Microsoft launched the Xbox One with a great ambition to make it a “living room” do-it-all box, it was much more than a console. The company had to peg back that rhetoric as hardcore gamers were simply dismayed, and in fact, the unclear strategy through the early days of the Xbox One is partly the reason why the Sony PlayStation 4 is vastly outselling Microsoft’s unit.
However, while Microsoft has been doubling down on impressing gamers over the last year or so, the company’s aspirations for the Xbox One to be something more than a console remain. The advent of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) could herald the start of that shift into turning every Xbox One into a PC, and indeed every PC into an Xbox One.
Both PC and the console already run Windows 10, but it has been a casually distant relationship until now. The upcoming Anniversary Update for Windows 10 will be bringing PC and Xbox much closer. At first, this will be simply sharing the same app and games stores, which is already in previews, and the existing UWP concept of playing the same game across all devices.
An internal project discovered by Kotaku codenamed Helix is working towards integrating the Xbox One and PC together like never before. At the moment, the idea of playing an Xbox One title on a PC or vice versa is achieved by streaming the game from one platform to the other. The Verge cites sources close to Project Helix, who suggest the company is planning to introduce the ability to play Xbox One games on a PC without the need to stream from the console.
It certainly seems like a logical step for the Universal Windows Platform to take. Apps and games will be shared across platforms, so why not UI? The Xbox One system and interface are built on a Windows 10 base, so there is no reason why that same UI would not run on a PC, many of which have superior hardware to the console.
An obvious question to ask would be if users can get the full Xbox One experience on their PC, why would they need the console at all? It will be interesting to see Microsoft explain that if Project Helix comes to fruition in this form, and if it does expect fresh rumors about the closure or sale of the Xbox division.
What is clear is that Microsoft harbors plans for UWP beyond just allowing the streaming of games from PC and Xbox One. Watching the company try to convince core gamers and bring its overall strategy to the market will be compelling to see.