Xbox Live Unveils Latest Cable Challenge, Complete With Voice Control

Mon Dec 5, 2011 6:30am EST

Microsoft is the latest technology giant to storm cable’s barricades.

The company is unveiling overhauls to its Xbox 360 console and Xbox Live online arm this week -- a facelift that will bring with it a slew of new entertainment partners and an improved voice-activated control system.

Or as Xbox’s slightly grandiloquent ads promise: “TV is becoming more amazing.”

The update goes live on Tuesday.

The new look and features will allow users to access Epix, YouTube, HBO Go and others from their consoles or from Xbox’s online service.

These new offerings complement Hulu Plus, Zune and Netflix, which are already available to the service's members via apps.

Television channels and video-on-demand offerings will be provided through Verizon FiOS and Comcast.

Not everything will be immediately available and the rollout of new content partners will take place in stages over the next month and into 2012. Among the content providers that will go live with the launch of the service are Hulu Plus, ESPN, Netflix , MSNBC Today and EPIX.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be integrated into the platform. Users will be able to search for content through voice commands and hand gestures thanks to Kinetic, Microsoft’s answer to Apple's Siri. 

Not that everything comes free. In addition to a $60 gold membership to Xbox Live, users will have to pay cable providers for access to the various channels.

That makes Xbox less of a cable killer than a potential new revenue stream.  

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