E3 2014 is right around the corner and Microsoft has already started to drop bombs. Earlier this month, Phil Spencer told all comers that Microsoft is ready to drop some huge news BEFORE E3. Well, he has been true to his word.

The Xbox One will have a lower cost bundle that will eliminated the mandatory usage of the Kinect. This will drop the price from the intimidatingly high $499 price point back down to the more next-gen-like price point of $399. Of course, with that said, this will also eliminate the usage of the highly touted voice command feature of the Xbox One…or will it?

Xbox One_Box Shot

Apparently, Phil Spencer had a talk with the minds at Kotaku.com revealing that Microsoft recognizes that the voice commands are still a very popular feature despite the decision to remove the Kinect. There are minds at the Xbox HQ churning away at the best way to keep the voice commands without bringing back the fullsize Kinect. Most would quickly think that the headset would be the best way to reintegrate the voice commands, correct? While that would be the easy answer, the minds at Xbox are looking to maybe even integrate the use of your smartphone (Smartglass) in lieu of the headset which might take up precious processing power.

Oh yes my friends, the processing power unleashed by the removal of the Kinect could be quite appealing to more developers wishing to test out the full capacity of the Xbox One. As enticing as this sounds, this is not the whole story.

Xbox is also tinkering around with their Xbox Live subscription as well. First of all, you’ll no longer need the Xbox Live Gold subscription to access other apps such as Twitch, Machinima, Netflix, Hulu, and more. On both the 360 and the X1, these applications will now be available for free. Also, the slow going Games With Gold looks to even up the score by expanding its service to apply to the Xbox One as well. Starting in June the new service will offer Dark Souls, Charlie Murder, and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition as free games for Xbox 360 in June. For the Xbox One Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault will be offered for free. Significant discounts are to be offered on Xbox One games Ryse and Forza as well.

While these offerings are quite a bit better than the ones featured in the program’s short and laughable history, the fact remains that this program still has a lot of make up work to do. As the Geekswagg Podcast crew have mentioned repeatedly, Microsoft will need to make amends with the indie game development community and begin announcing a boat load of releases that will not only be featured on the Xbox One but will be featured as a part of the Games With Gold program (both discounts and free offerings) as well.

With the promise that Microsoft’s E3 conference will be games focused, one can only wonder if a part of that focus will be on the indie scene. If not, Microsoft could be looking at another black-eyed conference at the hands of Sony’s PlayStation suite.

Here’s a look at the new Xbox Live offering:

179794-08 Xbox Live Digital Poster-s16_FINAL_620