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GDC 2015: The Windows 10 and Xbox One event in-depth

Since Windows 8, Microsoft has had the vision of creating a unified Windows experience that reaches from your phone to your television. Part of that vision allowed consumers to take a game or app with them wherever they go.

Back in January at the Windows 10 event, Microsoft teased this experience with Windows 10 coming to Xbox One. However, they left us wondering how exactly it would work. Well, today at GDC, Microsoft went in depth about how Windows 10 will help transform Xbox One and gaming on PCs.

Microsoft started out today's GDC talk with announcing that the Windows 10 Store and the Xbox Live SDK will allow developers to bring their games to phones, computers, and even the Xbox one. Their mission is to help developers reach their consumers from anywhere and everywhere. Microsoft stated that gaming used to be a core part of Windows and then it somehow lost its way.

Windows 8 App sales are abysmal, and Microsoft sees it as nothing short of a failure. So with Windows 10 they want to change that and make gaming an optimal part of the Windows once again. First off, Phil Spencer detailed that if you develop for Windows 10 you are essentially developing for Xbox One as well. This is due to all of Microsoft's devices sharing the "Windows Store."

Windows 10 ID@Xbox games

The Windows Store will allow consumers to buy a game or app and have it at the ready with another device. So no more worrying about buying a game twice since the store now fully supports cross-buy. Some of these games include Shovel Knight, Cuphead, and Swordy that all have worked with ID@Xbox on Xbox One. This program for indie developers will also extend its reach out to devs that want to build games to its other Windows 10 devices such as phones, tablets, and even HoloLens.

Windows 10 will also allow cross-platform play so that anyone on PC can play an enabled Xbox game against their friends in games such as #IDARB, Gigantic, and Fable Legends.

All of these things will be possible through the XDK, (Xbox SDK) which begins its staggered launch starting today. Remember when the Xbox Live SDK leaked a couple of weeks ago, and Microsoft didn't mind. Well, this is probably why they didn't. The XDK is special in that it has universal app binaries that target all devices for each CPU architecture. That just means that no matter what device you develop for it will run optimal even if it is on a phone.

This procedure also means that developers no longer have to port from one Windows device to the next since they all are built on one app platform, and they share the same code. As for the certification process, it will take as long as usual with things on Xbox One and HoloLens being a little longer with them having unique certification processes.

Phil Spencer, Mike Mika, Chris Carla

All in all Microsoft is taking all of the right steps to become an even bigger presence in gaming with its 1.5 billion devices that will be upgradeable to Windows 10. They expect to see stronger developer interest in developing for Windows 10 more than any other console to date.

As for consumers, we have consistently wanted to run our favorite games from our TV to our phones or tablet all while saving progress and having little interruption. Well, Windows 10 seems to be the answer for that.

We'll have more info regarding the news that released today, when we go hands on tomorrow at a special event. Keep it tuned here to Windows Central for more news surrounding Windows 10 and GDC!

