While its plans may have changed, the expected launch window was referenced in a May 2022 meeting attended by top company executives including CEO Satya Nadella, CFO Amy Hood, and head of gaming Phil Spencer, Axios reports.
Excerpts of a transcript of the meeting were released as part of Microsoft’s legal battle with the US Federal Trade Commission, which has been seeking to block the Xbox maker’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
During the meeting, one Microsoft executive asked the gaming team whether the next Xbox console might move away from having fixed hardware specifications.
“One of the things consoles have been really great at is giving a very clear platform target for developers, and [Game Development Kit] has been really good at this,” said Anuj Gosalia, corporate vice president of immersive experiences.
Another question read: “Is the plan for 2028 to keep that [illegible] like model or force a Windows like flexible/capabilities like model?”
“We need to be even more flexible going forward with gen 10, but also provide the ability for creators to take advantage of unique hardware capabilities.”
Discussing the potential launch timing of new hardware in statements provided to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority last year, Microsoft lawyers said “the next new generation of consoles are not expected to be released before the fall of 2028 at the very earliest”.
While the companies have previously introduced major upgrades to their consoles after 3-4 years on the market, current-gen supply issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic hit adoption rates and may have impacted the timelines for any planned mid-cycle hardware refreshes.
In June, Xbox boss Spencer said a potential mid-cycle upgrade for Series X wasn’t a priority for Microsoft, and he reiterated this in interviews published last month.
“As soon as you start doing mid-gen refreshes, you’ve got a bunch of issues in front of developers, on what platform they target,” he told Eurogamer.
Spencer added: “If we get into a console world where, every two years, we now have three or four closed ecosystems that are upgrading their hardware every two years, I’m gonna wonder – how is that helping creators or players? To me it feels like we are creating a ton of complexity for creators and players in something that used to be very simple. And maybe there’s another model for us.”
He also told IGN that he believes “we’re kind of at the end of the beginning” of the current console cycle. “So I think we need to let devs settle on this hardware and get the most out of it.”
In legal documents published in July, Microsoft said it expected Sony to launch a PS5 Pro console.