And you need Xbox why?
One of the things that seemed to get buried in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's performance was the news that the gesture and voice-recognition sensor Kinect will be moving to the PC.
The device is currently used in the Xbox 360 game console and Vole is apparently working with 200 companies on unique Kinect for Windows software to run it. He named and shamed American Express, Mattel, Telefonica, Toyota and the United Health Group but we are also hoping that he included a few games companies. Microsoft has shipped more than 18 million Kinects since the Xbox peripheral went on sale just a little over a year ago and it is fair to say that the device breathed new life into the Microsoft game gear.
Sticking the Kinect onto the PC is brilliant, at least for those who own one. It could also allow the PC back into the entertainment market. We can see that Microsoft has plans to use the connect in businesses which means that shaking your fist at your PC might stop being a good idea. But it does do something that Microsoft probably would not wish to do.
If you have a Kinect on a mini-PC you can build your own entertainment centre and plug it into your PC. You could have your own Internet connection and do what ever you like without having to enter Vole's X-Box universe. Suddenly people like me who were considering buying an X-Box because of the Kinect functions do not have too. Armed with a mini-PC with a decent graphics card I can create a real entertainment hub for live TV, on demand videos, movies and news, social (networking), music and of course still games.
Of course this has been possible before the days of hands free controllers and has not really stopped the rise of consoles, but setting up a Kinect based PC based around a computer is a compelling idea. If you look at your TV and what you have shoved into it, it is possible to have the whole lot under the bonnet of one machine. An X-Box might be able to do lots of things, but it is no where near as flexible as a functioning PC. It could be that Ballmer might accidentally kill off his X-Box golden goose but create the return of the media centre PC for consumers. If I were Dell I would be building one with a Kinect function right now.
Microsoft plans to sell the Kinect for about $245. This is quite expensive and keeps the Xbox competitive for those who do not want to DIY an entertainment centre. So it looks like Microsoft has thought of the same thing. Still it will be interesting to see how this plays out, certainly when the machine comes out in February I will be looking to set up some form of media station on my telly built out of the bits I have lying around.