The web is abuzz today with rumors that that an Xbox 360 successor might be coming sooner than expected. The news actually originated from Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer himself, who during a recent conference in Chicago was quoted as saying that a "new Xbox 360 will hit the store shelves in 2010." This evidently sparked speculation about some new muscle under the hood along with a built in Project Natal camera, but apparently Ballmer's words were taken way out of context, with two key members from the Xbox team now denying the possibility of new hardware.

In an official statement released to the media, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the Xbox 360 is "not even halfway" through its lifecycle and will be here long into the next decade. Ballmer did talk quite a bit about a natural user interface that would recognize gestures and voice, so he was obviously referring to the recently unveiled Project Natal device or perhaps even a new SKU (as in the current Xbox 360 bundled with Natal).

Indeed Microsoft admits that Project Natal will be an important part of their platform going forward, but has not confirmed a launch date or any other concrete details at this time. For now, it seems the only thing certain is that Microsoft is planning something major for their Xbox platform next year.