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Does Xbox TV have a viable, global future?

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 February, 2013

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Microsoft seems less and less committed to Mediaroom its IPTV middleware and despite recent wins for it, it is never going to become the business Microsoft hoped it would. Now its ambitions for the living room rest by turning the Xbox into universal entertainment hub.

It now looks as if Xbox will become the brand for a group of compatible, but distinct entertainment devices, including a set top box more in the vein of a Roku, which would provide a "gaming lite" experience featuring more casual interaction via a smartphone or tablet perhaps.

Microsoft is saying it does not want to be another Netflix, Google or Apple, or start funding original content OTT. It want to focus video content on interactivity rather than just content delivery.

The next-generation Xbox 720 will appear in time for Christmas 2013, but alongside that will come the universal entertainment version of Xbox, for all but the more serious players.

As such a set top will run Windows 8 with perhaps a few Mediaroom components, will constitute a new OTT platform, and that might also be licensed to smart TV makers and work well with the new Surface Tablet. It would also use the recently launched Xbox SmartGlass companion app which runs under Windows 8,Windows Phone, iOS, Android version 4.0 and Windows Server 2012. It will also use a new content search and recommendation which Microsoft acquired from Israeli startup VideoSurf.

Kinect will obviously have a place both in gaming and in channel change and TV control, although for our money, voice control is likely to be the route that most Smart TV vendors are going down, not gesture control. There are 46 million subscribers already to Xbox Live for streaming content and once these archtectures are out, Microsoft will aggressively try to build this.

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