Latest leak claims Next Xbox doesn’t need permanent web connection for everything

Rumours that the Xbox 360 successor needs a constant web connection to run are apparently untrue.

After months of speculation – and a coincidental scandal for EA and its Sim City web connection drama – a new report claims to have seen a leaked memo from MS to staff.

And that document says that specific functions including "include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game".

If true, ArsTechnica’s report would calm consumer and trade fears that an aggressively online Next Xbox would discriminate customers, especially those with unreliable web connections.

But as Ars also points out, not needing a web connection for the above functions doesn’t answer all the questions about an always on connection.

For one thing – will users still need to connect their games to the internet for pre-loading and first-play installation/verification?

Ars says: "How far this offline support will extend still isn’t clear. It could take the form of a fully offline mode akin to that on the Xbox 360 (insert optical disc, install game, play, all without an Internet connection) or it could be more like Steam (install and activate online but enable subsequent offline play once this has been done)."

The latter point would certainly still suggest that the device’s strategy is designed to curtail the pre-owned software business – although if that is still part of the plan, that decision will prove very unpopular with specialist games retailers.

Previously, leaked text from the new device’s development documentation said: "Every Durango console will have a hard drive, although its exact capacity has not been chosen. It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games. All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from the optical disc will not be supported.

"Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray Disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay games will not use content from the optical disc. An installation system is being designed that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete."

That suggested a switch to a new model of software licence ownership – not reliant on phyiscal disc ownership – for the new console.

We might get clearer answers when Xbox reveals all about the new console on Tuesday, May 21st.

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