The Xbox 360 is out to much hype. Gamers the world over are probably drooling at the prospect of HD-resolution games, and the additional computational power providing for superior game processing, resulting in a better experience. (I’ve seen better performance in iterations of Halo – Halo 2 makes use of the Xbox’s architecture much better than the built-for-PC-ported-later first version).
Personally, though, the aspect of the Xbox 360 that has interested me most in the Media Center Extender (MCX) part of it. The Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) with the extender is a solution to a problem that’s been begging to be solved for a generation of PC-users now – how do you get content from your computer to your TV? The PC is a much richer source of content. With newer online on-demand services coming, and cable IMO not really up to scratch in terms of niche content (no cricket on US cable yet, for instance), the TV as a display device for your computer makes a lot of sense. The problem of course is moving the computer from the study/home office to the living room/den where the TV resides.
Custom solutions are nice, but with the Media Center providing great platform support for this, Microsoft can look to being an important part of the digital hub.
The key thing here is really advertising. There has to be better advertising of these features so that people know of the awesome capabilities a MCE with a MCX can provide. How neat is playing all your songs on your computer, streaming it through your speaker system and controlling all this via a remote, using the TV as the display? This while your computer is in the study, and you are in the den/hall. Add movies on demand, Apple’s video downloads, and (for us cricket fanatics) streaming video, and there is a new, compelling reason to spend on some really useful hardware - not just wow factor 'stuff'.
I feel this is an important part of the future of the company. If MSFT can play its cards right, that is.