In an address sure to divide gaming fans, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has officially announced the forthcoming TV service that we saw previewed at E3 back in June. Speaking at a financial analyst meeting, Ballmer said Microsoft and the Xbox team are working with "dozens or hundreds of video content-suppliers" and that these entertainment options will be made available on-demand, in addition to some live TV.
What programs they will offer, what regions it will be available in, or whether a price increase is included is not yet known. Earlier in the year, pre-E3 rumors were swirling about a new Xbox LIVE Diamond subscription plan which would include a television subscription. The name makes sense (you know, silver, gold, diamond), but nothing concrete ever came out of it other than Xbox reps showcasing the TV services that we now know are due to hit the dashboard sometime at the end of the year.
While some gamers wish Microsoft would just have the Xbox stick to gaming, others, including seemingly everyone at Microsoft, knows video game consoles have the opportunity to become next-generation home entertainment hubs. Microsoft and Xbox want to ensure their console is the frontrunner by making it an all-encompassing media device. From a business standpoint, people are curious to see if Microsoft can succeed where Apple TV and Google have failed when they tried to popularize similar services.
The application will utilize Bing and Kinect voice controls to find content, though it wouldn't seem likely you'll have to own a Kinect for the new service to work.
With just a few months remaining until the clock runs out on 2011, and the holiday season approaching, Microsoft will surely begin its marketing campaign soon to ensure holiday shoppers are well-informed when they spend their life savings this winter. Therefore, more details should be on their way over the coming weeks and months.