Microsoft unveils its next game console, the Xbox One

Microsoft debuted the Xbox One this afternoon live from a tent on its Redmond, Wash., campus, putting to end months of speculation about the company's next-generation video game console. The console will be available "later this year." Microsoft exec Don Mattrick called it out as an "all-in-one" box. The core strategy is "simple, instant and complete." It was debuted alongside a new gamepad as well as a new Kinect motion camera.

The system itself is all black and features a two-tone finish with both matte and gloss in equal measure; a slot-loading Blu-ray optical drive sits out front on the left face, while a power button with the traditional Xbox logo is emblazoned on the right side (which looks to be touch-based). A new Kinect was also unveiled, and it powers the console -- "Xbox On" is being trumpeted as the most important feature. There's instant switching from the Xbox One dashboard to live television (which seems to confirm that HDMI-in rumor), and a live demo showed off impressive speeds. "Switching between live tv and all your games and entertainment is now as simple as using a remote," Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi said. He also demonstrated gesture controls for the console's UI, quickly snapping back to the dashboard with a pinch command.%Gallery-188989% %Gallery-189043%

A ton of UI was shown off, with an updated version of the Xbox 360 Dashboard (the tile-system we're accustomed to with Windows 8). The dashboard has a new trending window, in addition to the standards you're used to: games, music, movies, etc. The trending concept stretches across the console's media functions as well as games, with integration in the TV program guide.

In terms of specs, the console has an eight-core CPU, USB 3.0, WiFi direct, Blu-ray, 500GB HDD, HDMI input and output and 802.11n wireless -- no mention of the GPU. It's these specs that enable the aforementioned multitasking and Snap Mode, not to mention enabling much more powerful games.

Xbox Live is also getting a major update, with 300,000 servers backing up the service. "Your content is available and it's stored in the cloud," Microsoft's Marc Whitten said. That includes a DVR-like service for capturing gameplay video, and offloading processing.

EA's Andrew Wilson announced during the event that EA's sports games would be available on Xbox One "in the next 12 months," so that tells us to expect that company's sports titles in the not-too-distant future.