With less than a month before the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan releases its next-generation Xbox, the company's popular video game and streaming console, Microsoft is showing off the strides it has made to forge its software, cloud services and sensor technology into the multitasking, multimedia-savvy Xbox One.
In a newly released promotional video from Microsoft, an Xbox One user puts the device through its paces using little more than his voice. After powering up the console by uttering the "Xbox on" command—its included Kinect sensor can remain in a low-power, always-on listening mode—the Xbox One's personalized home screen welcomes the user and springs to life with Windows 8-like tiles.
The message: Loading widgets and screens are a thing of the past.
The video then goes to show the Xbox play a movie, access the user's activity feed and join a game and watch live TV using voice commands with lag-free, instant switching between modes. As the user voices each instruction, a microphone icon pops up in the upper-right-hand corner. Familiar chimes confirm that a command has been received and the desired action is being initiated.
In addition to quickly switching between apps, games and media, Microsoft is also highlighting the game system's social features' ability to do two things at once. While watching TV, the user "snaps" in the included Internet Explorer browser to search Bing. While playing a game, he records footage and shares it with his gaming circle. Finally, he accepts a Skype video call—which instantly fills the screen—hangs up and shuts down the device with a parting voice command.
At just over a minute long, the video not only shows off some of the device's biggest features, it provides some justification for including Kinect (formerly an add-on) as standard equipment. Privacy concerns aside, the Xbox One's upgraded Kinect motion controller, which can be switched off completely, has been criticized for pushing the hardware's price tag to $499. By comparison, Sony's soon-to-be-released PlayStation 4 will sell for $399 when it goes on sale Nov. 15.
The video also follows the launch of Microsoft's Xbox One television campaign with a TV ad called "Invitation." Marked by high production values, driving music and some familiar faces, the commercial "showcases experiences that only Xbox One can deliver," namely games, movies, TV and sports, stated Robert Matthews, general manager of Consumer Marketing for Xbox in an Xbox Wire blog post.
Suggesting that Microsoft is sparing no expense for the Xbox One ad campaign, Matthews name-dropped some celebrities. "Authenticity was a key goal for the campaign design, from including one of only three McLaren P1’s in the world to represent 'Forza Motorsport 5,' to including Liverpool football star and England national team captain Stephen Gerrard, to actor Zachary Quinto representing Spock," he said.