Xbox set-top box out before Christmas 2013, according to a new report

Focus on casual gaming and streaming.

Microsoft will release a console described as an Xbox TV in time for Christmas 2013, according to a new report.

The Verge reports Microsoft is preparing to unveil its two-SKU strategy for its next-generation of Xbox hardware next year, and the cheaper model will focus on casual games and streaming.

The Verge backs up a report from Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, published a year ago, which revealed Microsoft's plan to launch two very different versions of the next Xbox.

Digital Foundry heard the first described as a "pared down machine" to be released as cheaply as possible. This was likened to a set-top box and a Kinect-themed gaming portal.

Tonight The Verge reports the set-top Xbox is a “low-cost alternative... designed to provide access to core entertainment services”.

It will run on the core components of Windows 8, according to The Verge, and will support casual gaming titles “rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console”.

“Although hardware specifications aren't fully locked down, we understand Microsoft will use a chipset to enable an 'always on' device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services,” the story reads.

We had heard Kinect 2 will be bundled with both SKUs.

Meanwhile, The Verge reckons the next-gen Xbox will be scalable enough for it to be combined with a phone stack to “deliver a phone capable of running a full version of Microsoft's Xbox Live services”.

Microsoft issued its standard next Xbox statement in response to the story: "Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention."

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