Hot on the heels of the first reports of the specifications for the next Xbox console last weekend, tech site The Verge is reporting on multiple confirmations received from sources whithin Microsoft that are acknowledging the existence of an Xbox-branded set-top box for televisions in the same vein as a Roku or OnLive box, which in theory would allow for casual gaming instead of the more complete gaming experience found on current consoles and is being slated for next year's holiday season alongside the next Xbox console.
The box itself would be running select parts of the recently released Windows 8 operating system, inline with Microsoft's internal "One Windows, Many Devices" strategy currently employed with the Microsoft Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. The company is also said to be heavily considering the addition of a cellular telephony component for porting to its latest mobile operating system and future devices for a complete Xbox Live experience as well as licensing the software to television manufacturers as an integrated "smart TV" platform with gaming capabilities.
While Microsoft has yet to even acknowledge the specifications of its next console, the idea that it would be adopting a simpler set-top box and possible smart TV platform as a secondary alternative for those that aren't dedicated gamers isn't all that surprising, considering its current direction with Xbox Live being more focused on general entertainment options for streaming content (including an app for Crunchyroll) than straightforward gaming, especially with today's earlier domain transfer leak adding credence to the rumor, which includes a domain for "Xbox Live TV".
For its part, Microsoft has released a statement neither confirming nor explicitly denying the plans:
"Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention."
With Microsoft's plans for next year coming into focus, what does everyone think about this?