In addition to reversing its used game DRM policies for Xbox One, Microsoft has revealed that the console will no longer require Kinect to function. In our latest Ask Microsoft Anything, Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten revealed that Xbox One owners will be able to use all of the console's core functions regardless of whether the new Kinect sensor is connected. Naturally, many of the tentpole features of the new Kinect, such as player identification, voice commands, etc., will be disabled as a result, but players will still be able to play games and access entertainment content.
From MS PR (Albert Penello), posted on GAF:
We still believe in Kinect. We aren’t interested in splitting the development base. The more demos I’ve seen, the more I’ve used it – the more impressed I am. The team feels strongly about Kinect, and I hope we’re able to prove that when you use it.
We also have a ton of privacy settings to allow people to turn off the camera, or microphones, or put it in a state just for “Xbox On” and IR blasting – there will be a lot of user control for that.
The thing we all understood, and hence this change, is that there are some scenarios where people just may not be comfortable. We wanted people to be 100% comfortable, so we allow the sensor to be unplugged. And clearly the “it dropped” scenario is possible.
The most obvious thing is watching a DVD/BD, or streaming a movie, or HDMI pass-through, your experience isn’t impacted (except you miss voice and IR blasting)
There is no “gotcha”, but obviously, if there is a game that REQUIRES Kinect (like Rivals), or something where Kinect IS the experience (like Skype), those won’t work.
That said, for people who have privacy concerns there are user control settings, which we believe are great.