Let’s not beat around the bush – Universal Windows Apps on Xbox One are a BIG DEAL. Yes, even if you are a gamer who only uses the Xbox to play games and refuses to even look at an App – and if that’s who you are, then I’m glad you have read even this far. Please, read on. It’s worth it, trust me.
First, a little background. Inside your Xbox One there beats a Windows 10 heart. It’s not the only heart in there, but it’s probably the one that will beat most significantly in the console’s future. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s future, and the future of Xbox. Windows 10 is ‘Windows as a service’ – an Operating System that runs across all your connected devoices. Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones – and your Xbox.
Universal Windows Apps will run on any Windows 10 device without the need for different versions for each device. The developer codes once and that code runs on ANY machine. Its a win for the developer, a win for Microsoft, and a win for users. A year ago Microsoft demoed a universal app running on Xbox One – and last week Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reiterated that Universal Windows Apps are definitely part of Xbox One’s future. According to our good friend Phil Spencer, on 30 March at the Build conference in San Francisco, we can expect to hear a lot more.
We will discuss our next steps with the Universal Windows Platform at //build later this month.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 4, 2016
This opens the door for Mail, Photos – in fact any Universal Windows App (Jetpack Joyride, anyone?) – to run happily and natively on the Xbox One on (usually) the biggest screen in the home.
But what about the games? Calm down, I’m getting there.
If you have had half an eye on the news you’ll know that the Xbox and the PC (at least, Windows 10 PCs) are on an inevitable collision course – even down to the prospect of this (or future) consoles having more PC-like and less console-like evolutionary steps. There were cries of fanboy angst when it was announced that Quantum Break – previously an Xbox exclusive – would land on Windows 10 PCs (I still don’t get that. Surely more people playing the game you want to play is a good thing – or at least not a reason to boycott the game, like some entitled idiots?) and many more franchises look to be heading to Xbox.
Universal Windows Apps are built on the Universal Windows Platform. Microsoft has big plans for the Universal Windows Platform and – despite Epic’s Tim Sweeney blowing this out of all proportion – this is a positive for everyone involved.
Potentially, UWP brings a console-like simplicity to PC gaming. Potentially, UWP brings more software – including games – to the Xbox.
Potentially, this is Xbox One’s biggest development to date.