This rumored Xbox Mini is actually the set-top version we've heard about before which will compete with Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes. For a low price, the device will allow owners to access core entertainment services and casual gaming titles that can be purchased, downloaded and installed from the Marketplace.
Currently it's unknown what components the mini-console will contain: will it be a scaled down version of the upcoming Xbox Infinity, or will Microsoft simply remove features from the current version and cram it into a smaller form factor. Given the device's "casual" nature, the latter seems more likely, especially if Microsoft is looking to achieve the $50 to $99 price point.
Microsoft has already made it clear that the upcoming Xbox Infinity will feature a Windows 8 core so that many games and features can be experienced across all Windows 8-based platforms: desktop, console, tablet and smartphone. The Xbox Mini will likely sport the same OS for the same reason, differentiating it from the current generation.
So what kind of games will the Xbox Mini play? Likely those that can be purchased on Windows Phone 8 and the Windows Store like Angry Birds Star Wars (seen above), SoulCraft, Riptide GP, Hydro Thunder Hurricane and more. It may even be capable of many Xbox Live Arcade titles like Doom, Minecraft and other casual titles.
As we've seen with the launch of Windows 8, the Xbox brand no longer solely means hardcore gaming, but rather a multimedia service that includes music, movies, TV shows, games and more. The new chatter only signals that Microsoft is moving closer to landing deals for live TV streaming which will be the Xbox Mini's primary function.
With Windows 8 now under its belt, 2013 should be an interesting year for Microsoft. The company is expected to finally reveal the Xbox Infinity console in June during E3 2013 as well as the Xbox Mini set-top box. Kinect 2.0 is also supposedly making its debut in both embedded and standalone formats as well.
Looking ahead, the Xbox Mini might actually go on sale next summer while the full-blown Xbox Infinity will land on retail shelves during the fall.