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There's no excuse for Microsoft not making an 'Xboy' to rival Nintendo Switch

Switch
Switch (Image credit: Windows Central)

I finally broke down and bought a Nintendo Switch. I had been eyeing the handheld gaming system for some time. The constant stream of new game announcements, including surprises like DOOM, was too much to resist. Could it really be that fun?

A week later, and I now consider myself a part of the Switch cult, an evangelist of the giant, clunky device that I now feel is as important as my smartphone.

So why hasn't Microsoft ever made a handheld gaming console? It should. It's not too late, and the company is leaving money on the table if it doesn't.

All the right pieces

The handheld gaming market is a finicky one, especially with the rise of smartphone gaming and Android. In fact, that is where a lot of mobile gaming is these days, so it seems crazy to sell a $300 device that – for many – duplicates that functionality.

Nintendo sold 15 million Switches in 2017 and it expects to sell another 20 million this year. Those sales put it in the range of the Sony PlayStation 4.

While the Switch is touted as both a handheld and console, it uses a standard USB Type-C video and audio connector found on most smartphones and laptops. It's not magic.

Microsoft, for all its shying away from consumer hardware, is in deep with gaming. Investments in Xbox, cloud gaming, and Mixer reveal gaming as the one pure consumer play that has a lot of traction.

How hard would it be for Microsoft to make a handheld gaming device? Let's check the boxes that it already has:

  • Hardware engineering group (Surface).
  • Gaming IP including original Halo series, Gears of War, and Forza.
  • Cloud abilities with Azure.
  • Windows 10 and Microsoft Store for distribution.
  • Universal Windows Platform (UWP) for games and apps.
  • Retail partners and distribution channels.
  • Gaming controller know-how.
  • Mixer game streaming.
  • Xbox brand.

Microsoft is in a unique position compared to even Nintendo, where the company controls everything from gaming content, 20 years of content, distribution, cloud computing, and even the ability to make custom silicon for hardware (see Xbox One X).

Toss in Mixer with a front-facing camera into a handheld while playing Fortnite, and it seems like a no-brainer.

Leverage nostalgia

We're at unique crossroads in technology. For the first time, we can reminisce about the "good ol' days." Nokia knows this with its recent retro phones, and Nintendo does too with mini versions of its old consoles.

Heck, I recently found my original Gameboy Advance SP, and a flood of playing SIMS on it for hours came rushing back.

Microsoft though doesn't appear to know the value of nostalgia. The idea of a handheld Xbox gaming device that ran original Xbox, Xbox 360, and even Xbox One titles would be huge. The ability to take Master Chief on the train, or do a quick Forza run (with friends) seems like an obvious sell to those yearning to replay older games.

I take that back — Microsoft does know this, which is why its Xbox One backward compatibility program is so successful. The idea of taking that technology and putting it on a handheld with the bonus of Xbox LIVE syncing and Wi-Fi connectivity seems like an obvious win.

Leverage indies from Steam

Besides getting crazy games like DOOM and even Wolfenstein II (June 2018), the Switch piqued my interest because of the sheer amount of smaller indie games. These aren't games made for the Switch, but titles that are already found and sold on Steam.

Again, Microsoft knows how talented this group is with its successful ID@Xbox program, where smaller and independent game makers can play with the big boys.

But being able to play Super Daryl Deluxe or Retro City Rampage DX next to the latest Zelda title while waiting at the DMV? Priceless.

Plus, with prices ranging from $4 to $20, these games are a lot easier to invest in than Kirby Star Allies, which fetches a stupid $60.

Microsoft Store for apps

Perhaps the one area where Microsoft could even improve upon the Switch is apps and its Store. It already has the infrastructure built. Why not let me run Netflix, Hulu, my Movies & TV collection, Microsoft Edge, and heck, even Skype, on a mobile gaming device engineered by the Surface team?

If Microsoft wants users to take advantage of the Microsoft Store, putting it in the hands of mobile gamers is better than not giving that option.

The bottom line on Microsoft and mobile gaming

Switch

Switch (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft could make a killer, portable gaming console. But the company lacks the will.

