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Microsoft Email Hints to No Always-On for Next Xbox

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 14 comments

Many service like live TV will still work offline.

One of the biggest controversial rumors surrounding the upcoming new Xbox, codenamed Durango, is that it will require an internet connection at all times. There has been talk that once it's disconnected from the Internet, the console will supposedly suspend apps and games after three minutes, and then throw up a network troubleshooter. When there is no internet connection, apps and games cannot be started, meaning console owners won't even be able to watch a movie without a connection.

But that may not be the case at all. Microsoft reportedly sent an email to all employees working on the next-generation console, and explained that the console will not have an always-on requirement. Owners will still need an Internet connection as they do with the current Xbox 360, but many services will work without it, including single-player games.

"Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet," the email states. "There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."

Interesting. The "live TV" aspect seemingly verifies that the console will serve as a set-top box, meaning it will reside between the HDTV and the customer's cable box or DVR (or even replace them), meshing content pulled in from the local cable provider with other video services like Hulu Plus, Netflix and more. Kinect 2.0 will undoubtedly allow users to navigate through all that content using voice commands and gestures.

As for playing single-player, previous report indicated that games will come on a Blu-ray disc, but install directly to the hard drive like PC games. If an internet connection isn't required during single-player mode, then games will likely need a connection at first to activate the key, similar to the way Steam handles DRM. Thus the Blu-ray disc would no longer be needed, and second-hand sales would be nuked.

So course, everything you see here is speculation and rumor – even the supposed email is unverified. But if the note to employees is real, then customers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their new console isn't a box of junk when the Internet goes down.

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  • 2 Hide
    esrever , May 6, 2013 12:05 PM
    Who would have guessed.
  • 3 Hide
    whiteodian , May 6, 2013 12:13 PM
    I could see individual games requiring an online connection (depends on who makes it), but most games and DVD playback shouldn't require always on. Glad to see this rumor be squashed. We shall know more on the 21st.
  • -1 Hide
    DelightfulDucklings , May 6, 2013 12:17 PM
    Honestly, did anyone actually think MS would be stupid enough to make it always on?
  • Display all 14 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    sunshine240sx , May 6, 2013 12:24 PM
    Honestly, did anyone actually think MS would be stupid enough to make it always on?
    Honestly, hell yes! this is the same company that charges you $15 a month to use your own internet connection. I am more surprised that they would back down on something like this.
  • 4 Hide
    bak0n , May 6, 2013 12:40 PM
    "but many services will work without it, including single-player games". Now if only ubisoft and EA would follow suit.
  • 2 Hide
    jack1982 , May 6, 2013 2:58 PM
    Why do they word their internal emails as if they're advertisements?
  • 1 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , May 6, 2013 3:27 PM
    @DelightfulDucklings I never believed the rumors about always online. The always online rumor never had any credible sources, the closest to being credible was Adam Orth's twitter statements and those were quickly found out to be personal trolling attempts directed at Manveer Heir, a Bioware designer who was a friend of Orth. And there were several reports, some from credible sources, saying that there was no always online requirement. MS is sure to know how poor the internet infrastructure is in countries like the US, Canada, and Australia, and they know the US is their best selling market, the only major market where the 360 lead the PS3 in sales. They're not going to do something that will cost them most of their customers in their leading market.
  • 1 Hide
    mman74 , May 6, 2013 8:20 PM
    Trust me, there is a reason why they took this long to respond. They wanted it always online, they tested the waters, they saw the consumer backlash and now they are backtracking. And that's a good thing.
  • -3 Hide
    demonhorde665 , May 7, 2013 2:44 AM
    if MS nukes second hand sales , this console will tank like an exxon made boat.
  • 1 Hide
    Gary Mount , May 7, 2013 5:20 AM
    You can watch live TV now via Media Center on your home network with the current xbox.
  • 0 Hide
    mobrocket , May 7, 2013 5:30 AM
    second hand sales I think will fade away eventually. It doesnt help console makers or game developers
    and with game budgets now getting to be like movies, i think u will see a shift
  • -1 Hide
    southernshark , May 7, 2013 10:38 AM
    It sounds good. I hope this means that second hand sales will be fine. But either way I'm going to buy one. It looks like a great product really (unless MS gives it the special W8 treatment of course).
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , May 7, 2013 3:41 PM
    That anyone ever believed that a console would prevent you from playing a single player game when not online just proves how stupid some people are. Unless the console was made by EA of course.