Microsoft to offer Kinect-less Xbox One for AU$499, kills Xbox Live Gold paywall for most apps

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Microsoft has announced that it plans to sell the Xbox One without the Kinect in June and will make some of its popular entertainment applications available for all Xbox users – including non-paying Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

“We’ve heard that you want more choices from Xbox One. You want a wide variety of options in your games and entertainment experiences and you also want options in your hardware selection,” Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, wrote in a blog post.

“Kinect remains an important part of our vision”

The standalone Xbox One SKU will be available from June 9 in countries where the Xbox One is currently available; and will be priced at AU$499 in Australia and US$399 in the United States. In comparison, the Xbox One with the Kinect is currently priced at AU$599 in Australia and US$499 in the United States.

For those who buy the standalone Xbox One and want to buy the Kinect, it will be sold as a separate accessory later in the spring. Microsoft, however, has not confirmed pricing.

“To be clear, as we introduce this new Xbox One console option, Kinect remains an important part of our vision.  Many of you are using Kinect for Xbox One every day,” Spencer said.

Microsoft has also confirmed that all Xbox users will be able to access some of its entertainment services that were previously exclusive to Xbox Live Gold users. This includes Machinima, Twitch, Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN and NBA Game Time. For Australia, this also means you can now have access to SBS On Demand and Tenplay without a Gold account (ABC iview was already available for all Xbox users).

It will also remove the Xbox Live Gold requirement from all Microsoft applications – including Internet Explorer, Skype, and OneDrive. Pretty much, you can now browse the web on your Xbox One and Xbox 360 without paying a monthly fee.

The only thing that will still remain behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall will be online multiplayer, Smart Match, Party Chat, Game DVR Cloud Storage, and – for some unknown reason – Xbox Fitness. In addition, Xbox Live Gold members will be getting free games and special discounts.