Xbox One

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Xbox One
Xbox One logo
Xbox One console and controller at Gamescom 2013.jpg
Xbox One console with its controller and Kinect
DeveloperMicrosoft
ManufacturerFlextronics, Foxconn[1]
Product familyXbox
TypeVideo game console
GenerationEighth generation
Release date
  • EU November 22, 2013 (some countries, 2014 for others)[3]
  • AU November 22, 2013
  • BR November 22, 2013
Introductory priceUS$499[5]/€499[5]/£429[5]
Units sold3 million (as of January 6, 2014)[6]
MediaBlu-ray,[7] DVD, CD
Operating systemXbox OS,[8] Windows custom kernel and a hypervisor
CPUCustom 1.75 GHz AMD 8 core APU (2 Quad-Core Jaguar modules)[7][9]
Memory8 GB DDR3 (5 GB available to games)[10]
Storage500 GB internal hard drive[7]
Display4K, 1080p, and 720p resolutions
Graphics853 MHz AMD Radeon GCN architecture (inside of APU)
Sound7.1 surround sound
InputHDMI
Controller inputXbox One controller, Kinect for Xbox One, SmartGlass
Camera1080p Kinect camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi IEEE 802.11n, Ethernet, 3 × USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4 in/out, S/PDIF out, IR-out, Kinect port
Online servicesXbox Live
Weight7 lbs (pounds)
Backward
compatibility
No[11]
PredecessorXbox 360
Websitexbox.com
 
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Xbox One
Xbox One logo
Xbox One console and controller at Gamescom 2013.jpg
Xbox One console with its controller and Kinect
DeveloperMicrosoft
ManufacturerFlextronics, Foxconn[1]
Product familyXbox
TypeVideo game console
GenerationEighth generation
Release date
  • EU November 22, 2013 (some countries, 2014 for others)[3]
  • AU November 22, 2013
  • BR November 22, 2013
Introductory priceUS$499[5]/€499[5]/£429[5]
Units sold3 million (as of January 6, 2014)[6]
MediaBlu-ray,[7] DVD, CD
Operating systemXbox OS,[8] Windows custom kernel and a hypervisor
CPUCustom 1.75 GHz AMD 8 core APU (2 Quad-Core Jaguar modules)[7][9]
Memory8 GB DDR3 (5 GB available to games)[10]
Storage500 GB internal hard drive[7]
Display4K, 1080p, and 720p resolutions
Graphics853 MHz AMD Radeon GCN architecture (inside of APU)
Sound7.1 surround sound
InputHDMI
Controller inputXbox One controller, Kinect for Xbox One, SmartGlass
Camera1080p Kinect camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi IEEE 802.11n, Ethernet, 3 × USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4 in/out, S/PDIF out, IR-out, Kinect port
Online servicesXbox Live
Weight7 lbs (pounds)
Backward
compatibility
No[11]
PredecessorXbox 360
Websitexbox.com

Xbox One is a video game console developed and marketed by Microsoft. Announced on May 21, 2013, it is the successor to the Xbox 360 and is the third console in the Xbox family.[5] It directly competes with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U as part of the eighth generation of video game consoles.[12][13] Xbox One was released across North America, several European markets, Australia, and New Zealand on November 22, 2013,[2] and is scheduled for release in Japan and the remaining European markets in 2014.[14] Microsoft and various publications have classified the device as an "all-in-one entertainment system",[15][16] making it a competitor to other home media devices such as the Apple TV and the Google TV platforms.[17][18][19]

Moving away from the Xbox 360's PowerPC-based architecture and back into the x86 architecture used in the first Xbox, the console features an AMD processor built around the x86-64 instruction set. Xbox One places an increased emphasis on entertainment integration, offering the ability to overlay live television programming from an existing set-top box, split-screen multitasking of applications, and improved second screen support. The console includes a newly upgraded Kinect motion sensing peripheral, previously an optional attachment for the Xbox 360. Microsoft is emphasizing the Kinect's integration with Xbox One through features such as a built-in Skype client for videoconferencing, user recognition and tracking, and the ability to use voice commands and gestures to navigate the console's user interface. New gaming functionality includes an expanded Xbox Live service, improved Kinect functionality, cloud computing, the ability to automatically record and share video highlights from gameplay, and support for live streaming gameplay online.

