Xbox fans rejoice! Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox 360 will be completely backwards compatible, meaning you won't have to shelve your copy of Halo 2 or Forza when the new console comes out next year.
Microsoft made the announcement at a pre-E3 press conference earlier today. As well as backwards compatibility, Microsoft confirmed Xbox 360 specifications including:
- An IBM PowerPC-based CPU with three symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each, packing the most advanced AI and physics processing available.
A custom ATI Graphics processor and more than 512 MB of memory for high-definition games and entertainment applications.
- All games optimised for 16:9 aspect ratio, HD output (720p and 1080i), multichannel surround sound output, and full-screen anti-aliasing.
- Detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive to download demos and trailers along with new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins, community-created content and more, to rip music for playback and to listen to custom playlists in every game.
- A wireless controller with Microsoft®-patented wireless technology; Xbox Guide Button on every controller to instantly connect gamers to their games, friends and music, and to power on or power off Xbox 360 without their having to leave the couch.
- Gamer Profile software that remembers what players have achieved in games.
- Instant, out-of-the-box access to Xbox Live, including a built-in Ethernet port for connectivity; Xbox Live Marketplace for downloadable content; a Message Center to receive voice and video messages from friends; functionality that let users talk to friends, even while watching movies or listening to music; and an Xbox Live Headset.
- Three USB 2.0 ports for Xbox Live Camera peripheral, to plug in wired game controllers that are also common for Windows®-based PCs; to stream media from a portable media device, digital camera and Windows XP-based PC.
- Progressive-scan DVD movie playback out of the box; DVD and CD music and photo playback out of the box; support for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, Windows Media® Audio CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD.
- Media Center Extender built in to access recorded TV (including high-definition TV) and digital movies (including high-definition film), music, video and photos stored on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PCs through any Xbox 360 system.
- Support for up to four wireless game controllers and an optional Universal Media Remote with Windows XP Media Center Edition Button for Media Center Edition functionality.
Support for Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter via 802.11b, g and a.
- Interactive, full-screen 3-D visualisers.
- Two memory unit ports to save data on portable memory units, starting at 64 MB.
- Detachable Face so each console can be personalised.
- Parental Controls to help restrict games and movies that are played; Xbox Live controls to manage Friends List, voice and video communication, and Gamer Profile sharing.
Microsoft also used the press conference to confirm more details about Xbox Live for the 360, stating that current Live memberships will automatically become Silver 360 memberships when the new system launches. With the Silver level of service, gamers can access the Xbox Live Marketplace to download demos and trailers along with new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins, classic arcade games, card and board games, community-created content, and more to the detachable Xbox 360 hard drive. Players can also voice chat with friends, and send and receive text and voice messages.
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