Microsoft 'Windows TV' To Debut At CES 2011?

With the keynote just a day away, predictions for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world's largest gadget expo, are in full swing.

The latest rumor, as reported by the Seattle Times, is that Microsoft will unveil an Internet-connected television running a simplified version of its Windows operating system. Such a device would be Microsoft's answer to smart TV offerings from the likes of Apple and Google, as well as smaller upstarts like Roku.

The Seattle Times writes:

Microsoft's going to make a splash in this market with a stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs. The software is a version of its embedded device software, overlaid with the Windows Media Center interface, with media streaming and remote-control capabilities.

These new Windows TV boxes have been glimpsed online since Microsoft unveiled its new embedded software lineup in April, and then again at an Intel conference in September.

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.

The Seattle Times does not cite any sources that might shed light on the the likelihood that such a device will debut, the author of the post noting that this is just one of several devices he is "expecting to see this year."

Yet Reuters reported in November of last year that Microsoft was eyeing a re-entry into the TV space.

"The software powerhouse has held talks with TV networks to create a new subscription-based TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would rival efforts by Google Inc, Apple Inc and Netflix Inc," Reuters wrote.