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Xbox 720 leaker: PS4 fans are writing off Microsoft based on "literally nothing"

Thurrott slams "knee-jerk reaction" to always-online rumours

There's another wrinkle to this morning's rumour about the nature and capabilities of the next generation Xbox - according to Paul Thurrott, the respected tech blogger behind the "leak", much of the fracas surrounding the notion of an always-online console is unwarranted, and declarations that Sony's PS4 will carry the day are hilariously premature.

"For me, Xbox 360 is almost entirely an online experience," he observed during a What The Tech podcast. "Most of the games I play are multiplayer, where you're playing against other people online. Or you're using it as an entertainment device when you're connected to a service like Netflix or Xbox video, so that is an internet-connected device.

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Thurrott claims he has access to documents that reveal the next Xbox "must be internet-connected to use", but says he's not sure of the precise ramifications. On the whole, though, he's optimistic about the unannounced console. "I look at all this stuff that I've seen about Durango and I think, 'it's all positive.' I don't really see any bad news here at all. Like to me, everything I've seen about this is really positive.

"It's amazing to me that, based on like no information at all, everyone is like freaking out about everything. Aside from this online thing, by the way, the number one question I've gotten from people is, 'What does it look like?' Who gives a shit what it looks like?

"I've actually heard from, by the way not one or two people, several people who've said, 'based on what I've seen, Sony is going to blow them away.' Based on what you've seen? You've seen nothing. What are you talking about? You've seen literally nothing from Microsoft."

Thurrott also reckons Microsoft has less to fear from other console manufacturers than from digital media outlets, presumably in light of such initiatives as Xbox TV, under which the manufacturer has founded a studio in Los Angeles to work on unique, bespoke television programming for Xbox Live.

"The problem Microsoft has has nothing to do with Sony or Nintendo anymore, it's Roku and AppleTV," he said. "The market for hardcore video games, the market of people will always buy the next Gears of War game, the next Halo game, the next Call of Duty game, it's fairly finite. It's a decent market, yada yada yada, it's not the market for tablets, it's not the market for smartphones."

Thurrott also offers the following on his website, following certain provocative comments about always-online on the part of Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth. "Folks, the next Xbox is going to require an always-on Internet connection.

"I don't know the specifics of what that means, but as I explained on this week's What The Tech podcast, which was recorded on Friday instead of the usual Tuesday because of my travel earlier in this week, this piece of information had been communicated to me, along with some other relevant tidbits, in January. It's true.

"Will Microsoft change this requirement in the wake of early outrage?" he continued. "Frankly I think we're too far along in the development process of the next Xbox, codenamed Durango, to make such a change. More to the point, I think that an always-on Xbox is directly in keeping with Microsoft's strategy for all next-generation platforms, including Windows Phone (all versions) and Windows 8/RT, which are designed to work as if you are simply connected all the time.

"Yes, they do work offline, of course. But the apps platform on these systems - which will be replicated on the Windows 8-based next Xbox - assumes a connection. Microsoft's new platforms are integrated conduits for online services.

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"With bad memories of the horrible SimCity launch in our minds -that PC game also requires an Internet connection, even in "single player" mode - it's understandable why some are nervous about this," Thurrott conceded. "And yes, of course we're going to hear from the people who live in rural areas of the US, or in parts of the world where Internet connections are slow and unreliable, expensive, and metered. As we always do when any cloud-computing-type issue arises.

He concluded that "the knee-jerk reaction to this functionality - which, again, could certainly have been communicated a bit better - is happening before we have all the facts. Let's see what Microsoft has to say about the next Xbox, first in a late May launch event, and then later at both E3 and BUILD 2013, before we make up our minds.

"Let's not let one ill-conceived comment ruin what's going to be an awesome year for Xbox. And yes, it really is going to be awesome." I hope you're right, Paul.

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