The console's initial policies surrounding online connectivity requirements, mandatory integration with Kinect, ambiguous restrictions on the resale and sharing of used games, and the higher price than its direct competitors led to mostly mixed reviews and concerns after the console's reveal. In response to these criticisms, Microsoft announced they would be dropping these restrictions.[20][21][22]

History

Xbox One at E3 2013

Xbox One is the successor to Xbox 360, Microsoft's previous video game console, which was introduced in 2005 as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. As of June 2013, it remains in production by Microsoft, having received a number of small hardware revisions to reduce the unit's size and improve its reliability. In 2010, Microsoft's Chris Lewis stated that the 360 was about "halfway" through its lifecycle; this was aided by the introduction of the Kinect device that year which Lewis stated would extend the lifecycle by five years.[23]

Initial hardware for the 360's successor, commonly referred to by the industry as the "Xbox 720", was reportedly in hands of developers as early as May 2011.[24] The official developer kit was codenamed Durango,[25] and appeared to be available to developers by mid-2012.[26] Leaked documents suggested that the new console would include an improved Kinect device, cloud access to games and media, integration with phone and tablet devices, and technology to provide players heads-up displays on glasses worn by the player, codenamed "Fortaleza"; Microsoft did not comment on these reported features.[27] Similar, leaked design documents also suggested that Microsoft was seeking to eliminate the ability to play used games, though Microsoft later clarified they were still reviewing the design and were "thinking about what is next and how we can push the boundaries of technology like we did with Kinect", but did not comment on the validity of the information.[28]

The console was publicly unveiled under the name Xbox One on May 21, 2013 in a press conference designed to cover the unit's broad multimedia and social capabilities.[29] A second press event for the console was held during E3 on June 10, 2013, focusing on its video game-oriented functionality.[30] At that time, Microsoft announced that the console would release in 21 different markets at launch, but this was later amended down to 13.[3] The change, which pushed the release date for the other 8 markets to 2014, was attributed to unforeseen complexity in localizing the new Kinect peripheral.[31]

Hardware

Xbox One at Tokyo Game Show 2013

Xbox One's exterior casing consists of a two-tone "liquid black" finish; with half finished in a matte grey, and the other in a glossier black. The design was intended to evoke a more entertainment-oriented and simplified look than previous iterations of the console; among other changes, the LED rings used by Xbox 360 are replaced by a glowing white Xbox logo used to communicate the system's status to the user.[32]

It is powered by an AMD "Jaguar" Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) with two quad-core modules totaling eight x86-64 cores clocked at 1.75 GHz,[9][33] and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM with a memory bandwidth of 68.3 GB/s.[9][34] The memory subsystem also features an additional 32 MB of "embedded static" RAM, or ESRAM, with a memory bandwidth of 109 GB/s.[35] Eurogamer has been told that for simultaneous read and write operations the ESRAM is capable of a theoretical memory bandwidth of 192 GB/s and that a memory bandwidth of 133 GB/s has been achieved with operations that involved alpha transparency blending.[36] The system includes a 500 GB non-replaceable hard drive,[37] and a Blu-ray Disc optical drive.[29][38][39] About 362 GB of hard drive space is available for the storage of games; support for external drives will be added in a future update.[40]

It was reported that 3 GB of RAM would be reserved for the operating system and apps, leaving 5 GB for games.[10][41][42][43] The graphics processing unit (GPU) is based on an AMD GCN architecture with 12 compute units, which have a total of 768 cores,[34] running at 853 MHz providing an estimated peak theoretical power of 1.31 TFLOPS.[44] For networking, Xbox One supports Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless, and Wi-Fi Direct.[citation needed]

"We purposefully did not target the highest end graphics. We targeted it more as a broad entertainment play. And did it in an intelligent way."

