Microsoft may look to Skype to power voice chat on the next Xbox

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Since we’re still months away from any official word on the next video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony, rumors of what those machines might include are running rampant. Some are more reliable than others, but as always we caution you that this should be considered a rumor. None of what we’re about to tell you can currently be officially confirmed, but based on everything we know this information seems quite legitimate, and it just makes sense.

This morning, CVG published an article which claims that the next iteration of Microsoft’s Xbox (whatever it’s eventually titled) will feature vocal communications technology largely based on that created by Voice over IP giant Skype. Anonymous sources at Microsoft claim that in the near future the company will be “consolidating all [its] communications technology” around Skype. Supposedly, this means that not only will the next version of the Xbox feature much of Skype’s work, but that Microsoft also intends to integrate Skype technology directly into its operating systems and other future software offerings. “You might jump to the conclusion that we’ll see asynchronous voice and video messages in next-gen Xbox Live,” the source said.

As a rumor, this information is far from the most outlandish thing we’ve ever heard. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for the princely sum of $8.5 billion, so it stands to reason that the former firm would want to leverage its new assets toward some kind of return on its investment. Given Skype’s unrivaled experience in the field of Internet-based voice chat, it just makes sense that Microsoft would tap Skype’s personnel to put together a communications system for its next console.

Of course, if you don’t believe that, there’s also the job listing posted by Microsoft in August of 2012 which seeks a designer to work on the user interface of its next console. The location of this position? Microsoft’s Skype offices. “The team you’ll join is responsible for Skype in the living room (broadly the home), across various devices but with a focus on the large screen and the next generation of Xbox,” the ad reads.

Honestly, our biggest concern here is that Microsoft might fail to give Skype the freedom it needs to create a truly remarkable voice chat protocol for the next Xbox. Say what you will about Skype’s VoIP service, but it’s undeniably more robust and functional than the voice chat system seen on the Xbox 360. As long as Microsoft knows to keep out of the way, the Skype-powered voice chat system in the next Xbox should be a marked improvement over what players are currently accustomed to. Especially if Skype and Microsoft offer users the ability to ring normal landline and cellular phones from the comfort of their gaming headsets. Expect more on the next Xbox and its potential Skype integration just as soon as Microsoft is ready to serve up concrete information.

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