Microsoft seems to be making a habit of completely reversing decisions and statements surrounding their upcoming Xbox One console. After notably dropping the unpopular online check-in requirement and used game restrictions, now the company is saying the console will operate without the Kinect sensor plugged in after all.
Originally Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox One would require the second-generation Kinect, which is bundled with the console, to be plugged in at all times. However, it's now been confirmed by Chief Platform Architect Marc Witten that you can actually unplug the Kinect, and "like online, the console will still function".
Witten confirmed that features which "explicitly used the sensor", understandably, won't be available with the Kinect unplugged. While this will prevent you from using voice commands or gestures, the system will still be usable through the gamepad. Witten also confirmed that users will be able to turn the sensor off in the console's settings: "the sensor is not collecting any information" with this setting enabled, he said.
In other news, the Xbox One's gamepad will become compatible with PCs next year thanks to official drivers currently in development by Microsoft. Right now, to use a wireless Xbox 360 controller with a PC you need to purchase an additional dongle, however differences between the Xbox 360 gamepad and the Xbox One gamepad have made matters cheaper and simpler to pair with a traditional computer.
When the Xbox One's controller is plugged in to the console via a micro-USB cable, its wireless radios are shut off, allowing it to function like a standard wired controller. It's likely this wired mode functionality will be used to make the gamepad compatible with PCs, but it's unclear if a dongle will be available for a wireless experience.
According to Microsoft, they will be working hard to ensure the Xbox One's controller will work with all games that support the Xbox 360 controller. This requires a lot of work so the drivers are expected to be available in 2014.