Microsoft unveils Xbox One as a home entertainment hub
Microsoft console touted as home entertainment hub to dominate the internet-age living room
Will gamers want this One?
After four years of development, Microsoft has staked a claim to the internet age living room with an eagerly awaited new generation Xbox One console touted as a home entertainment hub that goes far beyond games.
Although the device won't go on sale until later this year, at a price that hasn't been disclosed yet, Microsoft invited attendees at this week's announcement event to take a closer look at the system.
The beefed-up hardware is powered by software that allows for instant switching between games, television, and internet browsing. Microsoft-owned Skype was also integrated for online group video calls.
Kinect motion and sound sensing accessories accompanying the consoles recognise users, respond instantly to commands spoken in natural language, and even detect a person's pulse.
"This is the beginning of a new generation of games and entertainment and a new generation of smart TV," said Microsoft entertainment unit executive Yusuf Mehdi.
Microsoft played to long-time Xbox fans with glimpses of blockbuster games including Call of Duty: Ghosts and FIFA soccer being tailored for the new consoles. A beloved Halo science fiction shooter franchise was used to showcase the merging of television and videogame play in Xbox One.
Microsoft has sold some 77 million Xbox 360 consoles since they hit the market in late 2005. Console rival Sony has sold about the same number of PlayStation 3 consoles, which was introduced a year later.
Meanwhile, Nintendo sold nearly 100 million Wii consoles, which became hits due to innovative motion-sensing controls after their debut in 2006. However, demand for Nintendo's recently released Wii U consoles has been disappointing.
Sony announced a new generation PlayStation 4 system in February but spoke ambiguously about the device, leaving much to the imagination. The PlayStation 4 is to hit the market by the end of this year.
"Microsoft wins the next-gen game console launch wars," said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.
"Where first Nintendo offered us a tablet to accompany the millions we had already bought and Sony then offered us a box that we couldn't even see, Microsoft has trumped them both by delivering the Xbox One."
Microsoft has apparently put its hardware and software mastery to effective use, bringing game controllers, tablets, smartphones, voice, and gesture together in the Xbox One.
"I think Microsoft stands a good chance at being dominant in the living room, but they still have some way to go before we can call them the king," said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.
In a move that might irk gamers, Xbox One will not be compatible with titles designed for play on its predecessor.
Microsoft would not say whether Xbox One would recognise second-hand disks and require activation fees to play, pumping revenue from used games.
Additional reporting by Associated Press