The latest incarnation of the XBox – the XBox One has been out for a while now. It is a extremely powerful box, filled with all kinds of tricks and a next generation Kinect. Voice controls and snapping live TV tricks abound.
But Microsoft shipped this unit without a key component to many TV enthusiasts including me. In the last two versions of XBox you could use the device as an extender to Windows Media Center running on a PC on your network. Sadly, Microsoft chose not to ship the One with this ability. Instead, they are looking at turning the console into a media device that has what I am guessing, less ties to external media providers – namely your cable or over the air providers.
Instead, Microsoft seems to be planning on using the XBox One to provide content directly to you, cutting out the middle man, and presumably picking up some of the subscription or even providing content that they create internally. By doing this they can use the black little box as a revenue generator beyond just games. Also, as more and more content is web based, maybe they just think acting as a set top box DVR is just a short term proposition at this point, and nobody will be using it anyway. Google often throws out great products that many many people use too, like Reader, but is still just a small percentage of their overall user base. I think this is what Microsoft is doing here. Sure they are alienating a passionate group here, and they are vocal, but they are small fish in a large pond.
This is a sad thing for the folks out there that use the device to consolidate their media experience into a sole device running in their living room or theater. I hope Microsoft changes their tune on this one. They could do so by releasing an app in their app store that connects to the media center, even charging for it, and many would jump on board with the One. Until that happens, I think many will continue to evaluate Android, Roku, Sling, and other options to access their Windows Media Center content.