An Xbox set top box to rival Apple TV? It has been mentioned before, but now more than ever with the current thinking that Sony is beating Microsoft in the fully fledged console wars, that Microsoft would look to diversify their gaming and entertainment portfolio in order to bring in a new market. So an Xbox set top box may be the way to go. Brad Sams, over at Petri IT, states that:
The Xbox may also receive an update next year, rumors of an Xbox slim style device picked up late 2015. I have heard from internal sources that the company is considering plans for a lightweight Xbox One that may only be for Windows store games and would compete with the Apple TV, but it’s not clear if these plans have been scrapped. A similar device was rumored around the initial Xbox One launch and those plans were put on hold but this device is said to be from a similar vein. If this device does materialize, it will not launch until the second half of the year and have a much lower price-point than the Xbox One.
This would see Microsoft add focus to the larger stock of app stores that have a lower price point. The Apple TV is one of the main contenders in this space and retails in the US for approximately $149, about £119 GBP. Apple is already quite well founded in this area and with other similar tech available such as the Amazon fire and multiple Android dongles (we love the RKM V) available, Microsoft will really need to go to town on their branding and advertising to pull a significant share away from the already crowded marketplace.
As well as an xbox set top box Brad also goes on to say that the cloud will be very important. We have already seen Phil Spencer comment on how the Azure cloud platform could be available as a multi-console cloud, not just restricted to Microsoft products. I see this quite a bit in the corporate world recently. The Azure cloud platform is really making a name for itself. From a gaming perspective we have seen it utilised in Titanfall to help with server load balancing and the biggest one we are waiting for is it’s usage in Crackdown 3 to allow for a fully destructable multiplayer environment taking the processing away from your Xbox and pushing it across the Azure server farms (I’ll be doing an in-depth take on this very soon):
The company’s future is its cloud platform, so expect to see Microsoft to continue to move aggressively in this department. The company’s high stock price is aligned to the strong performance from this division and its ability to grow revenue. With more companies off-loading on-prem services to the cloud, getting its clients to build around their cloud platform is a critical path to long-term viability of the service as it becomes quite hard to change cloud vendors once you become heavily invested in the ecosystem. Also watch for not-so-subtle clues about how its enterprise software works better when using cloud based services and how to easily integrate the company’s business class software for hybrid and full cloud deployments.
As the company works to claw away market share from Amazon and make sure that Google doesn’t sneak up behind it, look for another strong push to get its partners to sell more cloud services, as the company will also rapidly add new features and adopt more open source stacks like it has done in 2015.