Microsoft has done a lot of backpedaling with the Xbox One, and it started before the console even came out. The always-online requirements were been scrapped, the Xbox Live paywall is gone, and now Microsoft is unbundling the Kinect so consumers will be able to buy just the console for the same price as the PS4, $399. Microsoft hardware designer Carl Ledbetter says that almost wasn’t possible. The design team toyed with the idea of integrating the Kinect hardware into the console itself.Early on, Microsoft decided it wanted the Kinect to be an integral part of the Xbox One, which is why the company resisted unbundling it for so long. Naturally, there was talk of just merging the cameras and microphones into the console’s case so people didn’t need to have two pieces of hardware sitting around. According to Ledbetter, several prototypes of this design were made and tested. They worked, but none of them were very pretty. There are some early sketches above to give you an idea where they were going.In the end, the design of the Xbox One case wasn’t right for building the Kinect into. To include the enhanced voice recognition features it wanted, the team had to create a separate microphone bar on the Kinect that isolates it from the sensor’s fan noise. The aesthetics of doing this with a single piece of hardware were deemed undesirable. It would also have limited how users could position the console — it could not be mounted upright if the Kinect was to be used.The decision to make the Kinect its own piece of hardware might be the saving grace of the Xbox One. Microsoft wouldn’t be able to unbundle the Kinect without a major hardware redesign. Gamers haven’t been particularly interested in Kinect, so the $100 price cut makes the console much more competitive with very little drawback. Bullet dodged there, Microsoft.