Xbox One will not require the Kinect to work
According to an Q and A with IGN.com with Chief Xbox One Architect Marc Whitten the Xbox One will not require the Kinect to work. An explaination is given in the blog, which has more info in it about Cross Console party chat (from the 360 to the Xbox One). You can read the entire Q and A here. Below is the part that talks about the Kinect.
Since Kinect must be plugged in for the Xbox One to function, what happens if your Kinect breaks? Like if it falls off the top of your TV onto a hardwood floor or something? Will the console cease to function?
WHITTEN: Xbox One is designed to work with Kinect plugged in. It makes gaming better in many ways – from the ability to say “Xbox On” and get right to your personalized homescreen, to the ability to control your TV through voice, Smartglass and more. Kinect allows you to search for your content, instantly move between games and your personalized dash and more with just your voice. Kinect helps you pick up and play by automatically knowing which controller you have in your hands. No more need to interrupt your friends game or navigate through multiple UI screens to sign in and tell the system which controller you are holding. It will even bind the controller to the console if its currently unbound – no searching for special buttons! Of course – these are just a few of the system wide benefits of having Kinect. Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.How “off” can Kinect be when the system is in use?
WHITTEN: You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.
Is this enough to save Microsoft or is it too late for them to be saved from a PR standpoint? Time will tell, but the good news is that they appear to be listening to the customers wants and needs. Which should only stand to serve them well in the future. Now it seems like they are on par with the PS4 in all areas but price point, but with this device being more of an entertainment unit, some buyers might not mind spending the extra $100 for it.