Microsoft plans to merge PC and Xbox gaming

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2016 - 11:05 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, windows 10, uwp, uwa, universal windows platform, pc gaming, microsoft, consoles

If my editorial from yesterday didn't get you interested in this discussion, then perhaps a new line of talking from Microsoft's Phil Spencer will do the job. During its spring presser, the company's gaming lead talked about a plan to merge the PC and Xbox gaming experiences with cross platform gaming, universal applications and compatibility for upgraded Xbox consoles. I found a great write up over at The Guardian that I will pick some of the quotes from and then offer up my views.

Now it seems Microsoft’s plan is to shift the entire development model towards universal applications that run across PC and console – indeed any machine that’s compatible with the Universal Windows Platform. This could have radical implications for the console model, which so far has always been based on the idea that the hardware has to remain largely unchanged throughout the machine’s lifespan.

Much like I detailed in yesterday's story, the Universal Windows Platform and applications are the key here, with the goal of allowing developers to code a single game or program that will run on the entire gamut of PCs in the world including desktops and tablets, as well as on the Xbox One game console. 

“In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so,” said Spencer. “We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs.”

I am actually incredibly excited for the idea of more, and more frequently, updated Xbox hardware from Microsoft. Like it or not, with UWP or without it, consoles and their hardware capability have always been a somewhat limiting factor on how much effort game devs put into creating new games for the PC. If we can depend on newer console hardware, and that games will more ably handle newer, faster components, then it raises the ceiling for image quality, new features, experiences like VR, etc.

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“We can effectively feel a little bit more like what we see on PC where I can still go back and run my old Quake and Doom games, but then I can also see the best 4K games coming out. Hardware innovation continues and software takes advantage. I don’t have to jump generation and lose everything I played before.”

Expect to see some rolled eyes as you read this quote from Spencer; as PC gamers we already HAVE that capability and the move to UWP and UWAs is threatening to hinder that for us going forward. The PC has seen Steam, Origin, DRM-free gaming, an accelerated path to digital distribution, mods, overlays, benchmarking - all things that were held back or outlawed on consoles.

The Xbox chief ended his keynote by reiterating the importance of the PC as a gaming platform. He promised that UWAs will support multiple different graphics processors and that issues with V-Sync ( a setting that matches the game framerate with your monitor’s screen refresh rate) would be resolved.

Enabling support for different GPUs is a good promise, but much more important than just saying it is knowing HOW that support will be handled. As we saw based on our testing and research with Ashes of the Singularity, just supporting Radeon and GeForce cards isn't enough. What about features unique to each GPU? What about SLI and CrossFire? Variable refresh rate monitors? Enabling maximum performance with exclusive fullscreen modes? There is a lot to be answered and discussed. 

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Quantum Break will be on PC, exclusively as a Unified Windows App

This also marks the second time I have heard Spencer mention a "fix" for Vsync issues. I'd love to hear what they have in mind, and I have asked MS several times, but so far I haven't gotten any kind of solid answer. The real question is: does MS understand the problem and the gaming community on the PC well enough to even know what the problem is they are trying to fix?

The big question now is how onboard the development community is with the UWA concept. In theory, these apps should run seamlessly on top of PC and Xbox One architectures, with abstractions to exploit the graphics processors, system memory and other hardware features, as well as compatibility with Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) for enhanced graphics performance. But will the reality match the promise?

"In theory" and "in practice" are two wildly different things, and we've already seen one example of this not going as planned. I do believe that game developers would jump at the chance to have true cross compatibility as long as the hiccups and issues we are discussing can be dealt with in a reasonable way. It just makes sense: this eases development hurdles and expands the possible customer base.

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Outside of Microsoft, it will be interesting to see how studios react. “In principle UWA sounds like a good idea,” says Byron Atkinson-Jones, a veteran games programmer, now running his own indie studio, Xiotex, and working on sci-fi puzzler, Caretaker. “It offers a more unified platform or environment rather than a fragmented operating systems running on an even more fragmented hardware base. However, this is all reliant on just how hard it is to develop for and how much of a closed shop it will become.

“The best thing about PC is that anyone can make a game for it and UWA sounds like it’s going to become a curated system that will probably require some developer registration to get on.”

