Next Xbox Coming In 2012, With Apple-Like Integration?

Computersandvideogames.com reports today that rumors have Microsoft’s next Xbox hitting shelves during the 2012 Christmas season, with cross-compatibility galore.

Reporter Paul Thurrott claimed during a recent “Windows Weekly” web-show installment that Microsoft developers have reportedly dubbed the talked-about Xbox 360 successor “Project Ten” and that it will be “going the Apple route” with Sony or Nintendo-style cross-compatibility with other devices running the software giant’s Windows operating systems.

He also speculated that this next-generation console’s “embedded Microsoft Silverlight” technology will be the supporting software for the Xbox Live TV platform that was talked about during Microsoft’s E3 showcase this past summer. That falls in line with something CVG itself reported Nov. 7: that per Tumblr blogger MS nerd and Industry Gamer‘s respective reports, the next Xbox iteration would indeed utilize the upcoming Windows 9 OS with a hardware platform akin to what Zune portable media players employ.

Both also reported on rumors that the new console would have a price point “cheaper than the 360,” according to MS nerd’s initial post, and employ a more compact design. However, in all fairness, Industry Gamer is sourcing MS nerd, whose report sourced exactly nobody in particular Nov. 2 when the blogger first posted about the incoming Xbox’s rumored specs.

So by my own admission, I’m passing along rumors sourcing a site that speculated on rumors. Pass the salt.

The Xbox 360 launched in 2005, with Microsoft executives touting the hardware’s 10-year plan. Chris Lewis, a European Xbox higher-up, told CVG how the phase-in plan for the successor plays right into what Microsoft has been predicting since the 360 launched.

“”We think we’re a little over halfway with the life cycle of the console, but that’s not to say there won’t be an overlap,” Lewis said. “I’m not going to announce specifically or talk about timing. But you could imagine there could be overlap, it depends. We’re not being specific about the next generation at this stage.”

Indeed, it’s not “specific,” but it is telling.

This is how next-generation roll-outs often play out. The previous generation still enjoys a healthy several more years’ shelf-life at a more “bargain” price while the new generation enjoys a more premium price point. Once the previous generation has been adequately phased out in favor of the Next-Generation New Hotness, the NGNH has been positioned for a price-slash – often conspicuously just in time to coincide with some other major new release, such as an exclusive title or hyped peripheral like the Kinect, or just for a timely Black Friday leg-up on one of the other Big Two platforms.

As an aside, it doesn’t always play out as planned. Issues from hardware failures to an obscene $599 initial price-point unintentionally granted the now lower-priced PlayStation 2 a new lease on life while the PlayStation 3 spent a good bit of its first couple years in existence playing a distant third-banana in popularity to the 360 and Nintendo Wii. That’s in part because the PS2 had an existing legacy as one of the most spectacularly successful, best put-together consoles in gaming history, and fans were already bittersweet about witnessing its twilight development years – even before the PS3 began looking like an initial disappointment on par with Sega’s final hardware Hindenbergs. On the other hand, when the Wii hit shelves, the Nintendo Gamecube became quite literally one sad little misfit toy very, very quickly.

So, just where exactly will this ultimately leave Sony?

Sony shouldn’t be so quick to run down and get one cow, but rather should walk down, watch steps carefully and get ’em all.

Make no mistake: sales-wise, Sony has had an impressive years. Recent reports have PS3 console sales finally making up ground on the Xbox 360. Furthermore, the console’s position should be bolstered by success with highly touted releases like inFamous 2, the PS3 port of Mass Effect 2, the God Of War: Origins Collection, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Portal 2, just to rattle off a few highlights. There’s even double-dips like Heavy Rain: Director’s Cut, which hit stores Nov. 8, and upcoming HD-remastered Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Zone Of The Enders collections.

That being said, Sony still has some getting-in-order to do with its own house. Whenever the next hardware hits shelves, PlayStation loyalists might feel an odd stinging. That’s the wound that this past spring’s debacle hackings of the PlayStation Network left when post-attack investigations revealed just how stringent and thorough Sony Online Entertainment’s safeguards securing client’s personal and financial information weren’t. As disastrous as those attacks proved from a public relations standpoint, failing to learn from history and dooming loyal clients to repeat it would be catastrophic.

As in, “Sega” catastrophic.

As has been written here before, there will never be such a thing as a system that can’t be hacked – only hackers not patient enough to hack some systems. Still, that’s the last attitude Team PlayStation and SOE as a whole can afford copping. That will be a first-and-foremost consumer question when Sony’s next hardware starts its next-gen campaign opposite Microsoft, so if I were a Sony executive, I know I would be damn certain that I measure twice and cut once with security measures before the first unit ever hits shelves.

Check out the latest “Windows Weekly” installment below.
http://twit.tv/embed/10124

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