A few weeks ago, the big news making the rounds of the tech blogs was the fact that an internal Microsoft memo detailing technical specifications for the new Xbox console (internally called the Xbox 720). The 56 page PDF made the rounds, getting taken down from hosting sites as fast as the Microsoft lawyers could fire off cease-and-desist letters, and soon it was nearly impossible to get a copy for yourselves.
Well, I got one – and it’s pretty awesome.
First things first: I will not be making the file available for download, as it’s a good way to have people who spend more on their business suits than I spend on rent come after me and give me hell. In fact, I’m not even going to come out and say that I still have the PDF file in my possession at the moment. However, regardless of whether or not I have such an item in my possession, I wouldn’t discuss how to obtain a copy for yourself it in a public forum, but I would be happy to discuss it with anyone in a private conversation.
Now that the legal disclaimer portion of the blog post is done, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: according to these documents, the Xbox 720 is scheduled to come out Holiday 2013. It looks like it’s going to retail for around $299. What are you getting for your $300 plus tax? Well, if these documents are accurate, you’ll get a Blu-Ray player, an internal hard drive, built-in 802.11n wireless, native 3D support, and – get this – will work as a whole-home DVR. This last bit is absolutely interesting to me, considering I currently pay a metric fuck-ton for the “privilege” of a cable box. $8 a month on top of the fucking fortune I pay you assholes already for your “quality” service? Yeah, go fuck yourself. I swear, if I wasn’t living in a valley I’d have an aerial stapled to the side of the house right now.
The rest of the crunchy bits on the inside, according to the document, include SATA architecture, DirectX 11.1+ support, backwards compatibility with 360 titles, 4 gigs of DDR4 RAM, something retarded like 6 cores running at 2 Ghz, and a modular design that will allow the 720 to have a 10-year lifecycle. Not only that, but it will come with the new 2nd generation Kinect v2, which will feature stereo sensors; they’re splitting the single sensor bar into two individual ones to support up to four player Kinect games and will supposedly support props, like a golf club if you’re like Vaughn R. Demont and you’re addicted to Tiger Woods games.
So this is all relatively cool, but not anything really ground-breaking, as it seems more like an incremental step forward than anything really interesting. Microsoft is obviously pushing the “just one box for everything” marketing angle by eliminating the need for a set-top box and instead trying to engineer the 720 as being the only piece of entertainment hardware you need. Right now Kinect content is pretty hit-or-miss (do not get me started on that Kinect Star Wars shitfest) , and a higher-resolution pair of sensors that can see more of your living room and recognize whether you’re standing up or sitting down will be a huge improvement, and the 720 having Blu-Ray is great – for people who still buy physical media and don’t just stream it from Netflix or wherever – but it doesn’t seem like there’s really anything to get incredibly bent out of shape over.
Except that there kind of is. Microsoft has something called “Project Fortaleza” in the pipeline that, according to this document that I may or may not have on my hard drive, will roll out in 2014. The documents call it a pair of Kinect Glasses that you’ll sync up with an armband and that will bring a level of augmented reality to your living room. The details are hazy, but there’s a lot of potential for a pair of glasses you can put on to immerse you deeper into your gaming experience.
It looks like these Fortaleza glasses aren’t just going to be relegated to the living room. Microsoft plans to go the Project Glass route in 2015 by adding functionality to Fortaleza to sync with a 3G or 4G mobile phone. This is either going to be incredibly cool or abysmally goofy, not to mention possibly dangerous and distracting. I can only imagine that there will soon be laws on the books banning people from using heads-up displays while driving – after Microsoft is sued for millions when two idiots driving their Priuses get into head-on collisions because they’re too busy tweeting about the car coming directly at them instead of swerving out of the way.
Ah, the future is here.