The FTC leak: is Microsoft’s vision for its next-gen console lacking in ambition?

The FTC leak: is Microsoft's vision for its next-gen console lacking in ambition?

The leak of unredacted Microsoft documents lays bare the firm’s plans for console hardware for this year and beyond. We’re getting a new, impressive-looking controller, mid-generation refreshes of the existing Xbox Series consoles, and we have a strong idea of Microsoft’s thinking for the next generation. There are some controversial ideas presented in terms of its revised Series machines but I’m more concerned about the plans for the Gen 10 consoles. Xbox needs to be radical, it needs to align more closely with the best in PC innovation, and the vision presented is either problematic and unambitious.

Before going any further though, Phil Spencer has already said that these documents are out of date and that we’ve not yet seen the ‘real plan’. On the one hand, it makes you wonder why Microsoft would present irrelevant documents to the FTC if its strategy is actually quite different. On the other hand, there is precedent for Microsoft leaks turning out to be very much out of date, bearing little resemblance to the final product – read up on the old Fortaleza leak if you need your memory jogged. This was allegedly a vision for Xbox One, except it bore little resemblance to the final product. Kinect glasses, anyone?

The revised Series consoles in the leaked PDFs are another matter entirely. The chances are that this is exactly what we’re going to get since console design and establishing supply lines can’t be rushed or massively tweaked this far along in the production process, even a year out from launch. Xbox Series S effectively remains unchanged on the outside, bar improvements in sustainable materials in its manufacture. Inside, storage doubles up to 1TB, while the main processor is shrunk to TSMC’s 6nm node from the current 7nm process. The Xbox One era Southbridge retained for Series hardware is replaced while wireless I/O gets a nice upgrade.

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