One of the latest wrinkles in the story of the next-generation console war is a report that claimed Microsoft is cooking up a low-cost member of the Xbox lineup that will be released right alongside the full-fat next-generation Xbox.
Provisionally known as the Xbox TV, this set-top box is supposed to be powered by an operating system that’s heavily-based on Windows 8, and promises instant-on capabilities so that video and audio will be within quick reach. Moreover, there was no word about backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Instead, this device was supposed to be a media center first and a casual gaming platform second.
What this actually hints at is that the real targets of this presumptive Xbox TV are not consoles, but the Apple TV as well as Google TV devices like the Vizio Co-Star. This also tells us that the pricing of this device would be competitive, if Microsoft wants to get a good shot at winning this market.
Intriguingly, the original report by The Verge on this supposed device hints that the core capabilities of this Xbox TV could eventually be transplanted to smart TVs by various manufacturing partners. This is very reminiscent of the repeated expectations that Apple would release its own smart TV that integrates the capabilities of its Apple TV set-top box.
One other thing to think about is that the Xbox branding appears to be headed to a future where it becomes Microsoft’s main “fun” brand, with the Surface as the more serious, professional computing brand.