With Google announcing the new Android TV platform and the vast range of set top boxes available from Amazon, Roku, Apple and others it got me wondering where is Microsoft’s play in this? If you have an iPhone and are embedded in the Apple ecosystem then an Apple TV is the best way getting content onto your TV. If you are in the Android world you have Chromecast and coming soon Google’s new Android TV. If you have Amazon Prime you are pointed to its Fire TV and if you just want a cheap set top box for content like Netflix you have devices from the likes of Roku and many other. What if you are in Microsoft’s world? You could be a Windows 8.1 user and using a Windows Phone and you get your content from Xbox Music and Video, what are your options to get the content on to the TV?

The obvious answer is the Xbox One which is a great devices, as well as the fantastic games it has a good selection of entertainment apps including Xbox Video and obviously it works great on the TV, but the Xbox One is £300 more than an Apple TV. What options do you have if all you want is a low cost box to plug into your TV and watch Xbox Video? None, and I think this is a big problem for Microsoft, with the Xbox One price so high there is no cheap option to consume Microsoft content on the TV, no box on sale in an electronics store that could be an impulse buy and bring you into the Windows world.

A few years ago at CES (2011) Microsoft were pushing the embedded version of Windows Media Center to set top box manufactures and TV OEMS, I actually saw some of these devices and if Microsoft had continued developing them we could now have a modern UI version of Media Center with apps for Xbox Video, Netflix and other services. Microsoft had the lead with the UI in Windows Media Center which has since been overtaken by other companies pushing their own platforms. Microsoft have said many times its strategy is three screens and the cloud and the Xbox One is it’s chosen devices for the TV but it’s too expensive (and big) for a non-gamer to be interested in. The Home Theatre PC is still a nice option but it’s for enthusiasts only and Microsoft haven’t made any changes to Windows Media Center since Windows 7 so you are really left to your own devices if that is the way you want to go.

In my opinion Microsoft should have a £99 set top box that has the same entertainment apps as the Xbox One just without the gaming or Blu-ray drive, they should keep it simple, have SmartGlass apps for all platforms and get it on sale in places like PC World.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think, is there room for another set top box? Should Microsoft keep out of the game?

UPDATE: The box should also support mirroring from Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 and media casting just a Chromecast works from Android.

5 thoughts on “Microsoft need a low costs set top box to compete with Apple, Google and Amazon”
  1. If only Ceton’s echo could have actually worked with Android, we would be halfway there by now 🙁

  2. With the announcement of Android TV, this week I was thinking the exact same thing. Given that Xbox One now runs a variant of Windows, you would think this wouldn’t be too difficult to put together. I note that this was rumored in 2013 right before the launch of the Xbox One, but I have heard nothing more about this since then.

  3. They had it with WMC which they are no longer supporting…. You go figure!! Its a joke and M$ have lost out on this. They had a programming language and app development already locked but they chose to turn their cheek, and its lost and i’m gutted!!

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