As the rumoured announcement date for Microsoft's next-gen Xbox gets closer, we're seeing more rumours popping up all over the Internet. The latest one comes from VGLeaks, which shows us how the Xbox Development Kit for the next-gen Xbox, aka Durango, is tied in with Visual Studio 2012. More interestingly, however, one of the screenshots gives us a look at the Durango.

The highlights of the Durango documentation include a low-powered mode, a low latency controller with “improved ergonomics”, a Blu Ray drive, and only digital out on the console.

The details that caught our attention were that the console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current.

The console will also require a Kinect to stay connected all the time. A Kinect will be bundled with the console, and will have a wider field of view, better tracking, and will have no motors. Thanks to the Blu Ray drive, games will have to be installed on the HDD. The console will not be able to stream data from the optical disc. It will have a system that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed to the HDD rather than having to wait till the installation is complete.

A concept art of what the Durango may look like

A concept of what the Durango may look like

Speculations arose back in February that Microsoft may be getting ready to unveil the Xbox at a big event in April alongside Electronic Arts. The rumours stem from the fact that EA was curiously absent from Sony's PlayStation 4 unveiling. This strongly hints at a partnership between EA and Microsoft, and the two possibly even signing exclusivity rights.

While this may mean EA would produce content exclusively for Microsoft’s console, the company simply can’t afford to lock out another platform, especially one as big as the PlayStation. The most likely scenario would be EA producing some DLCs exclusively for Microsoft’s console, and game releases will probably be delayed by a month or so.

However, if Microsoft has indeed secured EA as an exclusive publisher, it would be a big blow against Sony and the PlayStation 4, and may mean that the next console generation will be dominated by the Xbox.

The most likely announcement by EA for the Xbox is Battlefield 4. It is rumoured that the game will ship between April 2013 and March 2014, which means there is a high possibility that the game will be on next-gen consoles. The release window was projected by EA back in August 2012. EA’s Frank Gibeau made the projections during the company's earnings call. EA didn’t say much about Battlefield 4, besides projecting the release date. 

Microsoft is rumoured to be preparing for an event regarding its next-gen console in April. The rumour is further corroborated by Microsoft’s partner Eventcore registering the URL Eventcore has previously aided the company in events like E3 2012. So far, Microsoft has remained quiet about its next-gen console.

We can’t be very far from an announcement by Microsoft, especially since it rushed out the Xbox 360 before the PlayStation 3’s release to get an early head start. Microsoft of all companies would know the importance of such a head start, as that would let it dominate the next-gen console market early.

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