Ars Technica is reporting that they've acquired an internal email sent around the offices at Microsoft. Coincidentally, this internal email focuses on the next-gen Xbox and the rumors that it's "always-online." Basically, the email confirms that it isn't. The email states that the console will be "tolerant" of modern internet instability, which is dubious language, but in practice will be able to run Blu-Ray discs, run live TV, and play single-player games. I think that covers the bases pretty well.
Here's the full subsection of the email on the next-gen Xbox's, referred to by its codename Durango, online capabilities that Ars Technica published:
"Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet." ... "There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."
The statement also seems to corroborate rumors that the next-gen Xbox will feature integration with home television systems -- cable TV. "Live TV" implies that the next-gen Xbox will allow for recording, pausing, and likely other features that users expect from their DVR or other tech.
Really though, to us gaming nerds, it's all about that one line of text at the end. "... and yes playing a single player game," means we can rest easy. The ability to play single player games without being online is the biggest issue that gamers seem to have with the idea of an always-online console.
There are other issues, and still many worries, but if this rumor is true -- and we must bluntly state this is entirely rumor at this point -- then many gamers can now rest easy. For official word on the technical aspects of the next-gen Xbox, codename Durango, we'll have to wait for the console's announcement on May 21.