NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Back in the 20th century, Microsoft (MSFT) sought to dominate consumer wallets through use of its market position with Microsoft Windows. Today it's trying to do the same with the Xbox.
Most commentators have insisted that Monday's "big announcement" is a tablet that competes with the iPad. Maybe. But that would not be a very big deal. We have tablets. We've even had Windows tablets.
Instead it's more likely we'll see an addition to the Xbox line, the Xbox 720.
The "tell" on this was the legal removal of a document about an Xbox 720 from Scribd, a document sharing site. If the document, which Ars Technica got its hands on, was phony, lawyers would not be in such a hurry to suppress it, the thinking goes.It's said that the "console" game machine business is circling the drain, and that gaming is moving to "the cloud." It's true that both Nintendo and Sony are having big problems. But Microsoft is hanging in, in part because of a hands-free interface device dubbed Kinect. The document describes the Xbox 720 as more of a general home entertainment center than just a game machine, with a new version of Kinect used to make music interactive. It describes a very powerful system that can serve as a home server, not just a game machine. Microsoft has made no secret of the fact it sees its new "Metro" interface as a way to unify its product line. The same tiled interface would be used on desktops, on laptops, on phones and on game machines. The tiles would be large enough to be seen, and usable, from some distance, and the biggest problem in translating from living room to office has always been distance. You play games and watch TV from a couch, a distance of up to 10 feet. You interface with a computer from a desk chair, a distance of about three feet. You interact with a phone from a distance of one foot. Unifying those distances has been a challenge for decades. This has resulted in a variety of interfaces: A remote control for the TV; a game controller for the game machine; a mouse and keyboard for the PC; a finger or stylus for the phone. Well, what if you had one system at the center of your home, that interfaced with everything else you owned, and one interface that connected you with the whole thing? If Microsoft wants to deliver a very big deal, it will be an Xbox 720 with Kinect connected with the Metro interface. One system to rule them all. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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