Can you believe we've had the Xbox 360 since 2005? As a child of the two- or three-year console cycle, a system still going strong after eight seems inconceivable. Finally, it's being put out to pasture -- somewhat unceremoniously. The Xbox One is its successor and, with no backwards compatibility for disc-based or downloaded games, those looking to make the leap to the next generation in the fall will already want to start weaning themselves from Microsoft's current wunderconsole. It'll make it easier for both of you when it comes time to unplug it.
And you probably will want to unplug it and make the upgrade, though to be fair there's plenty to be cynical about with the Xbox One. So, I'll get that out of the way first, starting with the name. Microsoft is trying to send the message that the new Xbox is the only device you'll need to control your living room. That may be, but One? HTC, of course, called its latest flagship the One, but that was a case of a company distancing itself from previous, complicated naming schemes and going with something simpler. Here, there have been only two previous generations of the Xbox. Calling the third one the "One" is simply confusing. Still, it beats "Xbox Foo," which is what Microsoft's initial press release mentioned. Someone, it seems, got the memo on the official name a little too late.
Then there's the design. It is, basically, a big black box with a bunch of vents.
Then there's the design. It is, basically, a big black box with a bunch of vents. I've seen ATX PC cases that look more stylish. It's disappointing that both the Xbox One and the PS4 are basically customized PCs on the inside, but do they really need to look like PCs on the outside, too? And then there's the OneGuide TV experience, driven mostly by a combination of HDMI passthrough and an IR blaster. I'm not optimistic this will be significantly better than Google TV. I'm also bummed about the (predictable and understandable) lack of backwards compatibility.
So, a total flop? Actually, I'm pretty excited.
So, a total flop? Actually, I'm pretty excited. I think the graphics will be impressive once devs get their heads around it; I think Microsoft is banking on their current success to line up a suite of impressive titles; and I think the new, higher-res and smarter Kinect could finally make that a compelling addition. I also think the new controller, with its "impulse triggers" and ever so slightly revised design, feels amazing. Sadly, the games themselves are still a bit of an unknown, as we only saw a few brief glimpses at this week's all-too-short event. Nice of Microsoft to save something for E3.
Xbox didn't totally dominate the news cycle, however, with Yahoo making a big splash over the weekend talking of a possible Tumblr acquisition. It was long rumored; then it was dismissed; and then... well, then it happened. The $1.1 billion acquisition is a massive amount of cash for the microblogging platform. Some expressed doubt, with a whopping 72,000 Tumblr users porting their content over to WordPress in one hour on the Sunday before things got official, but Yahoo is promising to not screw things up. Things at least got off to a good start, with Flickr receiving a major redesign and its users receiving 1TB of free storage.
Signs are unclear now, but hopefully this shake-up will help the company come out stronger.
As we go to press, there are some shaky happenings at HTC. A series of high-profile departures have seen the loss of members of the marketing team and even the CEO of its Asian business. Is this is a sign of something looming within HTC? Or, is it a sharp correction in response to the company's recent failings? Signs are unclear now, but hopefully this shake-up will help the company come out stronger.
Finally, Sprint closed out a deal to buy some of US Cellular's Midwest spectrum, picking up some 420,000 customers in the process.
In this week's Distro we're taking you deep inside the creation of the Xbox One. Ben Gilbert got exclusive access to many of the engineers of the console and, in an incredibly detailed feature, will splay the system wide open for you. We also have our hands-on impressions with the system itself, the new Kinect and that great new controller. If that weren't enough, we have reviews of the Toshiba Kirabook and ASUS Transformer Book, as well as the updated ASUS PadFone Infinity. We have three editorials putting the week's gaming news in perspective and there's also a Q&A with NASA astrophysicist Amy Mainzer. It's a lot to take in, we know, but you can handle it.
This piece originally appeared in Distro #92.