The guys up at Microsoft HQ must’ve sat around the boardroom table at some point and just said, ‘You know what, why can’t everyone get along?’ And so Microsoft’s harmonious ‘Windows Family’ approach was born. Probably.
We’ve seen it with the ability to stream from console to PC, and the total obliteration of the Kinect-inspired Xbox dashboard (Kin-what?), which was replaced with a Windows 10-style UI.
By this point, the romance between Xbox and Windows 10 is somewhere around third base; on their way but not quite there. But now Jason Ronald, Xbox Product Manager, has confirmed that the two are getting even closer together. At the Game Developers Conference, he hinted that the Windows app store and the Xbox store will fuse into one later this year. It’s part of Microsoft’s ‘Journey to One Platform’.
It’s all down to the Universal Windows Platform – some nifty bit of kit that allows developers to use a single code that can be used on any Windows device. PCs, Xbox and Windows Phones – that’s a potentially big market reach Microsoft are offering devs (it’s just about as big without the phones to be fair).
But the UWP has already been under some fierce criticism. The well-known sage, and co-founder of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, reckons that the UWP concept is the ‘most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made.’ He argues that Microsoft will use the platform to monopolise the market, while shunning those who refuse to use UWP. Microsoft, pretty obviously, disagreed. Ronald believes it’s all about giving developers the freedom to choose who to target; more people on more platforms means more choice for the devs.
So if the Xbox team finally do merge the two platforms into one super-human Windows Store, what does it mean for gamers? As far as Ronald’s concerned, it’s all about keeping your head in the game. He said:
We want all your players to stay in your game. With Xbox Live, we want people to play games longer.
For Xboxers, it means you’ll could have the chance to play games originally written for PC. But on the flip-side, it could also mean trawling through a lot of poor apps in a cluttered store, and checking your Twitter feed mid-way through a Dark Zone extraction.