Microsoft isn’t just about computing these days, as the expansion of the Xbox has certainly shown us. The Xbox 360 has evolved substantially since its release in 2005, with changes to Xbox Live and its interface such as its most recent addition: the new Metro-like interface.
The new interface is designed to have a look and feel that is very uniform to what it is offered on Windows Phone and the new Windows 8 Metro UI. There is even an app store with Xbox, though it is very limited at this point.
So what does the Xbox’s future look like? I’m not 100% certain, but I have a feeling it is about a lot more than just games. Additionally, it may also be more about creating a sub-brand of multiple products instead of just one ‘game system’.
This vision of the future is somewhat in line with rumors such as the supposed Kinect set-top box that will have Xbox-like features but will act as a stand-alone for media and not gaming. I really think that they need to go a lot further than that though to really have any true success in the living room.
Imagine working with TV partners to create “Xbox TV” that works with brands like Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba. This interface would look a lot like Metro and would feature all the media functions, 3D viewing, and seamless device switching.
So what exactly is device switching? With device switching, the TV and the Xbox TV UI would easily swap between different peripherals and attachments such as Kinect, an additional Xbox hardware for gaming, DVR, and external Blu-Ray players.
Such a system would handle switching in such a way that users wouldn’t be able to even tell the difference. (And yes, from a technology standpoint, this is all possible.)
Of course creating such a seamless interface wouldn’t be easy, but it would be awesome.
While this is probably speculating too far into the future, we do know that change is certainly on the horizon. If the addition of a Metro-interface and tons of new TV-integration features isn’t enough evidence of this change, how about several very key figures making the move to working on Xbox and other “entertainment” related projects?
Hoi Vo, an expert in hypervisor development, is rumored to have made the internal move over to the Interactive Entertainment Business side of the company, aka the Xbox and other similar projects.
Now the father of Windows NT, Dave Cutler, has also made the switch over to helping work on the future of Xbox.
A Microsoft spokeperson confirmed this move with the following statement:
“Dave is one of our brightest minds and is currently working on projects that will help advance our goals in the consumer space as we continue to grow the Xbox from a game-centric console to a complete home entertainment device.”
So straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, Microsoft is pushing entertainment even further with new angles. What these angle are, well that’s anyone’s guess. Some suggested ideas have concerned smarthouse functions and apps with the next Xbox, and set-top solutions like an Xbox-free Kinect.[ source ]