54 Comments
  • Nice! Looking forward to Gigantic, and Smite!
  • Cuphead!
  • It sounds like they want to add more games to the windows store (PC) just for the sake of having more titles available. People don't want to play their mobile or console games on the pc- they want to play them on the devices they were designed for. Porting over big Xbox one games does make sense for certain games, but they have already been doing that. Having a unified store isn't going to change things significantly.
  • You're going to be able to play them! Either touch screen or with a controller depending on what the Dev implements
  • For example, I don't think too many people are playing shovel knight on the console and then are like "I'd sure like to play this on my phone where it will really excel with touch controls!"
  • No what it means that what took probably months and months to code for two three 4 devices, now is a code once experience
  • Windows 10 will undeniably be the most advanced operating system in the world.
  • I used to think that but then I saw Yosemite which already has better phone-desktop integration then what W10 is proposing for the fall. Cross platform notifications, SMS, passing off phone calls, etc. I don't like osx personally but they are already ahead when it comes to next level integration.
  • That's exactly what win 10 will be able to do. Not to mention the same exact apps on your phone and PC. OSx obviously can't do that.
  • Windows 10 will have many of those features, and will easily add more without significant OS updates, thanks to their appcentric approach :)
  • Yes, many of those features LONG after has implemented them.  Apple has already accomplished this without having to release new OSes, it works with iOS8 and OSx and no "common core" was needed.
  • Nice trolling!
  • what do you mean without having to release new OSes? Yosemite and IOS8 are new. Syncing some telephone features is different than making it possible for programs to run on multiple form factors. You thought that games running on different devices wasn't major. i don't think hanoff feature is major. who wants to comtinue a phone call on a tablet when the phone is in their pocket? i think Apple will find most people win't take advantage of these features.
  • iOS8 and Yosemite and more like updates to their predecessors, whereas W10 is more of a major overhaul (not a complete rebuild from the ground up).  The point I was trying to make is that MS starts over every two years; the started over with WP8 because they wanted to have a unified core with Windows 8.  Meanwhile iOS and Android were releasing updates and building on their existing OS, not having to spend time rebuilding what they already had.  This is a big reason why MS is always playing catch up.   Handoff is a big feature, and I guarentee you that W10 will be implementing a very similar thing.  It isn't just about phone calls, right now it works with 8 or so core apps that allows you to pick up on the other device where you left off.  Google the feature and see what I mean, Windows fans will be going nuts when its released for W10. Universal apps doesn't magically mean that the desktop and mobile work together, they still have to code it just like Apple had to code their ios8 and yosemite integration.  Now i understand that universal apps may make it easier to code cross platform, but developers still won't care for the same reasons they don't now.  They'd still rather make apps for android and iOS, because that is where the market share is.  Universal apps is not going to increase market share, just like shared core with W8 and WP8 did nothing.
  • Eh, I disagree. Handoff is great and I want it, but the folks at iMore report that it doesn't work very well. And Apple still doesn't have the same universal app initiative just yet, and Siri is still limited to mobile.
  • That's been my experience too. I love the SMS relay and use that feature all the time without any issues. Phone calls work fine too, but I don't always use it (like when I don't have headphones on). But the other handoff and continuity features have been pretty hit or miss. I've tried so many times to start typing a text on one device and I'll see the little icon on the other to initiate the handoff, but I'll click it and nothing will happen. Sometimes I won't even see the handoff icon appear. That aspect needs more work before I could depend on it full time.
  • It may not work now, but by the time W10 comes out I'm sure Apple will have it working flawlessly.  W10 will be behind in this regard, probably won't even have all those features at launch, so it will be over a year before they catch up. I think apple is showing that you don't need "unversal apps" for cross platform syncing and integration- the end result is possible without it and they got the features out to market WAY before MS has.  
  • The trolling continues. ...
  • How am I trolling?  I'm making legitmate points and supporting it with evidence, whether you agree with it or not.  All you are writing is comments about trolling!  So please tell me which one of us is trolling?!?
  • I agree that apple beat Microsoft to the sms and phone calls but I don't think you understand how easy Apple has that lol... they are one OS maker and one hardware maker. They know each and every single one of the devices in both OSX and iOS the ins and outs. Microsoft saw it was only rational to go and do this on the OS level only = Windows 10 so that devices from Microsoft, htc, dell, Lenovo, asus, Samsung take advantage without them having to do anything. because all the effort will be in a universal app. I see your point, but think for a sec why Microsoft went this route over the route Apple went. and remember windows 10 isn't just about sms and calls on your PC from phone, this operating system will RUN on PC's AND Phone lol
  • Exactly. One OS for all. That's definitely NOT what apple has. Microsoft is the ONLY one who will have this. W10 is going to be beautiful.
  • Having the OS run on phones and PCs doesn't automatically give you new features; it simply makes it easier to develop on multiple platforms.  Anything MS comes up with for W10 could be used by apple on ios8 and yosemite; it may take longer to actually write it but the additional overhead is something Apple isn't worried about.  It will not in and of itself bring developers over to W10, they'd still rather develop for iOS and android because universal apps does nothing for market share.  It will simply make things easier for those who already develop for MS, not do a whole lot to bolster the platform as a whole.
