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Microsoft Xbox One: Five important things we still don't know

Ian Paul | May 23, 2013
For all the things we do know about Microsoft's Xbox One, there’s a lot of things we still don’t. For instance, how much will the console cost and when it will be released?

But how often does the Xbox One need to be connected? Once a day, a week, a month?

Microsoft's Harrison told Kotaku the Xbox One would have to phone home once every 24 hours, but a later Polygon report said Microsoft declined to confirm how often the console needed to go online.

But even if the Xbox One doesn't always require a connection to play, software makers might.

With Xbox One, game designers can rely on Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform, to do some of the heavy processing. That takes some of the computing pressure off of your console and, Microsoft says, allows for "new gameplay, persistent worlds, and deeper experiences." That also means you could end up with two kinds of gaming experiences on the new Xbox: one that requires an Internet connection to do anything and one that requires an Internet connection to do most things.

Accessing non-gaming features

With the current Xbox 360, Microsoft requires you to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access streaming media apps such as HBO Go and Netflix. But entertainment services were an afterthought to the original design of the Xbox 360 and only appeared years after the console was first released.

The Xbox One is the culmination of Microsoft's attempts to conquer the living room with the Xbox 360. Instead of a gaming machine that happens to offer other entertainment services, the Xbox One is a full-service entertainment box that also plays games.

So will the Xbox One require an Xbox Live subscription to access online entertainment services and apps, the way that an Xbox 360 does? If Microsoft is hoping to attract more people to the Xbox One than just gamers, it will need to make the new console as enticing as possible. An annoying yearly subscription to access apps you can use for free on a Roku or Apple TV just won't cut it.

About that cable overlay...

Who will be able to use the Xbox One's new pass-through feature where your cable box connects directly to your Xbox One?

What's supposed to happen is that the Xbox takes the signal from your cable box and slaps its own interface on top for the channel guide and other features. But for that to work, Microsoft has to work closely with the cable providers to ensure a seamless experience. So which cable providers will Xbox One support when it rolls out the door? Microsoft isn't saying yet.

"Our goal is to enable live TV through Xbox One in every waythat it is delivered throughout the world," Microsoft says on its Xbox One Q&A site. "The delivery of TV is complex and we are working through the many technologies and policies around the world to make live TV available where Xbox One is available."

These are the big questions that need answering. We should learn more about the Xbox One in a few weeks during Microsoft's presentation at E3.


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