Microsoft Reportedly Plans Stripped-Down Xbox Set-Top Box To Compete With Apple TV, Roku

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Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console has given the company a good foothold in the living room, but the company apparently isn’t content with that and wants to increase traction with a new lower-cost device, the Verge reports. According to “multiple sources,” the blog says Microsoft will offer a streamlined media device that provides access to TV and entertainment services, as well as casual gaming software titles.

This device would be one-half of a strategy that also includes next-generation Xbox hardware, the report claims, to be launched in 2013. The set-top box will reportedly be based on a stripped-down version of Windows 8, and will likely offer the type of casual titles available on Mobile and Surface RT devices, as compared to the core gaming titles available through Xbox 360. Specific hardware details weren’t made available to the Verge, but reports claim it’ll be an instant-on gadget, which is in keeping with competitive devices from Apple, Roku, Boxee and others.

The gadget is also said to be part of a larger strategy that would see Microsoft unify core elements of the Xbox experience across platforms, ensuring it can run the same experience on phones, a modestly priced set-top box, full-fledged gaming consoles and also potentially licensed TVs from OEM partners. The company did not reveal timeline specifics beyond the general target of a 2013 release.

A streamlined version of Microsoft’s Xbox would bring it to audiences who aren’t interested in gaming, likely at a much lower price than the Xbox 360. That would help it build its overall device ecosystem, which the company is trying to unify with similar software experiences and cross-platform service integration with Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. It’s definitely in keeping with what Redmond seems to want to accomplish. We’ve heard whispers that the next-gen full Xbox console will be arriving sometime in 2013, so the timeline is right if this is indeed designed to be part of that launch as reported.