20.29 Europe/London, September 19, 2011 By Robert Briel

Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer has told financial analysts that the new Xbox TV platform will launch this holiday season. Without going into specific details, Balmer said the service would be similar to that offered by Canal+ in France, Sky in the UK and Foxtel in Australia.

To set the Xbox apart from a regular set-top box, viewers will be able to search and discover content using Bing search while using body movements as the remote control thanks to Microsoft Kinect technology.

XBox TV in Europe offers live streaming channels from Sky in the UK and Canal+ and CanalSat in France, where the device takes the place of a set-top box. Customers subscribe to the regular bouquet of channels including access to any catch-up TV and VOD content.

Balmer first spoke openly about Xbox TV at this year’s CES Keynote. Contrary to the rumours circulating just before the show, Balmer did not present an actual product.

Last June, Microsft announced YouTube on the Xbox, with the promise of as yet unannounced live TV channels later this year. In the US, Xbox Live subscribers can already access VOD from Netflix and Hulu Plus, as well as Microsoft’s Zune service.

Meanwhile, the market for connected TV is getting very crowded. So will Bing and Kinect really make a difference? Balmer seems to believe so. “Having all of that content is right on, it’s fantastic, but it brings a new challenge with it. Certainly we all know the frustrations of using guides and menus and controllers, and we think a better way to do all of this is simply to bring Bing and voice to Xbox. You say it, Xbox finds it.”