Xbox One: Microsoft's Big Bid To Pwn The Living Room

It's not every day one of the big three gaming powerhouses announces a new console. In fact, we've been waiting a solid eight years. In an event on its Redmond, Washington home turf today, Microsoft announced the Xbox One, its next generation Xbox gaming console — and more.

In fact, the Xbox One is pretty much an audacious land grab by Microsoft, an attempt to stake out your living room as its undisputed turf. Here's how.

The new console packs 8GB of RAM, a base 500GB hard drive, USB 3.0, wi-fi direct, and built-in Blu-Ray. The One runs on a custom eight-core AMD chip and will come bundled with Kinect, the motion-based controller system that Microsoft introduced with the Xbox 360.

Contrary to rumors, the Xbox One will not require an Internet connection at all times. Though it may crimp your ability to play used games and apparently won't play Xbox 360 games at all.

On stage in Redmond, Head of Xbox Don Mattrick touted the Xbox team's ability to stay agile with trends — not always the company's strong suit — by feeding the voracious appetite of avid gamers. "Nearly 8 years after our launch, the Xbox 360 remains a vibrant platform," Mattrick said. "We made an early bet on Xbox live. Gamers were hungry to adopt emerging technologies... we doubled down on Xbox Live. Today it's time for technology to step behind the curtain."

But it is in the living room that the Xbox One stakes its major claim to fame. A new generation of Xbox Live will be the revamped, beating heart of the console, weaving together interactive TV, real-time major broadcast events like sports and awards shows and connected gaming, naturally.

The new Xbox Live interface enables quick-switching between Xbox Live's homescreen, movies and live TV — and in the demo, quick meant quick. ""You can switch to your game like it's a TV channel flip" according to Xbox Live head Marc Whitten. The quick-switching is thanks to "snap mode," a multitasking feature that allows apps to remain running in the background so that they can pop back up instantly.

By hosting its own event on its own terms, Microsoft is jumping the gun on E3 — the biggest North American gaming conference, and traditional grounds for big, flashy hardware announcements. Of course, Microsoft is also beating Sony to the punch, considering that the rival's PlayStation 4 reveal is just around the corner too. 

All photos by Taylor Hatmaker for ReadWrite