It's been wildly speculated that Microsoft's next-generation gaming console would come with a crazy feature that would require a constant internet connection, or else it would essentially be useless. However, to one's real surprise, it's said that Microsoft will, in fact, not require an internet connection for some of the console's tasks.
According to Ars Technica, Microsoft sent out an internal email to all full-time employees working on the next Xbox saying that "there are a number of scenarios that users expect to work without an internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status." Microsoft suggested playing Blu-ray discs, watching live TV, and playing single player games as examples.
This certainly makes sense, as we're prone to believe that making a gaming console completely inoperable without an internet connection is quite illogical. The email also essentially confirms other rumors as well: The Xbox 720 will come with a Blu-ray drive, as well as some sort of input where you can plug your TV or set-top box into to watch live TV.
It's not known exactly how far the offline capabilities will go in the new console, but it would be a fair bet to say that there will simply be some things that will require an internet connection -- tasks that didn't require an internet connection on past consoles. It's possible that Microsoft could implement some kind of system to verify games being installed without having to be online, but we'll ultimately have to wait and see what the company comes up with.
[via Ars Technica]