Microsoft is preparing a set-top box for streaming, report claims

By on May 10, 2013, 3:00 PM
microsoft, xbox, streaming, 360, set-top box

Microsoft’s next generation Xbox may not be the entertainment hub of the living room that the Xbox 360 is slowly morphing into. That’s because Redmond is planning to take those features and build a dedicated set-top box for streaming video over the Internet according to sources familiar with the matter as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The news may seem a bit puzzling at first as Microsoft has worked extremely hard to develop the Xbox 360 into what it is today – a very capable media system that also happens to play games. But the more you think about a dedicated set-top box, the more it makes sense. Let me explain.

Today’s Xbox can be had for between $199 and $299 – a solid deal for a game console but a bit pricey for someone that just wants a media center. That’s especially true when you consider similar devices from the competition typically start around $100. Microsoft could easily carry on with transforming the Xbox into a media hub but with the new (and likely much more expensive) Xbox on the horizon, doing so would leave a number of budget-minded consumers out in the cold.

So why did Microsoft spend so much time turning the 360 into a media hub? Perhaps they wanted to see if there was a market for streaming media or perhaps the Xbox simply served as a live beta test for a dedicated set-top box – an outlet to perfect the software aspect that could then be transplanted over to a separate device. All of this, of course, is pure speculation, but I digress.




User Comments: 9

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Here's another head scratcher from Microsoft. Most of the HDTV's on sale today are smart TV's with all the streaming bells and whistles built in. Same thing with DVD/blu-ray players. And it's only going to continue. Investing a bunch of cash and R&D into something that 1) there's already a ton of competition out there and 2) will be old technology in the next couple of years makes zero sense.

treeski treeski said:

Here's another head scratcher from Microsoft. Most of the HDTV's on sale today are smart TV's with all the streaming bells and whistles built in. Same thing with DVD/blu-ray players. And it's only going to continue. Investing a bunch of cash and R&D into something that 1) there's already a ton of competition out there and 2) will be old technology in the next couple of years makes zero sense.

I disagree. Microsoft probably didn't have to invest much into this product because they essentially already have it with the Xbox. All they are doing is making a more compact form factor. In addition, it's clear that MS has a big interest in being in everyone's living room, not just in gamers' living rooms.

It's true that there is already a lot of competition in this space, but IMO, none of the current solutions are perfect. Some are great, but not perfect. As such there is definitely room for another player.

Ravik Ravik said:

The Xbox has always been about being a media hub for the home. The barrier-to-entry for the Xbox has always been its price--its too high for a casual media watcher given the innovations available. So it actually wouldn't surprise me to see a standalone version of the Xbox's features released in a cost-reduced, stand-alone, non-gaming version.

If anything it could potentially convert non-xbox users and/or make the set-top users want to upgrade to an Xbox unit at some point down the road. Plus, it puts pressure on the Apple TV and helps prevent them from gaining yet another dominant market.

*BONUS:* If you want to know why the Apple TV never took off, it's because the content owners were reluctant to license their content. All of this technology was available 7-years ago, and we're only now starting to see this stranglehold relax. Meanwhile...we still don't have anything half as cool or exciting as XBMC. What's wrong with this picture???

Ravik Ravik said:

In addition, it's clear that MS has a big interest in being in everyone's living room, not just in gamers' living rooms.

Exactly! And I'd also take it a step further to suggest that they want to see a box in *every* one of your rooms, and not just your living room...

highlander84 said:

What about all the people who bought new TV's before the SMART TV craze? They are perfectly good and something like this would be worth while. I built something similar to this for my Non-SMART HD TV....Although there are several other options out there for something like this I'm sure they would not do it if there wasn't a profit in it...

1 person liked this | 9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"Hi, I'm Microsoft, and I'm ready to P-A-R-T-Y!"

Consumer: "We already got something like you here, wait outside."

"Um, what do you mean, the party's already full? I just got here and I'm ready to P-A-R.."

Consumer: "Yeah, heard ya the first time. How about, next time, showing up promptly with the others?"

"But, p-a-r-t-y? :'("

Guest said:

I have a LG 47 inch 3dtv with all the bells and whistles you can think of when it comes to streaming. Netflix, hulu, vudu, amazon etc. Do I use it? No. Much better using the xbox and I can stay in contact with gaming pals at the same time.

Gamers will use the xbox. Regular joe shmo will buy the cheapo hub that doesn't work as well as the 360 does.

Guest said:

Tomsea How long do you think those tv manufactures are going to update all of those apps. I have a 3 year old blue ray player and the netflix app barely works at all. That xbox set-top box will be updated until at least the next gen xboxs come out. XBOX 1440 and maybe a few years after that.

Personally I would rather buy a good tv that is going to last 10+ years and a set-top box. Than buy a combo where my apps are going to be outdated next tv lineup that comes out.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Since 2003 - 2011 with HTPC using WinDVR up to SAGETV with 10x Hauppauge Media Video Players Networked but those were only SDTV.

Since 2011 - 2012 10x SONY SMP-N100 and 2x SONY SMP-N200 3D, These are Network Media Players that works with Windows 7 Shares also Windows 8 shares too. Can work with NSA325 NAS/Media Player.

Now in 2013 MCE DVR using 2x laptops with external WD Passport 500GB to 1TB of recording 2x HDHome Run Dual tuners (4 tuners) HDTV 1080i / Dolby Digital Plus. Each laptops has Logitech Wave Pro Wireless Keyboard and Laser Mouse M705. This keyboard is launches and controls MCE features.

This is the way to go have a PC connected to HDTV in my case SONY Bravia 40 and 46 inch HDTV. Every other set in the house here has SONY SMP-N100 or SMP-N200 connected to it. Kitchen 22-inch HDTV, outdoor Patio 24-inch HDTV, 32-inch HDTV another room.

Again this is the way to go for now. With Netflix, Crackle TV, Amazon Prime Video and other internet TV that's all you really need. And I had ditched CATV high cost in 2012. Free HDTV with 69 channels using 80 mile range HDTV ANT is the way to go!

Apple TV box looks nice but limited features and media access that cost you $99 and $19.99 for the short run HDMI cable. SONY SMP N200 is better cost less. Might not have fancy graphics but gets the job done.

Microsoft venture in these set top boxes might be too late with the other companies in the game doing the same thing. Their Xbox had the feature to be a network media player but cost of owning more than one would have been too much for me.

The Wii Game System can do Netflix Adult and Netflix Kid. Also Hulu Plus.

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