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Xbox 720 launch confirmed by Microsoft for 21 May

Microsoft has confirmed its next-generation Xbox gaming console will launch on 21 May at its US headquarters in Redmond, Washington State.

"Tune in for the live reveal, May 21 at 10 AM PDT on, @Xbox Live, and Spike TV. #XboxReveal," the @Xbox account tweeted.

Microsoft also invited reporters to attend the launch event. That invite tips "A New Generation Revealed," and promises a presentation from Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, and the Xbox team.

Microsoft rival Sony unveiled its next-gen console, the PS4, in late-February. But the two hour-plus New York City presentation focused heavily on games and specs and didn't actually include a glimpse of the actual PS4 hardware. Will Microsoft do the same?

Larry Hyrb, director of programming for the Xbox Live network, said in a blog post that the 21 May event will "mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment."

"On that day, we'll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future," he wrote. "Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we'll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games."

Rumours about a new Xbox "720" have been swirling for months, but really got going in January when Microsoft posted a countdown to the E3 gaming conference on its blog, which many interpreted as a countdown to the next version of the Xbox.

Since then, the rumours have been fast and furious about the console, dubbed the Xbox 720: from suggestions that Xbox 720 chips are already in production as well as tight integration with Kinect to the possible lack of Blu-ray.

More recently, reported screen shots of the new Xbox's development kit emerged online, suggesting that the Redmond-based manufacturer will be embracing the always-on, always-connected approach with the new Xbox. Earlier this month, a source told Kotaku that Microsoft's new Xbox will be an always-online system, with the ability to tolerate occasional dropped connections.

Prior to Microsoft's official announcement, anonymous reports had tipped the firm to launch its next-generation Xbox console in May.