Microsoft Email Hints to No Always-On for Next Xbox

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.

  • esrever
    Who would have guessed.
  • whiteodian
    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.
  • DelightfulDucklings
    Honestly, did anyone actually think MS would be stupid enough to make it always on?
  • sunshine240sx
    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.
  • bak0n
    "but many services will work without it, including single-player games". Now if only ubisoft and EA would follow suit.
  • Achoo22
    This is absolutely NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
    Microsoft feels absolutely comfortable collecting tons of data for transmission upon next connect - everything from the minute actions you take within each game (skip cut-scenes, not skip), channels you watch, time of activity, possibly using built-in Kinect to monitor and report habitation patterns, and even photos and/or sound recordings. Our crappy government is waaaayyyy behind the curve when it comes to legislating privacy, and this information will all be up for grabs legally. Storage is sufficiently cheap that data will be stored in perpetuity. Being able to run the device in offline mode from day one until the end of days is the only reasonable protection a customer can hope for.
  • jack1982
    Why do they word their internal emails as if they're advertisements?
  • shikamaru31789
    @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.
  • mman74
    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.
  • demonhorde665
    if MS nukes second hand sales , this console will tank like an exxon made boat.