I'm confused, and I'm blaming Ballmer.
Microsoft could have stopped all of this silliness once and for all had they simply come out and, you know, made an official announcement. As it is, we once again have to rely on hearsay and anonymous reports, the latest of which suggests that, contrary to previous rumours, the next Xbox won't require an always-online connection.
Yay! Maybe. Yaybe.
According to an internal Microsoft e-mail sent to "all full-time employees working on the next Xbox" and obtained by ArsTechnica, "Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet."
"[...] There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."
If true, and we'd imagine that not even Microsoft would be stupid enough to actually make a console truly, fundamentally, and singularly "always-online" it also confirms another suspected little tidbit: that the new Xbox will allow for direct live TV feeds.