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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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RE: Not all 8.1 apps will run on Xbox
By althaz on 10/21/2013 6:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
Chrome isn't a Windows App, FYI (it's a program that runs on Windows which is somewhat different).


RE: Not all 8.1 apps will run on Xbox
RE: Not all 8.1 apps will run on Xbox
By notposting on 10/21/2013 8:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously? You won't be to install that on the Xbox to use it as a Metro app...the only apps you will be getting will be from the store.


RE: Not all 8.1 apps will run on Xbox
By inighthawki on 10/21/2013 9:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't say you could. I was just correcting him, in that there IS a Chrome Windows App.


RE: Not all 8.1 apps will run on Xbox
By Flunk on 10/21/2013 10:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
That's not quite true, Microsoft makes an exception for web browsers. The default browser can access the win32 api and is essentially a win32 app with a winRT interface.

They did this because they couldn't manage to totally recode IE for WinRT and they didn't want another antitrust case.

This is the only reason Chrome will run in the Modern UI and also why there is no way it will run on the Xbox One.


By Penti on 10/22/2013 12:46:52 AM , Rating: 3
Most of Microsoft own start screen apps are actually Win32 hybrid apps, that includes their browser and the Windows Store functions itself. Their reimplementations as start screen only apps is generally pretty bad hence peoples app went away, email app was essentially broken and no replacement for desktop email software, stuff like OneNote MX isn't really Onenote at all and support no corporate functions, only sync to Skydrive. Plenty of stuff doesn't even get the Hybrid treatment, mail app was so bad they went ahead with Outlook in desktop on Windows RT devices with .1 update. Despite the fact that Office suite is only of the Home variate.

If they only accept 'Windows Store' apps (and they probably won't even go that far, as that would allow games to run) then Chrome and yes actually their own browser isn't one, but IE will of course be shipped anyway as part of the platform and updated by Windows Update (or specialized console equivalent to keep the OS proper up to date) rather then the Windows Store functions. Windows store apps uses the WinRT runtime, not Win32 directly but indirectly but they are Windows applications. It's not really a step away from Win32 as dependence it's still huge, but an abstraction for Win32 in the same way the .NET framework is. Hence they will never replace Win32, that isn't the goal of the projects and as long as WinRT runtime is restricted to the start screen and metro paradigm it will not garner any traction from the Windows community. There is really no manage vs unmanaged fight going on, and they aren't replacing Win32-bits with anything else. It's essentially not fully under control by GPOs in corporate environments either.

Not that I think Dell knows anything here. Of course they need a Windows OS with full Win32-apis for the browser to run, but that is in just one of the three OS's running on the thing. They also need the Xbox store, music services, video services, their video passthrough functions and capture and so on.


"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton














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