Microsoft TV to Square Off Against Google TV, Apple TV

The connected TV space is about to get substantially more crowded.

On the heels of CES 2011, there are rumblings that we may get a fresh look at something the folks at Microsoft have been working on for months – a new Apple TV and Google TV rival that will expand the Windows Media Center to the masses through their connected TVs.  According to tech columnist Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times:

The boxes are expected to cost around $200 and go on sale later this year. They’ll pose a serious challenge to the new Apple and Google TV devices, largely because the Windows boxes have a polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content.

A multitude of published reports Tuesday morning suggest that the software in question from Microsoft is a version of its embedded device software, overlaid with the Windows Media Center interface, with media streaming and remote-control capabilities.

Overall, it sounds pretty snazzy. Still, there’s no clear indication that Microsoft will give us a very good look at their next offering this week in Las Vegas as the Consumer Electronics Show gets underway. Microsoft, however, has been teasing a new Windows TV box for months, most recently at an Intel conference late last summer.

For Microsoft, already a big dog in the world of consumer electronics and connected devices, the real challenge will be to successfully rival Apple TV – an established hit – not Google TV, which is reportedly floundering to such an extent that Google has allegedly requested that its partners not showcase Google TV products at CES until subsequent tweaks and other necessary improvements are made.