Microsoft may not be the quickest when following the market, they were a little late entering the tablet pc arena for starters. Similarly, they have let another market mature before deciding whether to enter, as rumors suggest the are producing a streaming media box years after Apple and Roku became established.
The story comes from the Wall Street Journal, who say that Microsoft have been developing designs for the product that will help them get a presence in the streaming media market. Although they currently have a streaming device in the Xbox which is already capable of streaming content to a TV, stripping out the expensive gaming hardware will result in a box that can compete with the $99 competition.
The box would still come with casual gaming capabilities and possibly a Kinect style motion and voice controls. This would bring Microsoft into competition with streaming devices from Apple TV, Boxee and Roku, as well as the new Amazon set-top box said to be coming later this year.
As the new Xbox console is due be be unveiled later this month and is expected to be priced at around $300, maybe a $99 streaming box will be a good launch alongside it.
Any box will depend on content, and Microsoft do have a dedicated TV and film streaming service using the Xbox Live membership, plus they have existing relationships with many content providers.