Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled Skype and live TV capabilities for its new game console, the Xbox One.
The company is positioning the new Xbox as an all-in-one entertainment system for the home. Along with gaming, which Microsoft has only briefly addressed, the system also will allow users to watch live TV, make group video calls on the TV via Skype, and search the Web.
"This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV," Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing, strategy and business for Microsoft's interactive entertainment business, said at the company's event Tuesday.
One new feature, called instant switching, allows users to shift between applications by talking to the TV. For example, the Xbox will switch to live TV when saying "watch TV," and users can surf the Web by saying "Go to Internet Explorer."
And "snapmode" for the Xbox allows users to run multiple programs alongside each other and easily interact without having to shut one down to start up another.
Microsoft currently is hosting its special next-generation Xbox event at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters. The company last introduced a new gaming console, the Xbox 360, in 2005. Since that time, the Xbox has become the best-selling game console in the country, with consumers spending $208 million on hardware, software, and accessories for the Xbox in April.
However, the new Xbox launch comes as the game console business faces an uncertain future. More and more people are turning to mobile devices and the Web for gaming, and that has resulted in weaker console sales. The Nintendo Wii U, which includes a tablet-like game controller that doubles as a second screen, has faced tepid interest since launching late last year. Sony, meanwhile, unveiled its Playstation 4 in February, but the device isn't expected to hit the market until the fall.
To help attract buyers and become more of a living room staple, Microsoft has been incorporating more entertainment capabilities into the Xbox, including new media-streaming functionality. The company is expected to provide more details about new entertainment features of the Xbox.
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