For a while we've seen speculation and insider-based rumors that point to a June 2013 reveal of the next-generation, Windows 8-based Xbox console, the Xbox Next, Xbox Loop or Xbox 720, whatever it's called. It will officially come out of the closet during E3 2013 and then likely ship towards the end of the year. It will also feature an OS based on Windows 8, essentially nuking any rumor claiming the console will be available before September of 2012.
The 2013 release schedule is based on two factors. First, a supposed leaked roadmap pins the "Loop" launch down to Build 2013. So far this roadmap has been nearly dead on, previously pointing out that the public beta of Windows 8 would launch sometime around CES 2012 -- Microsoft actually confirmed the date to be February.
Second, information provided by a range of sources involved with the project including component suppliers and middleware firms point to a Build 2013 release of the console. CNET reports that a source on the actual Xbox team has confirmed the 2013 timeframe although Microsoft prime has decline to comment. Still, there's a good chance we'll get some kind of tease during CES 2012 (January) and then at E3 2012 (June) while the company releases the Xbox SDK and reveals a 3rd-generation Kinect device.
Last week Microsoft released an updated interface for the Xbox 360 console, integrating the Metro style used in Windows Phone 7 and the upcoming Windows 8. The company is shooting to provide a single user experience across four specific screens -- desktop, tablet, living room TV and smartphones -- on a visual and software standpoint. This will be easier to achieve once the company releases the next Xbox platform and Windows Phone 8 which supposedly will feature a Windows 8 core.
Wednesday brought reports that Xbox design and experience group leader and Microsoft executive Don Coyner has been replaced by Emma Williams, the latter of which helped design the just-launched UI makeover. Coyner has guided the console's brand and design strategy since the console's inception more than a decade ago, and even wanted to provide a consistent user experience as seen with Apple's products.
But according to sources, Coyner is no longer in charge, but he also hasn't turned in his resignation. It's unclear as to why he is no longer heading the Xbox project, or what his next role at Microsoft will be. Williams however, now the general manager of Xbox Experiences for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, will be tasked with guiding the Xbox brand and strategy as the group moves forward to launch the third-generation console. She calls the new Xbox interface a "game changer," especially when Kinect is in use.
"It’s radically different from what people are used to today, and from anything else in the industry," Williams said. "No single device has put all the entertainment people want in the living room in one place like this, or delivered it in such a fun way where people can connect in a relaxed way with a gesture or the power of their own voice."
"Science fiction has become science fact," Williams added.