Microsoft to offer Xbox app on Windows 10, advancements for gamers

The software giant is bringing together two of its biggest teams to help draw attention back to video games that can be played on PCs.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Microsoft plans to include an Xbox app in Windows. But will that help revamp PC gaming? Screenshot by Claudia Cruz/CNET

The Xbox and Windows are getting married.

Microsoft said Wednesday that an app devoted to video games will be part of its new Windows 10 software. The app -- called "Xbox" -- will be used to manage games played and to connect customers with the company's Xbox Live social network.

Another key feature will be the ability to share clips from within a video game, Microsoft said. And the company said it's further improving tools for creating games, giving developers significantly more visual performance without hurting battery life.

"Bringing more power to Windows 10 gaming is incredibly important to us," said Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox video game group.

The announcements mark a key move by Microsoft to combine the efforts of its Xbox and Windows teams. For years the two teams have largely worked separately on the same task: trying to expand Microsoft's presence in the multibillion-dollar video game industry.

There's good reason for the teams to work together: Launched in 2001, the Xbox and its competitors, Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii, have become some of the most successful gaming devices ever. But the success has also taken emphasis away from Microsoft's own Windows PCs, which used to be the primary way customers played games.

In the past several years, the game industry has expanded beyond consoles to smartphones and tablets. Sales of video games have also begun shifting from discs placed in boxes to bits delivered over the Internet. Microsoft has struggled to keep up with those changes. Apple and Google's competing app stores have far outperformed Microsoft's own marketplace for the smartphone and tablet. Meanwhile, a majority of games sold over the Internet come from a company called Valve, whose Steam online marketplace has become a center of PC gaming.

Microsoft is betting its Xbox team will help change that. By integrating Xbox tools into Windows, Microsoft is hoping to make it easier for gamers to switch between the console, tablet and phone without much effort.

The software giant said it'll announce more about the Xbox in March.

This is a developing story. For real-time updates, follow the CNET live blog. And check out our full coverage of today's Windows 10 news.