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Xbox 720 will beat PS4, according to Atari co-founder

Microsoft has received support for its upcoming Xbox 720 console, even as the company faces criticism over claims the device will require an always-on internet connection to work.

The latest pundit to offer his opinion on the next Xbox - which, it must be pointed out, has not yet been officially confirmed by Microsoft, which is expected to formally unveil the device at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) later this year - certainly has the background knowledge required to be taken seriously: Nolan Bushnell is the co-founder of Atari, formerly Syzygy, one of the pioneers of console gaming and home computing.

Speaking to GameTrailers, Bushnell was quick to suggest that Sony - which has already unveiled the specifications and features of its PlayStation 4 console, due to launch later this year - will have a hard job beating Microsoft's as-yet unannounced next-generation games console. "I personally believe Microsoft is in a superior position, and the reason is Sony: whenever they [Sony] change consoles, the software tools that they have are lame", Bushnell said.

"A lot of times in the past they were in Japanese, [or] not well documented. They may have been able to [get up to speed] in Japan, but the American software community just says 'oh, boy, what a pain' - and lot of people do not realize how strong the software community is at making the hardware platform sing and dance."

Microsoft, by contrast, is better at offering western developers the tools they need, Bushnell claimed. "Microsoft, because of their strong software tools, will end up with much better products sooner [and] easier."

Bushnell's comments do ignore one factor, however: the surprising similarity in specification between the two devices. Sony has already confirmed that the PS4 is based around an AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) based on the same technology as a modern PC, while the Xbox 720 is thought to use much the same design. Previous generation consoles, by contrast, used markedly different hardware: the Xbox 360 is powered by a PowerPC chip with a totally alien architecture to a standard Windows desktop computer, while the PlayStation 3 uses the even more unique Cell processor. As a result, developers should - theoretically - find it easier to harness the power of either console, even without a wealth of support from the companies themselves.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has provided press with a canned apology for comments made by Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth that defended the use of a digital rights management system that would mandate a permanently-connected internet link and would exit the game if the console is offline for more than three minutes at a time, stating that the comments were "personal opinion" and did not reflect Microsoft's attitude. The company did not, however, deny that the comments were made as a result of the Xbox 720 including exactly that form of DRM, a fact which has been rumoured for some time.

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