Whats Exactly is Xbox Next?Here it is just a month into 2004, and were already getting some tidbits on the next generation of game systems. At least, thats if the information written about Microsofts "Xbox Next" (which I put in quotes, even though the company has acquired the domain name) in last weeks San Jose Mercury News is to be believed. For what its worth, I dont see any reason to doubt it, considering the author of the story is Dean Takahashi, whos not only a staff writer at the "Merc," but also the man who penned the 2002 book, Opening the Xbox : Inside Microsofts Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution. Id hazard a guess that Takahashis information sources are qualified and numerous. Assuming that the data is accurate, what he shows is a Microsoft thats at the same time decisive and ambivalent: Decisive in that it wants to beat Sony Computer Entertainment to market by releasing its next system in fall 2005 -- hoping that it can forge an edge in user-base creation as Sony did by releasing the PS2 first -- but ambivalent in what will be under the hood. Granted, the specs for most any system can be changed if pricing and availability of key parts changes, but some of the waffling seems to be on what many would say are fundamental components -- and certainly elements that would affect developers hoping to get started on projects that will be ready for the consoles intended release date.