That's not conjecture, as ex-Microsoft lead Robbie Bach said precisely that in 2015 when asked about the rumored "Xboy" project. "We just couldn't focus," said Bach, "we just did not have the bandwidth."

Letting users play Halo on the go or taking advantage of UWP apps from the Store seems obvious. The company could even create a fantastic dock with external GPU acceleration to push those games to the limit for the TV.

Nintendo is proving this market is viable – even with pretty janky hardware and against a lot of initial negative press.

Even without that technology, Bethesda got DOOM to run at 30 frames per second (FPS) at just 720p on the Switch. That is hardly amazing but read the reviews. No one is complaining because the experience is terrific.

If Microsoft was smart, it would take advantage of its 20 years in gaming by going beyond backward compatibility and creating a portable brand. Mix in your ID@Xbox connections, some Surface-level of engineering, quality Xbox LIVE, and a growing market of 30- and 40-year-olds with money to spend, and this could be a hit. A huge one.

But only if Microsoft finds the will to make that happen.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

126 Comments
  • Or maybe the Surface Fold, or whatever they end up calling it, can "snap" into a sort of holder with two end controllers, and... voila!
  • Yup that IS a possibility and I thought about mentioning that. I have heard some things...
  • What things Dan?!?! Do tell!
  • How long do we wait for Microsoft to build this before we just do it ourselves? Kickstarter anyone?
  • Linx already made an 8 inch tablet with game controllers on the sides. It wasn't popular enough for them to make an upgraded version after the specs on the original started to lag.
  • You do mean Linux? And if so that's a good enough reason why it didnt last
  • No, Linx. http://linxtablets.com/
  • Droidbox made a couple as well. They sold ok I think, but trying to get people to care is difficult. Microsoft making a portable Xbox would be a huge waste of resources. Look at Sony's PSP or Vita... They did ok, but compared to a Nintendo handheld they were basically laughable.
  • Sony sold 81 million PSP. The PS Vita was a "flop" with just under 15 million.
    The Vita had the problem of bad marketing (many people didn't knew that there was a difference to the old PSP) and Smartphone gaming just got popular.
    It was the wrong time. But PSP was a huge success. And the switch is a huge success.
  • I didn't say it was a flop, I said the sales figures weren't great compared to a Nintendo handheld. For example, as you say, the PlayStation Vita sold 15 million units in the 7 years or so since it launched... The Nintendo switch moved the same amount in 10 months.
  • Maybe they wait till Andromeda completed as well as CShell.
  • They couldnt get mobile phone right. Focus on xbox and what they want to do with VR on Xbox. If having a surface team for hardware meant something, we'd all be talking about which upcoming mobile phone we all want, iphone, Android or windows phone AND which of three will be the 1st with a foldable model.
  • They couldn't get WinPhone right (and it will never be right because it's not a Windows, it something else but named after Windows, it's a 4th OS to the market after Windows, iOS and Android) that's why (after new CEO, new direction) Win10onARM happen.
  • This is correct. I think this time around it might be good because we can finally have a real windows on a phone and be able to connect it to any monitor and be able to use windows apps and not mobile apps on it.
  • Well considering WOA and its optimization, i had my hopes for this whilst Microsoft could simply push their device as an all in one replacement for the mobile form factor of entertainment or communication else both? and its daily usage would be chosen by its consumers preference; if it be a replacement for a phone, a simple portable PC or a mobile gaming platform ? i can only assume but i'm quite glad of this WOA existence itself, cause right now the doors are wide open to many possibilities.. and i am a fan of "many possibilities" rather than just one.
  • Even with the current state of the Windows Store, that is literally ALL I want from a mobile device.
  • Best thing, if its running Windows on ARM, you can install MAME on it and have access to lots of classics.
  • I'm kind of fond of the name Surface One. I think Surface Fold sounds a little lame. Surface Note? Well there's already a Galaxy Note. Surface Journal? Kind of boring. Surface One... the first true pocketable pc! And they've already had success with xBox One. So gamers already relate to the name. Give Surface One some strong portable gaming features and... boom! There you go MS... now you don't have to pay some guy a million dollars to come up with the perfect name! :0)
