Not sure if this as been brought up elsewhere but after the news stories of the next Xbox possibly having an always online requirement, and after reading through Arthur Gies' op-ed on the topic, I kind of hit upon a theory that kind of makes sense to me, and I thought I would toss it out for consideration.
Windows 8 is supposed to have strong Xbox live integration, so I'm kind of wondering if Microsoft has been considering the option of letting users buy a game once and play it on both user's Window's 8 machine and their Xbox. I this is something that neither Steam nor Playstation can currently replicate (though if the Steambox takes off than this obviously changes things).
If this game sharing was something to be implemented then Microsoft would need a way to prevent games from being played on multiple machines at the same time. If they didn't, people could just let their friends use their Live passwords on their own Windows 8 machines and have access to all their games. So in this senario an always online requirement would make sense as a way to prevent this.
Of course, as Arthur points out in his op-ed this would have a lot of drawbacks as well. One possibility is that Microsoft going to do it anyway because they figure that enough people have an internet connection to make it worth it. Another possibility is that the always online feature is only optional...something you enable if you want the sharing feature. A third possibility is that it was originally meant to be mandatory, but this is being reconsidered now that potential problems with an always online system have come to light (which may explain the delay in the next gen Xbox announcement).
This is obviously all just idle speculation, but I thought I would toss it out anyway to see if it made sense to people. Thoughts?