Your Xbox One will soon run loads of Windows apps -- but not games

Microsoft's Albert Penello says bringing a Windows app to Xbox will be as simple as pushing a button.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister

"Just push it, and it'll show up."

That's how easy it'll be to bring a Windows app to the Xbox One, according to Albert Penello, Microsoft's senior director for product management and planning.

When the Xbox One's new Anniversary Update hits later this summer, it will unify the Windows and Xbox app stores, allowing Xbox owners to freely use a wide variety of PC programs from their living room gaming device.

As long as developers build their Windows apps using Microsoft's "Universal Windows Platform" and publish them to the Windows Store, the company says it'll only take a single button press to bring them to the console as well. They can even test and debug their apps using an off-the-shelf Xbox One console as their developer kit, since the Anniversary Update fulfils that long-awaited promise as well.

The standard Xbox One console is pretty much all developers need to start testing apps.

Sarah Tew/CNET

And yet here's one category of Windows apps that you shouldn't expect to suddenly explode onto Xbox: games.

Even though games might seem like an obvious fit for the Xbox One, Penello says that Microsoft decided to keep control. "We're still going to maintain a more curated aspect to the game catalog right now."

But what's the definition of a game? What keeps a Windows app that happens to be an interactive, playful experience from hitting the Xbox storefront?

"That'll be one of the wonderful questions the teams are going to wrestle with as those boundaries are pushed," says Penello.