Rumors are rife that Microsoft is hard at work on the highly anticipated next-generation Xbox 720. Reports flooding the internet have suggested that the new Xbox 720, which reared its head back in 2005, will arrive later this year.

Others, however, are of the opinion that the new gaming console will arrive only in 2014 or 2015. This is from the fact that Microsoft themselves had announced that the Xbox 360 has a lifespan of 10 years. If the theory is maintained, then the fans will have to wait till 2015 for the next Xbox from the Redmond-based company.

However, here is a list of what is known about the gaming console thus far.

Game Development: It is widely believed that the developers have already started to create titles for Xbox 720. The Lionhead game developing franchise had even recently posted a job advertisement where they were looking for a person with a background in DirectX 11. Now it is commonly known that Microsoft's DirectX 11 has not been used in any current gaming consoles so far, and the fans have assumed that titles are currently being developed for the next-generation Xbox that will have DirectX 11 support.

Controller: There is still some confusion regarding the Xbox 720 controller as most of the fans believe that the controller for the new gaming console will arrive with an evolved look and more capabilities for next-generation gaming. Though it is expected that the Kinect gesture-control system will stay there on the new Xbox console, yet a revamped version of Kinect will arrive. Kinect is one the of the world's fastest selling consumer electronics products as the sales have just toppled 10 million, which is a Guinness World Record.

No Disc Drive: One of the biggest rumors regarding the Xbox 720 that has been a focal point of all the talks is that Microsoft will ditch the traditional disc drive for the new gaming console. Previously, a UK-based gaming blog, MCV, came up with the report that Microsoft would not mount a disc drive for the Xbox 720. Rather, the Redmond-based company will opt for an online storing option instead of its more traditional ways.

Processing Power and Graphical Speed: According to rumors, the new Xbox 720 is set to pack in AMD's latest 6670 chip that supports DirectX11, multi-display, 3D and many others.

Now if Microsoft decides to wait until 2013, AMD's new HD 8000 series graphics chips will be available for use in the new console. According to Epic Games' VP Mark Rein, the new console will have more power than 360 has with technology like Kinect built into it. Previously, Microsoft used a custom-developed IBM Power PC with a trio of 3.2GHz cores and an ATI GPU in its Xbox 360 which was considered to be a hot technology at the time the Xbox 360 arrived.

New Codename: Rumors have mentioned a host of codenames for the next major update of the Xbox gaming console. According to reputed Microsoft blogger MS Nerds, it will be named Xbox Loop.

The blogger has further added that the new device will be much smaller, affordable and Kinect-focused as compared to its predecessors. However, another source has claimed that the device's internal codename will be 'Durango'.

Windows 8 Integration: Currently, Microsoft is bent on creating an ecosystem of tablets, computers, smartphones, apps and games and is currently working on a number of unified versions of its operating system and other applications.

Now the new Windows 8 is expected to hit the market this year with Nokia set to launch its new tablet devices with Windows 8 integrated into them. Hence, it can also be expected that the new Xbox 720 will run on Windows 8 with Microsoft looking to add the gaming department into its ecosystem as well.

Finally, Announcement: If rumors are to be believed, Microsoft will reveal the new Xbox 720 at the forthcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, which is to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center between June 5 and 7.

However, a source at game developing company Crytek believes that there is a chance that Microsoft will showcase the new console at the world's biggest gaming trade show, and that there is a chance that the company will announce the existence of the console in the next 12 months.

(Information from Northern Voices Online)