—Greg Williams, GM of Xbox silicon development[45]

Xbox One supports 4K resolution (3840×2160) (2160p) video output and 7.1 surround sound.[38][46][47] Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy for Microsoft, has stated that there is no hardware restriction that would prevent games from running at 4K resolution.[46] Unlike the Xbox 360, the Xbox One does not support 1080i and other interlaced resolutions. Xbox One supports HDMI 1.4 for both input and output, and does not support composite or component video.[29][38][48]

The console can monitor its internal temperature and adjust accordingly to prevent overheating; alongside increasing fan speed, additional measures can be taken, including forcing the hardware to run in a lower power state—a feature that was not present on Xbox 360. Restricting power consumption lowers maximum performance, but the setting would be intended as a last resort to prevent permanent hardware damage.[49]

Controller

Xbox One's controller maintains the overall layout found in the Xbox 360's design. The directional pad has been changed to a four-way design, and the battery compartment is slimmer. Menu and View buttons have replaced the Start and Back buttons.[50] Each trigger features independent rumble motors called "Impulse Triggers", which allows developers to program directional vibration. One trigger can be made to vibrate when firing a gun, or both can work together to create feedback that indicates the direction of an incoming hit.[51] Pre-ordered Xbox One Day One Edition controllers have the words "Day One 2013" engraved in the center.[52] Microsoft invested over $100 million into refining the controller design for the Xbox One.[53]

Kinect

Xbox One ships with an updated version of Kinect for motion tracking and voice recognition; the new Kinect uses a 1080p wide-angle time-of-flight camera (in comparison to the VGA resolution of the previous version), and processes 2 gigabits of data per second to read its environment. The new Kinect has greater accuracy over its predecessor, can track up to 6 skeletons at once, perform heart rate tracking, track gestures performed with an Xbox One controller, and scan QR codes to redeem Xbox Live gift cards. The Kinect microphone remains active at all times by default so it can receive voice commands from the user when needed, even when the console is in sleep mode (so it can be awakened with a command).[54][55][56]

As was the case on the Xbox 360, Kinect usage is optional, and privacy settings are available for adjusting how the sensor operates.[57]

A Windows-compatible version of the new Kinect will be released in 2014.[58]

Software and services

Media inter-connectivity

Similarly to Windows 8, Xbox One can snap applications (such as music, video, Skype, and Internet Explorer) to the side of the screen as a form of multitasking. Xbox One can also serve as a pass-through for an existing television set-top box over HDMI. This functionality allows users to watch live TV from their existing provider through the console, and access features such as show recommendations, an electronic program guide (branded as OneGuide), and voice commands. The set-top box is controlled by the console by either using an IR blaster in the Kinect sensor, or the HDMI-CEC protocol.[59][60][61] On launch, OneGuide is only compatible with television providers in the United States.[62]

Voice control

The console features a similar, albeit richer set of voice control abilities than those found in the first generation Kinect, allowing the user to control Xbox functions via voice command. Users can also initiate conversations through Skype.[63]

Operating system

The device reportedly runs three operating systems: Xbox OS,[citation needed] an OS based on the Windows kernel, and another OS that allows the other two operating systems to communicate by virtualisation (as a hypervisor). This integration allows features like snapped Skype calls while in game.[64]

The Windows kernel on the Xbox is not compatible with standard Windows apps, though developers will be able to port them over with little effort.[65]

Xbox Live

Microsoft have stated that the Xbox Live service has been scaled up to use 300,000 servers for Xbox One users, but have not stated how many of the servers are physical and how many are virtual.[66] Cloud storage is available to save music, films, games and saved content and developers are able to use Live servers (along with the Windows Azure cloud computing platform) to offer dynamic changes to players within their game.[67] The service is still be subscription-based. The friends list has been expanded to 1,000 friends.[68][69][70][71]

SmartGlass

Xbox SmartGlass provides extended functionality on Xbox One, allowing devices running Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS and Android to be used as a "second screen." A demo during the E3 press conference demonstrated its use for setting up a multiplayer match in another game in the background on a tablet while playing another game on the television.[30]

