Microsoft Denies Kinect-less Xbox One Rumour And Clarifies Privacy

A rumour from website Inside Gaming has suggested that Microsoft may release an Xbox One without Kinect in 2014.

Their anonymous source “familiar with the matter” suggested that two bundles would be released, a standard Xbox One without Kinect and a budget version, again without Kinect but with a smaller hard drive. It was suggested that the new bundles would make the Xbox One cheaper than a PlayStation 4.

The rumour has been quickly denied by Microsoft who issued a statement to Gamefront.

“We have no plans to introduce an Xbox One without Kinect. We believe in Kinect and the value it brings to both games and entertainment, and believe $499 is a great value for what consumers receive with their Xbox One.”

Microsoft have always stated that the Xbox One cannot function without Kinect and that it must be plugged into the console at all times, a demand that has outraged privacy groups who are worried that the camera and microphone could be used to snoop inside homes.

The company has said it would “aggressively challenge” any attempts by authorities to use the Kinect for surveillance.

“Absent [of] a new law, we don’t believe the government has the legal authority to compel us or any other company that makes products with cameras and microphones to start collecting voice and video data, and we’d aggressively challenge in court any attempts to try and force us to do so.”

They key phrase is “absent of a new law”, a topic Microsoft also cover in a blog post about privacy when using Skype.

“Looking forward, as Internet-based voice and video communications increase, it is clear that governments will have an interest in using (or establishing) legal powers to secure access to this kind of content to investigate crimes or tackle terrorism.”

For the moment the U.S. and U.K. governments cannot legally use Kinect for spying but Microsoft seem to suggest this  may change in the future. You may also consider that they may just go ahead and spy anyway, you don’t see James Bond waiting for court orders to arrive before he breaks in to a building.

The U.S. government are no doubt one of Microsoft’s biggest customers, who knows what goes on behind closed doors and what deals could be done. $500 million worth of Windows 8 upgrades in exchange for access to Kinect data, we won’t tell if you won’t?

Obviously this all completely hypothetical and tin-foil-hat territory but no matter what, millions of households will soon have an Kinect HD camera in their homes watching them twenty four hours a day.

Source: Gamefront / Inside Gaming / The Verge / TechNet

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29 Comments

  1. Good article, looks like there will be a tough competition for this coming generation, especially if microsoft do release a version of the xbox one that is cheaper than the ps4.

    Also, you mis-spelled microsoft at the start of the 4th paragraph!

  2. Unfortunately this is typical Microsoft. Rather than listening to what people want (or in this case, don’t want), they are sticking with their vision and basically opting for a “like it or lump it” approach. Admirable in a way but ultimately stupid when you are competing with other companies.
    Lose the camera that no one wants, reduce the price and you have a winner. Yes it would basically become an Xbox 360.5 but the PS4 is basically a PS3.5 and that looks set for huge success as, guess what, it is ultimately what people want: more of the same but better connection services and nicer graphics.

    • You seem to imply that an Xbox One without a Kinect 2.0 is an Xbox 360.5. So going by that, we can say that with the camera included it is a true next gen system. What about the fact that there’s already a Kinect for Xbox 360 then?

      There’s no features on either consoles that are revolutionary or truly next gen, it’s just more power and better hardware, refinement of OS’s and functions, refined controllers etc. As you said.

      • And where exactly is the problem with that? We all know where too much innovation got Nintendo over the last couple of years…
        Not saying Nintendo is wrong! I like their systems but if I had to choose a single path forward, I would still opt for Sony’s path of more power combined with second screen PS Vita functionality.

      • Where did I say there was a problem with that? I can’t recall. Regardless, as I’ve made clear on this site many times, I’ll be getting a PS4 day one.

      • I wasn’t trying to imply that you said that. Your comment just came across that the natural evolution of the PS3 would be something negative.
        I’m glad they went with that natural progression instead of forcing unwanted innovation on the consumer.
        Sorry if my comment came across the wrong way. :)

  3. Microsoft’s heart is behind Kinect, even if many of us find that a questionable business choice. They sound pretty committed but if they continue to listen to their customers (and sales don’t hit projected forecasts) who’s to say what bundles will appear in the future.

