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Xbox set-top device reportedly coming next year

According to The Verge, Microsoft is poised to release an always-on box centered around casual gaming and streaming video. The device is part of Microsoft's two Xbox strategy.

Will the Xbox play a role in a Microsoft cloud TV service?
Will the Xbox play a role in a Microsoft cloud TV service?

Microsoft is readying an Xbox set-top box focused on casual gaming and streaming video, The Verge reported today.

According to the report, several sources told The Verge that Microsoft is planning on releasing the new device next year as an inexpensive alternative to its longstanding hit console, the Xbox 360. The set-top box is expected to offer the ability to play casual games and stream videos, and would be sold alongside the existing Xbox.

"The device will run on the core components of Windows 8 and support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console," wrote The Verge. "Although hardware specifications aren't fully locked down, we understand Microsoft will use a chipset to enable an 'always-on' device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services."

The Verge argued that the new Xbox device is just one element of a "broader effort to ensure its core architecture for the next-generation Xbox is scalable enough to be put together to run on a number of devices." Among those devices could be a phone able to run Xbox Live. Microsoft is also said to have considered offering the Xbox functionality to television manufacturers interested in selling an Xbox TV set, The Verge wrote.

When the Xbox was released in 2005, it was unclear how Microsoft's second full-scale video game console would sell. In the seven years since, it has sold tens of millions of units, and helped Xbox Live become a dominant home for streaming games, movies, TV shows, and more.

Microsoft may have hinted at its planned moves with several recent job postings for engineers for its Interactive Entertainment Business that would be hired to work on a "new cloud-based TV platform."