Recording and streaming

Xbox Live Gold subscribers can use the Upload Studio app to edit and share clips from the last five minutes of gameplay footage that is automatically recorded by the console.[72] Integration with the live streaming platform Twitch will be provided in 2014; users will be able to use voice commands to immediately begin streaming footage of their current game directly to the service, and use the Kinect microphone for commentary and voiceovers.[73][74] Despite the ability to record gameplay, Xbox One does not include DVR functionality for recording television programs; executive Yusuf Mehdi indicated that Xbox One would "work in tandem" with existing TV providers, but that Microsoft may need to work with them directly to provide extended functionality such as DVR integration.[75][76]

Games

Microsoft presented several first-party and third-party titles for Xbox One at its E3 2013 news conference, some of which are exclusive to the console.[77] First-party titles unveiled for Xbox One include Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, a revival of Killer Instinct, Project Spark and a teaser for an upcoming Halo game.[77]

"Absolutely; you can certainly plug an Xbox 360 in the back – that was one of my first questions when I heard about the [HDMI-in] feature,"

—Larry Hryb, Xbox Live Director of programming[78]

Xbox One games are distributed on Blu-ray Disc and digitally through Xbox Games Store.[70][71] All Xbox One games, whether digitally or physically purchased, must be cached on the console's hard drive. In the case of disc-based games, the disc will still be required to play.[79] However, if the game is installed on another console, and that console owner no longer has access to the disc, the owner has the option of unlocking the install on their hard drive by purchasing it through Xbox Live; the installed game then acts as a digital download.[79] Single-player games that take advantage of cloud computing require an internet connection.[79]

Xbox One does not have native backward compatibility with original Xbox or Xbox 360 games.[11][80] Xbox Live director of programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb did state that users could theoretically use the HDMI-in port on the console to pass an Xbox 360 through Xbox One.[78][81][82] In an interview, Senior director Albert Penello revealed the possibility that Microsoft could offer backwards compatibility with older titles through a cloud gaming system in the future.[83][84]

Reception

Pre-release

After the official reveal in May 2013, the editorial staff of Game Informer offered both praise and criticism for the console.[85] Matt Helgeson described the console as Microsoft's intent to "control the living room".[85] He called Xbox One's instant switching features "impressive", and that the console was "a step in the right direction" with regards to TV entertainment, especially the prospect of avoiding the usage of non-intuitive user interfaces often found on cable set-top boxes.[85] Jeff Cork said that Microsoft had "some great ideas" for the console, but that it failed to properly communicate them.[85]

Following Microsoft's E3 press conference on June 10, 2013, perceptions of Xbox One by critics changed. Multiple GameSpot writers were critical of the new console; Mark Walton considered Xbox One's launch lineup as portrayed by the conference to be "uninspired", "lackluster" and plagued by "old men in suits, a stream of buzzwords, and superficial games that valued visuals over innovation" (as opposed to the "new generation of gaming" that Microsoft had promised to present during the event, by contrast to its previous television-oriented presentation) alongside strict digital rights management (DRM) practices,[86] while editor Tom McShea noted that despite the increased capabilities and cloud-oriented nature of Xbox One, the presentation consisted only of "pretty games that didn't offer any noticeable change to the core experience we've already been playing [on the Xbox 360]", providing existing owners with little reason for spending $499 on the new console.[87] Journalists and consumers jokingly named the console the "Xbone", believing that Microsoft's decisions for the systems were in poor judgement.[88][89][90] After Sony's E3 press conference later that evening, McShea went on to say that Microsoft had become anti-consumerist, trying to "punish their loyal customers" with strict restrictions, and that "by saying no to the used game restrictions and always-online that Microsoft is so happily implementing on the Xbox One, Sony has elevated the PlayStation 4 as the console to grab this holiday season."[91]

Rafi Mohammed, author of "The Art of Pricing" said on Bloomberg TV that Microsoft priced Xbox One "too high" and the $100 premium over competitor could "derail" the system this holiday.[92][93]

Sales

On November 22, 2013, Microsoft confirmed that it had sold one million Xbox One consoles within its first 24 hours of availability.[94] Based on approximately 102,000 shopping receipts tracked by InfoScout, 1500 of which included a purchase of either a video game or a video game console, the Xbox One was the highest-selling console during the Black Friday sales period in the United States.[95][96]

