Next Xbox will be online-flexible, Blu-Ray support
Should single-player games, Blu-ray playback, and live TV viewing be possible on a gaming console with no Internet connection? Most gamers would say "yes," but they have been worried that Microsoft feels differently; the next generation Xbox has been consistently rumored to require a permanent network connection.
According to an internal Microsoft e-mail sent to all full-time employees working on the next Xbox, "Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of todays Internet." It continues, "There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should just work regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."
The quotation also implicitly confirms another rumor: the next Xbox will sport an HDMI input, to allow cable boxes to be hooked up for live TV viewing. Our sources tell us that the console will be able to provide TV listings and similar information.
How far this offline support will extend still isnt clear. It could take the form of a fully offline mode akin to that on the Xbox 360 (insert optical disc, install game, play, all without an Internet connection) or it could be more like Steam (install and activate online but enable subsequent offline play once this has been done).
While one could argue that "installing a game" is one of the "scenarios" that gamers "expect to work" when offline, a more Steam-like approach would be consistent with rumors that the next Xbox will use its Internet connection to block installation of secondhand games.
Still, though the next Xbox wont make everybody happy, it looks like fears that the console will be useless when your broadband goes down have been overblown.