Next Xbox skips optical drive, goes digital only?

The latest rumours concerning Microsoft’s next Xbox console suggest that the company may launch an entry-level machine that is not compatible with disc-based games.

As it has done with Xbox 360, DigitalFoundry reports that Microsoft will look to launch its new machine in two iterations. However, the distinction between the two models could be far more pronounced than anything we’ve seen before.

The site speculates that the lower-cost, entry-level machine will be positioned more along the lines of a set-top box”, with as much focus on digital content services like Sky, Netflix and ESPN as there is placed on games.

Extra features such as an optical drive, hard drive and backward compatibility would then be reserved for the higher-end SKU.

On addition, it is said that Microsoft already has many of its key staff in place in preparation for a migration from Xbox 360.

We know that Microsoft has a range of next-gen teams assembled, with core personnel like creative director [and Kinect creator] Kudo Tsunoda in charge,” it claims.

We also know that 343 Industries has recruited some of the leading lights in graphics engineering, such as principle engine programmer Corrinne Yu, who has also participated in the development of DirectX 11 – known to be the core rendering API that powers the next-gen Xbox.”

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