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New Xbox console planned for holiday 2012?

Windows Weekly tech reporters say "Project Ten" planned for release late next year with better Windows and Windows Mobile integration; CES reveal speculated.

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Source: The latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast, hosted by Leo Laporte and featuring fellow tech reporters Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley.

What we heard: Around the 88-minute mark of the show, Laporte prompts Thurrott to talk about the new Xbox, which he calls "Project Ten." Thurrott then explains that he has been hearing the console is planned for release during the 2012 holiday season, "meaning that they would almost have to announce this at [Consumer Electronics Show], wouldn't they?"

Is it almost time to move on?
Is it almost time to move on?

As for details about the system, Thurrott said it would be "all Metro," referring to the unified style of interface that Microsoft is rolling out among its various platforms. He also said it would have Microsoft's Silverlight video plug-in embedded in the hardware, which Foley suggested would help further the Internet TV push that was begun on the Xbox 360.

Perhaps more importantly, Thurrott said the next Xbox would focus on integration with Microsoft's other platforms and products, a historical weak point for the company. (To hammer that home, Thurrott noted that the Xbox 360 will play media on an iPod or iPhone, but not on a Windows Phone.) That means the new system would have a measure of Windows 8 and Windows Phone integration, with Thurrott calling the strategy "going the Apple route." Given Microsoft's existing efforts to unify the look and functionality of its products, it would be odd if the next Xbox were excluded from that push.

While Thurrott speculated that the system would be announced at January's CES show in order to make a holiday release window, history shows that's not necessarily the case. The Xbox 360 launched in November of 2005 and was a notable no-show at that year's CES. In fact, the system's proper unveiling didn't happen until an MTV special that aired May 12, 2005, the week before the kickoff of the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

This is not the first time the 2012 release time frame has come up in rumors about the next Xbox. In May, a report circulated that Microsoft was planning to unveil its next console at E3 2011, with a launch by the end of 2012. Shortly after E3 2011 came and went without a peep about new hardware from Microsoft, rumors of an E3 2012 reveal for the system began circulating. First the news came by way of a high-ranking source at Crytek, then from a source with knowledge of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division operations.

However, not every rumor has pointed in the same direction. Last month, it was reported that chip manufacturers and software middleware firms expect the next Xbox to be announced at E3 2013, with a launch following in time for the holidays.

The official word: "As an innovator, we're always thinking about what is next and how we can push the boundaries of technology like we did with Kinect. We believe the key to extending the life span of a console is not just about the console hardware, but about the games and entertainment experiences being delivered to consumers. Beyond that we don't comment on rumors or speculation."--A Microsoft representative.

Bogus or not bogus: Bogus that anything is set in stone, but a holiday 2012 release would fit with most of the rumors seen of late.

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