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Exclusive: With the new Xbox, Microsoft unveils affordable design for the masses

I’ve seen the future, and it’s made of circles and squares.

On November 10, Microsoft will launch the next generation of game consoles, with two systems aimed at different customers. The first is a $500 black monolith dubbed the Xbox Series X—what will be the most powerful console on the market. The other is designed like its shadow, if shadows were white: It’s a thinner, white rectangle with a prominent black circle dubbed the Xbox Series S—what will be the most affordable new console on the market at $300.

One looks like it was designed by Stanley Kubrick. The other, Dieter Rams. But Microsoft has designed both in the hope that you will forget the consoles are there—the tagline I hear from the design team again and again is, “literally and visually quiet.”

“We think about our console as part of the environment you live in as our customer,” says Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft. “While there’s an opening of the box and you want that to be fantastic, once you put that console wherever you put it, we hope you never have to touch it again, hope you never have to hear from it again, and it just plays great games. . . . It’s not the center of attention.”

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