LOS ANGELES – Extensive details of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) newest video game console leaked out on the Internet on Monday, three days ahead of the console's formal worldwide unveiling on MTV.
Based on pictures and purported eyewitness accounts that made the rounds of the Internet over the weekend, the console will be known as " Xbox 360."
Microsoft (search) would not confirm any of the information circulating on the Web, saying "everything you are reading about at this point is buzz and speculation."
The console is mostly white and designed to stand on one end, will feature a wireless controller and also a remote control that appears to handle multimedia functions like audio and video playback, according to various online forums that track consumer technologies.
The console's power button has "skins," customizable appearances that can apparently be added by the user. Other peripheral devices that appeared in some of the shots include a headset and a kind of Web camera. The pictures first appeared prominently on the tech Web site Engadget.com.
On Monday afternoon, gaming and technology Web sites including TeamXbox.com, GamingHorizon.com and Engadget began to publish identical-looking lists with detailed technical specifications for the console.
Among those details were a detachable 20 gigabyte hard drive, support for wireless networking, three 3.2 gigahertz central processors, surround sound and universal support for high-definition video.
The sites also said there would be two tiers of the Xbox Live online gaming service, one free and one with a subscription that would offer enhanced matchmaking and customization features.
Plenty of details remain to be revealed, including when exactly Xbox 360 (search) will ship, what it will cost, what will be included, what games will be available at launch and whether it will be compatible with games for the original Xbox.
It was not clear if all of those questions will be answered on Thursday's MTV broadcast, or even next week at the news conference Microsoft will hold at E3, the annual games industry trade show in Los Angeles.
Microsoft said in early April it would unveil its new console on MTV, a change in tactics in an industry where new hardware has always been revealed at trade shows closed to the public. Microsoft said at the time it wanted to break that mold and drum up public enthusiasm for its new machine.
That Microsoft planned a new console this year was perhaps the worst-kept secret in the industry though, as game publishers have said over the last few months they expect a new console ahead of this year's holiday season.
The original Xbox launched a year after the debut of market leader, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 (search), and that head start proved invaluable to Sony. Early on in the Xbox's life Microsoft promised it would not be beaten to market with its next console.
Sony is expected to offer some details about the PlayStation 3 at E3 next week, though the console itself is not expected until sometime in 2006.