Console gamers now have a concrete date to look forward to, when speculation can cease, and Microsoft will finally reveal what’s in store for the next Xbox, codenamed Durango. May 21, 2013 can’t get here soon enough, but the confirmation of the announcement event hasn’t stopped rumors or insiders from speaking up – it’s only given them a larger audience.

The newest reports confirm that variable pricing model for the next Xbox, an operating system designed to share a digital marketplace with Windows computers, and even a cheaper version of the Xbox 360 for collectors.

The information comes courtesy of Paul Therrott, a veteran tech and Windows blogger who called the May 21 event date all the way back in March. That confirmation doesn’t mean that Therrott will be on the mark with every detail, but it does separate his information from any number of online rumor-mongers.

Xbox 720 Durango Always On Internet Disk Installation

Beyond confirming that Microsoft had postponed the event to better compete against Sony (the console is expected to launch on November as well), Thurrott also claims that the launch lineup of games will be discussed at the company’s E3 press conference. While that isn’t a surprise, he also reports that the company will discuss development plans and partners in late June at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference in San Francisco. Whether or not that means Microsoft will go the opposite route to Sony and sell to consumers is still unknown.

The next Xbox (which Thurrott bets will likely be named just that – ‘Xbox’) will include a Blu-ray drive, and be based on the ‘Core’ Windows 8 operating system, as part of Microsoft’s growing initiative to build a marketplace and app ecology if they ever hope of gaining ground on Apple’s.

For pricing, the rumors of a subscription-based model seem to be based on concrete plans: Thurrott cites a $500 price tag for the standard Xbox (above what analysts suspected), or a $300 version sold with a two-year contract for Xbox Live. we’re still waiting to see how Microsoft’s contract plans and pricing will compare to, say, major mobile carriers, so the finer details will need to be confirmed officially before we pass judgement.

Microsoft Security Xbox 720 Leak

These days, the discussion over Microsoft’s next Xbox console center largely on the proposition of the system requiring and “always-on” internet connection to be used by consumers. The mere mention of such a strategy sends any conversation into an argument – even if major developers think the time is right for the shift – but Thurrott doesn’t think there’s any confusion from Microsoft’s end, claiming:

“The next Xbox must be Internet-connected to use. This is the source of the “always on”/“always online” rumors and isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe.”

Besides refuting other reports claiming that the “always-on” solution was a gross misunderstanding, those statements certainly invite criticism, since for many gamers, no concept is more Draconian in today’s industry. Thurrott has previously explained (quite accurately) that Microsoft hasn’t even explained what their take on “always-on” means to their customers.

Microsoft will have more than just their next console to discuss come E3, since a brand new Xbox 360 will also be announced at a lower price point than existing models. It’s unclear if that is a preemptive move to solve the next Xbox’s lack of backwards compatibility, or merely a worthwhile sales proposition for the company. Either way, fans should have a newer, prettier take on the Xbox 360 – codenamed ‘Stingray’ – come June.

What do you think of these newest reports? Has Thurrott’s past mad his words carry more weight than other sources, or will you take every piece of information as ‘rumor’ until May’s announcement? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned to the site for more Xbox 720/Durango news in the coming weeks.

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Source: Paul Thurrott