Project Natal – heck, there's not even an official name of the thing yet! – comments made by Microsoft CEO (and professional stretcher) Steve Ballmer indicate a 2010 launch. TGDaily reports that "Ballmer stated openly during a speech on the recession to those in attendance at the Executives Club in Chicago, a new Xbox 360 will hit the store shelves in 2010."
The report never mentions "Natal" and refers instead to a "console" featuring a built-in camera. An example of a writer not familiar with the beat, or an allusion to a new Xbox-branded console, as rumored? Maybe a little bit of both: a console-level launch for the Natal, as mentioned by Shane Kim? The complete lack of reference to "Project Natal" in the report makes us question the specifics regarding a "new Xbox 360." However, a new Xbox 360 SKU featuring Natal could be one alternative possibility – but forget about all that! What's important is the 2010 comment. Regardless of how Natal is packaged, Microsoft's top dog says you'll be flailing your arms next year.
We've asked Microsoft to clarify Mr. Ballmer's statements or provide a transcript. We'll let you know what they say!
[Update: Unsurprisingly, Microsoft didn't have much to say on the matter. They tell us, "As the Xbox team stated at E3 two weeks ago, we are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade. Project Natal will be an important part of this platform, but we have not confirmed a launch date at this time." So, there you are.]