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Brier Dudley from the Seattle Times, is reporting that Microsoft will present their answer to Apple TV and Google TV at CES. Here is the key excerpt
Microsoft’s going to make a splash in this market with a stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs. The software is a version of its embedded device software, overlaid with the Windows Media Center interface, with media streaming and remote-control capabilities.
Microsoft has had a solution with Windows Media Center for along time, but unfortunately, they never capitalized on it. If this story pans out, I think MS will be just showing devices running Windows Media Center Embedded like shown on the video above on an Acer Revo 2 box. I have mixed feelings about this because the Xbox 360 is already an excellent multimedia device that I think Microsoft should concentrate on by not only adding a full browser with flash and Silverlight support, but also apps, a marketplace and an SDK for developers to create 3rd party apps. I have also yet to see any concerted push using it with the at&t uverse service. (Isnâ€™t this something that should be demoed live at all at&t stores?)
On the other hand, a standalone WMC box has the advantage of being able to add a Blu-ray drive and TV tuners, features that the 360 doesnâ€™t support, although I donâ€™t see why the Xbox could not ostensibly support a network based tuner ala the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime if Microsoft really wanted it to. Add the ability to use the Kinect controller to the WMC box and suddenly it becomes a viable option.
The only sticking point for choosing the WMC box over the 360 is the reported $200 price. All competitive boxes like the Apple TV, Roku Box, Boxee e.t.c are all priced under or around $100 so it is already at a disadvantage. Add an extra $ 100 and you can buy a 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect which also functions as an excellent game console! The price point therefore dooms the box at both the low and high ends of the spectrum. Price it at $100 or less including at least dual OTA digital tuners, and it becomes the best solution for households with multiple TVs, which a majority fall in that group, saving them money from not having to purchase the more expensive Xboxes for each television set.