Windows 8 on the next Xbox?

I'm about to discuss an idea that's currently couched in fantasy, but one that's probably occurred to more than one Windows, Xbox or Windows Phone user already. The cards seem to be laid out. The coincidences and similarities seem too great to ignore. Also, there's this: we're talking about one company, Microsoft, and its products.

Here we go: could Windows 8 be on the next Xbox?

A new Xbox is likely to be on its way — maybe in just a couple of years — and rumours have flown around regarding its capabilities, processing power and even whether it will have physical discs. Of all of these Xbox rumours, one that I don't hear discussed at all is the possibility of Windows 8 being the next Xbox's core operating system.

As weird as it sounds, it's a theoretically logical concept.

Windows 8
(Credit: Microsoft)

Metro UI already looks like the new 360 dashboard

A graphical language is clearly being laid out by Microsoft, and I don't think it's just window dressing. If you squint, Windows 8 on a PC looks an awful lot like an Xbox 360. At Microsoft's press event, I was even checking for a Gamer Score. Apps are easily managed on the Metro UI, and that style of tile-based app management is starting to come into play, both with the Kinect and when dealing with the Xbox's growing collection of apps — video, music and otherwise.

Social integration

Windows Live is the line to connect Xbox Live and Windows Mobile phones, Windows 8 and even iOS apps. That connectivity should grow, and not just via Windows Live. Twitter, Facebook and other social connecting points should be baked into the next Xbox — not for sharing game-progress tweets, but for audio/video chat.

Apps that work on Windows 8 should work on the Xbox

Integration of apps across PC and Xbox would populate the next Xbox with a ton of interesting functions — and, based on the fact that Microsoft has already been experimenting with Kinect development, it seems in keeping with Microsoft's philosophy that the Xbox would gain more functionality, too. Windows 8 already works with a handful of Xbox-to-Windows video-streaming and friend-management functions, and even some cross-platform gaming. Opening this compatibility up farther feels natural, especially if Microsoft is trying to build a stable of apps in its ecosystem.

The current Xbox 360 dashboard.
(Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft gets a PC in the living room

Media-centre PCs and other failed attempts therein have littered the road along the PC industry's continuing efforts to get computers to mesh with your TV. The Xbox is millions of users strong, and a slow-but-steady push to add set-top box functions and TV apps may be easing the idea of "living room PC" into the skittish PC-averse user's mind. The next Xbox could finish the evolution. And, honestly, I'd rather use the Kinect on a PC in my living room than on a laptop.

Windows 8's clean app-based ecosystem might be less messy on a console, less prone to malware

Microsoft seems intent in the tablet space on making a clean, walled-off space where apps can be installed, almost like Apple's iOS. That's a better fit in a future console than shoehorning old-fashioned Windows. I imagine Windows 8 on a console working a lot like Windows on a tablet — a more streamlined experience, but cross-compatible.

Windows 8 has a multitude of input methods, making it suitable for Kinect and consoles

You could conceivably navigate Windows 8 via Metro UI in a living room. Microsoft demonstrated the concept on TV-sized screens ... why not on an Xbox?

Microsoft will become a true Apple TV rival

Sooner or later, Apple is purportedly releasing a TV with true app functionality and Siri voice recognition. The funny thing is, a next-gen Xbox with Kinect is essentially the same thing, but it could gain a foothold faster because of Microsoft's console-gaming experience and expanded relationships with video-content companies. The battle for your living room will suddenly be split between Apple and , just like old times.

If the next Xbox has a tablet-like controller, then Windows 8 seems like the perfect marriage

If we're to believe rumours of a touchscreen tablet-like device working in tandem with the next Xbox, then why not have Windows 8 as the interface? Microsoft's tablet efforts now seem like an easy modification in a next-gen, touch-based Xbox UI. Maybe it's a variation on Windows 8, in the same way that iOS on the Apple TV is clearly not the same as iOS on an iPad. In fact, it would probably have to be, to keep some level of control over the console.

Microsoft can attempt to bury the PlayStation

Sony and Microsoft have been in a lock for years, with two equally good and surprisingly similar gaming platforms. One thing that Microsoft can do with relative ease that Sony can't is flip the switch and offer a fuller computing experience, leveraging the Windows side to its favour. Sony's had a harder time in apps and OS software, despite offering some quality video apps on the PS3.

I'll stop listing reasons, because the list could go on and on. How do you feel about it? I've never been much of a PC gamer, but the idea of a Windows-capable Xbox suddenly excites me like nothing else, because I can actually see it happening. We're due for a new Xbox in the next few years, and, as Windows 8 continues its multi-screen expansion strategy, integrating the Xbox at long last seems like the inevitable final step.

Or maybe I'm just crazy. After all, hacking, closing off the Xbox operating system properly and price competition between the Xbox and Windows PCs suggest that this is unlikely.

Then again, Apple found a way with iOS devices despite the existence of Macs, didn't it?


Add Your Comment 3

Post comment as

kalval posted a comment   

That would be a fantastic move. Could get all the XBLA and xbox games on pc, it'd make things a lot simpler for coders and windows would once again become the platform of choice for entertainment. Sure the games would still have to be optimised for the xbox hardware to get maximum benefit, but because of ever advancing pc hardware, most pcs should have no trouble.