Exactly this. The benefit of the PC is its openness, even when running on Windows (as opposed to SteamOS or Linux, for example.) If you take that away, will developers and gamers start to walk? 

Given that Microsoft is promoting UWP as a catch-all platform for Windows 10 that encompasses Xbox one, what does this mean in terms of support for the console’s hardware specifications? “As it stands currently, if you are making an Xbox one game you can be sure on what kind of hardware it’s running,” says Atkinson-Jones. “If developers are then forced down a UWA route, is it going to be the case that this certainty is gone and we get back to the situation on PC where you have to start specifying a minimum spec – which kind of renders a unified platform redundant?”

I disagree that having a minimum spec makes a unified platform less useful, it simply sets a standard for which experience and gameplay can be measured. Even Apple iPhones and iOS implement this to some degree and they have as locked down of a software ecosystem as you can get. If it's handled correctly, Microsoft could be the arbiter of hardware classification and certification, as they kind of already are with WHQL, making sure that any PC hardware or updated Xbox hardware will pass the test for previous and upcoming gaming titles.

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But that is a very difficult task and is likely why MS would like to integrate some restrictions through the API and Windows compositing engine to help them hold that promise moving into the future.

But he will have to convince not just gamers, but the development community. “Microsoft has tried this before with Games for Windows and that was a disaster,” says Atkinson-Jones. “There will be many game developers who had to go through that monstrosity shaking their heads in disbelief that history may just be about to repeat itself.”

Oh yeah, that...remember Games for Windows Live? Remember when it cratered and we had to deal with the fallout of some games not working without GWL servers running? Or just the complication of needing a unique sign-in that often tied the game down in unwieldy ways? That's the dystopian future that PC gamers want to avoid.

All of that being said, I'm still hopeful that Microsoft can turn this into a positive movement. Removing the 7 year upgrade cycle for the Xbox One means that PC gamers will benefit from moving specs on the consoles, giving game developers the ability to target higher end hardware as the platform evolves. I do believe that cross platform games will mean an increase in innovative titles with expanded audiences and more opportunity for developers to make money for their work. But all of this has to be done with more sensitivity to the PC ecosystem than it is being addressed with currently. If nothing else, PC gamers are a loud and easily started group.

Be sure you read the full story over at The Guardian!

Source: The Guardian

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March 1, 2016 | 11:11 AM - Posted by remc86007

I'm excited for all of this. Cross-buy (like quantum break) is the holy grail fro me for a unified ecosystem.

Also, I wish they would go ahead and implement PC to Xbox streaming at least in an alpha or beta state for insiders/preview members.

March 1, 2016 | 03:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Time to get un-excited.

http://www.overclock3d.net/articles/gpu_displays/gears_of_war_ultimate_e...

March 3, 2016 | 10:07 PM - Posted by 24nolf

Cross-buy is a lie.

Proof:
No cross-buy for Gears of War, even though Microsoft owns it it.
No cross-buy for Halo: Spartan Strike, even though Microsoft owns it.
No cross-buy for Minecraft, even though Microsoft owns it.
No cross-buy for Tomb Raider, even though Microsoft published it.
No cross-buy for Quantum Break(unless you pre-order), even though Microsoft published it.

Cross-buy is something Microsoft has no intention of using for anything other than a marketing gimmick. And no third party would use it unless Microsoft paid them to(which will probably happen with a few titles).

P.S. I just double checked, there isn't a single Microsoft owned property or AAA third party game with cross-buy.

Not. A. Single. One.

March 4, 2016 | 08:07 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Cross-buy isn't a lie.

It's a new concept and when it's used is up to developers. Buying a game to play on XBOX at home, then laptop on the road or on phone for simpler titles makes sense.

It's imperative for Microsoft to bind their hardware under the same roof. If you buy an XBOX ONE then maybe you'll want a W10 phone, or Windows PC (don't jump ship to Linux).

It does NOT make sense for Microsoft to invest lots of resources into promoting this then not follow up, especially considering it makes a lot of sense for them to do it.

March 5, 2016 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sony has offered the ability to do cross buy between their hand held and PS3 forever. Nothing 'new' about it. It's still a nice feature in Microsoft's case. However, it's current requirements are about as good as Sony's were.

