Both Microsoft and ARM have just signed a new deal, where the former will be able to access the ARM architecture, which begs the question: is Microsoft going to design its own chip? Microsoft has a hired a number of hardware engineers since the Xbox days, but if it wants to get into the system-on-a-chip (SoC) game, it will probably have to hire again – or buy a semiconductor company, like Apple did.
Many people see this from a smartphone perspective, but Microsoft doesn’t make handsets. We think that the portable gaming angle is more likely. Microsoft has an obvious interest to develop its own hardware because that puts it in control of both costs (and future cost-reduction), design and backwards compatibility — all of which are critical to a game console. Portable Xbox coming?