a combination of games, TV, and other entertainment, all in one place. The software is based on a heavily modified 64-bit Windows 6.x operating system.

Under the hood, the Xbox One is not much different from Sony PlayStation 4, of which we've only seen the controller. It runs a similar chip made by AMD, which combines eight 64-bit x86 cores based on the "Jaguar" micro-architecture, DirectX 11-class Radeon GPU, and 8 GB of shared system memory. A 500 GB hard drive, and a slot-in Blu-ray drive are standard-issue, along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, with WiFi Direct, HDMI-in and HDMI-out (to pass through your TV connection), and USB 3.0 ports. 1080p is the standard display resolution for the console.

Among the games Xbox One will pilot with, are Forza Motorsport 5, Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA LIVE 14, and Quantum Break. The launch schedules of these games indicate that the console will be available much later this year, closer to X'mas. While ports of most XBLA-based casual games are underway, the mainline Xbox 360 titles won't run on the console.