Gates Points to Entertainment Role for Upcoming Xbox

Bill Gates recently offered more details on an upcoming Xbox release, describing the new console as a digital entertainment hub.

The new console, which will be unveiled on a dedicated MTV segment later this month, is expected to broaden far beyond the current gaming focus, offering access to photos, TV, and music content. But Gates is clearly pushing the gaming envelope as well, with a big expansion in massive multiplayer communication capabilities. According to the chairman, the new Xbox interface will resemble the
current Windows Media Center edition, which is vying to power the next-generation digital living room. Other details were light, though a
release is scheduled for later this year.

Big changes could also be in store on the music end, with Xbox chief J Allard recently pointing to a more personalized audio experience. Speaking at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March, Allard pointed to functionality that will allow users to control their own game soundtracks, a big change in the way music is integrated into the action. The move is designed to meet a more sophisticated user profile, with the company pointing to extensive research that indicates a preference for personal playlists. That will be a closely watched development on the label end, with hit games currently creating big promotional opportunities for new artists.