Just yesterday, I talked about how Microsoft’s future is about a lot more than just Windows.

I talked about a few different business sectors that they are involved in such as business productivity, search technology, Xbox and its TV-related ventures, and other similar topics. My point was that Microsoft’s future isn’t necessarily defined by Windows 8’s success (or lack thereof), alone.

Sure, MS’ mobile ventures are very important, but the folks at Redmond understand that a bigger picture sees Microsoft move beyond what it is familiar with and take on a much wider range of products and ideas.

Despite the negativity that stock-holders, analysts, and some in the IT-world have to say about Steve Ballmer, the truth is that he is a personal Microsoft hero of mine.

Sure, he isn’t a genius on the level of Steve Jobs and isn’t the ruthless, ‘go get em’-type that Bill Gates is, but he thinks outside the box and about the bigger picture.

I was not a Microsoft fan for most of the early 2000s, and new technologies like Xbox helped change that. Still, I stayed anti-Windows until Windows 7 arrived.

Now with Windows 8 things are changing even further, and although I’m not personally in deep love with Metro, I trust where Microsoft is going with this. Nintendo proved in the gaming market that ‘thinking outside of the box’ helps reach users that normally wouldn’t game, and the Wii was a shining example of this.

I truly believe that Metro can be the PC world’s ‘Wii’. What I mean by this is that, sure, almost everyone uses a PC, but do they really use it well or that much?

I have in-laws that barely ever touch a PC because of viruses, hard to use interfaces, and more. They like tablets though because they are simple to use for browsing the net and playing games. Metro can do this for tablets and PCs alike.

Outside of Metro and Windows though, Microsoft is doing much more than that. With Xbox they are really adding tons of new TV services and content that change the way we think about ‘game systems’.

The war for the living room is far from over though, and if a new rumor is correct, Microsoft is taking an important step forward in this war.

It seems that MS might be working on a Kinect-enabled set-top box that doesn’t use the Xbox. This would be a separate product that would look similar to the connect but would have a wider base for HDMI and USB ports.

Essentially, the set-top box would give users all the TV/media functions of the Xbox, without the games.

Though honestly, if MS was smart they could still create Kinect-Set-Top-Box games through something like Xbox’s Marketplace that take up little space but give added function to such a device. Storage could either be internal or added through USB (external HDD or flash drive for example).

This is a really good idea, since it would add a remote-control free viewing experience for those that really aren’t interested in the hardcore gaming side. Supposedly, such a box will cost around $150 (the current Xbox 360 Kinect price).

These kind of moves are what is going to ensure Microsoft and long, prosperous future even if Windows does eventually fad somewhat to the background. I really like the idea of a Kinect that doesn’t require an Xbox, and think it could huge.

How about those reading this article? Does the idea of an Xbox-free Kinect sound like a good idea? Beyond the Kinect, what do you think about Ballmer’s direction of Microsoft? Share your thoughts below.

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  • Rikkirik

    I think it’s a good idea, but I would rather see Microsoft develop the settop box with hardware partners. Microsoft should offer Kinect software and content (apps, films etc from it’s partners), while the settopbox partners offer the hardware. Microsoft should not develop it’s own hardware, but license it’s software technology to settop box partners. The benefits will be great. Xbox and Kinect like experience in every livingroom.
    Another, and even beter way, is to work together with TV manufacturers on producing TV with Kinectlike software integrated. This would be even better, a Smart TV with Kinectsensing functionalities and Xboxlike content. These are the best ways to conquer the livingroom.

  • ECM2

    Is Microsoft developing a “universal” Kinect sensor – I mean one in which you have a choice to use on your Win8 computer, on your xBox console, or on your TV set ?  Or is Microsoft going to sell a Kinect sensor that is specific to each of these devices?

    The other question is: Will the old xBox Kinect sensor work with the Win8 alpha, beta, or both? In other words can I buy a Kinect sensor now and use it for my WinDevPrev or for the Win8beta should it arrive on Feb/March?

    • Adrian Nethercott

      I’d say that the old Xbox Kinect would not work with Windows 8 because it requires you to be a fair distance away and can’t read you close-up like the modified Kinect for Windows can.  I’m unsure whether it’s possible that the new Kinect for Windows can also be used with an Xbox.  If it is, then the new Kinect may be “universal”.

      • ECM2

        Thanks for answering my questions. It would be nice if they can come out with a universal sensor, perhaps one with a switch that would allow you to select your distance.