With less than two months until E3 2013, excitement over the next generation of consoles is at an all time high. While players have a pretty solid idea what Sony is cooking up with the PS4 — thanks to their February press event — details regarding Microsoft’s next-gen plans are fairly slim.

That’s not for a lack of rumors, however, as more “details” come in nearly every day. With so many different rumors to juggle, though, it’s hard to label one specific hot topic, but one area that appears to be getting the bulk of the attention is always-online connectivity.

To that point, a new rumor concerning the Xbox 720 (or Durango) has appeared that toes the line nicely. Players that have felt the sting of always-on can rest assured the issues that plagued SimCity and Diablo 3 are less likely with this new machine.

The rumor in question comes by way of VGLeaks, who claim that the next-gen Xbox will have an always-online component, but it won’t be essential for gameplay. Instead, players will still be able to game while offline, and they will also be able to play used games.

It’s hard to glean a definitive answer from the post regarding how said feature will work, but it seems like the Xbox 720 will simply have advanced online functionality, but that will not impact local content.

The rumor also sheds a little more light on the issue of backwards compatibility. Earlier this week it was reported that a cheaper Xbox 360 SKU would enter the market for around $100-$150, and that unit would supplement any need for backwards compatibility.

This new rumor suggests that stripped down Xbox 360 — meant to compete with the Apple TV in terms of video content offerings — will be able to interface with the Xbox 720 in some way, ostensibly making the device backwards compatible. It’s a different approach than Sony is taking with their digital-only focus, and could help Microsoft build a substantial lead.

E3 2012 Awards - Xbox SmartGlass - Most Innovative

In addition to the backwards compatibility and always-online rumors, some new details have been found regarding Microsoft’s plans for television-esque functionality in the Xbox 720. XTV, or Xbox TV (whatever you want to call it), has been rumored for months now, but it’s been hard to get a firm grasp on just what Microsoft is planning.

This new rumor, courtesy of super sleuth Superannuation, suggests Microsoft is using the new VideoSurf technology they acquired to better categorize video content. VideoSurf is basically Shazam for video — someone records video content and the app will tell them more about it.

According to a Microsoft job posting, the tech will be used to “streamline the way viewers search, consume, and share content, minimizing the time spent searching for programs, while maximizing the viewing and sharing capacities.” That doesn’t necessarily scream Xbox TV, but it should help Microsoft better arrange content for consumers.

If it is their goal to compete with Apple, this would be a good place for Microsoft to start. Hopefully, we’ll be know more when Microsoft officially unveils the next Xbox.

Would you be okay with an always-online requirement if it did not impact gameplay? Do you think Microsoft will be able to put a dent in the cable market?

Source: VGLeaks, Kotaku