It's just a question of when, apparently.
"We are still working to get the release out," Larry Hyrb, a member of Microsoft's Xbox team, wrote in a Dec. 6 Tweet, followed a few others later by another: "No new information to report yet. My earlier update is still the most current."
Those with the Kinect hands-free controller linked to their Xbox will have the ability to navigate through an array of programming via voice and gesture command. New options such as HBO will join old stalwarts like Netflix. Presumably, Microsoft is negotiating to bring additional shows to the platform, although I'm sure the associated rights issues are a veritable hornet's nest of conflicting interests.
Meanwhile, the revamped Xbox interface embraces the same tile-centric "Metro" theme already present in Windows Phone, and soon in Windows 8. Branding-wise, it's a smart move to integrate the same design cues into all your company's major products.
Thanks to millions of Xbox Live subscribers, a robust and content-heavy Xbox dashboard is a challenge to both Google TV and Apple TV, neither of which let you gun down a couple dozen zombies after concluding another episode of "Boardwalk Empire." Apple is heavily rumored to be entering the television-set business sometime in 2012, but actual details remain scarce; it is Cupertino, after all, which rivals the CIA for keeping its secrets locked down.
Microsoft has made no secret about its designs for control of the living room. Now it's about to take one giant step closer to accomplishing that goal. It'll be interesting to see how rivals like Google and Apple respond in the short term.