Xbox One: Microsoft’s plan to take over your living room

Microsoft announces its next-generation video game console, the Xbox One.

Microsoft, on Tuesday, revealed the Xbox One, the next stage in the evolution of its Xbox gaming console, which it is using to stake a central position in users’ entertainment lives.

The company emphasized that the console is far more than a gaming device. The bulk of Microsoft’s early presentation focused on how Xbox owners can use the device to watch movies, make Skype calls and even watch live television than use it to play video games.

Microsoft wants the Xbox to extend beyond the gaming market, which it leads, to become more of a media hub — a smart move as consoles face more competition from Apple and Google, which have built out extensive mobile gaming app libraries on their smartphones and tablets. The Xbox One has more of the functions gamers want from their televisions, so users can stay logged in to the device while they’re at home.

“The living room has changed dramatically over the past eight years,” said Microsoft executive Don Mattrick during the presentation. The new Xbox, he said, fits a modern family’s entertainment needs.

To bolster that position, Microsoft has also announced key content partnerships with the NFL and Steven Spielberg, who will produce an original television series based on the Halo franchise of games.

That’s not to say that Microsoft has neglected its gaming features. With the next generation of its Kinect motion controller, Microsoft has improved its sensors to let developers sense even subtle movements, such as the angle of a player’s wrist. And the firm also showed off some live gameplay and improved graphics — a major expectation gamers had for the new console.

The company also said it will have 15 new franchises exclusive to the Xbox One within a year of its launch — eight of which are entirely new titles. Other titles featured on the console include sports titles from Electronic Arts and a new installment in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Users can switch quickly between video games, music and other features by using their voices. The company has added some aspects of its Windows 8 architecture, including the ability to look at two applications at once. And Microsoft has incorporated its other services, such as Skype and cloud storage capabilities, to make the device indispensable to an average family.

“We believe that the television remains the most relevant and important screen in the home,” said Microsoft executive Phil Spencer.

The company did not say when the console will go on sale or how much it will cost, but did promise to offer more details during its presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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