In a recent interview with CNET, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates offered some insight into Xbox 2. Though Gates never mentions specifics on when Xbox 2 will be released or even revealed, he makes it clear that the next Xbox is going to play a larger role than a mere video game console.
As expected, Xbox 2 is going to expand its reach. Gate promised, "Great video gaming but videogaming for a broader set of people, more communications, more media, more connectivity." This extends to music, media, and greater integration with MSN Messenger.
It's possible that allowing PC connectivity could be an easy way to avoid including a hard drive in the next Xbox. Assuming Xbox allows for speedy content-sharing, the PC could be used for content storage, game customization (maps and skins), and even custom soundtracks.
Gates had nothing else new to say about Xbox 2, but did speak briefly about the rumors that Microsoft is considering entering the handheld realm. It appears plans for an "Xboy" are either non-existent or far from becoming reality. "The fact that Sony's a little distracted with [PSP] may let us do all the better in the next generation," Gates noted.
We'll have more on Xbox 2 as soon as new rumors or information surface.