The company has just won the rights to domain names Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org , along with a slew of other titles, reported Fusible. The other recently acquired domains include XboxPhone.com, XboxTablet.com, XboxLiveTV.com and XboxCompanion.com.
While many of these seem self-explanatory, the Xbox 8 website name could have fans and critics puzzled. Some are speculating that this will be the name of Microsoft's next-generation console, but that may not necessarily be the case.
1. New domain names suggest new apps and services, not a new console. Anyone who paid attention to E3 2012 knows that the next generation of consoles is about integrating apps and social features more tightly into the gaming systems. The recently revealed domain names seem like extensions of features that will be included with Microsoft's upcoming Smart Glass app, which links a console to various mobile devices. These titles make perfect sense with the company's forthcoming ventures, such as the Windows Phone 8 and Surface Tablet that were introduced in June. With the direction Microsoft is headed, it seems that it plans on closely tying all of its devices, including the next-generation Xbox.
2. Next-generation should stick with the brand. Microsoft has only put out one successor to its original Xbox console, the Xbox 360. So why would they go in a completely different direction when it comes to naming the device? Calling it the 720 establishes a line of gaming consoles that have evolved over the course of time, rather than deviating from what has already been created. Microsoft should seek to expand and build on the success it has already achieved, rather than branding it as something totally different.
3. Possible Windows 8 integration? As video game consoles evolve, they are beginning to function as a source of multimedia entertainment and computers. Each competitor is attempting to achieve this in different ways, as Nintendo showcased its bolstered social features to come with its Wii U. If Microsoft plans to run Windows 8 on its upcoming Surface Tablet, it is possible that a version of its next operating system could run on the next-generation Xbox as well. Of course, this is all speculation at this point, but Microsoft has said that it plans to incorporate bigger and better things into its next device. The company has designed the operating system to run on mobile devices and PCs, and this could be a further push to unify the software across platforms.
4. Microsoft could just be protecting its trademark. The brand new domain names could be an attempt by the company to secure its name. After all, Microsoft did target a high school student named Mike Rowe years ago for the domain name MikeRoweSoft.com. Obtaining these domains could just ensure that other companies do not infringe on what Microsoft has in the works.
5. Analyst predicts next Xbox could replace cable boxes via Windows 8. Renowned video game industry analyst Michael Pachter has made some interesting points about what Microsoft could have up its sleeve. It's pretty clear to me that Microsoft intends to allow the Xbox 720 to function as a cable TV box, he said to the Official Xbox Magazine recently, allowing cable television service providers to broadcast over the Internet through the box, with SmartGlass as the remote controller, and with the Xbox 720 using Windows 8 to split the TV signal into multiple feeds, allowing consumers to divert different channel feeds to different displays within the home. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but it is just a further indication that Xbox 8 could be in reference to any upcoming feature that is related to Windows 8 or Microsoft's other mobile products, not necessarily a new console name.
Until Microsoft reveals more information about its next generation Xbox, it is impossible to know if any of these speculations are true. Some may argue conversely, saying that the '8' in the name could be a symbol for Xbox Infinity, if that were to be the title. The console is expected to launch sometime in 2014, so there is plenty of time for Microsoft to clarify exactly what its plans are for the new Xbox.