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Xbox Officially Unveiled

As promised, Microsoft have unveiled their next generation console

Microsoft has topped off a week they would probably rather forget about with the public unveiling of the Xbox. Earlier in the week, someone associated with Ziff Davis' publication EGM leaked scans of several pages from the coming issue which contained images and other information on the console. Despite this breach of security, and the company's attempts to get offending sites to remove the materials, they are still available from a plethora of different sources. It is no accident that the unveiling of the Xbox to the public coincides with the CES trade show this weekend, and as if to prove this, much of the "official unveiling" documented on the Microsoft Xbox website is actually streaming video footage of the console from the event. Also available is a new Flash movie on the Xbox website with relatively detailed close-ups of the machine's moulded casing and controller. If you can handle the streaming data, then we recommend you opt for that however.

Bill Gates' keynote speech

The Xbox itself

Gamers playing on the console

More archived footage can be found here, including game footage of Tony Hawk's, WWF, Oddworld and Malice. Gates' speech is about 22 minutes long, during which time he chats about the design decisions that led to the current style of the Xbox, amongst other things. According to Gates, the process involed hundreds of gamers who sat down with the technicians and tried out various form factors for the console and controller. "It's very sleek, it's very straightforward." It is Microsoft's intention, he said, that the console be very easy to use. He quoted a figure of some "8 seconds" to load the average game. When we saw the initial design earlier in the week one of our foremost comments was that the ports on the front of the console did not look like USB ports. According to Gates, this is because the original USB port is not robust enough to put up with the average gamer's heavy use. The side effect of this move is of course that other USB devices you may already own like mice and joysticks will not be immediately compatible. The controller itself, he says, includes two slots for expansion; memory cards and the like. It will also have rumble capability included, rather like Sony's Dual Shock controller. Further into his speech, Gates also spoke about the machine's overall compatiblity in the home. "I'm talking about an extended PC - a PC that talks to the TV set-top box, talks to the music player devices, co-ordinates with other PCs," he said. High-end televisual devices like HDTV will also be supported. After detailed explanation of the NVIDIA and Intel contributions to the project, Gates invited other speakers onto the stage to continue the presentation. The other key element to all of this is of course the games themselves, with the new Oddworld title in particular looking very impressive. Related Feature - Xbox Images Hit The Web