Microsoft’s Xbox Media Streamer Joins The Surface Mini

Posted on November 7, 2016 by Brad Sams in Games with 39 Comments

Xbox Hero

Back before E3, I received quite a bit of information about what Microsoft was going to announce at their upcoming gaming event. Everything from a new standard controller to a smaller white Xbox One was accurately leaked but one item I said would be announced, failed to make an appearance.

The device, or possibly devices, was a media streamer that would fill the gap in Microsoft’s lineup that would make it easier to get Windows and even Xbox content, on to more displays in your house. The device, which was codenamed Hobart, was canceled and Microsoft was reportedly set to order 300,000 of these devices for manufacturing shortly after E3.

The report comes from Jez Corden and while I knew the name Hobart, his independent report of the device further confirms its existence and sadly, demise too. I cannot confirm the 300,000 figure but seeing as the device has not materialized, it’s fair to say that the project is on hold, or more likely, canceled.

It’s not exactly known why Microsoft decided to cancel the device and it’s unfortunate too. While the home media streamer market is well established, Microsoft doesn’t have anything in this segments to promote their own products like Groove Music or even apps in the Windows store. Hobart would have been able to run UWP apps and some games from the Windows store natively with a price of around $99.

Hobart now joins the Surface Mini in the pile of products that were nearly on store shelves but killed at the last minute. Will the company actually release a device in this segment? Who knows, but I think that they should as Miracast has not caught on in a way that has been meaningful to sharing content inside your house with a Windows PC and Hobart would fill this void nicely.

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Comments (39)

39 responses to “Microsoft’s Xbox Media Streamer Joins The Surface Mini”

  1. 3272

    Another market they are too late to get into. Doesn't matter though, as I have said before, they are slowly leaving the everyday consumer space. No need to introduce something that would have gotten limited support, would have been cancelled after a couple years and honestly has no real demand. Most people already have a streaming solution.

  2. 3884

    Shove the innards of a Lumia 650 into a stick - remove the screen, nfc, phone, speakers, cameras etc. And add Xbox streaming for less than $50 and you've got a viable product. Windows 10 Mobile would be much more suitable than Desktop for something like this.

    They'd just need to make sure everything supported landscape mode - and edit it a little for remote control use.

    It's probably getting a little too late for something like that. But Xbox streaming could be a pretty decent USP still if they got it out there reasonably soon.


    Or they could just frikkin' make apps for their services on Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku etc... It's about time really...

  3. 1377

    Either MSFT marketing and financial people can spot a money-loser before committing to manufacturing, or they can't and MSFT is doomed, Doomed, DOOMED!

    I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and believe those MSFT employees know more about product prospects than all tech journalists and blog commenters.

    As for Groove Music, are there any public numbers on its profitability separate from the rest of More Personal Computing?

    • 427

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I'd have to agree with this being the primary reasoning for the cut.  I doubt they could sell enough of these to even cover their costs, even if it was the best streamer on the market and could stream Xbox games.  I think where Microsoft has the best chance with hardware is going to be inventing new product categories (like they continue to do with Surface).  Entering overcrowded already dominated markets is a challenge for every company.  

  4. 8182

    I am hoping that at least two things will happen:

    1. Project "Rome" will actually materialize as something useful and we will see a streaming stick along the lines of a Chromecast.

    2. We will see support for Chromecast in more UWP apps

    We need equivalents to almost everything that Google announced in their fall hardware event (Pixel, Home, Chromecast) within the Microsoft ecosystem (Surface "phone", device-with-Cortana, device-with-project-rome).


    • 5485

      In reply to allanwith:


      "We need"? Yeah right :)

      Just a side note on another article that I have not read has I'm not a premium user. But its starts with a statement "Balmer was right all along ... people are rewriting history".

      Well. Balmer was not right, if he was he would be in Apple in the mobile scene position atm. Actually, he was wrong than and its still wrong now. He seams to conclude that what made possible a $500 phone to have such a huge success was the subsidizing scheme allowing people to pay their phones in installments. Well. It the fact is that was already being done in other phones. So that is only part of the reason.

      Another part, perhaps more relevant to the shift is that the iPhone was technologically more advanced than anything else in the market. If the first was a glimpse, then the 3G version was a confirmation. So much so that MS had to develop an entire new OS to keep up ... and it took almost half a decade to something more convincing and still is behind. The same goes for Tablets.

      This MS push that took has I said, almost half a decade, lead to now being in a position that in certain aspects actually looks more advanced in the prosumer space.

