The marketing director at Microsoft France just saved us from months of wild launch date speculation.

The Xbox 360 is rapidly approaching middle age in cat-years, meaning this year is open season for speculative reports on the prospective existence of its successor. Several of these reports hinted that Microsoft was intending to reveal its next console at E3 this summer, with a view to launching the machine before the end of the year. However, an executive from Microsoft France has now gone on the record to silence the rumor-mills and confirm that his company will not be releasing a new Xbox in 2012.

Cedrick Delmas, head of marketing at Microsoft France, described the company’s position in an interview with French weekly (Translation provided by yours truly.) “We’re in an industry that likes to talk a lot, to tell stories…The Xbox 360’s cycle is nowhere near finished. The proof of that is that we’re not planning to lower its price during this year.”

“One thing which is certain is that there will be nothing new in 2012,” he continued.

What is the Xbox 360 going to spend the year doing, then? “We want to extend the reach of Xbox Live across our installation base by developing a range of different services,” explained Delmas, before revealing that “more than 50%” of the Xboxes sold in France over Christmas were bought with Kinect packs. “People come into the 360 universe via Kinect, and there’s no doubt that that’s helping us to reach a new audience,” he said.

Well, that’s that, it would seem. Microsoft looks like it plans to spend this year concentrating on developing Xbox Live, Kinect, and working on new ways to connect both of those things to various content sources. So much changes, so much stays the same. While launch-date speculation is off the table til next year, however, the field of features and spec rumors remains wide open. When it finally does arrive, will the next Xbox be called Xbox 720? Will it have found some way to spit your tarnished used games back at you with as much mechanized derision as a games console can muster? Will my cat be able to play it? Will online passes be replaced with fingerprint scanner on the power button? Will it make me tea? Starter blocks, people!


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