It has been revealed that Microsoft is no longer planning on hosting an X04 conference in Europe this year. Instead, MS has chosen to concentrate on “individual country activity”. So instead of gathering together half-pickled journalists in surroundings as salubrious as Pierre Cardin’s villa in the south of France (which saw host to the X01 event), this year’s promotional activity is more likely to take place in distinctly less glamorous locales.
That's not to say that there won’t be sufficient Xbox projects worthy of promotion. Halo 2, Forza Motorsport, Fable and Jade Empire are all waiting to put in an appearance. It will just be relatively low key compared to previous events. At this stage, Microsoft hasn’t offered an official reason for this downplay.
In addition, it has recently been suggested that Bill Gates is planning to unveil Xbox 2 during his keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas at the beginning of January 2005. This does seem entirely plausible, as Microsoft readily admits its intention to pre-empt its competitors with the next generation launch, and the first MS console was also revealed at a previous ICES event.
When these two pieces of news are viewed side by side, it’s a strong indication that Microsoft is preparing to close one chapter and open the next. As Nintendo and Sony are working to extend the lifespan of their existing consoles, via new peripherals and price-cuts respectively, it would seem that Microsoft is fully intent on shifting its vast resources behind the next console project.