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Microsoft reportedly developed set-top box prototypes

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Rumors have been circulating for some time that Microsoft is prepping a streaming media box. The Xbox may have many of the same functions, but it's still primarily a gaming console. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there are prototypes of a simpler, cheaper set-top device designed exclusively for consuming media floating around Redmond. Obviously, this would provide Microsoft a path to living rooms at a price that's much easier for consumers to swallow than the $199 Xbox 360. But, just as important, it could also offer a way to keep the Xbox brand separate and primarily gaming-focused. On the other hand, if a Roku competitor with Xbox branding were to hit shelves for $99, it would further broaden the scope of Microsoft's entertainment division. That wouldn't be terribly surprising, since some of the prototypes are reportedly designed to work with Kinect. Whether or not these devices will ever see the light of day is still anyone's guess, but it could provide a cheap way to get that Heroes reboot into people's living rooms.

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