March 1, 2016 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Woodz (not verified)

Isn't this rubbish exactly what Gaben prophesied?

March 1, 2016 | 11:49 AM - Posted by ImmenseBrick

Wow interesting stuff Ryan, thank you. I like the idea as I own both xbox and a high power gsync pc. If they fix issues in window store and then have everything working on xbox or pc, buy one and play the other I can see it being attractive. If people want a good entry point they could buy an xbox, for others like me its primarily pc. Interesting times. I hope M$ does right by the PC community.

March 1, 2016 | 11:55 AM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

A more accurate title would be to say that Microsoft is planning to fold PC gaming into its console. All of the downsides of a console and none of the upsides of PC gaming other than being able to upgrade your own hardware.

March 1, 2016 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

M$ does not care about how powerful your hardware is because you will only be able to get console performance out of M$'s Unified experience. So expect that PC gaming will be dumbed down to the XBONE's lowest common denominator! It's all about the lock-in to M$'s cash cow ecosystem, and the ads, and the metrics gathering! Enjoy your metered existence, throttled to only the maximum performance envelope of the XBONE. It's not about your particular hardware's ability for M$, it's about M$'s monetization model for gaming! There's a big ball and chain that will be shackled to your ankle once you agree to the windows 10 EULA! It's the gimp-a-ning of the PC games market under M$'s thumb!

March 2, 2016 | 04:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just have to say, calling Microsoft M$ just makes you look immature and really drags down your argument. I just cannot take it seriously.

March 2, 2016 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Up yours! M$ is a illegal OS Monopoly that uses its MONOPOLY control over the third party OEM PC/Laptop OS market to force a Illegal vertical market control over the third party PC/Laptop OEM hardware/software/OS ecosystem. So the "$" in the M$ will not be lifted until M$ no longer has more the 50% of the PC/Laptop OS market-share!

I buy my hardware from Third party OEM PC/Laptop makers and NOT M$. M$ is just the supplier of the OS, and should not be allowed to vertically integrate the third party PC/Laptop market into its monopolistic monetization scheme!

You may be happy to passively bend over an present your posterior to M$ for repeated forcing but others will not accept M$'s tactics! Gabe was DAMN right about M$!

March 3, 2016 | 12:47 AM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

I disagree.
The integration talked about is so developers can create a game that SCALES WELL on both systems (console and PC).

The developers are creating the games, not Microsoft. The tool to en sure compatibility would be pretty minimal (ensure the eSRAM buffer works on the console, there is sufficient VRAM etc).

A lot of features will scale VERY WELL. Anti-aliasing, choice of textures, lighting, shadows etc. Done correctly an internal benchmark can assess the PC system and just work (the console would be manually set).

The tool might say "I'm on a 60Hz monitor so I'll use Adaptive VSync" then run GPU/CPU tests etc to decide on the settings to choose, or just work like normal and let YOU choose".

Again, it's largely going to be up to the developer. If the tool from Microsoft doesn't work, they won't use it.

I don't see why it would gimp the PC at all. Focusing on those features which SCALE well will only benefit everybody.

March 3, 2016 | 02:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

People said similar things when Microsoft entered the console market, using DirectX on Microsoft's new console is only going to be a good thing for us PC gamers, i think we all know how that turned out.

March 4, 2016 | 08:14 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Not sure what you mean, but changing the ecosystem takes time. Having a common DX12 base between XBOX and PC and similar hardware specs is a good thing.

Remember that games often takes YEARS to develop and DX12 is only just now starting to be a thing.

Fast forward about THREE YEARS and you'll see game developers using tools that make a game for PC and XBOX ONE mostly at the same time, with scaling capability for the variety of PC hardware built in (resolution, aliasing, shadows, tessellation etc dynamically adjusted).

So nothing has "turned out" yet, it's really just getting started.

March 5, 2016 | 04:45 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I thought it was clear, people said how it would only be a good thing for PC gamers that Microsoft was entering the console market, now remind me how that turned out? How many half arsed ports have we had over the years?

