Well we've finally got an Xbox One launch date: November 22nd (just as the ITworld community and I predicted). That's the date for the first 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA) to get the new console, anyway. Roll-outs in other regions will continue in 2014.
That puts the launch one week behind the Playstation 4 in North America and 1 week ahead of in Europe and Australia, for whatever that's worth. I'm not sure many gamers will base their buying decision on a week in either direction. In Europe, Xbox One Day One Edition pre-orders come with a copy of FIFA 14; no similar freebie program has been announced for North America.
Along with that announcement came a few more details. The Xbox One engineers have managed to squeeze a bit more juice out of the CPU, bumping the maximum speed from 1.6 GHz to 1.75 GHz. What practical difference that means, we don't know, but faster is generally better, right?
Microsoft also announced the that Xbox One is now in 'full production' meaning the hardware is locked down, though remember we're all going to have to download a Day 1 patch, so the software engineers still have time to tweak things. That Day 1 patch news is from June and I haven't heard Microsoft mention it since, but I'm assuming it's still on the table.
And even though Xbox One pre-orders are, according to Microsoft, sold out in the US, through the magic of efficient manufacturing (I guess?) they've suddenly made available more Xbox One Day One consoles available for pre-order. So I guess it's no longer sold out.
A more cynical blogger might see that as evidence that demand isn't where they thought it would be. Good thing I'm not cynical. Microsoft isn't talking firm numbers of pre-orders but did say "millions and millions" of gamers would be playing on Xbox One by the holiday season.
In the past few days we've also learned that the Xbox One supports up to 8 controllers, giving fanboys another number to fight over (the PS4 supports 4). The Xbox 360 also supported four and I never found that to be a problem, but I guess next gen means cramming more people into your living room.
Speaking of the Xbox 360, what about support going forward? If you were around for the launch of the Xbox 360 you'll remember Microsoft dropped support for the original Xbox pretty quickly. You were more or less forced to upgrade if you wanted to keep playing new games. This time things will be different. According to a post at Ars Technica Microsoft intends to keep supporting the 360 for another 3 years and they're going to ship "over 100" new games on that platform.
So those of you more fiscally responsible than I, who're planning to wait for the Xbox One library to develop, or for the first price cut, or for the first hardware refinement, or any of a number of valid reasons to wait on upgrading...you're still going to have plenty of new games to enjoy on your Xbox 360. That's probably the best Xbox news we've heard recently.
You can read more about the Xbox One launch date announcement at Xbox.com or check out the video version:
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.