Microsoft reportedly debunks always-online Xbox rumors

MIcrosoft always-on rumors may not be true
We just want some questions answered

Microsoft seems to have done a 180 on the always-on Xbox 720 rumors, finally indicating that the new Xbox won't require a constant internet connection to play games and watch movies, however inadvertently.

"Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet," said a Microsoft email to its employees, according to Ars Technica.

"There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status."

The internal email goes on to list some of those scenarios, like "playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."

Blu-ray, DVR capabilities confirmed?

This is good news for households with spotty internet speeds, one of the many reasons why an always-online Xbox 720 requirement would be a terrible idea.

The internal email, if authentic, would confirm that the new Xbox is destined to have a Blu-ray player capable of watching high-definition movies and include an HDMI input for cable passthrough.

Cable passthrough on the new Xbox would, essentially, allow it to take over a cable box's signal and overlay a Microsoft-branded DVR interface on the live TV feed, much like Google TV devices do now.

Not out of the woods yet

Single-player and offline games seem a little safer today given this internal quote, and it gives Microsoft better footing against Sony's already-revealed PS4.

However, it's still possible that the new Xbox could require some form of an internet connection, Ars Technica speculated.

Steam, for example, requires a connection to install and activate a new game, but gamers are in the clear once their copy of the game is deemed genuine.

This could be a nice compromise between Microsoft's desire to please publishers who want DRM and gamers who want to avoid debacles like the SimCity and Diablo 3 launches.

Microsoft will host a reveal event for the new Xbox in Redmond, Wash., where the company will finally be able to put at least some of the spinning-out-of-control Xbox 720 rumors to rest on May 21.

Matt Swider