It's not like we needed confirmation that a new Xbox was in the works, but recent Microsoft job listings shed some light into potential details. The job ads included one at Microsoft headquarters to become "an integral part of the team tasked to revolutionize audio for the next generation of Xbox," and one at the development studios of Forza Motorsport, owned by Microsoft. The latter job ad was for someone able to define and drive "the cinematics vision and techniques needed to achieve exceptionally high quality content for our Next Generation of games."
Both ads have since been taken down.
Very little is known about Microsoft's next-generation console at this point. It's been widely reported that the console will make its worldwide debut at the E3 conference in June, but other than that details have been sketchy.
Among the rumors that have circulated is the idea that the Xbox 720 will not have a disc drive at all. Instead, it will rely heavily on digital distribution, and for instances where physical media is needed, it will have a solid state media bay.
That's almost the exact approach that Sony's new Playstation Vita took, and since the Vita is the newest piece of gaming hardware, it would make sense to look to that as the model of today's gaming environment.
There is no doubt that it is time for a big hardware refresh for Microsoft. The Xbox 360 has been around since 2005, and within its own platform there is fragmentation.
People who bought their console within the first year could very well still be playing on a device that has no HDMI port, no wireless connectivity, and no hard drive. Meanwhile, they're playing alongside people with 250+ GB hard drives, the ability to stream 3D gaming through HDMI, and built-in Wi-Fi.
Microsoft has pushed as far as it can when it comes to updating the hardware without messing with the core internal structure, so the time for a new Xbox is now.