  • Ooooh! I like that! Then in the near future, new device will be call Surface 2, Surface 3 and so on.☺
  • I like "Surface Jot"
  • I'd go for Surface Please. Can you hand me the Surface Please.
  • Yeah, I can understand they don't want to build a portable Xbox with lower performances, but Xbox snap-on gamepad for their mobile devices, with Win32 x86 and UWP compatibility, would make a lot of sense.
    No risk of a specific device just for gaming, just as accessories for specific uses like they do with the keyboard cover or the Pen and Dial. This is exactly why I tried to push through the feedback hub over a year ago, would be nice to get some upvotes on it to make our voice heard : https://aka.ms/AA17ikl
  • Microsoft has a hard enough time selling the Xbox one and making first party games. I actually think it's a good idea that they stay out of the handheld area. Maybe if they did windows phone correctly and down the road made it a half phone half handheld then that would have been cool but right now they need to focus on making the Xbox better
  • Agreed
  • Yup. Microsoft missed a huge opportunity with Windows phone. Could have been a pioneer in mobile gaming.
  • Microsoft has no idea what it's doing where mobile is concerned. That much is Crystal clear.
  • I thought the headline today says...
    Sony's gaming division made $1.6b and xbox made $2.3b? And tbh, XPA runs on Win10PC, and Win10 is now available on ARM. The last thing we (game programmers) need is to be able to compile a ARM64.
  • Xboy? LOL is that like an adult version of a GameBoy? LOL... By the way, you are correct. No excuse! a portable Xbox, at least. I suggested the Andromeda device to have the ability to run XBox OS but... no....
  • There is zero reason to though that is why. MS already makes billions so why risk losing money on a risky venture like that?
  • I actually think MS needs to make Xbox a mobile gaming leader more than have a handheld. Develop for phones and tablets and iPad. Way more potential consumers that way. I have a switch and it is great, but I wouldn't launch either my idea or a handheld until they get their IP on the right track. More exclusive to move a device
  • No need for Xboy when Andromeda dual screens are enough.
  • Maybe. Not sure virtual keys, presumably, would be ideal. Now, if I can use and Xbox Controller...maybe.
  • If MS sells controller for Andromeda seperately, it will be a true handheld platform. Anyways
  • Docking it on a xbox one gamepad will do just fine imo.
  • Bluetooth gamepad controllers exclusively built for andromeda in between would be great.
  • Then it effectively becomes an Nvidia Shield, which did not do so hot.
  • But cloud gaming isn't there yet and the device will be to weak. Maybe some basic tablet games but that's all
  • I would love a device like that and buy it day one for sure
  • Agree, I would love to see mobile Xbox. Would attract more indie developers and bring more attention to MS store.
  • I see some potential. I remember when Windows Phone 7 came out, it was slightly marketed as an Xbox Mobile device with games with achievements. Today, you can take a W10M device and pair a BT Xbox controller and you have somewhat of a mobile gaming device. Via Continuum, it's a bit like a Switch in that it can be a home console as well. I've done this with an HP Elite x3 and Minecraft. I look at what's being done with PUBG mobile and Fortnite mobile and can't help but think about the potential if a controller could be used. So beyond what's mentioned here, the pieces are there without a doubt. I'd even add in Xbox Anywhere. Extend that to this mobile device and there's another benefit of Microsoft getting in this space. However, and this is in regards to me specifically, I kind of like having a non-Xbox mobile console. It gives a little bit of diversity to the games available to me. I have Forza 7 on my One X and soon State of Decay 2. On the Switch, I have Zelda and soon Smash Bros. Because of that, I don't know if I'd buy an Xbox mobile gaming console, assuming it's a stand alone gaming console. If it's something built into Andromeda, it's a different story, but something that's just a gaming console, I don't get super excited about that idea.
  • "pretty janky hardware and negative press". Neither of these statements are true.
  • No both is true. But still like it.
  • Not at all. Hardware is solid and the negative press was whether or not it would succeed. Which is typical speculation by the gaming press with anything Nintendo.
  • No, there's recently negative press on surface hardware, as consumer reports pulled ALL surface recommendations due to widespread reports of janky hardware.
