The optimistic view of an always-online Xbox 720

For the sake of this discussion, we are going to make the following assumptions:

  1. Always-on refers to an Xbox that never powers down. When you "turn it off" it goes into standby mode, but remains connected to the internet for various reasons.
  2. Always-on does not refer to constant DRM checks while playing a game that will force you to stop playing if your connection goes out. I think we can all agree that this would be a dealbreaker.
  3. The Xbox 720 will come will Kinect 2.0 built in and at least 500gb storage in the basic model.

Given those assumptions, I am going to list various scenarios (some rumored, some imagined) where this always-on feature would be a welcome addition to the Xbox 720:

  • Standby mode would allow the Xbox to receive updates without you even having to think about it. It could potentially even install those updates without you noticing, but it is more likely that would will boot up your Xbox and be greeted by a message saying an update has been downloaded and you can now install it.
  • No more minute-long boot up times if the Xbox is already on.
  • Standby mode would allow Kinect to always be listening (kinda scary when phrased that way). You will be able to "turn on" your Xbox, load Netflix, and choose a movie without ever having to touch a controller. Just say the words.

Another huge aspect of this is that standby mode would also allow other devices in your home (or possibly remotely!) to access your Xbox at all times. This would enable all sorts of streaming and syncing possibilities. An always-on Xbox could essentially act as a server for your entire home and beyond. Let's imagine the amazing possibilities this creates:

  • Media streaming both to and from your local PC's, tablets, and mobile phones.
  • Remote streaming while you are on the go? What if Microsoft builds Slingbox capabilities into the new Xbox? This wouldn't be possible unless your Xbox is always-on.
  • Streaming games?! With an always-on Xbox, what would stop Microsoft from releasing an Xbox Mini for other TV's in your home? Imagine an Xbox version of an Apple TV that would be able to stream Halo 5 (like On-Live) to another room in the house while someone is watching Netflix on the Xbox 720.

It's not hard to imagine scenarios like these that are only possible with an always-on Xbox, and these probably just scratch the surface (no pun intended) of what may or may not be planned. Obviously, an always-DRM-checking Xbox would be a disaster, but let's be optimistic for a few minutes. The Xbox 720 just might be amazing.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.