Microsoft may be promoting the official launch of its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets today, but exactly one month from now the company's biggest product launch of 2013 gets underway. The release of the Xbox One will happen in 13 markets around the world on November 22nd. Unlike the rather tepid initial response to the new Surface tablets, Microsoft's third game console is expected to generate a ton of interest from both hardcore gamers as well as people who see the Xbox One as the company's biggest play yet to put its products and services in the living room.
Yet there are still some questions we have about the Xbox One that, so far, Microsoft has not answered even at this late date. Here are just a few of the things we want to know but have yet to get any clear answers.
Will North American Xbox One buyers get a free downloadable game like FIFA 14 or Forza Motorsport 5?
In August, Microsoft surprised everyone when it announced that pre-orders for the Xbox One in Europe would get a free downloadable game. It wasn't just any game either; it was FIFA 14 from Electronic Arts, which is arguably the most popular game franchise in that part of the world. Some UK stores offered Microsoft's own Forza Motorsport 5 as an alternate free game for Xbox One pre-orders, and even Australia and New Zealand can pre-order the console with FIFA 14.
However, Microsoft has constantly dodged questions about if people in the U.S. and Canada who pre-order the Xbox One will be able to get a equivalent free download game. Indeed, we have yet to get an answer on our end from Microsoft on that question despite our own inquiries. With just one month to go before the launch, Microsoft should make it clear that North American Xbox One pre-orders will either get a free game or if they will have to purchase a $499.99 console without that kind of freebie.
What third party apps will be on the Xbox One's dashboard?
Microsoft has been keeping what the Xbox One's dashboard looks like in action to itself for the most part, with only a few screenshots released and the company showing how the UI runs only to reporters behind closed doors. As a result, we don't know exactly what kind of non-gaming apps will be made available for the console's launch in a month.
Screenshots have shown that Netflix will (maybe) be included with the Xbox One, and Machinima recently announced their own app for the console. Twitch.tv has revealed it will also support the Xbox One but there's no word if that support will be ready for launch. More recently, reports that the console would be able to run all Windows 8 apps were partially, but not totally, refuted by Microsoft. All in all, the app ecosystem for the Xbox One is still something of a mystery. We are sure Microsoft will reveal lots more about that aspect of the console before November 22nd.
How many consoles will be shipped to retail stores to go on sale November 22nd?
This is a question that Microsoft will likely not answer, at least not until the first sales figures for the Xbox One are released a few days after the launch. However, Microsoft claims that it wants people to have a chance to walk into their favorite retail store and find an Xbox One ready for purchase on launch day. In a recent interview, Microsoft Game Studios VP Phil Spencer stated, "There might be a line, but I don't want it to be that if you didn't pre-order in September, you can't get one. That doesn't feel like a great consumer experience."
That would seem to suggest that Microsoft has a lot of Xbox One units already made or in production that, in theory, will lead to more consoles going on sale November 22nd than the Xbox 360 did during its launch nearly eight years ago. Let's hope that's the case, because we don't think any amount will be able to keep up with demand.
Images via Microsoft