Microsoft works on Xbox 360 successor

New console aimed squarely at digital home

Rumours are circulating that suggest Microsoft is already working on a successor to the Xbox 360 . The tongue wagging started when eagle-eyed lookouts spotted a Microsoft patent application for a new, powerful gaming 'hub'.

The application ( US Patent Office number 0070087830 ) suggests that Microsoft is designing a 'multi-component gaming system' to act as the core hub of a network of game enabled devices. This means you'll potentially be able to link up your Windows Mobile phone, Zune MP3 Player, and your Windows Vista computer to the new console. All of them will be able to share the same platform.

Xbox as digital hub

It's very unlikely that this patent is referring to an update to the existing Xbox 360 console. More probable is that this is the first sign of Microsoft designing a new games console to fit solidly at the centre of the mystical digital home.

Don't be getting too excited just yet though. The patents only refer to the concept of connecting all those other Microsoft devices together, nothing about actual hardware specs. It's highly unlikely that this project will bear fruit for at least four years or so.

Elite arriving this summer

In the meantime, Microsoft's Xbox 360 Elite will launch in the UK at some point in the late summer. Microsoft announced last month that the new black Xbox 360 Elite will have an HDMI connection and a 120GB hard drive.

However it only comes with HDMI version 1.2, and not 1.3 as sported by the Sony PlayStation 3. This means the Xbox 360 Elite isn't compatible with high definition surround sound formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

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