"I always have to be really careful what I say here," Microsoft's Albert Penello says, as he wades into the piranha-infested waters of its Xbox One DRM policy saga.
"This is my official: 'We're not going back on that,'" says Microsoft's Albert Penello, clearly paranoid that the mere mention of Xbox One's DRM policies - which it famously reversed earlier this year - would cause an internet meltdown. "I don't want anybody to think we 'got' them, and then tomorrow I'm gonna go back to the old stuff, 'cause that's not gonna happen." No, having once reversed tack on DRM, Microsoft isn't about to tempt fate with yet another turn-around, but at least it's learned its lesson, claims Penello.
Though Microsoft still quite likes the look of a digital future, he admits. "We just think that's the way the future's gonna go," he says. "We may have been right. What we were wrong about was that it's just too soon." But the digital version of any Xbox One title will be available as soon as the physical one is, and a physical licence can be converted to digital without difficulty. Well, without too much difficulty; you can't take a disc you own and convert that to a digital license, but you can borrow or rent someone else's disc and turn that into a digital game on your console. There's still plenty of cloud functionality too, if you like the idea of having your Xbox profile proliferate on any number of Xbox One consoles. It just won't be exactly that same vision of the future that Microsoft dreamed of, back when it first made its presentation to the world, and the world said No.
"I do feel like we never got a chance to have a rational conversation about what we were trying to do," says Penello, who thinks the "cool stuff" that came with its digital-forever future will come back to the Xbox One eventually. Eventually could be a while away yet; after all, it's still not entirely clear whether Microsoft will have an Xbox division this time next year. The new CEO will doubtless have his or her own take on Microsoft's hardware segment, but that's a story for another day.