For hardcore gamers, the news likely comes as music to their couch-planted, headset-wearing ears: reports indicate Microsoft is working on a follow-up to the Xbox 360, with production of the new console apparently reaching the manufacturing stages at a the Austin, Texas branch of Flextronics - the same company responsible for manufacturing the original Xbox.
But don't get too carried away just yet. IGN reports industry speculation is that Microsoft is simply producing what are known as "development kits" at this point - consoles built to be distributed to video game designers so they can get a jumpstart on creating new games and hardware for the forthcoming next-generation consoles ... whenever they may be released.
Microsoft, as is to be expected, has kept quiet - telling IGN only that it continues to "defy the lifecycle convention" with its Xbox 360 through things like Xbox Kinect and new "entertainment content partnerships." At this point, speculation is any new gaming console from Microsoft is at least a couple years off.
The Xbox 360 has already been around for seven years - proving once again that time flies when you're gaming.
Adding intrigue to the plot, The Verge reported last week that Microsoft, according to sources, is preparing to market and sell a $99 Xbox and Kinect bundles for $99 - possibly as soon as this week. The bundles would be tied to a monthly subscription package, similar to the data package contracts that now accompany most cell phone purchases - allowing Microsoft to recoup any profits squandered by offering the Xbox for a mere $99 over the course of the two-year subscription. Word on the street is the subscription will run $15 a month, and that the new approach may mark a sign of things to come from Microsoft.