Microsoft’s Xbox 360 stopped being just a gaming console some time back. Ever since, the console has been Microsoft’s ticket into the living room. Earlier today, Peter Kafka writing for AllThingsD covered a report that says Xbox 360 is the most used device other than a PC for viewing videos. (Xbox 28%, iPad comes a close second with 27%.) Cable companies like Comcast are now working with Microsoft on offering cable content through the console.
When news about a $99 Xbox/Kinect bundled came out, I categorically stated that Apple TV and Google TV are a long way from stealing any marketshare from Microsoft in the living room. Going further, Tom Warren at the Verge is reporting that Microsoft is expected to bring feature-full Internet browsing on the Xbox 360 using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Google has Chrome powering the Internet browsing experience on their Google TV platform. According to Tom’s sources, Microsoft is currently testing a version of IE9. It is highly likely that the Metro based Internet Explorer 10 available in Windows 8 will be available on the Xbox 360.
The other interesting tidbit Tom got was that this version of Internet Explorer for Xbox will support Kinect gestures. Thinking about browsing the web with arms and hands does scare me a little, I’ll end up tiring myself going through Facebook, but then again, I will be able to say that I am doing upper-body workout while browsing the Internet. Rumors suggested that Apple will be bringing Siri integration to an Apple branded TV set, if this were to happen, Microsoft isn’t far behind. The company already has voice commands through the Kinect. Turning this into a personal assistant is missing from Microsoft’s implementation of voice commands, but for the company it isn’t rocket science.
Meanwhile, I still believe, an Xbox 360 with Kinect is the best living room entertainment device.