How you can say that having a common DX12 base between XBOX and PC and similar hardware specs is a good thing is quite frankly beyond belief, Consolification wasn't even a term until Microsoft entered the console market and dragged down the quality of PC games, hows drawing the two systems even closer going to do anything but further that consolification of PC games?

March 1, 2016 | 12:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Certainly not excited for this. Have you not heard of the downsides to games from the Windows Store? Microsoft are forcing console-like restrictions

March 4, 2016 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Yes and No.
Game developers are not forced to use the Store. Microsoft is going to have to provide good value to grow a Windows store ecosystem.

It's a reasonable fear though and of course the impetus for the SteamOS ecosystem which I believe will enable Linux to grow rapidly.

Microsoft needs to be very careful now because we're getting too many other choices. Now, a closed ecosystem DOES have some advantages to ensure reliability (in theory) and ease of development so we'll have to wait and see how that pans out.

March 5, 2016 | 04:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Game developers aren't forced to use the Store yet, who knows how much longer Microsoft is going to support win32 binaries.

Microsoft also don't have to provide good value, they'll do what they normally do and throw money at developers to make their games exclusive to the Windows Store.

March 7, 2016 | 05:53 PM - Posted by Ramon (not verified)

Exactly. No .exe executable, no mod, no nothing but authoritarian control!

March 1, 2016 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is all fine and good, but this will likely interfere with mods, hacks, and running private/dedicated servers.

March 1, 2016 | 01:14 PM - Posted by madhatter256 (not verified)

Why do you need mods/private servers? So you can build levels of real-world settings for tactical training? source: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/UnNews:SAS_to_use_Counter-Strike_as_t... & http://slashdot.org/story/06/10/02/1631208/videogames-used-to-train-terr...

Or do you want private servers to use as cover for covert communication with rebel groups??

Sorry, but big brother is slowly encroaching on us PC gamers and only want us to play games that titillate our senses (i.e., Tomb Raider) while also conditioning us for war (i.e. Call of Duty/Gears of War) so that we join the military thinking it's a cool thing to do.

They don't want us to be able to modify a game or run private servers of older games that we love and enjoy. They don't want us to install a game off a CD made in 2000 for fear that program will run separate (outside) of the OS preventing the OS from "seeing" what we are doing. They want us to play the current version of Call of Duty where another Hollywood actor portrays a corrupt President. Or a newer version of Farmville/candy crush to get us acquainted with clerical/marketing skills and the newer version of Angry Bird so we can safely dump our built-up negative emotions that we have from being a in a boring life while riding on a crowded bus/subway on our way to a meager paying job.

Nah. This can't be true!

March 4, 2016 | 08:29 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Uh.. what?

Most of what you talk about is a result of economics not some Orwellian dystopia.

COD and similar games are common because many people enjoy shooting things.

The modding issue in terms of the Microsoft cross-platform initiative is more about reliability and may even change.

Do you really think there is a branch of government stamping out modding capability?

Maybe you were joking?

March 1, 2016 | 12:36 PM - Posted by ChuckyDB (not verified)

I'll trully believe it when I see Halo 5 on Pc. Until then, the just announced pay to win joke that is Forza Apex worries me!

March 1, 2016 | 12:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As pc gamer you guys are unreal never happy about anything...this is only plus to pc gaming.
Its not like we would get these xbox exclusive otherwise.
If you don't like then don't play simple as that.
As for Microsoft store it's new and things need to be ironed out everything has a beginning even steam had its problems so chill tfo.

March 1, 2016 | 01:19 PM - Posted by remc86007

I agree. I am more fearful of Steam's market dominance than Microsoft becoming a problem for PC gaming. Everybody hated Origin when it launched, and now it is a very competent client. Competition is good.

March 1, 2016 | 07:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Steam and Origin don't also own the OS and the most used development framework, DirectX.

It's better to have a third party, impartial steward for games like Steam than Microsoft, who could at the drop of a hat, make DirectX13 exclusive to Windows Store and UWA framework if they get enough marketshare through their Windows Store, eliminating all competition.

March 4, 2016 | 08:38 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

True, and the second part is a valid concern to some.

However, I'm fairly certain the MS Store will never have enough market share to be a worry.