      So back to this article. MS does not need a stick, MS need a vision for device interop locally (no cloud) where the stick might or not be part of it and implementing, in particular when it comes to multimedia. Stuff like Chromecast is not the end of the story. They haven't even managed to do something reliable with the XBOX One in this regard. Something that Google does not have. This shows what happens when they are in this position ... I bet if instead of Sony being the compeition in the XBOX space, was Google, this was already in place long ago. MS needs to be second or third to do the right thing to push things forward, even then it does not come light to customers.

      I really hope they focus on this stuff ... well it does not really matter much if they do it or not. The world is now rolling healthy regardless.


  5. 5234

    Expect more cuts from Satay Nutella Inc.

  6. 699

    Another reason why we Windows users are losing confidence in this company. They cancel the Band, this media streamer, plus dozens of other devices, as well as kills off mobile. Who's to say they won't kill off the Surface Studio and that won't be the first and last release of that device? Microsoft needs to stick to its guns and show some guts. Not liking where they are going. One of the reasons Apple is so popular is because they have great consumer confidence and their tech support is top notch. If you call Microsoft Support you reach someone in India who has no idea what you're talking about, and that's with paid 'extended complete protection' coverage. Shame.

    • 1377

      In reply to bbold:

      . . . Microsoft needs to stick to its guns and show some guts. . .

      Could be argued that exactly what MSFT did with Zune, Windows RT, Surface RT/2, the purchase of Nokia's phone design and manufacturing operations, and making Lumias for a few years. MSFT's been there, done that, lost a mountain of money. Perhaps MSFT has now lost enough money to gained enough experience to know when to kill off future money-losing products.

      Perhaps MSFT shareholders would prefer a bigger dividend to MSFT losing a few US$ billions on some new device.

  7. 5530

    I really like this new Microsoft that is meticulously measuring everything they embark on, no doubt thanks to Satya's leadership. This project would have absolutely gone to market under Steve Ballmer only for it to run into unforeseen challenges in the business model. In other words, they figure out what worked by throwing it at the wall. No more.

  8. 427

    Is this correct "the device has not metalized" not exactly sure what that means. (not trying to be a d-bag over a possible typo)

    I just don't know who the audience would be for this. They have an Xbox One at only $299, and many $99 windows 10 PCs exist that plug into HDMI. So they probably saw the lack of success of those and decided that it didn't make sense.  Also if they were going to offer some type of casting it was probably "mira-casting" which again hasn't went over well.  So unless it did something that nothing else does, there may not be a market for it.

    • 49

      In reply to awright18:

      Should be materialized, fixed. 

    • 64

      In reply to awright18:

      It'd be a competitor to things like Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, etc. There's definitely a market there. Not everyone wants to pay for a fully fledged game console, and hooking up a Windows 10 PC to a TV isn't exactly a great experience. I personally would love an Xbox media streamer like this, for secondary TV's in my home.

    • 241

      In reply to awright18:

      I guess it it not needed in the sense there are alternatives out there.

      Roku, Apple TV, etc. are energy sippers compared to XBox. I would love a device I can access Groove and Movies & TV content on another TV. My XBox is in the living room and I don't won't another XBox at $299 plus.

      Of course, I would rather use WM10 than my current iPhone.

  9. 54

    Same with the cancelled DVR functionality for the Xbox One, for which I have wasted money on a TV Tuner that I no longer need (the reason for buying it was killed). I'm now having to rebuild a second PC/mini Server to run Windows 7 on so I can use that as a Media PC with the network TV Tuner I was trying to sell, and reconfigure my Xbox360 to talk to a Windows 7 PC again, just so I can get the functionality that I could have done through the Xbox One, had the DVR stuff actually come to be...

    Damn you MS...

  10. 663

    I would have liked to see a product like this materialize, but I personally have no need in my house at the moment as the xbox handles all my needs. I have family members that would have used this though. Maybe xbox one keeps dropping in price and then price isn't an issue for home use, portability of course is.

  11. 2371

    Why is Microsoft so scarred to succeed sometimes?  They need a low end Xbox that is for low end computing needs (email, web browsing, apps) casual gaming (puzzle games, arcade) and multimedia (Groove, Movies and TV, Netflix, Hulu).  Just allow it to access a computer share, OneDrive, and Xbox that can store content.  This is such a no brainer, it is pathetic that they do not do this!  It should be available starting now and actually have commercials telling people about it! 

  12. 3961

    Microsoft have just about totally given up on the consumer market would not surprise me if they announce in the next year that they are going to ditch xbox to be an exclusively a enterprise company. granted they are doing well in that sector right now they seem to be putting all their eggs in one basket. If someone manages to bring out competition to office 365 and the cloud they could be in danger of having no area to fall back on they need to focus on consumers because if they are not using Microsoft products or services then why should the enterprise use it

    • 1377

      In reply to paulbuchanan1:

      How many consumers use digital landline phones, file servers, Oracle, SAP, Siemens software, IBM hardware or software? There are several enterprise-focused tech companies with NO consumer lines which are doing quite well. Unclear why MSFT couldn't also.

