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Ballmer: Xbox 360 Isn't A Gaming Console

Over the weekend, USA Today published an interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer covering the Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7 and the shift from PC to mobile devices. He took a firm stance against labeling the popular Xbox 360 as a "gaming console" despite its seemingly primary purpose, quickly correcting interviewer Mario Bartiromo.

"Xbox isn't a gaming console," he said when asked the difference between Xbox 360 and the other gaming consoles on the market. "Xbox is a family entertainment center. It's a place to socialize. It's a place to watch TV. We have Hulu coming. It's the only system where you are the controller. Your voice, your gestures, your body."

Ballmer emphasized this fact during his keynote presentation during CES 2011 earlier this month, showing attendees and the rest of the world that the console is a multimedia center, not just a gaming device. As revealed during the keynote, Avatar Kinect will bring a new social feature to the platform, allowing users to interact with friends in virtual rooms using Kinect-controlled avatars. Hulu Plus and Netflix will also offer native Kinect support in the coming months.

Microsoft has always insisted that its Xbox platform would more than just a gaming center even before the original console hit the market. It envisioned Xbox as an all-in-one entertainment hub, a place where consumers could watch movies, television, play games and more. Ultimately the brand didn't really meet those goals until the Xbox 360 hit the market. Since its launch, the device has matured to the point where it now meets Microsoft's overall "entertainment center" vision. But there's still a demographic that Microsoft hasn't fully reached: those using Windows on a PC that are looking to Apple and Google for their entertainment needs.

"You go to your average 15-year-old boy, and he will say 'I'll take an Xbox,'" he said. "I want that average 15-year-old girl as excited about the Kinect, and we haven't done as good a job drawing in that broader set of demographics."

Later on in the interview, Ballmer said that the two most important technology trends that will take place in 2011 and 2012 will be using a natural user interface (motion sensing, voice control ets), and cloud computing.

"You see this stuff in Kinect, you see it in phones, you see it in tablets," he said. "The computer recognizing what I meant, will rise. On the move to the Cloud, there's still so much more that we can do when you think about the Internet not just as a place to publish a document, but a place to help support communal computing. Whether it's for a business or for a group of friends."

Earlier this month, Ballmer confirmed that Microsoft will eventually provide native support for Kinect in Windows, bringing the popular motion sensing controls to the PC-- officially.