NEWS - Thursday, May 27, 2004

(RUMOR) - Xbox Next To Be A PC Also?

CNN/Money reports that Microsoft is focus-testing a $599 hybrid game console and home computer. In his latest scoop, CNN/Money game-industry columnist Chris Morris claims to have uncovered Microsoft’s covert Xbox Next market-research campaign. While the fact Microsoft is undertaking such a study is not surprising--because major corporations don’t choose their facilities’ toilet paper without a vigorous round of focus-testing--the item it was researching was. According to information obtained by Morris, Microsoft hired the California-based B/R/S Group to conduct a study on how consumers would receive a device called the "Xbox Next PC." Described as "a video game console system with a hard drive and a built-in, fully functional PC," the item was one of several concepts presented in a slide show to several focus groups. Though Microsoft and the B/R/S Group declined to talk with Morris, he did acquire a good amount of information on the Xbox Next PC. Although it would require a computer monitor or high-definition television, the still-theoretical PC/console hybrid would be backward-compatible with current and next-gen Xbox titles. As its name entails, the machine would also have a "fully functional version of Windows" and be able to play PC games. The Xbox Next PC would also come with range of home-computer accoutrements, including a hard drive, CD burner, and remote-controlled DVD player. It would also come with Xbox Live already installed. Though a device with the Xbox Next PC’s functionality would likely sell itself, Microsoft also tested it at the reasonable price point of just $599. If the Xbox Next PC sounds like a fantasy, that’s because that’s all it is--for now. "It’s important to note that any product looked at in these sorts of studies is conceptual and may undergo dramatic feature changes before hitting the market," said Morris, adding, "if, in fact, it manages to emerge from the doors of the R&D labs." Still, the Xbox Next PC isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. For one, under its bullet-resistant black exterior, the Xbox is essentially already a stripped-down PC. Microsoft has also announced plans to merge PC and Xbox game development into a single platform, called XNA. However, so far, the mantra from Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA Architect J Allard has been "software, software, software"--as evidenced by his E3 presentation--with no mention of the Xbox Next hardware in any way, shape, or form.


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