      10 years ago PCs were the ONLY way for consumers to do most of the computing they wanted to do. That changed with consumer smartphones (OK, there were various Palm smartphones already, but not widely used; also lots of business smartphones like Blackberries, but no consumer offshoots back then). Habits die hard, so it took about a decade for people to drop PCs and switch to phones and tablets. In contrast, enterprises large, medium and small have kept on using PCs and are likely to continue to do so for a while.

      Finally, as for Office, what one uses at work tends to dictate what one uses at home, in part for work, not the reverse. Office is safe-ish for a few more years, though there are already some things Google Sheets and LibreOffice Calc can do better than Excel.

  13. 5234

    " HELL!!!"

  14. 8117

    I have been wanting a Cortana/Microsoft Flow(consumer) answer to Amazon Echo.  Some sort of low power wearable beacon is necessary imo to identify who is in the vicinity.  I had thought maybe that was one aspect the Band could be leveraged.  Anyway, who at Microsoft is looking at and responding to these segments?  Myerson's group?  I don't hear anyone attending Microsoft events seeking answers to their product gaps and if they see a need to address it.

  15. 5496

    there was no proof other that someone said they were going to release something. The same with the surface mini.

  16. 6773

    I would buy one of these.  I have an old Roku from 2011 that I'm looking to replace this holiday season, and would have loved to stay in the Microsoft ecosystem even for a Netflix/hulu streamer.  Looks like I'm back to square one with one of the new Roku devices.

  17. 8179

    I recently bought a XBS. 

    I sure wish I could remove stuff I do not want on the XB. I want to get rid of the entire ONEGUIDE and COMMUNITY tabs on the home screen. 

    I just want to play my games - offline - and have access to the store to buy new games. All the other stuff is just bloatware (for me) and should be able to be turned off. One can hope :)

  18. 5394

    I'm glad people won't have the pleasure of another Microsoft product that'll die in the wind. From your description, people have no use for it as a UWP and gaming platform. That's what Xbox is for. As a media box, any smart television or Roku will do the job. Miracast is too little too late. The Miracast technology was never given a chance especially with how bad it was implemented on tablets and PCs. The streaming dongles were expensive and unreliable. Microsoft should stick with what they know.... Hint: Turn Xbox into a living room PC. Bring back Media Center with DVR capability.

    • 5767

      In reply to glenn8878:

      I think it comes down to the weakness of UWP. Any device that only would run UWP is potentially cancelled because of 'no apps', 'no developer interest'. This is why Surface PCs are being made, they run Win32 applications.

      Look at the Apple TV - already 8000 apps and huge developer interest.

      • 1292

        In reply to MutualCore:

        They need to hurry up and get UWP apps working on Windows 10 IoT already! Let the community come up with something first. Again another initiative that is languishing.

      • 5394

        In reply to MutualCore:

        Apple TV leveraged off of its app library and iTunes. It offers compatibility with its own existing products. It's the same story with Google. On the other hand, Microsoft never done well with leveraging its own products. Windows Phone apps are treated differently from its Windows 10 apps ("Built for Windows 10") and its previous iteration of Windows apps. Now, UWP is built differently from Windows 10 apps too. And there's the Win32 app converter for Windows Store. Xbox game apps are not compatible with Windows 10.

        As for Surface PCs, you're not using the terminology correctly. They are Surface Pro, Book, and Studio. They aren't PCs specifically. They are tablets, convertibles, laptops, and All-in-One. They are demonstrated with Windows apps as far as I can tell. I can't tell if Win32 applications will necessarily work well with touch for we should assume they won't. UWP will be a fiasco with the living room streaming model with an underpowered device, and they just won't work with Win32 applications.

  19. 4185

    I own a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (the new one, with the last firmware), movies are unwatchable (lag, problems with sound and image...)

    so anything would have been better then this.

    • 1292

      In reply to nys:

      I have the old one and a first gen Chromecast plugged into the HDMI port on my Xbox One. If you screen mirror and then drag the content over to the second screen, it works fine.

    • 5394

      In reply to nys:

      Anything better?  Like a Roku? You took your chances with the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. What makes you think anything else from Microsoft is remotely better?

    • 1080

      In reply to nys:

      This may be the reason of the delay / cancellation. Poor cast to capabilities.

    • 3098

      In reply to nys:

      Same. Was waiting for this device as chromecast in theory works fine, just not with UWP Apps.

  20. 5553

    A Hobart is a large mixer we used in the baking industry.