A job vacancy for a senior role at Microsoft's entertainment division has suggested that the next generation Xbox will be released before 2014.
The advert, seeking a Central Marketing Group director, claims that "over the next eighteen months Microsoft will release new versions of all of our most significant products including Windows (Client, Server, Phone and Azure), Office and Xbox, along with completely new offerings like Microsoft Surface".
The statement suggests that Microsoft will launch the next Xbox before 2014. CVG sources have previously suggested the system's release date will likely fall in the latter half of 2013. Development kits were issued to several third party studios in the UK at the start of 2012, the sources have said.
Microsoft does not comment on speculation regarding the so-called Xbox 720.
However, on Tuesday the software giant broke protocol to insist that comments recently made by an executive at the company - who had briefly mentioned the "new Xbox" - were allegedly "not understood in their intended context".
Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live, told journalists last week: "We've operated Hotmail for about 16 years, we obviously have Exchange and Outlook that people use at work, and we just decided it was time to do something new and bring the best from each of those and put them together and release it right in time for the new wave of products that we have coming out with Windows 8, with the new version of Office, with the New Windows Phone and the new Xbox."
Microsoft retorted: "When Brian mentioned a 'new wave of products,' he was referring to the full line-up of products coming later this year from Microsoft, including Windows 8, Office, Windows Phone and of course our fall Xbox update which will bring a host of new consumer experiences like Xbox Music, Videos, Games on Windows 8 and Xbox SmartGlass."
At the centre of the debate is a semantics issue: whether the so-called 'new Xbox' was in reference to new Xbox 360 services or a new system altogether.
The latest Microsoft job advertisement does not mention Xbox Live, its operating system or any related online services, just simply that "over the next eighteen months Microsoft will release new versions of all of our most significant products including Windows, Office and Xbox".
The vacancy also suggests that these new devices will launch within the next eighteen months. Microsoft's clarification on Brian Hall's comments, meanwhile, were that he was referring to a line-up of products set for release within the next five months.
The two distinct timelines suggest that Hall and the job advertisement are referring to a separate line of products.