The potential for a really well integrated ecosystem is too good to pass up.


JohnR4 posted a comment   

"Then again, Apple found a way with iOS devices despite the existence of Macs, didn't it?" Brilliant!

I want to see something like this.. I currently dual-boot Ubuntu 12.01 and Windows 7 (soon to be 8 to play with it a bit) and one of the only things I've EVER liked really about apple is that "ecosystem" that comes with the hefty price tag. But once your in it, things just work. The cross-communication between OS X and iAnything is nice, and I KNOW it can be done through Windows and it can be done BETTER.. I've kept a watchful eye lately on Ubuntu for Android and saw the hands-on videos of how the kernels would talk to each other and create that cross-platform no-error communication; which reminded me of Apple and brought a smile to my face because I thought someone else is getting it.. If Windows was to bring something of that nature to its products, and even integrate it into Xbox.. Microsoft NEEDS to have that "ecosystem" of cross-communication between different devices; and it needs to use what it has going for it atm also. I've heard talk of them scrapping Zune to sync and manage WP7, when they should codify their media players (WMP,Media Center) into one brand name as Zune. Then they can release a "Zune Box" and have that act as what a WMC extender would do, and codify it to xbox almost as it is now.. It's saddening to see all this work was done with Zune in mind for Kinect but nothing was done for WMC on the 360, no voice control, no nothing. Because half the people don't even know it's capable. Make it known about that, it's a great concept that is highly underused. Lets envision this cross-communication for a second if they were to do it between the phone, xbox, PC.

Lets say you're using your computer computer and starting to watch a movie, but you decide you want to watch it on the big screen tv, what if you send it to your xbox (like now), but your xbox is off and your system tells you that because it doesn't see it on the network and asks you if you'd like to turn it on. You click yes and a signal is sent to wake it up (WOL {WakeUp On LAN} ) followed by a signal to send it to Zune (which ms codified as the media center equivalent) and by the time you walk in the living room, your tv is on with xbox sitting there waiting for you. The Kinect waits till it sees you to start playing (so you can make any stops for sandwiches or whatnot) so you sit down and it plays right where you left off from the PC. You start to get comfortable when the movie pauses and a little caller notification box pops up in the top right hand corner. Turns out you left your phone by the PC, but it's someone important, but you don't want to get up and you don't have your Bluetooth. No worries, you tell it to accept and it's on speakerphone through the tv with the Kinect as the mic. You talk for a bit and you COULD send a hand gesture to Kinect to play the movie again at half the volume since you're on the phone, but as you're talking you get into an playful argument about a movie and you want to PROVE your right, so you get up to go get your phone (cause you want to chill out in the living room for a minute) . The camera sees you get up and head away from it and knows your going by the computer so it instantly switches to the computer speakerphone and the webcam there can tell where you are to the xbox, all so you don't have to stop talking.. You pick up your phone and the second you do it vibrates, as well as a notification on your PC. Someone wants to play with you on LIVE.. You decline the offer graciously as you really want to finish your movie, but you have a point to prove.. you pick up your phone and head back down the hallway to the living room where the xbox puts your call back on speakerphone.. You head back and sit down and tell the kinect to go to windows and your phone becomes a tablet touchmouse (or can mirror the start menu tiles on the xbox, your choice [while still holding the call through the xbox] that you can either use to open up your apps or you can use the kinect like you do with the xbox now with the hand gestures.. You open up your browser and your phone becomes a touch keyboard.. You find your information and admit defeat and shame in the fact that you were wrong and tell them you'll call them back after your movie.. The call ends and your phone becomes a remote control for the xbox (like the ones with the green button, NOT a gamepad) that you nonchalantly toss your phone on your couch next to you and enjoy your movie.. half hour in and you GOTTA GO (it's called a double gulp for a reason) , you rush off the couch and the kinect sees your not in the room so it pauses the movie and rewinds the past 6-7 seconds so when you walk out of the bathroom back to the sight of the xbox it can resume playing and your not totally lost..

I know it's mostly related to that "ecosystem" I was referring to, but the introduction of Windows 8 on the Xbox could be the start of something that could rival Apple's "iSystem".. MS has all the tools, SkyDrive to keep things synced together like Windows Live Mesh did, but more features than iCloud.. Like the ability to upload music that would sync between xbox windows, phone, and desktop windows and, even better, songs that you upload that MS has available through Zune Music Pass don't count towards your storage quota (it would stream either way, let it stream from there).. It just released Office365 so it can store documents (which was handled by SkyDrive) so it can kind of compete with Google Docs on some levels (still has some catching up to do TBH, but give it time) and if it did something with photos other than Windows Live Photo Gallery or set Photosynth up for more than just panoramas it would easily change most peoples minds about a Windows Cloud.. Windows on Xbox would be the first step and would open up thousands of doors.. I've rambled on too long now.


SamB1 posted a comment   

I've been praying for this ever since details of Windows 8 were first released. PC Games running side by side with console games would be a dream. A fully functional PC as a media box is icing. Combining the a PC and an XBox would make it unbeatable, if Microsoft can stop stressing so much about piracy and competition from steam and the like.

Sponsored Links

Recently Viewed Products