Microsoft's forthcoming next-generation console may not always ship in a configuration with a hard drive, key Xbox executive J Allard has confirmed, with developers being warned not to rely on the component for their games.
Speaking in the September issue of US magazine Game Informer, Allard said that the company isn't yet ready to announce details of possible multiple models of the Xbox 360, with the presence of a hard drive being touted as one potential difference between models.
"It's something we're not ready to announce yet," he said. "I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all [approach] over the next five-year horizon."
Allard's comment may also refer to the possibility that Microsoft will begin shipping Xbox 360 consoles with HD-DVD drives at some point down the line, replacing the DVD drive which will be present in the original model of the system.
However, the hard drive is also certainly up for debate, the XNA boss went on to confirm.
"We've said [to developers], 'Hey look, don't bank on the hard drive always being there,'" he revealed. "'There may be a scenario in the future where we don't want to have a hard drive, and in that case, we have to make sure that the games that you've created are accessible to the broadest possible audience.'"
However, at present the official line remains that the Xbox 360 will ship with a hard drive as part of its basic specification - and it seems more likely that the difference in configuration at launch will be that some models will ship with a significantly larger hard drive than the 20Gb baseline.
Developers will have to take into consideration the possibility of no hard drive being present regardless of what models Microsoft ultimately chooses to ship, since the drive is a removable module which can be taken out of the machine by the end user.