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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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