No one can say Microsoft isn't trying to think outside the box in this post-PC world. It's pitching the Xbox One console as a solution for a number of problems and applications important to small business.
The post on Microsoft Small Business is quite clear and succinct: at $499, Xbox One, with its Internet connectivity and Kinect audio/video input, is ideal for networking and videoconferencing applications.
"What is being positioned as an excellent entertainment device can be just as enticing for you and your small business. In fact, it is entirely justifiable to make the Xbox One a business expense. The Xbox One, priced at $499, is an affordable option for small business owners, as there are many features built into the console that could help it rival even the most modest of videoconferencing and networking platforms,” said Marques Lyons, Microsoft Xbox MVP and the director of Consumer Camp.
The Xbox One will offer Skype, SkyDrive, IE and Office and Wi-Fi Direct, plus you can write your own apps for it. Since the Xbox One is powered by an x86 chip courtesy of AMD, most PC developers should not be overly challenged in writing custom apps.
The Kinect One audio/video detector will be the real selling point here, as it is much more advanced than any Webcam. We're talking wide-angle 1080p motion detection that can be operated by voice and gestures.
For some time, developers have experimented with different ways to use Kinect in non-gaming settings. One scenario features a doctor who uses Kinect to manually operate a camera while performing surgery. No Webcam can do what Kinect does, and that will be a strong point in its favor. Also helping Microsoft's pitch is that the Xbox One is compatible with Office Web Apps, which lets Xbox users view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
Wi-Fi Direct will allow owners of Xbox One to send presentations from a tablet or notebook to the console for display on the TV, and you can use the Smart Glass controller to navigate through the PowerPoint presentation or use a tablet to control Internet Explorer.
That's all out of the box. Since Xbox One will support third-party applications, you can build all kinds of custom business tools that utilize the hardware, including Kinect, and software.
It might prove challenging to get one when they launch in November, though. Ever since Microsoft got rid of its horribly misguided DRM, the Xbox One has been a hot seller and all launch consoles are sold out.