Microsoft Reveals the Xbox One, Aims for Complete Media Integration

Posted on May 21, 2013 2:54 PM by Rob Williams

As expected, Microsoft today announced the third major iteration of its Xbox lineup, which it calls Xbox One. To say that there’s a lot to talk about would be putting it mildly, so let’s waste no time with fluff.

First, the tech specs. It’s long been rumored that AMD would be handling the CPU and GPU duties here, although Microsoft didn’t confirm it at its event. What was confirmed is that the Xbox One will include an 8-core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 memory (versus GDDR5 in the PS4), a 500GB hard drive, a Blu-ray slot-loading drive, 802.11n wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI in/out and support for 1080p/4K resolutions (games would assuredly be 1080p, while future movies could run at 4K).

Microsoft Xbox One

I consider the Xbox 360 gamepad to be one of the best ever released (it has flaws, but that statement stands), so when this new Xbox was on the horizon, I had hoped that Microsoft wouldn’t change too much. Fortunately, it appears the company was wise enough to make the upgrades it needed without affecting the overall feel of the gamepad (judging by an image, of course).

The Xbox One gamepad has shifted the Xbox Home button up a bit and the left and right triggers now have built-in rumble (that’s going to feel a bit different). One of the best changes might be the improved D-pad – the major sticking point with me with the Xbox 360 gamepad.

Microsoft Xbox One Gamepad

Not surprisingly, Kinect has seen an update with One, and is now designed to perfectly integrate with the console, rather than appear like an after-thought. The camera has seen some major improvements here, now spec’d at 1080p. It’s also been improved to be more accurate, capable of processing much more data per second than the original. Also new is the ability to talk to it. You can walk into a room and say something like “Xbox on” or “Load browser” to have it react as you’d expect.

Of all the features Xbox One brings to the table, one that catches my eye the most is the fact that it’ll be running three operating systems – at the same time. The primary OS will be similar to Windows 8, albeit a pared-down one. It’ll run applications similar to those we see in the Modern UI. A second OS, dubbed “Xbox OS”, is dedicated to the games, and will remain running at all times so that loading one up isn’t going to be a laggy process. The third OS isn’t one that will be user-interactive – it merely negotiates transfers between the other two OSes to make the experience better.

Microsoft Xbox One Console Angled

As expected, Xbox One is geared-up to offer a great media experience, and as such will include a TV overlay sporting a similar design to the Start screen. It looks pretty sharp overall, and gives Microsoft one more edge to confine entertainment-goers to just one device.

Gaming-wise, it seems all of the major players have announced titles for the platform, such as Infinity Ward which will be bringing Call of Duty: Ghosts to the console at launch. Microsoft Game Studios also promises 15 titles in the first year, 7 of which will be new franchises.

Suffice to say, Microsoft looks to have a good thing going with the Xbox One. I’m genuinely impressed with some of its aspects, and admittedly much more so impressed than I was with Sony’s PlayStation 4 reveal. Things could change once Sony actually gives us more details at E3, however, but one thing’s for certain, it’s done itself no favors by being so mysterious.

That’s not to say that everything is ideal with the Xbox One, however. As The Verge reports, it will not be compatible with Xbox 360 games. That’s one area where Sony does come out ahead (despite Sony’s solution requiring online connectivity).

For a lot more information on the Xbox One, I recommend digging into the thorough coverage from Engadget and Wired

  • Jamie Fletcher

    Not going to lie… it looks like they took the tape deck out of a 90s VCR, and put in a BD drive. Less console looking, more media centre. I guess that was the idea anyway, with all the integration going on.

    Digging deeper, I see 802.11n on the wireless, but I can’t find whether is supports the 5.0GHz band (since the 11n standard crosses both 2.4 and 5.0, depending on setup). It does state multiple radios, so maybe it does (to clarify, 2.4GHz is a saturated airwave, 5.0 significantly less so with a wider range of channels to choose from – less interference, more reliability). WiFi Direct is interesting though, though I’m not sure about it’s range in comparison to Bluetooth.

    What is interesting now between the two systems is the approach to the two types of memory systems, DDR vs GDDR, or, to over-simplify, Low Latency vs High Bandwidth, respectively. I guess the fans are going to be talking each other’s ears off for years to come.

    The whole three OS thing is a gimmick really, just abstracted software layers, AKA, virtualising, means they can keep media and games separate from each other (one would hope for security reasons).

    Still a fair amount to digest at the moment, but as well all know, hardware means squat without the software, and that will be what sets the consoles apart – the games! Shame we live in an age of multi-platform releases, which means the only question you need to ask yourself is… What colour would you like your game to be?

    • Rob Williams

      I’m not sure I’d call the trio OS thing a gimmick on account of it being something the company will never put in its marketing. I do laugh at the fact that it could have been all one OS, though… like a Windows PC. But this way they can have fluid operation between them thanks to each being virtualized.

      Also, it does look rather ugly, I admit. Rather surprised at that, actually. But I don’t even care… I’ve had two Xbox 360s die because of an RRoD, so if this one doesn’t have that problem, let it look like a VCR.

  • xOptix78

    Finally! A game console that doesn’t look like a game console! I’d be happy to put this one beside a HTPC or what not because it wouldn’t look out of place.

    As for specs, wow. I’m always amazed at what developers can do with lower end specs because they only have to design the game to run on one type of hardware (or three at the most usually – MS, Sony, Nintendo).

    Three OSs would be the last thing that I’d advertise. Maybe an always running launcher, but never three OSs. It could give some the impression that the system could get bogged down. Maybe that’s just me coming from a computer gaming background and running a pretty lean system so resource usage doesn’t become a limiting factor.

    If the price is right, I could see me picking one up. I just need to convince my wife (and now my son) to part with the Wii and PS3.

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