MICROSOFT has unveiled the Xbox ONE, its hotly anticipated replacement for the hugely popular Xbox 360.

Don Mattrick, the software giant's president of Interactive Entertainment, told an audience of gaming journalists at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, that the new Xbox ONE was not simply a games console, but "The ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system".

Following four years of work, and several months of fevered speculation, Mattrick announced that the new system would be launched around the world later this year.

And with so-called "intelligent TV" capabilities, it looks set to compete not only with its traditional rival, Sony's PlayStation, but with the likes of Sky and Virgin Media, too.

The Xbox ONE can rent films, or play and record live television using an interactive TV guide.

It also features a "Trending" feature, which lets users know which games, shows and films are popular with their friends and fellow Xbox Live community members.

The system can switch instantaneously between games, films, television and the web, and even run multiple features alongside one another in its "snap mode", potentially removing the need for a second screen such as a tablet or smartphone.

Given the competition that gaming consoles face from smaller, portable gadgets such as smartphones, it should be little surprise that the new system boasts an ability to integrate with secondary devices.

Controlled by a series of voice commands and hand gestures, the new Xbox contains an eight-core processor, 8GB of memory, a Blu-Ray drive and the updated Kinect 2.0 motion-control peripheral.

Significantly, Microsoft has confirmed Xbox 360 games won't play on the new console.

But Microsoft claims it has more titles in development now than at any moment in Xbox's 12-year history.

As many as 15 exclusive games will be released in its first year, eight of them new franchises.

At the climax of the event, games publisher Activision revealed footage from Call of Duty: Ghosts, the latest title in its wildly successful military series.

Users will be able to record, edit and keep treasured moments from their games on the ONE.

Meanwhile, the celebrated Xbox game Halo is to be turned into a live-action television series, with the collaboration of director Steven Spielberg.

Appearing in a promotional video, Spielberg said, "I've been playing games for decades… For me the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and mythmaking  meet to produce something really ground-breaking."

The ONE's main competition will come from the PlayStation 4, which was announced in February and will likely go on sale around the same time as its rival. Sony and Microsoft have dominated the games console market for almost a decade, with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 both selling around 77 million units in their respective lifetimes.

Key features

- It's called the XBox One, not the Xbox 720 as everyone thought
- It's pretty big - bigger than the Xbox 360, and very slick and black, not curvy and white
- It has a new super-sensitive Kinect sensor, plus voice control so you can just say 'Xbox on' to boot it up
- You get Smart TV built-in, to watch all kinds of catch-up and web TV services
- It matches up well with the hardware of the Sony Playstation 4, with Blu-ray and 8GB RAM
- Top new games include the driving game Forza 5 and Call of Duty Ghosts - they look terrific

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