Microsoft Backpeddles On Kinect Requirement for Xbox 360 (Kotaku.com)

Is it just me, or has Microsoft back-peddled on just about everything that made it unique from the PS4 launch? DRM was in, then out. Mandatory logging-in and gaming online at least once every 24 hours. That’s now gone. The Kinect is always on, always listening. But…you can turn it off because you thought that was creepy. And now? The Kinect is mandatory for every Xbox One to work. Except for now you can turn it off completely and it doesn’t impact any Xbox One functions. Le. Sigh.

Did Microsoft really get all of this so wrong at the start or did the “backlash” on the interwebs really scare them into changing their ways?

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Kinect No Longer Mandatory For Xbox One (But Will Still Come With It)

Another backflip? Back in May, Microsoft said that you’ll need have the motion-sensing Kinect plugged in at all times in order for your Xbox One to function, but now they’re reversing course once again.

“That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor,” he said.

Asked just how “off” the Kinect can be, Whitten answered totally off.

“You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.”

This is yet another entry to add to the list of stunning reversals in Xbox One policy made by Microsoft over the past few months. In June, Microsoft switched course on Xbox DRM, and they’ve flipped on all sorts of other policies since then.

UPDATE: And here’s Microsoft senior exec Albert Penello, posting on NeoGAF about the flip. (Bolded emphasis mine)

We still believe in Kinect. We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it.

We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for “Xbox On” and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.

The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.

The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)

There is no “gotcha”, but obviously, if there is a game that REQUIRES Kinect (like Rivals), or something where Kinect IS the experience (like Skype), those won’t work.

That said, for people who have privacy concerns there are user control settings, which we believe are great.

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