CES 2008: BT Vision to use Xbox 360 consoles as set-top boxes

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One exciting snippet of news from Bill Gates’s keynotes speech last night, once again concerning us Brits, was that they’re partnering with BT to offer the Xbox 360 as their Vision set-top box.

This is yet another collaboration between the two giants, with Microsoft’s Mediaroom already actually powering their Vision broadband TV service since late 2006. This deal with Xbox 360 might be just what BT need to pull Vision out of the depths and into the mainstream – they only have around 100,000 users, and have fallen dramatically short of their targets.

Whilst Gates didn’t go into the details last night, the Xbox 360 team has already sent around a press release about the collaboration, claiming it will be available from mid 2008. This means the whole range of on-demand TV and film will be available on the 360, and will be “seamlessly integrated” with Xbox Live.

However, there is a slight downer, with the Xbox lacking a Freeview tuner, so watching and recording live TV will not be possible. It is a standard however with BT Total Broadband subscribers (you need BT’s Broadband to get the Vision service) to receive a V-box set-top box, which will enable live TV. These set-top boxes are now to be built by Motorola, instead of Philips, and will be HD-capable.

Canny 360 owners will be wondering what this means for Xbox Live’s own on-demand TV and film rental and sales service. With both companies scrambling for users’ cash, there must be a contract in place for sharing revenue.

CES 2008 Special
Read all our coverage from the show in our CES 2008 category

Katherine Hannaford

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