In a speech at the Executive's Club of Chicago, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has claimed that a new version of the Xbox 360 will definitely be on shelves by 2010 - despite the fact that other Microsoft execs have been denying that rumour recently.
Describing the new console Ballmer promised that it would feature a "natural interface...and a built-in camera that can recognise movement and voices
", according to TG Daily
. Judging by his description it sounds like he's actually talking about Microsoft's Project Natal controller, though this is the first time Microsoft has suggested that the camera could be house in the main console shell.
Reports on what Microsoft is planning exactly for Natal have been more than a little confusing lately, with rumours that a new console is coming next year being promptly shot-down by most Microsoft reps. Meanwhile other Microsoft higher-ups have claimed that Natal itself will be the new platform, though it is essentially a rebrand of the existing Xbox 360. Earlier this week Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg played that idea down, promising that Natal will run on existing Xbox 360 units
and will need no extra hardware.
Following Ballmer's bombshell Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb quickly poo-pooed the idea that a new console will be coming any time soon and pointed out that the existing Xbox 360 is only halfway through the expected lifecycle.
"As the Xbox team stated at E3 two weeks ago, we are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade,
" he wrote on his blog
"Project Natal will be an important part of this platform, but we have not confirmed a launch date at this time.
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