Now that the Xbox 360 subsidized bundle is out of the bag and disappointing gamers nationwide, here's something new we may hear about during E3 2012: Internet Explorer coming to Microsoft's current console.
From the start, Microsoft has wanted to provide an entertainment hub for the living room, a place where family members can sit down, boot up the device, and listen to music, watch movies, and play games. The first Xbox really didn't fit that vision, and both Xbox Live and broadband was still in its infancy. It wasn't until the second-generation console arrived before the Xbox label became synonymous with the "entertainment hub" term.
Over the years, the Xbox 360 has become more than just a gaming console capable of playing movies. It's a media and social hub, and as of late, a makeshift cable box for streaming live TV. The gadget's multimedia aspect will broaden even more over 2012 as Microsoft works to bring even more TV content to the device. But there's one ingredient missing that even the Nintendo Wii can provide: Internet browsing.
Frankly it never made sense why the Xbox 360 -- which is PC-like in so many ways -- never allowed users to surf the Internet. But that's supposedly changing thanks to the latest rumor. Internet Explorer will supposedly be added to the list of apps already available for the console, and feature support for Kinect so that customers can use voice and gesture-based controls to navigate the Web. The browser will also be integrated into the console's social functions and Microsoft's Bing search engine that's already in place in the new Metro-like dashboard.
Still, don't have Kinect? Sources claim that Internet Explorer will still be usable, just "less than ideal" because its fine-tuned for Kinect. Of course, users could always plug in a USB keyboard for typing, but cursor management would be handled by the controller. Ok, maybe that setup is less than ideal after all.
Because this is a rumor, take it with a grain of salt until Microsoft makes the news official. Chances of Internet Explorer hitting the Xbox 360 console are high given that the browser is losing market share to Firefox and Chrome. There may also be other gaming-based reasons why Microsoft would add Internet Explorer, reasons we may soon discover next month at E3 2012.
Still, adding a Web browser opens up a whole new can of worms for Microsoft. Next thing you know, Mozilla and Google will be crying about their browsers not appearing on the console. Nintendo and Sony can get away with using integrated browsers on their devices because they're not actively competing in the browser market. That said, Internet Explorer on the Xbox 360 may simply be a rumor after all.