Sources for Tom Warren of The Verge have said that Microsoft “plans to introduce a low-cost alternative to its Xbox console, designed to provide access to core entertainment services.” The move to create a cheaper, Xbox-branded device would in theory increase Microsoft’s presence in the living room and would compete with products such as the Apple Tv and the Boxee box.

Specifications of the upcoming hardware are not yet revealed, but it is rumored that the device will be announced alongside the company’s next gaming console. The system would “support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games” and although we don’t know much yet, it is rumored that it will be “an ”always on” device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services.”

This put together with the other Xbox ecosystem rumors we have heard lately will no doubt make an exciting year for Microsoft in 2013. The Xbox line of consoles, the Surface Pro, and the entire new Windows ecosystem that Microsoft has built really exemplify that they intend to compete this year — on all levels, not just the business world and not just gamers. The “Xbox TV” is a new branch, the Surface is a new branch, and Windows 8 itself running on touch-screen PCs are great examples of the new direction Microsoft is taking.