Microsoft is perhaps dipping even deeper into the hardware bucket, as the Redmond-based company might also release a set top box.  No one knows the exact details, but sources close to the matter are reporting that Microsoft does have prototypes in the lab.

Set top boxes are not as hot as say a tablet or smartphone, but the underlying technologies behind them are essentially that of what is found in more popular mobile gadgets.  One of the more well-known set top boxes is from Apple, and, although the company isn’t deeply invested in this particular product, there is a growing demand for products that are similar to it. 

The alternatives to the Apple’s TV box are of course boxes that run Google’s Android system.  These Android boxes have been dropping in prices as more and more manufacturers enter the market, and the entrance of Microsoft into this particular space will make things very interesting. 

It is widely believed that Microsoft wants to build a huge entertainment network using Microsoft hardware and software—possibly trying to replicate Apple’s model.  The next Xbox might be one of the most entertainment-centric (aside from gaming) consoles ever from Microsoft.  Per the leaked roadmaps and insider reports, the Xbox 720 (or Infinity) is meant to be a family entertainment hub.

So perhaps the Microsoft set top box will be just another add-on which will allow TVs throughout the home to access content directly from the Xbox hub.  Rumors have suggested that there will be an Xbox “mini”, so the set top box and the “mini” might be the same thing.  Further evidence to suggest that they might be one and the same is that the set top box prototypes are reported as being developed to be Kinect –capable. 

Whatever Microsoft has in mind for us, we will know soon enough as the company will announce the next-gen Xbox later this month.  Just about everyone is positive that Microsoft wants the Xbox to be an entertainment hub, we just need to know what each of the particular add-ons will do functionality-wise.

Reference: WSJ