  • One of those is my opinion, so true for me, so whatever. The other (negative press) was absolutely true right after its announcement where people were claiming it's the next big thing or the next big flop for Nintendo. There were barely any games for when it launched and it was NOT clear that would change as time went on. It did, thankfully.
  • At least you concede that "pretty janky hardware," was a bias opinion. However, I probably read the same so-called "negative" press you're referring, but with anything Nintendo related launching that's just the status quo. The system launched with quite possibly the greatest Zelda, if not the greatest game. One the average gamer likely sunk well over 100 hours into. So yeah it launched with only 4 games, but calling speculative coverage of whether or not they system would be successful or if there would be more developer support is hardly "negative" coverage. It's just how the gaming media has always approached a piece of Nintendo hardware.
  • I've been saying this for a few years now. Heck, even a stick style Xbox that could play all the old games would sell well. Imagine having both. MS could make a killing from games if they offered these options
  • Didn't the PSP kinda flop? Nintendo is just really good with the handheld gaming stuff, Gameboy, DS, Switch, etc. You're article makes sense, but I dunno, it just doesn't feel like it would be a successful product.
  • The PSP did sell very well back then, something over 80 million units. It was the PS Vita that 'kinda flopped'. But then again, smartphones were on the rise, and it didn't have as awesome game library as the PSP, so Sony decided not to release another handheld console...
  • That's the one I'm thinking of. Would be nice if MS teamed up with Razer or something to do a phone capable of Xbox emulation, not sure about a stand alone handheld gaming device.
  • PS Vita didn't "kinda" flop, it flopped HARD. And all of that due to Sony's bad choices.
  • The great thing is the play anywhere bit. Buy a game and have it on PC, Xbox, Xboy. Superb, a lot of value there.
  • That's the way it should be, but it isn't. I bought Microsoft Solitaire, but if I want to run it on another platform, I have to buy it again or suffer through the ads.
  • But there are already successful platforms out there. Why would MS build a 3rd one, right? ;) Seriously, the idea has merit, but I don't see it happening with the current leadership.
  • Nah, first focus on getting xbox better. We don't need another half asses Microsoft product that will eventually fail.
  • So agree!
  • Andromeda needs to be fully marketed as a mobile Xbox with phone capabilities. Don't even mention Windows. Then it might have a chance to grow an ecosystem.
  • What kind of CPU do you expect? Even emulating 360 should be impossible on a SD845
  • I simply do not expect XB360 emulation. That is not possible within the power budget.
  • Of course it is. Make a small brick and it connects to your phone via USB-C.
  • So what do you expect?
  • I keep being tempted by the switch too. I really really would like to play Doom and Wolfenstein again on the move, flights etc but I just have to keep reminding myself they cost more on the switch that I paid on the Xbox. I’d never use the switch docked for games like that (wish they did a cheaper switch without the dock tbh). A portable Xbox that ideally had plays anywhere would be amazing, or if not that at least a joined up account that would recognise you’d paid full price on Xbox so the portable version would be $20 rather than $60 to cover the porting costs.
    Still, no doubt Microsoft will not release anything portable, switch will be priced more realistically in a year and I might be able to pickup doom etc discounted and I’ll be a happy chap anyway. Spot on Dan!
  • In my experience, Nintendo games never get substantially discounted. Some big box store might be willing to take a bath on Switch titles around Black Friday, but I wouldn't expect the MSRP to budge much.
  • Well, maybe patents. Can't just rip off the Switch but with PC games (or Xbox). But if they legally can, I'd buy one.
  • Linx did this already. It wasn't especially popular.
  • Linx is the name of the device?
  • I checked... but I think Linx is too huge for gaming on the go, might as well just use XPA on Surface or Alienware. http://tabkul.com/?p=130387 I think this is a better size for portable gaming and you can dock it on your xb1x gamepad.
  • The PSP was alot more powerful than the DS, it had a great amount of exclusives, it even had GTA and that was pretty much a Dream come true, it also had some AAA games, but it sold half of the DS. Now the Switch is the only relevant Nintendo game system (sucessor of both 3DS and Wii U). Nintendo successfully made games for TWO systems but now Nintendo will focus making games on ONE system, while the MS can't even focus making games for ONE system much less TWO systems. The best they can do is make a cheap Surface tablet and make games for it.
