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Microsoft’s Xbox Lite, or possibly Xbox 720, already in production at Texas manufacturer

The Xbox 720, or Durango if you prefer, will not make an appearance at E3 in June. Don’t ask again, Microsoft is tired of repeating itself. The next Xbox however, possibly a brand new, streamlined version of the Xbox 360, may very well be at said show. According to new rumors, Microsoft’s next piece of video game playing hardware is already in production at a Texas manufacturer.

IGN reported on Thursday that, according to its source, Flextronics in Austin, Texas is already putting together the next generation of Xbox consoles. Flextronics does have a long history with Microsoft. The company manufactured the original Xbox when that machine debuted back in 2001 and it still assembles Xbox 360 hardware today. The report claims that Flextronics actually formed a new testing team that operated away from the main body of the company. This team’s only job was to perform hardware, software, and even marketing tests on the next Xbox. Now they’ve moved on to actually building the consoles.

With the Xbox 360 selling well and Microsoft representatives insisting in no small terms that there won’t be an Xbox 720 at E3 2012, it’s doubtful that these Flextronics-made boxes are the Durango machines that people will eventually play games on. If they are next-generation Xboxes, then they are likely development consoles made for studios.

Microsoft’s statement on the rumor, however, indicated that these units may very well be the rumored Xbox Lite version of the Xbox 360. Its statement to IGN reads: “Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend its lifecycle like introducing the world to controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention. Beyond that we do not comment on rumors or speculation.”

Rumors first popped up in March that Microsoft was preparing a disc drive-less version of the Xbox 360 focused on streaming content called the Xbox Lite. These rumors were reinforced on Tuesday when word came out that Microsoft might be releasing a $99 Xbox, also primarily used for streaming and downloadable entertainment, this month. The low cost of this Xbox would be subsidized by a $15 per month subscription fee.

That Microsoft deigned to respond to the Flextronics inquiry by talking up the aging Xbox 360 hardware’s longevity in the market is a compelling piece of evidence in the Xbox Lite saga.

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