We’ve been hearing rumors that Microsoft has plans to dominate the home entertainment business with a cable box-esque device for quite a while now. As soon as we learned that Microsoft would be adding mainstream televised video content to the entertainment options available to Xbox Live subscribers, gossip began to spread suggesting that this was only a precursor to Microsoft’s grand assault on the moribund cable television industry. We’ve been promised a machine that will make our cable boxes obsolete, that could offer us all of our gaming, video and music content in a single convenient electronic package. A machine that would finally end the tyranny of endless digital decoders, analog inputs and herds of remote controls slowly drifting throughout the world’s living rooms.
The latest rumors, while less fanciful than whatever we were just talking about, are no less intriguing. They come to us courtesy The Verge, or more specifically, an anonymous group of insiders who claim to have special privileged information on Microsoft’s plans for this supposed “Xbox TV.” Assuming they are to be believed, the machine will be something of a low-cost alternative to the Xbox 360, that, while lacking the ability to play modern Xbox 360 titles, would be capable of streaming all the media found on Xbox Live, as well as certain, specific “casual” games. Hardware specifications haven’t been finalized just yet, but this device will allegedly run on a modified version of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system, and its hardware will allegedly boot up almost instantly, offering immediate access to the machine’s entertainment options. According to The Verge, this machine is scheduled to hit store shelves just in time for the 2013 holiday season.
While we describe this report as a rumor, we should also state that it doesn’t conflict with anything we’ve heard so far. If anything, it does seem quite likely that Microsoft will release a set-top entertainment device at some point in the future, though until we have some kind of official confirmation, all of these notions of what it might or might not do will remain hearsay.
That said, The Verge report concludes with a quote from Microsoft that is equal parts vague and diplomatic — or, if you’re of a conspiratorial mindset, it’s exactly the kind of non-answer that confirms all of these rumors. “Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention,” the company stated.
As usual, we’ll keep you updated as more information rolls in, particularly if it comes from Microsoft and has some kind of useful substance.