And they can't suddenly force DX13. That's not how it works. Don't forget we've got a hardware GPU, PS4, and XB1 that have specific hardware capabilities, and of course games take years to develop for.

If MS tries to flex their muscle too much they'll have problems and I think they mostly realize that. They need to balance the pros of a somewhat closed ecosystem (for games that choose the Store) with the cons of that same system (maybe no mods, private servers whatever) to provide value.

There is no "drop of a hat", it's a complicated ecosystem with currently lots of choice emerging with other platforms and competing API and OS options (Vulkan on PC, Vulkan on SteamOS, mobile etc).

March 1, 2016 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Last time Microsoft did anything for pc gaming they gave use GFWL. I will not trust them again, they do not understand what we want.

March 1, 2016 | 02:57 PM - Posted by Lando (not verified)

...this is only plus to pc gaming.

I fail to see how this would be good for PC gaming. Phil Spencer says "Our goal is to make UWP [Universal Windows Platform] the best platform for game developers and gamers to support, but we know we’ve got room to grow." - article
To me it sounds they try to tie more and more developers and games into their systems. As a PC gamer it would mean that we would be even more tightly dependent on Microsoft's services and they would have ever tightening grip on us.

Wouldn't you like to control how do you play games on PC? For example one Windows 10 machine, one Windows 7 and one SteamOS in living room. All the machines running the same games and using the same save files.

March 4, 2016 | 02:29 AM - Posted by ppi (not verified)

Question is, if you are not reading into his words waaay too much.

Having ambition making UWP the best platform for devs means also positively the best. I.e offer better environment than Steam in a positive way. Not crippling Steam so that UWP can survive. And if this is MS ambition, I can wish them best luck.

Real implementation is another matter. So as long as Steam/GoG/Origin/battle.net run unhindered, the worst thing to happen would be just ignoring Windows Store.

March 1, 2016 | 01:11 PM - Posted by Lando (not verified)

Worrying news. PC gaming should become more open not closed. I would like to see Microsoft supporting and pushing open standards forward instead of vendor lock-in PC gaming to their systems.

March 1, 2016 | 02:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Really? You have EA and Origin already doing that no? Also Steam has no real competition that I am aware of. So if Microsoft becomes a steam of some sort how is that not competition? What is the percentage of ames Microsoft produces vs the rest of the market? can not be overwhelming.

March 1, 2016 | 02:42 PM - Posted by Alamo

after over a decade of microsoft holding back PC gaming through API to be in check with their console, now they will just bring it to a full stop, why would you invest 2k$ on a PC to have the same on a 300$ console?
mucho mobile phone games port to PC plz.
the sad part is M$ used the naivety and greed of ppl, offered them free upgrade to Win10, to have enough install base to speed up the changes they want, ppl lose more than what gain from that free upgrade, i wish ppl roll back to win7.
now everything is on the hands of software Devs, if they pick vulkan or help ruin PC and pick DX.

March 4, 2016 | 08:49 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

You forget that the EXPERIENCE won't necessarily be the same on PC. A good system might run better textures, 4K, 100FPS average in asynchronous mode on PC. On the XB1 it might be 900p, 30FPS, lower visual quality.

And the MS Store is only for SOME games. Developers can use it, and can have the same game on Steam too (the Store version must conform to certain restrictions though that may be a GOOD thing such as working on a phone as well or whatever).

I don't understand the logic of "pick vulkan or help ruin PC and pick DX" as that isn't remotely what's going on.

Game developers simply choose the tools that work best for them. They may transition to Vulkan, or do DX12 on Windows/XB1 and use Vulkan for SteamOS or whatever.

March 1, 2016 | 02:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For years people have complained about the console-ification of PC games and Microsoft answer is to take it to the next level, so much for DX12 bringing in a new era of gaming, now Windows store games will be developed to run on the lowest common denominator.

March 4, 2016 | 08:54 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Probably the lowest common denominator for some games, but...

1) that may make sense for lots of games that you want to play on PC then play on phone too.

2) Game developers can still build their game to scale according to the hardware.

Obviously some MINIMUM needs to be done there if the game works on a phone too.

*Some pretty technically advanced games are coming to the Store which will look much better on a PC. I see nothing about some of these visually that is different from other modern games you can get on Steam.

