Around the time of the launch of the PS3, both Microsoft and Sony promised that this hardware generation would last for ten years; fast-forward to 2011 and that’s obviously not going to be the case, with Nintendo set to launch their experimental Wii U console within the next year and loads of credible rumors suggesting that the next Xbox and the Playstation 4 will be coming very, very soon after that. The newest rumors, which come from the MS Nerd blog, apparently written by someone from within or with connections inside Microsoft, implies that the next Xbox may even launch as early as next Fall.
The next Xbox, which is currently codenamed “Xbox LOOP,” is said to be running a modified version of Windows 9 and will run off of a multi-core processor (no surprises there.) The menu system is said to resemble the “Metro UI” used by Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7, which also isn’t a big surprise, considering that the same UI is coming to the current 360 via a firmware update. In terms of the system’s look and cost, Microsoft seems to be taking a que from Nintendo, as further rumors from multiple sources indicate that the new system will be very small and will be very cheap to manufacture, and will probably have integrated Kinect technology.
The MS Nerd blog also asserts that the system will launch in time for the next holiday season, with Microsoft unveiling the system in January, which could potentially put its launch within the same time frame as the Wii U, perhaps recreating the Xbox 1 and Gamecube launches, which were both released within days of each other. Launching early proved to be a good strategy for Microsoft this generation, as the 360’s one year head-start over the PS3 and Wii allowed it to a cement a pretty substantial hardcore installed base, guaranteeing that the 360 was the choice development platform for most publishers for the majority of this generation. Could Microsoft be trying to recreate the conditions that made the 360 a success by once again creating a console that out-powers Nintendo’s new offering while also beating Sony’s PS4 to the market by several months, possibly longer?
Personally, I still feel that this current generation has plenty of life left in it (well, except for the Wii, but its debatable whether it was part of this generation in the first place or simply it’s own weird aberration,) but it’s quickly becoming apparent that Sony and especially Microsoft want a new console on store shelves to compete with the Wii U, so the next generation of consoles may be coming sooner rather than later. I’ve spent a lot of money on hardware this generation acquiring all 3 of the current consoles, and I’d hate to have to spend probably even more money on 3 more consoles so soon, but it can’t be helped, I guess. We’ll know for sure if the rumors are true when 2012 CES rolls around.