  • This year Andromeda. Next year Xboy with custom AMD APU on 7nm. 7nm is not ready yet, so it is early for it. But it is important to be on 7nm for longer battery life.
  • Its more important that you put an ultra mobile chip into it instead of an AMD APU if battery live is of concern. As such i could see Snapdragon 845 or next years Snapdragon 855 in such a device but surely no AMD APU.
  • A SD845 couldn't even emulate 360 games. And he's talking about the mobile APUs. Just remember that the battery life of the switch sucks too
  • I was well aware what he was talking about. Mobile Raven Ridge APUs like 2500U are much too inefficient to be considered for a portable gaming device. For such devices you need to have the highest performance per Watt - because thermal and power limits are essentially given. (assuming we are talking about a device similar in dimensions to the Switch and not about a laptop)
  • So why not nvidia tegra?
    And btw 7nm should change a lot
  • Why do you say that? In terms of raw power, the Adreno 640 (which the SD845 uses) has more than the Xenos graphics in the original 360, and is far more power efficient based on smaller nodes.
  • AMD APU's are in both PS4 and Xbox One, build on old 22nm process. And they have a lot of power with very low tdp. Since then we have procesors build on 14nm, 12nm, 10nm, and next year they are going to 7nm. So it's obvious that AMD can make pretty powerfull procesors with low tdp. Especially on much better production process than old Jaguar APU's that power current gen consoles.
  • AMD is worse than Nvidia/Intel in the performance per watt.
  • Daniel, this is probably the worst advice anyone gave microsoft Ever. It's the equivalent of telling them to try one more time to win over the Japanese game market :D
  • Well, I disagree ;) I also don't hear a counter argument just a statement :P
  • J-dev won't jump to xbox... Most (remaining) Japanese core gamers don't play western games and general public don't know xbox. Retails never really pushed xbox. Consumer don't want it, and they expect all Japanese games from j-devs will come to Japanese consoles eventually (that was what happened in 360 era).
    It's hard for MS to beat that mindset.
    (I think MS should start with retails, and games for not core gamers but general public. Softbank pushed iPhone REALLY REALLY HARD like their life depend on it. But jPhones are weak and problematic so...) Except IPs like Resident Evil or Dragon Ball that have the international appeals, most jGame's target audience is Japan + surrounding Asia countries. (Western release is sorta like a "why not" thing or if someone wants to help publishing...) Years of experiences and sales taught'em that. Even "TPS" like Border Break... because xbox don't sell in Japan, it's hard for higher up to release fund for a xbox version. * Because outsourcing is cheaper, many times... company won't even fund their internal studios (you pay'em to drink coffee in the office). ps: Arcade games nowadays run on Windows but Border Break got ported only to ps4. Why not a xbox port?
    The game need to earn enough to convince higher up to release funding for a xbox port, otherwise, not happening.
  • "Why not let me run Netflix, Hulu, my Movies & TV collection, Microsoft Edge, and heck, even Skype, on a mobile gaming device engineered by the Surface team?" I can already do all of that on my phone.
  • Or your home PC. Or even your Smart TV. Neither of those is a portable gaming device like the Switch though, is it? Not sure your point, exactly. The Switch can't do any apps, which is kinda weird.
  • We already have a mobile Xbox One, it's called the GDP Win 2. But in all seriousness, there's no point in Microsoft making a dedicated handheld at this point. XBL, Game Pass and all XBO exclusives are available for all Windows 10 devices, so Microsoft doesn't need to make unique hardware anymore.
  • I actually think this makes a lot of sense. Especially when you mentioned using this device for skype and other windows apps.
  • I don't think they should.
    First of all, there is no processor available to them. X86 is no go. ARM, sure. Snapdragon's GPU is nowhere near the power they need. Switch uses NVIDIA Tegra X1, which is a very very very very old SoC. Tegra X1's GPU is very powerful for sure, but it is still weaker than Xbox360. The Xbox One backward compatibility uses emulation because Xbox360 is PowerPC. To emulate, the host machine needs to be more powerful then the emulated one.
