Microsoft is trying to differentiate the Xbox One from rival consoles by giving it several key set-top box features for television sets but that doesn’t mean it’s going to take away your need to subscribe to cable services anytime soon. As AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka notes, Microsoft is limiting the amount of live television content Xbox One users can access without a cable subscription, thus ensuring that cable providers don’t feel threatened.
“In order to get the TV part of Xbox One to work, you’ll essentially end up plugging it into your existing cable box, via another box that lets you perform an ‘HDMI pass-through,'” writes Kafka. “In essence, Xbox One is acting as a sort of custom remote for your cable box, which will let you change the channel; it is also creating its own programming guide so you can see what’s on TV.”
As Kafka also notes, Microsoft has worked with ESPN and HBO to create Xbox apps that only deliver content if you’re already subscribed to a cable service. So while we one day just might be able to get all the programming we want over our broadband connections, it’s highly unlikely that Microsoft will be the company to give it to us.