Consoles are as much a service as they are a product, says Phil Spencer.
"We're committed to Xbox One in the long run," says Microsoft's corporate VP, Phil Spencer to the Guardian, and that includes Kinect, which Spencer describes as "critical." The Xbone ecosystem just wouldn't be the same without it, and in a separate interview with CVG, Phil Harrison says much the same: "Xbox One is Kinect. They are not separate systems." The biggest developers around have been playing with the Kinect for a while, Spencer argues, and now the independent crowd will get a shot at it too. An "explosion of creativity," Spencer hopes, will be the result. But Microsoft will only benefit from that creativity if everyone understands what's on offer, which means the Kinect has to remain part of the package. If developers started to think that the Kinect wasn't a consistent part of the platform, the creativity tap would turn off.
Harrison describes his relationship with the Xbox One in slightly mystical terms. "It makes you think about your relationship with technology in a slightly different way," he says. "It's personal. It makes you think, I wish more devices would do this." But for Spencer the Kinect, and all things Xbox One, is firmly tied in to the overall vision, which is focused on the digital ecosystem that Microsoft has been trying to propagate since day one. "Consoles today are as much a service as they are an individual purchase," says Spencer. "Our commitment through Xbox Live and updating the software and keeping the games coming is a long-term service commitment." That's why the whole check-in-once-a-day bit existed in the first place and why, Spencer says, "those advantages will be coming, some at launch and some later."
Spencer does believe in listening to customer feedback, which is why Microsoft now uses what he describes as "physical DRM" - the disc - as well as digital DRM. But Spencer's clear on one thing: Microsoft wants to create the digital ecosystem that was announced at launch, and which will be coming to all customers eventually. So those of you who wanted to see the next generation console you thought Microsoft was selling will see it eventually. Just not right away.