by Anton Shilov
03/26/2012 | 10:48 PM
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.