Not content with launching a next generation console next year, it looks like Microsoft may also have another secret plan in the pipeline. The fabled Xbox 720 isn’t official yet, but everybody knows it is coming sooner rather than later. This week, we’ve heard surprising plans for an Xbox-branded set top box to release as well. Any guesses as to who Microsoft are looking to take out?
Although this is the first we’ve heard of such plans, an exclusive article published by The Verge is treating this as a done deal. An Xbox set top box is going to take on Apple’s so far unrivaled Apple TV set top box and we’re hearing that Microsoft’s product will provide users with a mini Xbox experience combined with the ability to access key entertainment services.
Also See: Apple TV update 7.0, release notes MIA
In other words, Microsoft are going to provide everything that Apple does with their Apple TV, but with the added advantage of Xbox gaming. It isn’t going to be true Xbox gaming though as seen on the Xbox 360, but rather casual gaming with perhaps a selection of Xbox Live games which are living room friendly.
Microsoft’s device is going to run on Windows 8 primarily and one of the key features of the system is going to be an ‘always on’ switch, which will allow users to quickly jump into a specific media service or casual game at any time – possibly to eradicate those slow Windows loading times for good we hope?
The Xbox set top box apparently has a release date scheduled for the 2013 Holiday Season, which could hint of Microsoft’s plans to rock the industry with two major new Xbox branded products at the exact same time. If the set top box does arrive on the market next year though, what does it mean for Apple TV and existing users?
It would certainly make Apple take note of course and may make the company up the stakes considerably when they realize that they have some real competition at last. This could be an exciting benefit for existing Apple TV owners, as Apple may unload with some brand new functionality to keep customers from defecting over to Microsoft’s set top box.
We’re thinking about new media services that Apple TV currently doesn’t have, but are present on the Xbox 360 – Amazon Instant Video is one service that many Apple TV owners wouldn’t mind getting, while HBO Go is another popular streaming service that has yet to make an appearance on Apple TV.
What are your initial thoughts on Microsoft taking a step into the set top box world? Do you think they have what it takes to become a serious competitor to the Apple TV? If you are a current Apple TV owner, let us know what features you would like to see improved on to fend off competition from the rumored Xbox set top box.