Microsoft Announces Xbox One Without Kinect

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Posted on May 13, 2014, Andy Chalk Microsoft Announces Xbox One Without Kinect

Microsoft has announced that a lower-priced Xbox One model that doesn’t include Kinect will be released in June.

Remember when Microsoft said that the Xbox One would not work without Kinect? Apparently that was a bit of an overstatement, as the company announced today that effective June 9, the Xbox One will be available without Kinect for $399. The new model will support all the same games as Kinect-equipped hardware, access to apps like Twitch, YouTube and Netflix, and “many” of its other features, like the ability to switch between apps and games and receive gaming invitations while you watch television.

“To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision. Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day. In fact, more than 80 percent of you are actively using Kinect, with an average of 120 voice commands per month on each console,” Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said. “We will continue to offer a premium Xbox One with Kinect bundle to deliver voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes, and enhanced features only available with Kinect.”

Spencer also confirmed that gamers who opt for the $399 Kinect-free Xbox One will be able to purchase a standalone sensor that will be released in the fall.

It’s quite a turnaround for Microsoft, which positioned Kinect as an indispensable part of the Xbox One experience. An FAQ from May of last year described it as “an essential and integrated part of the platform,” and in September, Microsoft VP Phil Harrison told CVG, “Xbox One is Kinect. They are not separate systems.” It’s hardly the first, however: The company has previously ditched plans to require an always-on internet connection, restrictions on used game trading and prohibitions against indie self-publishing. The elimination of Kinect as a mandatory part of the system is the final step in a climbdown from its initial grand vision that’s been both ugly and, as it turned out, entirely necessary.

In the same announcement, Microsoft also confirmed a rumor from earlier today that access to streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Twitch and HBO GO will be available without an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

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