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Microsoft is planning a 'special event' for next Xbox in May, reports say

After several months of complete and utter silence from the current generation video game console market leader, new hints have begun to surface about what Microsoft's successor to the Xbox 360 will look like and when it will arrive.

Speaking on the latest "What the Tech?!" technology podcast, veteran tech blogger and Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrot said that the company is planning to reveal its next-generation console, simply known as "Xbox," in a "special event" planned for May 21. While this is less than a month before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the gigantic game industry convention which tends to be used by the big three console developers— Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — as a large stage with which to unveil their latest gaming gadgets, the timing actually fits in with Microsoft's longer tradition for the Xbox console. The Xbox 360 was first revealed in an MTV special program broadcast May 12, 2005, gracing the cover of Time Magazine alongside Bill Gates later that month.

Although Thurrot did not identify a specific source for his information about the new console, his claims about the Xbox's availability were later corroborated by the tech website The Verge.

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment on this story, but a representative for the company did tell NBC News last week that Microsoft would be "at E3 in a big way," with more information to come "closer to the end of the month."

Thurrot said that the new console would be launching in "early November." This puts the next Xbox on a similar release schedule to Sony's PlayStation 4.

In addition to the release timetable, Thurrot also gave some information about the upcoming console's pricing. He said that the new Xbox would be "expensive," running around $500 with a lower-priced alternative available for $300 and some form of subscription service.

As for the console's much-discussed potential "always-online" requirement, Thurrot said that the Microsoft documents he has seen mentioned the feature.

"Looking at some of the stuff I got a long time ago, it actually says 'must be internet-connected to use' in the notes," Thurrot said. "And that's all I have, but it does say that."

Thurrot's also claimed that Microsoft has been working on two other Xbox devices — an entertainment-only device code-named "Yumo" that was ultimately scrapped, and a $99 version of the Xbox 360 code-named "Stingray." Given the company's continued effort to extend the 360's shelf life with progressively cheaper and smaller versions of the hardware, Thurrot argued that the new Xbox most likely won't be backwards-compatible with previous Microsoft console games.