    Also… “Miorsoft have always stated that the Xbox One cannot function without Kinnect and that it must be plugged in to the console at all times, an demand that has outraged privacy groups who are worried that the camera and microphone could be used to snoop inside homes.”

    Are you drunk? Miorsoft? Kinnect? an demand? See me after class, fella. :-P

  4. The thing is, seeing as Kinect 2 costs just as much to manufacture as the X1, they could potentially have sold the X1 for way less than the PS4 if they left Kinect out of the equation.

    • But it’s their ‘vision’ to get everybody waving their arms about like an inflatable balloon man outside of a car wash and to shout out ‘XBOX: STOP SNOOPING’ at the top of their voice. Sigh.

      • Indeed, thank heavens for dumb decisions.

  5. Of course they will deny any such rumors because they can’t change anything about it before release and the consumer versions are surely starting to hit production lines pretty soon.
    I still think it is something they will consider moving forward. They have already done two 180s on topics they previously said they would change absolutely nothing about.
    If the information that the Kinect 2 costs as much as the console itself is true, then that would enable Microsoft to perform a pretty substantial price cut somewhere down the line, which would crush Sony’s 399$ price point.

  6. I’m a bit skeptical about snooping being a problem, for years laptops have come with integrated cameras and mics, as well as tablets now, we’ve never had to worry before about being snooped on. Of course, if it turns out Microsoft actually do snoop it’ll be a different issue but if they deny that they will ill be happy to believe them. Having said that, I don’t want an Xbox.

    • but, do those laptops include a built in voice recognition system that listens even when the system is in standby?

    • Don’t forget the recent Snowden revelation that the number of calls being ‘monitored’ has apparently tripled since Microsoft bought Skype. And that Microsoft apparently provided the NSA with the tools to circumvent their security.

      • Ah okay I didn’t realise that. I can see why all these stories get so much attention now. It’s funny how uptight people can be about their privacy, I’m not saying I don’t understand and I definitely don’t want to be watched in my own house but things like traffic cameras tracking your movements and mobile phone locations being shared really don’t affect those with nothing to hide. That’s a bit off topic though :)

    • I kinda feel the same way. Its just time to face the fact that the world has become very “1984-ish”. Theres sooo many ways to spy on people that a camera/mic in the house isn’t that far away from whats currently happening with traffic cameras, licence plate tracking, gunshot detectors, satellites, drones, drones, and more drones… that having a camera/mic that you can actually physically unplug isn’t that big of a deal. At least I can unplug the Xbox, I can’t unplug a drone. I wouldn’t mind owning an Xbox, but I would prefer not to have Kinect not because of spying but because I think the tech is stupid for gaming.

      Also, people forget that in most situations MS would be destroyed if they were ever caught using the One for spying. Catching a major world-wide tech corporation in espionage usually doesn’t end well. Nothing that MS could gain by spying would out weigh the costs of getting caught. Plus any court order or search warrant usually includes digital surveillance already, so chances are all of your other webcams and online activities are already being monitored if youre currently a person of interest.

  7. I think this sounds awesome. If every house had kinnect running 24 hours a day and recorded at Microsoft, then they would be able to catch every burglar breaking in, we would know if ghosts exist…….
    Lets do it :-)

  8. i believe them, it’s not like they’ve lied about collecting user data before is it?

    oh wait. >_>

    http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2006/06/7017-2/

  9. MS: “We have no plans to introduce an Xbox One without Kinect”.
    Well, just wait a week or two… ;)

    Also their statement pretty much confirms that Kinect is indeed capable to be misused as a surveillance device. Why else would they need to “aggressively challenge” the attempts of governments to collect voice and video data with it. Until there’s a fitting law of course, then they’ll just bundle the data with all the other stuff they already provide to the NSA.

    • And you can guarantee that if they had to monitor & give data to a government by law, they’d keep it quiet.

      • you can request information like that through the Freedom of Information Act, as long as its not related to national security, so if MS ever shares Kinect data someone in the AP would report it.

      • FoI’s are often blocked by the government, and if they were using kinect for surveillance it would be for national security most likely. We only know about prism because of Snowden.

  10. Didn’t they sell a pretty whopping amount of 360 kinects? That’s why its included with the x1 and they are banking on family gamers opting for it over the rival systems because of it. I think they just don’t want to admit the most gamers don’t like it.

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