Basically, I think people are making up worst-case scenarios but don't understand what's really going on.

March 1, 2016 | 06:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Congratulations...that fancy new rig you just built? It's been stolen(read: hijacked) and it's now owned by Microsoft asv a Microsoft console pc...that YOU paid for. Welcome to your free Windows 10. The end of ownership of your pc and the information on it. Mafiasoft. Period. End.

March 1, 2016 | 07:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sucks, I was really looking forward to playing Gears of War on PC - to the point where I was going to make a separate partition just for the W10 and GoW (because like hell I'd downgrade to W10 otherwise).

Oh well, Microsoft will be Microsoft.
It's a shame but all gamers on PC can hope for is that developers Vulkan over DX12 and Microsoft's bribes.

March 4, 2016 | 09:00 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

So you won't play Gears of War because you would need Windows 10?

(I was annoyed it wouldn't be on Steam, then stopped and asked myself why? It's the same game. I'm not sure what my reasons are there.)

W10 may have growing issues (every Windows version has BTW), but it's better in many ways than previous and is constantly improving.

What IS your plan for your PC in the long run when Windows 7 (I'm guessing) gets increasingly incompatible with future hardware and software?

March 2, 2016 | 03:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You only have to look at the history of DirectX to see how this is going to play out, DirectX used to be updated on an almost annual basis before Microsoft entered the console market, then it only got updated when Microsoft released a new console, heck we had to wait almost a decade for them to update DirextX to properly support multi-core CPUs and even then AMD had to give them a kick up the backside.

I can't see them frequently updating Xbox hardware especially when you consider the costs involved in bringing a new console to market and the probable reluctance of console gamers to be shelling out $300+ every year or so.

March 4, 2016 | 09:05 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Except...
There is no single PC. We have a lot of machines that aren't nearly as good as the XBOX ONE's hardware.

This is why PC games have settings so you can scale features like resolution, anti-aliasing, shadows etc.

DX12 even brings in features to allow great muli-GPU usage (if supported) like two different GPU's working on the same frame.

Whether the XBOX gets a new console has little impact IMO on the PC. It will likely be an updated, x86 APU (probably a Polaris/Zen architecture).

When the XBOX updates the developers will simply have a faster version but will still have the XBOX ONE. They'll simply used the XBOX ONE as the minimum spec and have the same game on PC, and XBOX TWO at appropriate quality settings.

March 5, 2016 | 05:03 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And we have a lot with better hardware than the Xbox One, but i fail to understand why the number of PCs with better or worse hardware than the Xbox one is relevant, if anything that points to people not bothering to upgrade because they only need to keep pace with consoles.

Yes DX12 brings in features to allow muli-GPU usage if supported, but firstly that has to be supported and secondly we know very little about how useful that feature is going to be, and lets not forget that DX12 finally brings in support for multicore CPUs over a decade after we had multicore CPUs.

March 2, 2016 | 03:41 AM - Posted by Bob123456 (not verified)

So is the endgame to this that the Xbox runs not just games but other applications like Office, Photoshop,etc and that you buy these apps from the Microsoft store only? And you can only buy the upgrades from Microsoft only, like Apple, unless you risk voiding your warranty or license agreement,like Apple? So basically Microsoft wants to go all Apple and control the hardware, software, the upgrades and the programming languages. In what way is this good news?

March 4, 2016 | 09:11 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

No company is going to have STORE exclusivity unless it makes financial sense (Microsoft or paid by Microsoft). So it won't affect many titles.

Some apps will make a lot of sense to work on PC, W10 phones/tables, and XB1 but there won't be too many of them.

I don't think Photoshop makes sense on a console, nor would Adobe limit itself to the Store (they are transitioning to their own subscription based service similar to Microsoft's Office 365).

*I really don't see any concern for what's going on.

March 2, 2016 | 04:07 AM - Posted by Bob123456 (not verified)

Oh, and lets not forget how lazy publishers get when they realise they dont have to optimise for hardware and can make 'batman games that need 12 gigs of ram'. Not to forget the incessant focus on graphics, graphics and graphics.

