Microsoft said it will add DVR features for over-the-air TV broadcasts into its Xbox One starting next year. The move is the latest by Microsoft to push its Xbox video gaming console into the set-top box arena currently dominated by cable companies.
Via a free software upgrade, Xbox One users will be able to record and play back live, over-the-air TV, as well as schedule recordings via Windows 10, iOS and Android mobile devices. The upgrade does require users to purchase a $60 Haulage Digital TV tuner that's specially designed to work with the Xbox One.
Microsoft also said that Xbox One users will be able to stream their recorded shows onto other devices, including Windows 10 gadgets and Android and iOS devices. Importantly, Microsoft also said users will be able to download TV shows to their Windows 10 phone, PC or tablet "so you can watch them on an airplane, on a bus -- really anywhere -- even without an internet connection."
Xbox One consoles are equipped with a 500 GB hard drive, which can typically store around 75 hours of HD video. Most users, however, will have at least some of that capacity devoted to games and apps.
Microsoft announced the DVR feature at the Gamescom gaming and entertainment conference in Cologne, Germany.
The addition of OTA and DVR capabilities that require a simple one-time hardware investment would seem to give Microsoft a leg up on TiVo, maker of the Roamio OTA set-top. That device, which is also known as the "cord-cutting DVR," requires a $15-a-month bill to operate.
Microsoft for years has been working to add additional entertainment options to its Xbox system, with varying results. The addition of a DVR to Microsoft's Xbox platform could allow Microsoft to more directly combat Sony, maker of the Xbox rival PlayStation. Sony earlier this year launched its PlayStation Vue OTT TV service -- with 85 channels, excluding ESPN, in packages starting at $49.99 a month -- in a handful of U.S. markets.