Microsoft has been making some noise lately regarding an extended lifespan for the Xbox 360 console. One of the things they're counting on is Project Natal. Another is software, the very thing Microsoft was built on.
The latter is also what Microsoft exec Shane Kim thinks will be one of the deciding factors for next gen, even more so than actual hardware. According to Kim, software and services like Xbox Live will be deciding factors for the "next generation." Speaking with Fast Company, Kim said:
In the past we would always get this question, "Hey, there's a new console launch every five years and you're coming up on that time for Xbox, right?" That's the old treadmill way of thinking.
Before you had things that were very obvious, from a hardware standpoint -- pushing more pixels, the move from 2-D to 3-D, 3-D to HD, etc. We got a very powerful piece of hardware in Xbox 360.
I am confident that we have more headroom available, in terms of developers and creators figuring out how to get more out of the system. So I worry less about new hardware having to enable us to move to a different level of graphics. It's much more about the experiences that you are going to deliver.
That's why I think we're very well-positioned, competitively speaking, because Microsoft is a software and services company.