Apple has a media streaming box called the Apple TV. Amazon has the Fire TV. Google has the Chromecast (and the Android TV platform for third-party hardware). And Microsoft? The company has the Xbox platform… which is basically an expensive video game console that costs about 10 times as much as a Chromecast.

But soon the company might have another option. Blogger and Microsoft watcher Brad Sams says the company will probably introduce at least two new “Xbox TV” media streaming devices soon.

xbone logo

“Xbox Mini”

According to Sams, Microsoft will introduce the products at the E3 gaming conference the week of June 14th.

One is said to be a Chromecast-style device that you plug into the HDMI port of your TV and connect to the internet. Sams says it’ll sell for around $100 or less and allow you to stream media… presumably including content from the Xbox and Windows Store ecosystem.

The second device is expected to be larger and more expensive, but it will also support additional functionality such as the ability to play Windows Store games. Sams says it could sell for around $150 to $175.

In other words, Microsoft may be taking an approach similar to Amazon’s: the Fire TV Stick is a cheap media streamer that sells for $40 and up and which lets you listen to music, stream videos, and play some games. But you can also opt for the $100 Fire TV if you want a faster processor, additional ports, and other functionality. You can use an optional game controller with either model though.

The Verge, meanwhile, reports that Microsoft has been “experimenting with a Chromecast-like device” that offers game streaming from an Xbox One connected to your home network. In other words, you would be able to keep your game console in the bedroom and play games in your living room (or vice versa).

If the “Xbox Mini” has that feature, it could explain why the prices Sams is hearing seem relatively high when compared with other devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV boxes. It’d put the Xbox products in the space currently occupied by the latest Apple TV or the NVIDIA Shield TV, which are both relatively high-priced TV boxes.

Xbox interface on PC

Sams also reports that Microsoft may be planning to bring the Xbox user interface to Windows 10 computers. That makes sense, since the company has been working hard to bring the same Windows 10 code-based to a range of devices including the Xbox One, PCs, and smartphones and tablets.

If Sams is correct, it means that not only will you be able to run Universal Windows Platform apps on an Xbox One, you could be able to play Xbox One-like games on a PC.

He says Microsoft will likely continue to offer Xbox game console hardware. But Xbox could become a largely software-based product, which means you’ll be able to use it on just about any PC (although performance will clearly be best on machines with fast processors and high-performance graphics cards).

Even if you’re not a gamer, this could be good news for folks lamenting the loss of Windows Media Center, because the Xbox user interface is designed to not only let you play games on a TV, but also to let you play music, movies, and other content.

So if the Xbox UI is really coming to PCs, it could be a sort of next-gen Windows Media Center for folks that like to plug their computers into their televisions.



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