Microsoft is set to announce its next-generation Xbox model – rumoured to be called either Xbox 720 or Xbox Infinity – at a launch event in Washington tonight.

Rumours suggest that the company could introduce single-code activations for games that would effectively lock games to this new console.

This means gamers will no longer be able to lend second-hand games to friends, trade them in, or sell them on.

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In June last year Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the company would soon be releasing a new Xbox model, before unveiling its Surface tablet computer at an event at Hollywood's Milk Studios in Los Angeles

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the company were due to release a new Xbox model sometime in 2013, before unveiling its Surface tablet computer at an event in Los Angeles in June last year. Rumours suggest the console will lock games to one device using single-code activations, have improved voice recognition, a faster processor and a new version of its motion-sensing technology Kinect

WHAT DO CUSTOMERS WANT FROM THE NEW XBOX?

According to research by VoucherCodes.co.uk 75% of gamers will upgrade to the new Xbox – expected to be called Xbox 720.

56% of users are hoping the new console has 4K resolution.

The study also found that one in four gamers are hoping Microsoft will launch the IllumiRoom feature following the uncertainty surrounding whether the projection capability will be linked to the new console.

Earlier this year, Microsoft limited the use and sharing of Microsoft Office codes in a similar way, but later back tracked after customer complaints.

Other rumours around tonight’s event in Redmond include the addition of a faster processor, improved speech recognition, Skype built-in, Smart Glass, IllumiRoom and more.

There are even rumours circulating that Microsoft may announce two new models – one high-specification model and another cheap, lower-specification model.

When the Xbox 360 was announced eight years ago, Microsoft also launched an update to its Xbox Live service to allow users to download games and get more features when playing other online players.

Tonight’s announcement is likely to include a similar update, which include the reports that Microsoft may soon introduce code activations for games.

Microsoft may be heading towards a digital-only model with these plans in which the disc is used for activation only, and all the game content is then accessed online.

Consequently, Microsoft is expected to put a greater focus on cloud gaming.

Hardware-wise, Microsoft may unveil an updated version of its motion-sensing technology Kinect at tonight’s event with a 1,920×1,080 sensor, which will come with the console.

The console is expected to have an eight-core CPU from AMD.

A Blu-ray drive also seems likely, as well as USB 3.0 connections and a 500GB hard drive.

Although Microsoft is set to unveil its latest version of its Xbox console at an event in Redmond, Washington tonight.

Although Microsoft is set to unveil its latest version of its Xbox console at an event in Redmond, Washington tonight, it may save some announcements for the E3 conference in Los Angeles, in June. Microsoft has already hinted that its IllumiRoom system, which can project images from your Xbox screen around your living room, will be unveiled at the conference

Microsoft's Smart Glass technology acts as a second screen for the Xbox 360. An updated version of the technology is expected to be announced at tonight's launch event

Microsoft’s Smart Glass technology acts as a second screen for the Xbox 360. An updated version of the technology is expected to be announced at tonight’s launch event

Microsoft officially bought video-calling software Skype in October 2011, and replaced its Windows Live Messenger with the software earlier this year.

It’s therefore expected that Skype will be heavily integrated into the new Xbox console, too.

The new console is also said to have improved voice recognition, with more of a focus on ‘natural interaction and context’, according to reports on The Verge.

The Verge add that users will be able to automatically resume video content where it left off, and the new Xbox will have speech-to-text functions.

Microsoft Research Project released a video in January showcasing its IllumiRoom technology –  a system that projects images and lights from whatever game or film you’re watching around your living room.

It was described by Microsoft as: ‘designed to push the boundary of living room immersive entertainment by blending our virtual and physical worlds with projected visualisations’ and was dubbed a real-life ‘holodeck’, making reference to the Star Trek technology.

Many Xbox users are hoping this technology will be announced at the Xbox event tonight, but it’s more likely to be announced officially at this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) conference in Los Angeles, in June.

This suggests it won’t be included with the new console, but may feature in updates or future models.

Microsoft may also push its Smart Glass technology more with its new Xbox.

The technology acts as a ‘second screen’ that lets you currently control your Xbox 360 console with your phone or tablet.

 
Kinect Sensor for Xbox 360.

Kinect sensor for Xbox 360. Microsoft is expected to launch the next-generation of this motion-sensing technology, including a new sensor, games, and improved performance at a launch event in Washington tonight. The sensor will be shipped with the new Xbox console, which is due to go on sale at the end of the year and is expected to be called Xbox 720

Only a few games support the Smart Glass system at the moment but Microsoft may make it more widely used across its Surface tablets, as well as iOS and Android devices with the launch of the new Xbox console.

Microsoft is expected to launch the console by the ‘holiday season’, around November or December. this year

The console is also expected to cost around $299 in the US, and £299 in the UK.

Official release dates and prices should be announced at tonight’s event.

Last November Nintendo launched the Wii U, the successor to the popular Wii system featuring an innovative tablet-like controller.

Nintendo said it sold just 3.45 million units by the end of March, well below expectations.

Microsoft will likely take aim at Nintendo, as well as Sony, during tonight’s unveiling at its headquarters in Redmond.

Sony was first to showcase plans for its upcoming PlayStation 4 – but not the actual box – at an event in New York last February.

The reaction to that console, which featured richer graphics and more social features, was mixed.

A new trailer for the PlayStation 4 was released yesterday.

Many of the rumoured Microsoft Xbox 720 specifications are said to be similar to those expected with the PlayStation 4.

 

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