Microsoft is rumored to be building an Xbox set-top box to compete with the Apple TV. Multiple sources say the company plans to introduce a low-cost alternative to its Xbox console, which would provide access to entertainment services.
We’re told that the set-top box is part of a two-SKU strategy for Microsoft’s next-generation of Xbox hardware that will be unveiled in 2013, with a release date ahead of the holiday shopping season. The device will run on the core components of Windows 8 and support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console. Although hardware specifications aren’t fully locked down, we understand Microsoft will use a chipset to enable an “always on” device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services.
Microsoft’s planned set-top box is part of a broader effort to ensure that its core architecture for the next-gen Xbox is scalable enough to be run on a number of devices. The company could opt to combine its core system for the next Xbox with a phone stack. This would allow them to deliver a phone capable of running a full version of the Xbox Live services. Microsoft is also said to have investigated working with TV OEMs that could then include the core services as part of a licensed Xbox television set.
Microsoft issued the following statement about it’s set-top box plans:
“Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console life-cycle 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 life-cycle convention.”