Microsoft counts down to E3: New console ahead?

If it were possible, Microsoft would have just handed a calendar to every gamer in the world, with the dates June 11-13 highlighted in red. Maybe with some gold stickers on it and a few subtle, tasteful arrows. Because the company hasn't quite figured out a simple way of doing that yet, it's resorted to sticking a countdown timer online, ticking away the moments before E3 2013, and attaching a curious message.

This appeared on Larry Hyrb's website - that is, Major Nelson, the head of Xbox Live. The simple text accompanying the calendar?

And it's on...

Now, E3 has been around since 1995, and while it's still - obviously - a big deal, we don't think it's quite big enough for a 160 day countdown, unless Something Big is going to happen. And what's the sort of Big Announcement that only Microsoft can deliver?

...punters are now placing bets that they'll be seeing the next Microsoft gaming console revealed at E3 2013, potentially heading to retail by Christmas.

We're also hearing rumours that Microsoft has started production on the "Oban chip" that will power the new console, a timeframe that ties in with the later-this-year announcement date.

This less-than-subtle hint will give gamers a good chance to save their pennies, developers a little time to get their acts together, and rumourmongers thoroughly organised when it comes to spreading (false?) information. Get your grains of salt ready, gamers - this one's going to get messy.

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