The next Xbox may enable a new user interface (UI) for your cable set-top, according to a report from The Verge.
The report says that Microsoft Corp. is working on a new version of the game console that will use an HDMI pass-through feature to overlay its own UI on a cable video feed.
Microsoft's networking trick will reportedly go a step further than the Google TV HDMI integration, though the approach would be similar. (See Hisense Pitches $99 Google TV Box.)
The next version of the console is also rumored to include new Kinect-based features for tracking and responding to TV viewer movements.
The Microsoft news, if accurate, would underscore just how far the industry has evolved in a short period of time.
Cable held a tight grip on the TV UI for years, but has lately had to face up to the reality of Internet-based competition. A simple HDMI connection puts cable's own interface on the backburner.
Microsoft's Xbox is already home to pay-TV and programmer apps from Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and ESPN, among many others, and the console has done double duty as a set-top for AT&T Inc.U-verse subscribers since 2010. (See Comcast, Verizon Connect with the Xbox 360, Watch ESPN Reaches the Xbox, and Xbox 360 Joins the U-verse Lineup.)
The Xbox will now be Microsoft's primary TV platform after the company completes the sale of its Mediaroom IPTV middleware to Ericsson AB, a deal that was announced earlier this week. (See Ericsson Buys Microsoft's IPTV Unit.)
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable