Microsoft to Take on Apple TV at CES

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Microsoft is apparently gearing up to take on the Apple TV at the Consumer Electronics Show with the introduction of Windows TV. The new product from Redmond is said to be a stripped down version of the Windows operating system with the Windows Media Center interface bolted on top, according to the Seattle Times.

Windows TV will support media streaming and remote control support, and like other Microsoft products, it will be up to third-party manufacturers to build devices based on the platform. Hints of the new platform showed up when Microsoft introduced its new embedded software products in April, 2010, and at the Intel conference a few months later in September.

According to reports, Windows TV products are expected to go on sale later in 2011 and will be priced around the US$200 mark. At twice the price of the new Apple TV, however, Microsoft’s partners may have a hard time selling to price-conscious consumers.

Company’s could potentially draw in consumers by offering features like built-in storage since the Apple TV only offers video and audio streaming and doesn’t include a hard drive.

Assuming Microsoft is ready to announce Windows TV, the company will likely do so at its keynote presentation at CES Wednesday evening. The Mac Observer will be on location with event coverage.

Comments

MOSiX Man

wow. Once again, a brilliantly original idea from Microsoft. ‘Nuf sed.

dlstarr7

Is this a joke?

Substance

I’ve heard some good things about Windows Media Center (granted, from Windows guys) but the fact I don’t hear anything else about it makes me think it’s too clumsy for the average Joe to pick up and use.  Which is exactly why I think AppleTV v.2 is selling so hot compared to v.1 (well, that and price). 

But again, how often is Microsoft going to try to push a new product with a “slimmed-down” version of it’s flagship bloatware OS and watch as no one buys it?

Still Waiting for Microsoft? Unicorn

Before WebTV 2.0 is released, Microsoft will need to release “Microsoft Unicorn”.

Microsoft Unicorn, with its patent-pending distinguishing horn, billy-goat beard, and cloven hooves is noted for it’s one penchant feature—granting magical wishes so Ballmer can plan a Q2 2011 launch.

Matt

FYI - Windows Media Center was around long before any incarnation of Apple TV.  Since Vista (and yes Vista was horrible) it has a very refined interface and works very well - as good or better than Apple TV.  If MS can make it as easy to use as Apple TV MS will be serious competition.

Ross Edwards

This product already exists.  It’s called ANY small-form-factor PC with video output.  People have been using Windows in their media serving boxes for years.  A lot of years, actually, going back to 2001 and the original Xbox with XBMC (technically a Wintel box running modified XP).  Even earlier, if you want to credit the early adopters of “TV in” MPEG-on-hardware computers—Sony was offering a VAIO with tuner and DVR as far back as 1997.

The whole reason people are buying AppleTV, etc, is because it offers a BETTER option than what we already had.

restoration85

people buy appleTV because they dont realize how amazing WMC is in Win7 and they are ignorant of the value of Roku’s boxes.

uncleaned window

It is not going to get anywhere anyway.  Microsoft will never out-smart Apple.  They can be jealous, they can be nasty.  At the end, they are simply going to waste another tons of money and make a fool of themselves.

noah

People buy and use AppleTV because it is easy, it offers a broad collection of video through a narrow set of sources.  And, most importantly, it easily integrates into an iTunes and iDevice ecosystem.  WMC, Roku, Boxee, GoogleTV, etc… don’t do all of those things.

SJBMusic

FYI - Windows Media Center was around long before any incarnation of Apple TV.  Since Vista (and yes Vista was horrible) it has a very refined interface and works very well - as good or better than Apple TV.  If MS can make it as easy to use as Apple TV MS will be serious competition.

You realize that you just said MS was better, then said “If MS can make it as easy to use”...?

MS has never been better, because they can’t make it at all easy to use until after Apple does it first.

wab95

Suggestion for MS jingle: “Anything you [Apple] can do, I can do better… or more expensively and/or at an operational loss…” Need to work on that rhythm a little more.

If MS has thought through interplay with its XBox, music player and Phone 7, this could take off. It could also push Apple into providing comparable features (third party apps and games) on its set top sooner rather than later.

Seriously, here’s to hoping that it lives longer than the Kindle and goes where no Zune has gone before.

Jamie

@Matt

Actually, no. Way back when Apple first started releasing the iLife apps (we’re talking over a decade ago ago), they announced a specific focus on media and the home, and then later that year Microsoft announced, you guessed it, a focus on media and the home. Media Center came after that (and if you don’t believe me go and watch the Apple keynotes from that time, I’m sure they’re out there somewhere).