This success of this very much depends on how expensive the upgrades are and whether they are necessary to do when released. Currently,consoles offer very good value for money over the lifetime of its ownership by the mere fact that any and every game released for that console is guaranteed to work without the need for new hardware. Not to forget how much easier they are to use and setup for the average Joe. Being a PC owner for more than 10 years I have not experienced that over many upgrades,especially the former.

What companies maybe should do is is reduce the refresh cycle to maybe 4/5 years instead of 7 and bring in different kind of apps(with their respective optimisations) so people can do more with their consoles than just play games.

March 4, 2016 | 09:24 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

I think "guaranteed to work" is a bit of a stretch though. Remember Skyrim on the PS3?

And value depends on several factors such as the price of games. Many games on Steam are much cheaper than console.

I do agree the PC ecosystem can be incredibly frustrating, but it's getting better. I hope W10 as a service will go a long way to help that by avoiding breaks in driver support (my dad upgraded to W7 to discover his $2000 film scanner had no 64-bit driver support. aaargh.)

"more with their consoles than just play games"

Well... consoles are mainly meant to be in the living room and controlled by a game controller (or voice, or flapping your arms). If you want MORE than this, then we have desktop PC's to fill that niche.

"reduce the refresh cycle"

The cycle is tied to maximum profitability. The next XBOX should be an APU upgrade so I don't see many difficulties there (new APU, avoid eSRAM, more memory, maybe drop BD player and DONE!).

The XBOX1/PS4 are already pretty powerful machines for basic tasks so there's no pressing need to upgrade hardware to add traditional desktop PC programs. That's not the issue.

Also, we're an increasingly networked society. Many things will end up as simple apps as a gateway to processing on a server so local processing power need not be an issue. We're not really there yet, but that's where it's headed (for when it makes sense, uploading a large 4K video to render elsewhere won't make sense for a long time).

March 2, 2016 | 05:06 AM - Posted by Justin150 (not verified)

Am I excited - no

For the absolute best in graphics I use my PC for gaming, consoles just cannot match it

I want 21:9 wide screen gaming - I need a PC

4K @60Hz need the PC (and a top end graphics card).

There is nothing wrong with console gaming, consoles are remarkable value compared with a top end PC.

Consoles and PC gaming are two different but overlapping markets

March 2, 2016 | 08:13 AM - Posted by Brent P (not verified)

I'll give Micro$haft ONE YEAR before I use this command via Powershell:

Get-AppxPackage *windowsstore* | Remove-AppxPackage

March 4, 2016 | 09:26 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

Or alternatively, just don't have a link viewable to the Store.

March 2, 2016 | 08:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wouldn't be surprised to see Ms turn my $10,000 rig into a distributed computing machine oh look you have 2 Titan X we can use the unusable vram and cuda for helping others get better gaming experience's oh and you got windows 10 even better we can do this and not have to tell you were doing it.

March 2, 2016 | 09:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is correct, with windows 10 M$ plans to make users just another node on Redmond's cloud! All those GPU/CPU cycles will be used for M$'s bot network of ad pushing, and OS forcing! Sure go ahead and spend on that expensive CPU/GPU hardware, but with M$ in control of your PC, and that universal app ecosystem(TIFKAM's BACK!) expect your gaming experience to be brought down to a console level lowest common denominator! Your gaming will be gimped, and your hardware pressed into the ad delivery service, all while your personal metrics are slurped to be sold to any and all with the cash to pay M$! That windows 10 EULA allows M$ to have its way with users' hardware!

March 4, 2016 | 09:30 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

The EULA in no way allows Microsoft to send data for you to process as you describe.

It's also worth noting that some information makes SENSE to share provided it's anonymous. It can allow companies to determine what features you want or don't want.

Anonymous medical records has even advanced cancer treatment. A large number of records were uploaded and the computer found specific patterns of cell clusters around cancerous cells that researchers had though not significant. They were.

March 2, 2016 | 07:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What ive been wanting for many years, Keyboard and Mouse for FPS on console.

March 4, 2016 | 09:34 PM - Posted by Photonboy (not verified)

You can:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Jep24S600

March 7, 2016 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Ramon (not verified)

When it comes to M$, "scared" is the only valid option...

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