At Gamescom we had a chance to sit in on an Xbox One platform demo (which was running in real-time off a debug machine and not an Xbox One spec'd PC, we were told) that also offered up a Q&A session afterwards, leaving opportunity to learn more about what Microsoft's Xbox 360 successor would offer consumers beyond all the information released thus far.
One of the burning questions for us was related to the transition period between adopting Xbox One over Xbox 360 and your shared friends list on Xbox Live, which is still the ubiquitous OS between the two. Specifically, how would communication work from Xbox One to Xbox 360 given currently you can voice-chat and text with friends on Xbox Live.
"The only thing you can do between friends is text -- there’s no voice," revealed Albert Penello, head of product planning for Xbox One.
"As you probably know, the voice in 360 is... pretty *questionable
* -- we’ve actually totally revamped that, that’s why we [have] the new controller and a bunch of new accessories; we have twice the sampling rate of audio than we did before and actually we also do Stereo audio now wirelessly, natively, so you don’t have to have any of those complicated stereo setups. So we’ve totally revamped the audio codec and the whole audio processing pipeline, because people were really complaining a lot about the voice -- and you know we did that back in the early days when we barely had broadband -- and because of that, there’s nothing shared [between the two].
"Skype, however, is our new chat and our new video, and you can Skype -- not between 360 users -- but between anyone else with Skype," he added. "So you can Skype off Xbox One to a PC, you can video chat off Xbox One to a PC."
Discussion about the platform's heavily-touted Cloud services was also popular, and when asked if, for save games, it was unlimited or if consumers would be capped before having to pay for more space, Penello revealed that it was indeed unlimited.
Unfortunately, sad news arose when we pleaded with Penello to have the impressive IllumiRoom
greenlit for consumers for Xbox One, he explained that consumer cost was just too big a barrier.
"I wouldn’t expect you’ll see that,” Penello said. “It’s very, very cool tech but it’s, like, for a consumer, it requires projectors and things. It’s really super-neat if you’re in the lab and you’ve got Microsoft money and you could totally set up this awesome lab, but... we looked at it, but for an average customer it’s, like, thousands of dollars [for the set up]."
Xbox One is edging ever-closer to release this November, and will be met alongside Sony's PS4 in competition to usher in the next-generation of home consoles.