Microsoft in talks to start new TV service using the 360?

Microsoft's been strangely quiet during the recent smart TV explosion even though it has arguably the most mature set of products in Windows Media Center and Mediaroom, and now we know why: Reuters says MS has been meeting with media companies in an effort to create an entirely new TV service possibly delivered through the Xbox 360. Apparently there are multiple options on the table, ranging from a full-on "virtual cable operator" with monthly fees to using the 360 as an extension of existing cableco online TV initiatives to simply delivering certain channels like ESPN and HBO a la carte, and Reuters' sources say the plan might take another 12 months to develop. That sounds like a bit too long, if you ask us: Apple and Google are waging a major living room assault, and we can't imagine Microsoft is willing to miss another technology cycle -- especially not one where it holds the significant advantage of the 360's installed base and proven history as an IPTV device on multiple operators worldwide, including Uverse. We'll see what happens -- it sounds like the battle might finally be joined.