MS Throws Down The GauntletThe XBox is the closest thing Microsoft makes to an Apple PC. They fully spec it, they designed the interface from scratch to address a targeted audience, and they even defined a unique case to showcase the offering. At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) last week, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) raised the bar on what has become one of the more interesting battles in the industry. Actually, it would be more accurate to say Microsoft has taken the gloves off and now -- really -- is going after the entertainment segment. The Xbox and MSN groups at Microsoft have been more like independent companies loosely coupled with the parent. A few months ago, MSN was brought back into the fold and made strategic again -- so much so that there are rumors suggesting Microsoft may buy AOL from Time Warner. The GDC was the coming-out party for the Xbox group to move through the same process.