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$399 Xbox One without Kinect launching in June

New version of Xbox One going on sale next month; standalone Kinect will be available this fall; "Kinect remains an important part of our vision," Microsoft says.

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In a surprise announcement today, Microsoft officially revealed a Kinect-free Xbox One unit. The system goes on sale June 9 for $399 (£349 in the UK), putting it directly in line with the rival PlayStation 4. Microsoft will continue to offer the $499 standard Xbox One with Kinect.

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"We've heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection," Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said. "To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision."

The new Xbox One Kinect-free unit is available for preorder right now at Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop.

Today's news is seriously surprising, as Microsoft executive Phil Harrison said last August that Microsoft had "absolutely no plans" to release Xbox One without Kinect.

Spencer said more than 80 percent of all Xbox One owners actively use Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on every console. If you buy a $399 Xbox One and decide later that you want Kinect, Microsoft will start selling standalone sensors sometime this fall. Pricing was not disclosed.

Microsoft's decision to remove Kinect from all Xbox One bundles could be problematic for developers and other entertainment providers, as they are now no longer guaranteed that people who pick up their products will have a Kinect camera. We'll have more on this news, including an interview with Xbox boss Yusuf Mehdi, later on today.

Is this a smart move for Microsoft and the future of Xbox One? Let us know in the comments below!

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