While neither Apple nor Google has broken into the TV market, Microsoft thinks it might have an answer. Today Microsoft will announce TV integration into its XBox Live subscription service, reports AllThingsD's Peter Kafka. "Microsoft is readying a long slew of announcements about new features ... Of interest to many of you: The ability to use the game system as a cable box/streaming video service." But there's a catch: you have to also subscribe to cable TV to see any of the new programming.
So, what makes Microsoft's TV box thing any more desirable? While it might not eliminate a cable box, putting television content on Xbox Live tries to kind of make you forget about it. Instead of switching inputs or fiddling with remotes, gamers can switch to TV all within the Xbox, assuming they pay $60 a year for Xbox Live. The TV shows are added viewing goodies for anyone who's currently a subscriber. For everyone else: It's another $60-a-year cable box.
Xbox Live TV will include programming from HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Crackle streaming service, NBC Universal’s Bravo and Syfy channels and Lovefilm UK. With TV, games and DVD capabilities, the Xbox 360 could act as an all-in-one entertainment cube. "Basically, it could position the Xbox 360 as the single piece of tech you need for all your video-based entertainment needs: gaming, DVD, cable TV," explains Reel SEO's Christopher Rick.
The limitations stem from the standoff between cable companies -- which pay a lot of money to television networks for to run their content -- and the digital streaming services over the future of their business model. (Think Netflix vs. the studios.) Microsoft is basically sidestepping the whole issue with it's new offering. "[Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer has been 'promoting the Xbox 360 console as a way to switch easily between games, DVDs and pay TV' — not as a way to ditch cable," writes Kafka. "It's not the cord cutting-friendly service that we had hoped for as Microsoft is working closely with cable providers," explains Gizmodo's Kelly Hodgkins.
For those who already have Xbox 360, more features are more features. But for everyone else: it's neither a gadget or budget solution.