A new report coming from The Verge says that Microsoft is readying an Xbox branded set-top box to compete with Apple TV, Boxee and others. This Xbox branded, erm, box will be part of a two-SKU strategy. The second SKU will be the next generation Xbox we reported on last week.
The set-top box will blend casual gaming capability with traditional functionality like apps and video on demand services. We imagine, but can't confirm, it will be built with Kinect and SmartGlass in mind. The hardware is also built to be instant-on, which, if Windows 8 is any indication, shouldn't be a problem for Redmond.
This development is a larger signal to Microsoft's well-telegraphed moves to make Xbox a broader brand that encompasses entertainment more generally, rather than the gaming space it has covered since its inception. This new Xbox Live service is built on the Windows 8 core with scalability in mind. The new software will be built to run on everything from phones, to (Xbox) Surface, to this set-top box, to the next Xbox console. Expect this device to be unveiled sometime next year, perhaps E3, and launched ahead of the holidays.
Via The Verge