It has always, always been, wait for Apple to announce something, copy it. the difference is that back then Microsoft actually had some leverage with their choke hold on desktop computing and could get away with kinda-sorta-similar-in-functionality-but-in-reality-woefully-inadequate cloned products by virtue of their mindshare alone (though they employed many dirty tricks to achieve these ends too, all of that is well documented). Now with Apple as a bona-fide part of our collective cultural consciousness (and that’s bizarre if you were an Apple fan in the old days, believe me) and with Android on the scene too, cranking out products that are just acceptable isn’t going to cut it anymore, methinks, as reflected by Microsoft’s complete failure to achieve any sort of toe hold in the modern era of computing (i.e. mobile, media, etc.).

Before any X-Box trolling starts I wanted to add that prior to that time Microsoft had partnered with Sega to work on the Dreamcast (it ran a primitive form of Windows, it was the first networked home console with a built in modem) and basically knifed them in the back with the X-Box. For the first X-Box rev, even the controller was a sad clone of the Dreamcast’s. This has always been business as usual for Microsoft.

Bryan Chaffin

This is what MS should have done instead of the Media Center PC, in my opinion, though I think they should make the hardware (like Xbox).

The Media Center PC could have then been released a year or so later as a value added proposition.

Had MS done so, it would have a major foothold in this market.

As it is, I think the company still has a chance to increase its presence in the living room with strategy.

MOSiX Man

Isn’t MS already trying to position the XBox 360 as their media hub for the living room? I have to wonder if the new ‘MSTV’ will basically be an XBox 360 ‘lite’, without the ability to support games or do online social interaction?

MOSiX Man

Another thought on this topic: Does anybody else remember the brain child that was the ‘Wireless Microsoft Media Center Extender’? I sure do - I worked at Linksys at the time those suckers came out, about seven years ago.

They were branded with the name of the company that was selling them, but the guts were all made by Microsoft. The whole idea was that one of these large-ish MS boxes would be wired-up to your TV and would communicate with a nearby MCPC via (802.11a*) WiFi. Then, via its own Windows Media Center-like UI, it would bridge the gap between the MCPC and the TV. I don’t recall whether or not the Extenders supported syncing with the MCPC, but I’m pretty sure that they only supported streaming. The main thing I do remember is that all three times that our leads tried to demonstrated the Extenders (all MS-made) to us and provide training on how to set them up, the devices patently refused to work. Oh, yeah. I also remember (from the training docs) that managing the DRM restrictions on the Extenders was just about what you might expect from Microsoft.

If ANYBODY who was involved in dreaming up, or developing, the Wireless Microsoft Media Center Extender has anything to do with developing the MSTV, God help those few unlucky souls who buy them.

*Yes, I said 802.11a. Even though the ‘Wireless G’ protocol was the de facto wireless protocol by then, ‘Wireless A’ was used because it was theoretically less prone to interference on the 5.0GHz frequency band, than 802.11b or 802.11g were, since they use the 2.4GHz frequency band. Of course, due to the range limitations of 802.11a, the extender couldn’t feasibly work further than about 30 feet from the MCPC - a lot less than that if there were any walls in the way.

Matt

@SJBMusic

“Better” and “easy to use” are two different concepts - A can be better than B, even if A is not easy to use. smile

Matt

@Jamie

I do remember this - by the way, I use both Macs and PC’s and have an iPhone I love, I’m, as always, an interested observer.

I think though that iLife was more of a concept than a product - as in Apple TV or Windows Media Center.  Though Apple was first on the bandwagon of getting your digital life in order, MS was first out the door with an integrated product to do so (10 foot interface, tuner card integration, etc..).  To that end though, WMC on WindowsXP was NOT very good at all.

mhikl

In a sad poetic sort of way it’s a ball of fun watching the creepy enterprise M$ gorilla, hands clutching at the toilet lip, eyes and snout just peeping out of the water as the swirl of the latest flush threatens to whirl it away to obscurity. And I haven’t a molecule of mean in me. Just can’t abide bullies.

Which leads me to speculate and articulate that should it be a facile endeavour to broil up a universal TV streaming device adept at wireless etherial commingling, Apple would have done so already. Or has it, already.

Be it but the software that yanks the shorts of ATV design, then Apple may well win with the Apple TV2 and some future tweak to its software.

As for internal storage, I plod along with the first lady of ATV and appreciate the storage but see a future where such will not be necessary when Apple dispatches the mindless middlemen who torture us with adverts and monthlies that malign a wallet’s girth.

nealg

This is something that MSFT has to do. It is part of the strategy everybody needs in order to try to hook the consumer into an ecosystem. It would be stupid for MSFT not to do this. Apple has the advantage, like Noah posted earlier, in that they have the iTunes ecosystem that will help drive sales. It will be interesting to see if MSFT somehow tries to leverage the XBox ecosystem into what they are doing.

That being said, it will be interesting to see exactly what this thing looks like and how it works. Apple TV is very easy to use and set up. The XBox we set up this holiday season was easy to set up as well. Will MSFT copy much of Apple does? My guess is yes. It will depend on how good a job of copying they do.

Neal

furbies

Gives a whole new meaning to: “Blue Screen Of Death” !

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