On December 11, 2013, Microsoft announced that it had sold approximately 2 million units in its first 18 days.[97] On December 12, 2013, Microsoft announced it was the fastest selling console in the United States based on NPD Group figures, however the NPD report clarified, "PlayStation 4 sales included an additional week within the November data month compared to Xbox One. When looking at sales on an average per-week basis, Xbox One led PS4. Keep in mind, however, that supply typically becomes constrained in the second week after launch."[98][99]

On January 6, 2014, Microsoft announced that they had sold approximately 3 million consoles worldwide in 2013. [100]

Controversy

Initial used games and Internet verification policies

When first revealed, Microsoft unveiled a number of features and policies for Xbox One games that placed an emphasis on the console's "always-connected" design and digital content delivery, which were claimed to bring a number of benefits to both developers and players. A DRM system would tie all game purchases (regardless of whether it was purchased digitally or physically) to the user's Xbox Live account and their Xbox One console. The system would allow a user's games to be accessed locally by any user on their Xbox One, through a cloud-based game library on any other Xbox One, and would allow a game library to be shared with up to ten designated "family" members (each game could only be played by one remote player at a time). However, this system would have also required the console to connect to the Internet on a periodic basis (at least once every 24 hours) in order to synchronize the library and download updates for games; failing to do so would prevent any games from being played until the console is connected to the Internet again. Users would be able to trade in games at "participating retailers" at no extra charge, and could also transfer a game directly to any Xbox Live friend on their list for at least 30 days, but only once.[71][101][102]

Industry and consumer reaction to these plans were largely negative.[20] Gaming and PC websites expressed concern over the restriction on the resale of used games,[103] and the requirement of online verification every 24 hours for offline games.[104] Further official details released in June regarding the policy towards used games and Internet connection requirements caused negative backlash among gaming websites as well as concern among independent video game retailers.[105][106][107] Microsoft clarified the situation, stating that it would be up to the game developers to decide if used games could be played and if there would be any activation fees.[108] Matt Peckham of Time believed that the used games policy went against the first-sale doctrine.[109] Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter has suggested that the game developers would limit the used game market for a period after the game was released but might then allow used games to be played.[110]

Xbox Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Yusuf Mehdi defended the changes, stating that Xbox One was primarily designed with digital distribution in mind, and that the changes to the licensing model on the console would be "easier to understand" when applied to just digital copies of games. He contended that the new system, which would also allow games to be accessed directly from cloud servers by various means (regardless of how they were purchased), would allow publishers to use "a diversity of business models" to meet their individual needs. Mehdi also noted that Microsoft was not attempting to "give in" to the criticism of used games by publishers, but rather trying to balance the needs of consumers and the industry itself.[111] The position on online requirements was reinforced by Don Mattrick, the former president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, who stated that those without Internet connectivity should simply purchase an Xbox 360 instead.[71][112]

In planning its presentation of the competing PlayStation 4 at the E3 2013 conference, Sony looked at the negative criticism Microsoft received for its Xbox One DRM policies; SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida stated that the PlayStation 4's DRM policy, which generally allows for used games and sharing, was well established before the unveiling of Xbox One, but called the public reaction a "very useful source" for how to present details of the console's capabilities.[113] As such, many journalists considered that Sony had "won" the E3 conference over Microsoft, in part by highlighting its position on used games, Internet connectivity, and DRM in a compelling manner.[114][115]

