Microsoft is eyeing a 2028 launch window for a successor to the Xbox Series X and Series S, according to a new document made public as part of the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit to block Microsoft's acquisition of Activision. Or at least, that was the understanding back in 2022, as outlined in an internal chat log between Microsoft executives at the time, Axios reports.
The 2028 launch plan was referenced in a May 2022 meeting attended by more than a dozen senior Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, CFO Amy Hood, and head of gaming Phil Spencer, the document states. During the discussion, one attendee asked the gaming leadership team if the new Xbox console would continue to have fixed hardware standards or go in a new direction, which they described as "a Windows like flexible/capabilities like model." One member of the group said fixed hardware standards were useful for developers, as it means all game makers are on the same playing field, as opposed to the Wild West found on PC.
Kevin Gammill, the corporate vice president of gaming ecosystems, replied that Microsoft had "already started this journey " toward more flexibility with the Xbox One and Xbox One X and, more recently, with the current-gen Xbox Series X|S.
"We need to be even more flexible going forward with gen 10, but also provide the ability for creators to take advantage of unique hardware capabilities," he added.
We'll have to take all this with a grain of salt for now, as odds are the participants in these internal chats never expected their statements to be publicized. However, the launch target is consistent with June statements from Microsoft's lawyers suggesting that the anticipated starting date of the next console generation is 2028. This latest document hints that Microsoft is, at the very least, considering releasing different versions of its next Xbox console or making it more modular akin to PC.
PC games could soon come to Xbox Cloud Gaming
All these court documents relate to the ongoing dispute about Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard and what it means for the future of Call of Duty and other popular video game series. The legal feud has unearthed plenty of juicy insider information already, and a targeted console launch date isn't the only news that came to light this week.
A batch of 2021 internal emails between Microsoft execs reveal Microsoft has been planning to stream PC games through its Xbox Cloud Gaming service, the Verge reports. Since the service runs on specialized Xbox Series X chips, cloud streaming is currently limited to Xbox titles. But when rumors surfaced of the now-defunct Google Stadia becoming a white-label cloud gaming service for developers, Xbox began working on a competitor.
In July 2021, Nadella emailed Spencer, Microsoft's head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry and head of Xbox creator experience Sarah Bond about leveraging the company's Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform to stream PC games over Xbox Cloud Gaming. Spencer replied with confirmation that Microsoft was working on a solution powered by Azure servers to enable streaming native PC games from the cloud. Microsoft would be able to offer this service to other companies as well, he added. Choudhry corroborated this in the email chain, making it clear Microsoft was working on streaming PC games over the cloud as early as July 2021.
Microsoft has been dropping clues for a while now that Xbox Cloud Gaming could soon support PC games. In the past year, Microsoft has inked partnerships with several tech companies to build out its cloud computing infrastructure, including NVIDIA, EE, and others. Microsoft has also been conducting beta testing for mouse and keyboard support on Xbox Cloud Gaming, albeit it's limited to games originally designed for Xbox consoles.