updated 10:50 pm EST, Mon January 3, 2011
Microsoft allegedly making media hubs at CES
Microsoft may to compete with Apple and Google in the TV media hub front at CES if a claim this evening is accurate. The hardware would ship with a custom version of Windows Embedded with Windows Media Center on top. The results were already reported by the Seattle Times as seen in April and once again in September, but would now be polished products.
The hardware wouldn't necessarily compete directly on price and would instead focus on a blend between Internet-based and traditional TV content. Finished hardware would reportedly ship later this year for $200, or below Google TV boxes but twice as much as an Apple TV.
Microsoft hasn't confirmed any of its plans for its CES keynote on January 5, most of which should center on Windows Phone 7 and Windows 7 tablets.
Whether or not Microsoft would go this route is uncertain. It already has a media hub in the Xbox 360 and can even use it as a set-top box to access remote DVR control or watch live digital TV. At $200, the Xbox 360 Arcade costs just as much as the proposed hardware but has gaming, Zune Marketplace access and other features that might be stripped out of a new platform.
If separate hardware exists, it might be more likely to tap into Microsoft's IPTV infrastructure service, Mediaroom, and could be sold directly to cable and satellite providers as an alternative to traditional DVRs.