Microsoft is rumored to be readying its Project Orapa for an E3 2011 unveil next week, making official the new home entertainment system blending Mediaroom IPTV with Xbox LIVE. VP Frank Shaw has sewn the speculation seeds this week: "put simply," the exec suggests, "Xbox = entertainment and is core to our entertainment strategy" before going on to recap on the streaming content, Natural User Interface technology and multimedia baked into the Xbox platform as it stands. "We are turning up the heat on a whole new era of home entertainment" Shaw concludes.
"The vision for Xbox is straightforward: All of the entertainment you want. With the people you care about. Made easy. That is why you’ve seen us invest in partnerships with ESPN, Netflix and Hulu. That is why we’ve baked social directly into the experience with Xbox LIVE – connecting gamers, friends and families across the globe. That is why you’ll see Xbox marketed more as an entertainment brand this year. And that is why we’re investing so much in Natural User Interface technologies (speech, touch, gestures) to make the entertainment experience that much easier—and more fun. With Kinect, we’ve made NUI real for millions of people, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible." Frank Shaw, Corporate VP of Corporate Comms, Microsoft
Although there's no specific mention of Project Orapa, Shaw's enthusiastic promises have been enough to spur ZDNet and others on to join up the dots. According to earlier leaks, Orapa includes Kinect motion-sensing control, Xbox LIVE avatars and the underlying recommendations engine, along with Mediaroom streaming content and elements from the Microsoft Ventura social ratings project.
Back in May, Orapa - and the Microsoft TV and Services division as a whole - came under the remit of ex-Microsoft Hardware boss Tom Gibbons, prompting renewed talk of a Google TV/Apple TV rival system. That, it's been suggested, could consist of a Mediaroom STB based on Silverlight with a new, custom SoC at its heart. If true, Microsoft could roll out Project Orapa to Xbox users first, then look to release dedicated STBs and integrated Blu-ray decks afterwards.