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Microsoft Corp. is reportedly working on a new low-cost platform that will use microprocessors based on ARM architecture and which will be aimed at casual gamers. The device will compete primarily against set-top-box products like Apple TV and will likely be a multimedia, rather than a purely gaming device.

"My understanding is that we'll see a Xbox device in late 2013 which does Arcade-style games and all the current and future media apps with Kinect (with near-mode). It will be an ARM-based platform price-competitive with the Apple TV (if you own a Kinect already)," said MSnerd, a well-known blogger with knowledge of Microsoft's plans.

Low-cost ARM-based device for gaming and media services will likely be Microsoft's approach to compete against Apple TV, which shares software and hardware platforms with iOS-based devices like iPhone or iPad. Since modern ARM-powered system-on-chips can be very powerful, the set-top-box could potentially handle high-definition games, including those designed for Windows Phone or Windows 8.

"At some point after that, we will see a Xbox Next, a true successor to the 360. Details about it are very hazy, except that, like the 360, it will do games for core-audiences and the same media apps as the other device, also with Kinect," according to MSnerd.

As the Xbox console and Xbox set-top-box are unlikely to compete directly against each other their launch schedules may not be aligned at all. Moreover, in case the Xbox STB costs around $100 and is designed mostly for media services, Microsoft may launch it earlier than in late 2013. In fact, it makes a lot of sense for the software giant to release its STB sometimes around the Windows 8 launch.

It is presently unclear whether Microsoft plans to sell its STB under its own brand, or will let other companies to manufacture their versions of device, which guarantees wide availability, but creates fragmentation of user experience.

Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox, ARM

Discussion

Comments currently: 8
Discussion started: 03/27/12 10:14:15 AM
Latest comment: 03/27/12 05:44:03 PM
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1. 
MS keeps milking this console generation because consumers have such low standards that they and keep paying $299 for a 7-year-old console that runs games with graphics from 2007. Unfortunately, this negatively affects the PC gaming industry. This surely means the next console generation will also be squeezed for 10 years. Consoles will hold back PCs for another 10 years starting in 2015. Sad, sad world.

2 1 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 03/27/12 10:14:15 AM]
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Dude, consoles are not holding back anything! Game publishers and developers are holding back everything!
Modern games suck! They are pretty, they offer lots of visual garbage and have zero gameplay and substance!
Don't you believe me? There are tons of examples: MassEffect 3, etc...
Yeah... I play MAME32 (old ROMs) and it offers much more fun than these super expensive, super cool looking modern games.
If you wanna look at pretty, realistic images, just get out of the couch, go out and take a walk in the nature.
Games need good gameplay and not so much pretty graphics.
It is the pretty graphics that made modern games boring piece of garbage!
2 0 [Posted by: Zingam  | Date: 03/27/12 03:29:37 PM]
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"Dude, consoles are not holding back anything! Game publishers and developers are holding back everything!"

They are inter-related.

For example, a developer can simply re-release 5th installment of Assassin's Creed, or 8th instalment of COD that uses a game engine from 2007 that's slightly re-tweaked. It's still based on DX9 code path. Developers spend more $ marketing new games than actually making them on the PC.

I agree with you that a lot of modern games suck. Graphics are not everything, for sure. I enjoyed Braid, Trine 1/2, Bastion. I am looking forward to buying Rayman Origins too. None of those games is demanding on the PC.

But still, it's not just graphics. If developers start coding games from scratch using new game engines, with better AI, physics, they might think of new creative ways to design a game. Right now, since they can't push the graphics envelope much more, they end up spending a huge chunk of that $ on marketing and promoting the sequels. I mean everyone always says we don't need better graphics every generation, but in that case, we'd still be playing 2D side scrollers.
1 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 03/27/12 05:40:14 PM]
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2. 
There is more evidence to support this "rumor." Dave Cutler--aka "the father of NT"--is now working on the Xbox team. I don't think there's any plan (or reason) to believe that they're departing from the NT base, so for what reason would you need that kind of genius and experience, whose specialty is on the kernel side and low-level OS architecture, other than to develop for a new architecture?
0 1 [Posted by: bluvg  | Date: 03/27/12 10:31:08 AM]
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3. 
Great so this will be Xbox new thing come E3 2013 to show off. At this rate we won't have a new Xbox console hit stores until the end of 2014! The irony is they have stated that the new Xbox console will have windows 9 abilities and if that is true then that means by the time a new Xbox console comes out Windows 9 will be around the corner.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 03/27/12 11:42:35 AM]
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The irony of this is that Microsoft's current lead over PS3 is because they launched 360 one full year before PS3. By MS delaying the next Xbox console longer, it gives Sony a better opportunity to launch the PS4 much closer to MS's next console.

Given that the current consoles are so old, there are a lot of people waiting to upgrade. Had MS launched the next Xbox this year or in 2013, they would have captured millions of customers who by the looks of it will be able to choose among 3 consoles by the time the next Xbox launches in 2014-2015. Doesn't sound like a smart strategy at all.

It's pretty underwhelming that a 7-year-old Xbox still sells for $299 with a 250GB hard drive. That's insanely expensive for a system with a 7900GT GPU or so. hhehe.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 03/27/12 05:44:03 PM]
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4. 
"Since modern ARM-powered system-on-chips can be very powerful, the set-top-box could potentially handle high-definition games, including those designed for Windows Phone or Windows 8." - ARM isn't powerful enough to produce realistic graphics at resolutions as high as 1920x1080. I'd say that you're going to need hardware that is at least four times as powerful as that of the PS Vita to get good results.
1 1 [Posted by: DirectXtreme  | Date: 03/27/12 12:17:31 PM]
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While you may be correct, you have to realize that this is not a portable gaming console. The PS Vita and other portable phones were designed inside a small power envelope. You can easily get higher performance by packing a faster graphics processing unit. There is nothing stopping Microsoft from throwing in the existing Xbox 360's GPU in there in some shape or form. Same goes for the CPU. They could throw in eight ARM A15 cores in there and still be well below the power consumption of the current 360.
1 0 [Posted by: MonkRX  | Date: 03/27/12 12:44:01 PM]
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