Microsoft may be reading new Xbox hardware for 2015 according to reports.
Ben Peterson, a graphics designer, posted his online web portfolio recently. Peterson details several projects he is working on, including one for Microsoft. “Collaboration with Microsoft’s IEB design group investigating future user experiences and hardware for 2015,” states Peterson’s entry earlier this month. ZDNet spotted the web portfolio and believes that Peterson has been drafted in by Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) to create concept designs for a new Xbox. Peterson also posted an image alongside his portfolio that is difficult to judge. The image appears to show a black device with sharp edges (see below).
It’s possible that Microsoft may be in the early stages of preparing a new Xbox for 2015. The software giant has managed to keep the Xbox 360, released in November 2005, fresh through a number of software improvements and hardware refreshes. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console dominated U.S. charts in 2010. Microsoft revealed at CES in January that the company has sold over 50 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide since launch. Microsoft also has 30 million active Xbox LIVE members and has sold 10 million Kinect sensors since the device debuted in November. The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar that sits at the base of your TV. The device has an RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone which runs proprietary software. Kinect allows for full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition.
Microsoft’s Xbox Console Architecture team has also been hiring for numerous positions on the next-generation Xbox team. The job listings appears to have confirmed that Microsoft is in the early stages of pre-production for the next-generation Xbox. Microsoft is so early on in the development stages that the graphics hardware hasn’t been fully decided and tested. Previous speculation had suggested that Microsoft was further on in the development stages for its next-generation console.
Microsoft is also believed to be making a “big bet” on on next-generation Xbox interactive TV. Microsoft is currently readying “Orapa”, a mash-up of the company’s Mediaroom IPTV services and Microsoft’s Xbox services. “Orapa” will reportedly marry Avatar Kinect and the company’s Ventura music and video services. Microsoft has long been in talks with media companies to produce a TV service for its Xbox console. Microsoft is proposing a “virtual cable operator” which will be delivered over the Internet and charged with a monthly fee. Microsoft has also suggested that cable companies could use the Xbox as a device to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows and interact with their Xbox LIVE friends. Microsoft offers a similar service in the UK where Sky customers can use their Xbox LIVE avatars during sporting events.
Microsoft is also planning to introduce Hulu Plus for U.S. Xbox LIVE subscribers in Spring this year. The software giant will also push out a Spring dashboard update that will include support for the recently announced Avatar Kinect.