In response to the growing criticism, Microsoft released a statement on June 19 outlining how the policies as originally envisioned would be dropped in favor of a system that works in much the same way as the Xbox 360.[20] The new policies include no Internet connection requirements (except for a one-time connection required for initial installation of a new game), no disc authentication, and no regional restrictions. As a result of the changes, the family sharing feature was dropped, as was the sharing feature for digital titles.[20][116] Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten stated that the removal of the family sharing feature was due to the revised Xbox One policies so that they could deliver the console on time, and that the family sharing feature may return in the future.[117] A patch is required when Xbox One is first connected to the Internet in order to enable offline mode and update the system software to allow the other policy changes.[118] In his statement on the new policies, Mattrick said that the company took notice of the negative public opinion, and he thanked the public for giving their feedback "to reshape the future of Xbox One".[119] Other analysts believed that the change was in direct response of Sony's aggressive position during the E3 conference.[120] Similar to the "Xbone" name, many journalists and players jokingly nicknamed the console "Xbox 180", due to Microsoft's reversal of their policies.[121][122][123][124] Mattrick, who had been a leader in Xbox One development, announced his departure from Microsoft on July 1, 2013, to become CEO of Zynga. Analysts speculated that his departure was predicated on the poor response and subsequent reversal of the plans for Xbox One.[125]

In April 2013, Adam Orth and a friend of his, who was a senior game designer at BioWare,[126] engaged in what The Guardian called a "sarcastic exchange" on Twitter regarding the rumored Internet connectivity requirement of Microsoft's upcoming video game console.[127] Orth attacked critics of the Internet connectivity requirement, saying that "[e]very device now is 'always on.' That's the world we live in"; the tweet contained the hashtag #dealwithit.[126] Orth responded to critics who panned the Internet connectivity requirement, arguing that people buy vacuum cleaners even though the electricity may go out, rendering them temporarily inoperable.[128] Orth also belittled concerns that some cities have limited Internet access.[126] Orth jokingly said that he would not buy a cell phone because he lives in an area with poor cell phone reception.[129] After details about the Xbox One and its Internet connectivity requirements were made public, Erik Sherman compared Orth's defiant attitude on Internet connectivity with Sony's announced lack of restrictions on used games for its PlayStation 4. Sherman said that Microsoft's executive decisions could allow Sony to gain in the next generation.[130] In June 2013, GameSpot reported that Orth would be presenting a talk on "toxic online behavior" at GDC Next in November 2013.[131] In the talk, Orth will discuss his departure from Microsoft as well as developer-community relations.[131] In an August 2013 interview with Eurogamer, Microsoft Studio's CEO Phil Spencer stated that their changes on Xbox One are part of a "two-way conversation we have with our customers", and a strength on their ability to react to feedback, rather than a negative.[132] Spencer stated that they want to remain true to the "vision around the digital ecosystem we want to put on Xbox Live", but recognized key features that consumers still want to have, and that implementing these features may push back the timing of their release on the Xbox One platform.[132]

Privacy concerns

The console's prominent use of the Kinect sensor was the subject of concerns surrounding its potential use for surveillance, stemming from the originally announced requirement that the peripheral be plugged in at all times for the console to operate. Privacy advocates contended that the increased amount of data which could be collected with the new Kinect (such as a person's eye movements, heart rate, and mood) could be used for targeted advertising. Reports also surfaced regarding recent Microsoft patents involving Kinect, such as a DRM system based on detecting the number of viewers in a room, and tracking viewing habits by awarding achievements for watching television programs and advertising. While Microsoft stated that its privacy policy "prohibit[s] the collection, storage, or use of Kinect data for the purpose of advertising", critics did not rule out the possibility that these policies could be changed prior to the release of the console. Concerns were also raised that the device could also record conversations, as its microphone remains active at all times. In response to the criticism, a Microsoft spokesperson stated that users are "in control of when Kinect sensing is On, Off or Paused", will be provided with key privacy information and settings during the console's initial setup, and that user-generated content such as photos and videos "will not leave your Xbox One without your explicit permission."[133][134][135][136] Microsoft ultimately decided to reverse its decision to require Kinect usage on Xbox One, but the console still ships with the device.[22][137]

Subsequent to the announcement of Xbox One, but prior to Microsoft's policy reversal, U.S. Representatives Mike Capuano and Walter Jones proposed and filed the We Are Watching You Act; the act would require "video service operators" to inform users on how personal data is collected and used, require that users explicitly opt-in to data collection, provide an on-screen notification when data is being collected, and to provide identical service for those who opt-out. The console was not mentioned in the proposed act by name, as the act also targeted data collection by the set-top-boxes supplied by television service providers.[138]

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