Microsoft touts next-gen Xbox One as 360 successor

Microsoft unveiled its long-awaited Xbox One today at an event in Redmond, Washington. The successor of the stalwart 360 is expected to act as a hub for games, movies, TV, Internet browsing, music streaming and Skype.

“Can we take what you love, and make it better?” Microsoft president of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick asked rhetorically. “We had a new mission: Design and build an all-in-one system to light up a new generation of games, TV, and entertainment. It must be simple, instant, and complete.”

Indeed, users will control the next-gen Xbox using voice commands, which, according to a demo by Yusuf Mehdi, senior VP, includes “Xbox, watch TV,” “Xbox favorites,” “Xbox, watch ESPN.”

“This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV,” said Mehdi, who also claimed the system would have “practically silent operation,” unlike its rather noisy predecessor.

Interestingly, the Xbox One is apparently based on three operating systems: an improved Xbox OS, a Windows 8 kernel and a bridge that helps link the two. Additional key specs include an 8-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a Blu-ray disc drive, 500 GB hard drive, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, a built-in game DVR, HDMI in/out, a 1080p wide-angle camera (running at 30 frames-per-second in full color) and a new Kinect capable of detecting even small wrist movements.

“When you’re exercising, it can read your heartbeat,” said Microsoft’s Marc Whitten.

As expected, the Xbox One controller has also been updated with 40 design changes, including new ergonomics, “dynamic impulse” triggers with built-in feedback and a revamped directional pad.

“We’re taking the world’s best controller and making it even better,” added Whitten. “The real magic is what happens when all of these devices work together to create all new experiences.”

Meanwhile, Xbox Live will be transitioning to the Xbox One, transferring all current achievements to a “more powerful, more personal and more intelligent” experience. And yes, the new Xbox Live is designed to store games, saves, music, and movies in the cloud.

The Xbox One will be launching later this year, although Microsoft has yet to name a date or confirm a price tag.