Microsoft plots expanded Xbox capabilities

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), having passed its Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), is now busily--and predictably--expanding its consumer entertainment play with a revitalized and connected Xbox.

At the time the Mediaroom sale was announced, Microsoft said the move would free it up to concentrate on the Xbox. Now, according to sources who spoke with The Verge, that effort is moving ahead with "a (Xbox) feature that lets its next-generation console take over a TV and set-top box in a similar way to Google TV."

The Xbox will feed off a broadband connection and then take it a step further, "taking a cable box signal and passing it through … via HDMI," the story said. Once accomplished, the box will overlay a UI and features on top of an existing TV channel from a connected TV or set-top box.

"We're told that this (UI) is a key part of the next generation Xbox and that it will go a step further than Google TV's implementation thanks to Microsoft's partnerships with content providers," the report said.

While all of this could mean that the Xbox is just another set-top box--or, worse yet, another device connected to the set-top box--Microsoft has another ace up its sleeve in its Kinect sensor technology, the story said.

"Kinect will detect multiple people simultaneously, including the ability to detect eye movement to pause content when a viewer turns their head away from a TV," the story said.

All of this information comes from sources. Microsoft itself will probably have a lot more to say when it holds an Xbox event in May. A Microsoft spokesperson refused to comment to The Verge on its report.

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- The Verge posted this story

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