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What can you do with the Xbox One if you don't download the Day One update? Not much

The Xbox One will be practically inert without a day one patch, Microsoft said on Friday.
The Xbox One will be practically inert without a Day One patch, Microsoft said on Friday.Microsoft

Microsoft's next-generation Xbox One video game console might not be "always online" anymore, but gamers are still going to need an Internet connection to get the system up and running.

On the eve of the Xbox One's launch later this month, Microsoft revealed that the console will be practically useless until users download and install a Day One update for the system.

Read more: Xbox One wants to take over your living room

In an interview with Engadget, Albert Penello, senior director of product management for Microsoft, said that people who manage to get their hands on the Xbox One at launch time —which, as NBC News has already reported, is going to be harder than you might think — "will be able to do very little without taking the Day One update."

When pressed, Penello added that by "very little," he meant "nothing."

Given the breakneck pace of hardware and software production, Day One updates are nothing new for video game consoles or individual games, mind you. But companies are rarely so honest about the sheer futility of trying to use a device without some kind of software update. And to its credit, Microsoft has also made it clear since June that Xbox One owners will need a Day One update to get the system up to speed when it launches on Nov. 22 due to the simple fact that the company was still updating the console's software as well.

In its own way, Penello's admission vindicates the sentiment that was controversially expressed by then-fellow Microsoft executive Adam Orth when he told critics of the Xbox One's "always online" requirement to "deal with it" back in April.

"Every device now is 'always on,'" Orth said at the time on his Twitter account. "That's the world we live in."

The backlash that ensued eventually cost Orth his job at Microsoft in a series of toxic events that he recently spoke about in public for the first time since departing the company. And Microsoft, for its part, backed away from some of its more stringent digital rights management (DRM) practices such as requiring Xbox One owners to always be connected to the Internet to use the console at all.

But Orth's point still stands regardless. "Deal with it" may not have been the most empathetic way to phrase it, but a mandatory Day One patch shows that his sentiment holds water.  

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: