Microsoft in new Xbox One U-turn as mandatory Kinect policy binned

Microsoft's complex list of onerous requirements for its upcoming Xbox One seems to be shrinking, item-by-item, as the software giant continues to cope with public backlash against what many consumers have said would be prohibitive costs to ponying up for the next-generation game console.

In June, Microsoft reversed course on the Xbox One's 'always-on' Internet requirement, while also announcing that it would not be imposing any limitations on using and sharing games as previously planned. Both of those early Xbox One protocols faced scathing backlash from gamers.

Now it seems that Microsoft has also quietly amended a previously understood requirement which tied the console and its Kinect motion sensor accessory together at the hip.

It turns out that the Xbox One will run perfectly fine even if Kinect isn't, well, connected to it, according to chief Xbox One platform architect Marc Whitten.

Speaking with IGN, Whitten revealed that "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."

That doesn't mean gamers will be able to avoid buying the accessory, however. Microsoft's upgraded Kinect will still ship with the Xbox One. It just won't render the whole system a brick if it breaks or is powered off, or if some folks who've expressed privacy concerns over the Redmond-based firm's potential for capturing and tracking the movements of Xbox One users simply want to shut it down permanently.

How "off" can the sensor be without affecting non-Kinect-related Xbox One functionality? In case there are still some sceptics out there, here's what Whitten told IGN:

"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."

Whitten also confirmed that the Xbox One will ship with a mono audio headset, as seen in a recent in-house unboxing video, which he said features improved audio quality that "is night and day compared to chat on the Xbox 360." The Xbox One platform architect also told IGN that gamers' Xbox 360 avatars will transfer over to the new console, elaborated on how Live Arcade will work on the Xbox One dashboard, talked resolutions and frame rates for Game DVR video captures, and more.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft's apparent willingness to respond to the concerns of Xbox users translates into robust sales - and bullish financial results - once the system is released, as the console market looks like being as heavily saturated as ever going into the lucrative holiday shopping season.

In addition to the Xbox One, rival Sony is set to release its PlayStation 4, while Amazon is rumoured to be prepping a budget Android console in a move to disrupt the market.