Print 31 comment(s) - last by chrnochime.. on Oct 22 at 3:45 PM

Move could boost struggling Microsoft operating system

While many people scoffed at or failed to recognized the significance of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) talk of a "unified" development path for Windows, Xbox, and Windows Phone, the real world rammifications of that approach are now becoming clear and they're significant.

A pre-order page from Dell for the Xbox One "accidentally" (and, it appears, officially) revealed that Windows 8.1 apps will run on the Xbox.  This is a major boost as it means that reverse is also likely true -- most Xbox One (non-game) apps will run on Windows 8.1.

The Dell page states:

Consider the game officially changed. With all your favorite Windows 8 apps able to be run on and synced to your Xbox One, now your phone, desktop, tablet and TV can all give you a unified web and entertainment experience.

This follows with the virtualized approach discussed by Microsoft with respect to the Xbox One hardware -- an approach in which essentially a full Windows 8.1 virtual machine (with slightly tweaked UI and remapped I/O) runs alongside a game engine virtual machine.

Dell Xbox page
The development detail was confirmed by Dell. [Image Source: Dell via Neowin]
This virtualized hardware approach means that the Xbox One is in essence a "special PC" in that it has a purpose built gaming VM sharing resources with a more traditional Windows VM.

For Windows 8.1 this could provide a substantial boost as Xbox has been a strong selling line in the console market and prior to recent controversies has had one of the best brand images of a Microsoft product.  At the same time, while much maligned, Windows 8 has seen decent adoption, even if adoption rates remain poor by Microsoft's standards.  Allowing any Windows 8.1 app to run on the Xbox One will mean a wealth of apps will be available at launch day without having to woo developers to commit, and without developers having to write custom code.

The move should save developer time and errors by allowing a single source for Xbox/Windows apps.

Aside from making more apps available on the Xbox One at launch, this approach has other benefits.  For a developer such as Netflix, Inc. (NFLX), they can now add features to just a single source, rather than have to transfer updates between branches of their release repositories.  This should save cross-platform app providers money and developer time.

Thus this unified approach is yet another example of Microsoft's historic focus on putting its developers first, and trying to provide them with the best tools.  Or in the words of departing CEO Steve Ballmer, "Developers, developers, developers!"

Sources: Dell, Neowin

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Interesting, but of questionable value to consumer
By Warren21 on 10/21/2013 5:23:25 PM , Rating: 3
I want to start by saying I really like the idea, more compatibility and a wider app selection can only be a good thing.

That being said, I think more than anything else this is a bigger win for developers/Microsoft than individual consumers. As mentioned, now they only have to dev once for both. For example I can see the Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, etc. apps being a clear win for the average user. But all the other Windows store stuff -- productivity apps? Mail? Who really wants to use the multitude of PC-centric apps on an Xbox, with a controller presumably?

I wonder if there will be some filtering on Microsoft's part to remove the irrelevant apps from the selection or if it will be up to the Xbox user to sift through the trash.

By techxx on 10/21/2013 6:12:07 PM , Rating: 3
I would expect the XB1 to have its own separate appstore. All you should take from this article is that you can expect XB and Windows to run same apps.

By YearOfTheDingo on 10/21/2013 10:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
I see such a scheme as a net negative for developers. Good user interface is hard to do. Making an interface workable across vastly different form factors is a whole lot harder. A program designed initially for desktop Windows will likely offer a sub-par experience on the Xbox. Ideally, you would try optimize the interface for the living room, but you can't really afford to do that knowing that means letting your competitors put their unoptimized products up there first and thereby gaining first-mover advantage. So the whole eco-system ends up getting polluted by crappy software. What this unified approach really leads to is a tragedy of the commons.

Ease of development is not a good thing when it's the wrong kind of easy. Making it easy to be lazy is not the path to excellence.

By chrnochime on 10/22/2013 3:45:22 PM , Rating: 2
Good programs will still prevail and crap ones will still fall to the wayside. Even if comp get their unoptimized products in first, in the long term consumers will still flock to the best product. If you're not comp/quick enough you shouldn't be making software in the first place. GOOD Windows developers get by just fine without artificial segmentation in place to keep their paycheck coming.

By rsmech on 10/21/2013 10:51:43 PM , Rating: 2
How would it be if a consumer had access from their xb1 to view photos, videos, music, from SkyDrive or desktop thru SkyDrive? Not everyone has a PC monitor as big as their TV.

By Labotomizer on 10/22/2013 9:47:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think this is the real reason Kinect was originally going to be required. Kinect 2.0 should be accurate enough to act as a remote touch screen interface. So I think it will be better than expected.

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