Xbox One and Windows 10: New best friends

Microsoft shows off new features that indicate soon, your Xbox won't be just a game console, but a TV-connected Windows PC, too.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

Watch this: Now you can play Xbox games on Windows 10 PCs or tablets

The Xbox One has always been a big black box full of promise. Would it be more than a game console? With Microsoft's Windows 10, it looks like the Xbox One's big convergence moment is finally here. Microsoft wants your Xbox to be your Everybox.

For one, universal Windows apps will work on Xbox One. That was just announced during Microsoft's Windows 10 event Wednesday by Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems.

Universal apps are specific cross-platform apps: Skype is one of them. These apps will offer a sort of follow-you-anywhere computing experience across phones, tablets, PCs, and -- it looks like -- Xbox One. There are specifically optimized versions of Office apps, which look somewhat like Google's cloud apps. Microsoft demonstrated a variety of universal apps across phone and PC: a mobile version of Microsoft's Inbox app for email, using Outlook, Calendar, a Photos app, a People app, Maps, and more. Basically, they're core apps that cover the bases for everyday communication. And there's also a new browser, too, still codenamed Project Spartan.

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CNET Xbox app on Windows 10: also, Windows apps will run on Xbox One.

Yes, Windows 10 is coming to Xbox One, but it sounds like it might be a more limited experience than what was largely demoed on phones and tablets and PCs. Those who want to move their application over to the TV screen will be able to do so, but Xbox head Phil Spencer admitted that this may not be an area where Office apps are envisioned per se.

How they work with Xbox One hasn't been fully detailed yet, but stay tuned.

Part of Xbox will also work its way onto Windows 10: Phil Spencer also unveiled an Xbox app for Windows 10, which will finally aim to knit Xbox Live users more deeply into Microsoft's newest OS. It looks to combine gaming activity feeds from your Xbox Live friends with other game-specific interactions.

Microsoft is also pushing cross-play, once again, across Windows and Xbox games. Fable Legends is one of the games that will work via a "cross-play" mode on Xbox One and PC. This has been something Microsoft has attempted for years, going back to the Xbox 360 version of Shadowrun. Cross-play hasn't been a great success yet, but this new effort might be a different story.

Windows 10 PCs will also allow game streaming of Xbox One games later in 2015. This technical trick sounds a lot like what Sony has been allowing between the PlayStation 4 and mobile phones and tablets via Remote Play, but in this case it's limited to tablets and PCs -- no phones, yet. A game was demoed, and of course, game play looked smooth, but in actual practice these types of local-streaming games can be a mixed bag.

Off-TV play is already a trend in play everywhere from the Nintendo Wii U, to PlayStation, to Nvidia's latest tablet, Apple's phones and iPads, Chrome/Google devices, and Razer's latest Android TV microconsole. Microsoft's play to unite its devices makes sense, and feels overdue. How it performs, of course, remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for more, but it sounds like the Xbox will soon be not just a game console, but a TV-connected Windows PC, too. And it sounds like Microsoft is hoping that its PC, tablet, and console hardware will work together to spark more interest, and more sales.