  • Windows 10 already has cross-platform notifications in progress (they were mentioned at MWC) and since Messaging is a universal app I would say having your SMS on all devices wouldn't be unrealistic. Not sure about phone calls, but personally I don't think many people would take their phone calls on their computer. People rave about that feature in Yosemite but then when I ask them when they'd ever use it they always admit that it would be never.
  • You don't need universal apps to have messaging sync on all devices- thats my point.  I really think MS is wasting a lot of time retooling windows and windows phone; all that matters is that it works on the backend.   I don't think taking the phone calls on the computer is that great of a feature myself, but it just shows how much further ahead Apple is than MS in getting these features out there.  There are like 10 apps that work with handoff now, by the time W10 comes out there will probably be 50 apps that work with handoff (with the kinks worked out by then as well)
  • If the majority of people aren't going to take a call on their computer or even think it is a great feature, then whether or not Apple has it working is pointless. You're awful optimistic of Apple's future; makes me wonder if you're just trolling.
  • Bingo!
  • Quite the opposite in fact.  I'm just trying to show how far it's possible to take cross platform integration without having to go as far as rebuilding everything as universal apps.   Granted the feature isn't useful to you, but I know a lot of business people who would actually use it.  But lets just say for sake argument that it isn't that great- do you really think that there aren't a lot of gimicky features proposed for W10?  Like streaming xbox one games to your pc?  How many people do you think are sitting at their computers thinking "Hey, I really wish I could play my xbox one here rather than on the couch in front of a giant screen".  All of these companies try different gimmicky ideas, the only point I was originally making is that theyve taken the idea further than MS has thus far.
  • Apple has certainly been pushing more features that migrate the iOS and OSX experience as you have clearly stated, but the reality is that does not directly impact the success of Win 10.  Its more valuable as debate fodder on the internet.  MS has to play catch up sometimes, but the early signs point to a very nicely integrated system across a far wider variety of hardware than Apple has to deal with.  Apple has their own hardware for phones, tablets and desktops.  MS has first party tablet, phone, and gaming console hardware and then a very large group of third party oem tablets, phones, and pcs to contend with.  Let's face it, its pretty tough to get everyone on the same page software wise. It has taken MS a long time, longer than most want, but it seems like they are getting there. Plus, you cant forget that MS will be ahead in some areas over Apple in the area of integration. Cortana is a good example.  Cortana will be brought over to Win 10 pcs and even Xbox with features that Siri is simply not doing yet. This is a back and forth market.  Apple and MS will constantly go back and forth features wise. 
  • It does directly impact the success of Win 10; because like you said MS is continuing to have to play catch up.  Instead of working on new features they are spending time working on retooling more fundamental aspects of the OS.     Yes MS will have features that Apple will not, but overall they are still playing catch up with MS and iOS.  My main criticism of W10 and universal apps is that is not that silver bullet that many here think it is; it will not magically make MS leap frog over iOS and Android.  It's also not going to bring over new developers.  But it will make existing developers happier and hopefully keep them from fleeing the platform, but I suspect more will leave between now and when W10 is released.  
  • you dont fully really understand the universal app thing, do you? apps: if done right, synced notifications is just the peak of the iceberg. how about updating only once? how about really coding it almost once? and many more. do you think that phone capabilities on pc cant be made by MS? phone and messaging apps are already universal in W10. and due to being apps, they can push it ALOT faster through store updates, which are faster adopted by users than os updates. games: think about how this will decrese bad porting of console games to pc, this being a trend in recent years (assassins creed per example, from AC3 we seen some additional glitches due to bad porting from console). also no more additional time, or at least not so much, for pc porting (GTA V anyone?). additions: then again, as other ppl already said, where is siri on osx? where is that nice experience you get from using a universal app on w10 on osx/ios where even if you have the same app on both, the experience si far from "universal". im very excited for w10, but at the same time i know that it would not be enough to close app gap as others think, and also VERY scared that ms will screw it. first fear is...how do they want to finish the os by summer? with an update per month or longer...they are not going to catch up all that feedback.
  • I get that it will be easier for developers to write and update their apps, but there is still a small market share and it's not going to attract new developers.  Universal apps doesn't do anything for market share, so it's benefits will only be felt by existing MS developers. Yes, it has a lot of promise in regards to high quality console game porting.  But I really don't see this as a game changer as PC gaming will continue to be less far popular than console and mobile gaming.  I like playing some games on PC personally, but MS seems to want to try and revive a declining game platform and its not going to happen. True there is no Siri on OSx, but by the time W10 comes out I wouldn't be surprised if iOS9 and whatever OSX update has siri integration.   You're absolutely right, there is a lot that MS can screw up and I really have no faith in the W10 based on what I've seen so far.  We don't know numbers or anything, but I think there is a significant number of WP enthusiasts here that do not like a lot of UI aspects of W10 (i.e. pivot removal).
