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Microsoft to formally reveal next Xbox on May 21

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The next-gen console war gets official on May 21.

That’s the date Microsoft will finally unveil its long-awaited follow-up to the Xbox 360. The event, sent out to members of the press Wednesday, will take place at the company’s HQ in Redmond, Washington at 10:00 am PST, though it will also be streamed live on Xbox Live, and Spike TV.

“We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on,” said Microsoft spokesperson Major Nelson in an otherwise uninformative blog post.

The reveal will hopefully end weeks months years of speculation about the upcoming system’s features and specs. Specifically, gamers are itching to get an answer regarding the system’s rumored requirement for an ‘always-on’ internet connection, an issue so controversial, it’s already cost one high-profile MS employee his job.

Other rumored features are less contentious. The system is believed to be able to take over your set-top cable box and interact with your TV, while a new version of the Kinect motion-sensing camera will improve the console’s controller-free functionality. The system’s final technical specs (last rumored to include an 1.6GHz 8-core processor, 8GB of RAM and built-in Blu-Ray drive) could also be announced.

May is a special month for Microsoft, as the company first announced the Xbox 360 on May 12 of 2005. The May 21 date is also just a few weeks prior to the E3 convention in Los Angeles, where Microsoft is expected to show off the new hardware -- and plenty of software -- during its annual press conference, likely on June 10.

The reveal marks the beginning of the end of the current-gen game cycle, which has lasted an unprecedented seven and a half years. Nintendo already moved into the next-gen space with its troubled Wii U system, while both the next Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4, revealed during an event in February, are expected to arrive this holiday season.

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