XBox PC Hybrid May be Next

XBox PC Hybrid May be Next

The latest news from Microsoft's R&D suggests that the company may be considering an XBox-PC hybrid as its next-next generation console. Codenamed XBox Next PC, the device would include a hard drive and a built-in fully functional PC and would be able to play PC and XBox games while being compatible with the XBox Live service.

Plans are currently in the consumer feedback phase and market research companies are describing the device and observing consumer reaction to specifications and price points. The focus groups are asked about a device, described as requiring a PC monitor or HDTV and as being backward compatible with current and next-generation Xbox titles. It would also play PC games and include a fully functional version of Windows, CD burner, DVD player (with remote control), built-in access to Xbox Live and a hard drive. That particular version of XBox Next PC would feature both a keyboard and mouse and a standard Xbox controller and would retail at USD 599.

It is clear from the nature of the research that Microsoft may be sniffing around for the best possible combination of hardware and software in order to achieve an optimal (profitable) price. It is no secret that pricing has, so far, been the weak point of the company's current console, with losses increasing as competition has driven the price lower and lower. The results obtained from such market research may not be used for the development of the XBox Next PC itself but may help finalize plans on the development of XBox 2, which is bound to precede any such hybrid effort.

The existence of the XBox Next PC in any physical form is extremely doubtful and for the time being at least, it remains a description on some market research company's projector but Microsoft has made its console PC cross-over intentions clear with the recent announcement of the XNA platform at GDC. XNA will allow developers to create worlds which will include both PC and XBox gamers although the gaming experience will differ for each.

Although the hybrid plan seems a natural progression for a company with Microsoft's expertise, it could create a problem for gamers since they would really have to stretch their imaginations to figure out why they should buy the XBox Next PC and not just a normal, easily upgradeable PC. As things stand now, XBox is often accused of being a low end PC, so Microsoft would have to find some nifty extra features in order to make a console/PC hybrid an attractive option.