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.