  • The streaming xbox games to PC is something that I personally think is far from gimmicky and will be very useful. My Xbox is my media cetnre on my main TV. My wife occasionally likes to watch tripe I have no interest in. Now I can pick up my Surface and play my xbox without having to move it to a different TV or even leave the room! Perfect
  • Universal apps is more than just syncing. it's about helping developers port their apps too all devices. it's about the ability to buy once and use anywhere. Apple can't do that. Syncing is easy.
  • That's kind of my point; syncing is easy and you don't need to have an OS overhaul to acheive it.  Making it easy for developers is nice, but it does nothing to increase market share.  WP8 and Windows 8 had a shared core, and MS was optimistic that it would make things easier for developers.  It did make things easier for developers but it did very little in regards to the big picture; did not attract a lot of new developers or bolster the platform overall.
  • I use it all the time on my iPad. I'm not getting up and going to race to my phone. Odds are, my iPad is sitting next to me, not my phone. If I'm at home, the phone is on its charger. Taking a call on the computer vs my phone? If I use my iPad numbers, it would be about 70% of the time. But, realistically maybe 40% of the time someone calls me at home. I have a Surface that used to follow me around. But, since every update seems to cripple my entertainment apps it sits in one place dedicated to computer duty only and iPad handles entertainment.  If I'm at the computer, I'd use it to answer the call rather getting up and getting to the phone.
  • Well hope that means we see games that come to Windows phone be released for phone and PC and vice versa. Glad this is happening. So with this will be playing beach buggy rescuing on the Xbox one?
  • Thank the heavens for Phil Spencer!
  • So good. The Xbox leadership team is finally filled with actual gamers who also have great business smarts. They're making some fantastic decisions that should give gamers a lot of faith and win them a lot of loyalty. I also love how Phil (and the new Microsoft in general) can be so honest, for instance admitting that Windows 8 game sales are terrible. It humanises them and gives customers the faith that they can and will recognise and fix their mistakes.
  • 1.5 billion products, hopefully we'll soon get some more official apps when Windows 10 comes out. :D
  • Wow this is a proposition to developers that no one else can offer! This should work out incredibly well for Microsoft :)
  • will it work like this.. If I am playing battlefield on Xbox one and my wife suddenly wanna watch tv. Then ill change the device and continue it on my phone or PC.. From where I left...if its like this.. I am sure its innovative and it will change the game for Ms ​ ​
  • That's exactly how it is designed work :)
  • Yes, but not for Battlefield. I mean only the games designed for than, not all the games. If it is a success, then more and more developers will join, but don't expect that Electronic Arts will join, at least not with their AAA games on Origin.
  • Microsoft say games work on any devices. Means our 512mb ram phones work all windows pc games!!!!!
  • of course, something like this, graphics settings after w10 will be like PC>ultra>high>medium>low>xbox one>2013 WP
  • Now which wp games requires 1GB RAM after w10 1GB RAM games runs on a 512MB RAM phone?????
  • Just because they are unifying the store and allowing cross platform gaming doesn't mean that every game has to, or will, offer it. I think you will see a lot of games that will be cross platform (and single purchase) between Xbox One and PC but not phone. It's still going to be great to be able to buy a game and have the option to play on Xbox One or the PC depending on what mood you are in, who is using the TV etc. but it's not going to magically make it possible to play Halo on your phone. I think we will see a lot of apps be available for all 3 platforms (Xbox One, PC, phone) which will hopefully help both Windows Phone as well as the desktop app markets. (I wonder which bank lets you use Kinect to scan your check for deposit first :) )
  • Kinect creeps me out man lol especially when I go see the night vision view in settings haha But yeah many possibilities Microsoft just opened up for any dev really both gaming and applications
  • You are mixing concepts. The Store apps/games will be available on all Windows 10 devices (unless developer need more memory), but the desktop games, big games, not Store games, will be able to work Xbox One-Windows 10 PC.
  • seems almost too good to be true, this is, in my opinion, HUGE, it means even RT can live, and I wont be alone with my glorious pc master race anymore, I cant wait to finally play some games with my xbox friends *The XDK is special in that it has universal app binaries that target all devices for each CPU architecture
    *Windows 10 will also allow cross-platform play so that anyone on PC can play an enabled Xbox game against their friends
  • Remember when people didn't understand what a universal app was? Well now I'm sure they do :D
  • When a person upgrades a device to W10, Microsoft should adjust pricing of apps so that it matches a device. For example, if the apps are universal, cross buy is valid, and the price of fruit ninja is $20 on Xbox one, the same price shouldn't be on the phone. If a person only has a Windows phone and doesn't use any other Windows device, for instance then $20 for a phone game, that too fruit ninja would be way too costly. Getting my point?
  • That's up to the developer to set the price.  Using your logic, let's say Advance Warfare cost $59.99 for playstation, would I need to fork another $59.99 for the PC and Xbox?  This scenario is a bit complicated because developer would need to determine instead of Microsoft adjust prices
  • Sorry but it is not like a feasible thing. Yes, it sound good for you, but it is not like things works.