The Xbox One will still ship with the new version of the Kinect camera, but connecting it will no longer be mandatory, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten told I.GN
"Like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor," Whitten said.
"You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information," Whitten explained.
When it launched the Xbox One, Microsoft made much of the console being a full package, shipping with both Kinect and a controller.
The latest policy reversal follows Microsoft removing its "Internet check-in" requirement, which would shut down key features of the Xbox One, such as offline single-player gaming, if it couldn't connect to the Internet at least once every 24 hours.
Microsoft also said that the official Xbox One controller will be supported on Windows PCs some time during 2014. The delay is due in part to the very different architectures between the two controllers.