The device, dubbed "Xbox TV," supports "casual" games and runs on Windows 8, with an "always-on" chipset that allows for quick boot-up and resumption of programs, the report says. Xbox TV would be part of a broader attempt to scale its products, making them available on a range of devices, such as Microsoft Surface, SmartGlass (for iOS pictured above) and smartphones. It is expected to be revealed before the holidays next year, The Verge says.
Microsoft provides the following statement regarding any future set-top box plans: "Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention."
That's certainly not a "No, we'd never do that" kind of statement.
I've been saying it for some time now; Microsoft is more interested in building an entertainment package you pay a monthly fee for than they truly focusing on gaming. Just take a look at Xbox Live and everything it "features" now if you think I'm nuts. This falls right in line with that mindset and sounds like a direction Microsoft would definitely be interested in taking. The only thing I'm seeing missing from this setup is Kinect support but that shouldn't be too hard to work in and would definitely help with the casual game aspect too.
Now I doubt this is going to take the place of a new console, far too many rumors and such running around about dev kits plus Xbox World (or whatever the devil that magazine is called) supposedly has a bunch of insider information in their December issue (releases December 14th and it is their last issue) about the next Xbox. Xbox TV feels like they are taking all the services and nongaming focus that, in my opinion, has been plaguing the 360 for some time now and putting it on something that would have a better chance at appealing to a broader audience which is something Microsoft has been trying to do since they announced Kinect.
If this is real though I'm curious about what sort of impact this might have on their next console and when it releases. All rumors are pointing to a holiday 2013 release for both Sony and Microsoft but I doubt Microsoft is going to want to release two products like this in that short of a time frame.