    Secondly, Microsoft is really a company looking toward the future instead of the past. Handheld gaming device is really a thing of the past. Nintendo can sell it only because they make it soooo cheap and they put maximum effort into first party games. If you know what the Tegra X1's performance level, then you should really appreciate the effort went into Zelda. The openness and level of graphic they can achieve (especially it can do 1080p 60FPS when docked) is a optimization marvel. Microsoft will look to replace centralized computing in the next ten years, so it's probably not a good idea to start a whole new handheld ecosystem that are targeted only to a small under powered device.
  • If AMD could make those Jaguar APU's on old 22nm process, then they surely could make something much better next year on 7nm process. With Ryzen cpu cores and Vega gpu cores.
  • Technically speaking Snapdragon 845 GPU is faster than Tegra X1. We are talking about 1000+ GFlops. As reference the Xbox 360 has 240GFlops. On the CPU side the Snapdragon is much faster, we are talking 2x the performance of a Jaguar Core in Xbox One - which has proven to be able to emulate Xbox 360. So hmmm, overall it seems not impossible for a Snapdragon 845 to emulate Xbox 360 (assuming is uses similar emulation technology as Xbox One). And the best of all, the Snapdragon 845 is a <5W SoC.
  • The thing is the device could be the same when game streaming takes off. I don't see why they couldn't put out a device like that with less resolution or a degree of emulation to run Xbox games. Probably not on a Tegra, granted, nor any existing SD. But we'll see.
  • Mobile developers are busy with making games for iPhone and Android. Microsoft has to make by myself though, they don't have many exclusive games unlike Nintendo.
  • What if XPA on Win10onARM?
    XPA works on Win10PC and S-mode and WoA is a full Win10...
  • I'm not a huge gamer, but lots of workmates are, and I think you're spot on Dan. One thing MS doesn't do well is marketing. MS needs to think in terms of demographics. Who is it that is drawn to our platform, our ecosystem? And well... Gamers are a big part of who are buying PCs, and high-end PCs at that! And yeah, gamers are 30 and 40+ years old now, with lots of disposable income to spend! Younger gamers might be drawn to a portable device that does Mixer or Twitch well. But I also think MS is blowing it in other key areas. For example they pride themselves on being a "productivity" platform. Yet search for "personal finance" in the app store and tell me how many apps you would actually consider downloading? That ended for me in 2015 when Intuit pulled Mint from the app store. And yet... what on earth could possibly be more "productive" than personal finance? Why not resurrect MS Money, which they abandonded in 2012? Just like you mentioned about gaming... they have the developers... they have billions in profits to spend... they have Azure... they have UWP... the App Store... Office 365... and yet why on earth is there a personal finance app gap in the store? There's simply no excuse for it. But yeah... same for gaming. When they have seemingly every advantage possible they seem to be uninterested in something that would be a big win if nothing else for the ecosystem, the MS brand!
  • I don't think I can code a Win10 (pc, s-mode, arm, ar, mr, iot, xbox), PS4, Switch, Android or even iOS game (or app) using a not-Windows... 4k+ employees in the office I work... not just dev departments but also business departments, we all use Windows... Programmers and designers use Adobe, 3dsMax, Unreal, VisualStudio, SVN, Git, Office, Reason, Komplete, Local Server typpa applications, and most of'em are only available (or stable) on Windows. Sure, ticket system and project management tools for planers, programmers and designers are web-based and business department mostly work on the web but still, we all use Windows for synergy, consistency and outside communications. Not a productive platform then what is? * Surface Pen +finger + Adobe is quite a good combo imo.
  • I think you may have missed the point. Or at least part of the point. Of course MS is the most productive platform today, and especially is this so in the Enterprise, where I agree most desks in my company also have a PC. This in fact is the whole premise behind MS' Azure plan. They are counting on existing Enterprise customers to make them filthy rich. And it's working at least for now. Although we are seeing Apple, Amazon, and Google make definite inroads into the Enterprise. In many ways however laptops and certainly desktops are becoming less and less a productivity choice for average Consumers who can get all the productivity they need from an iPad pro and their phones. This trend in Consumer affects startup companies if not directly then passively. How? Well if I'm a developer thinking of creating the next killer app and running my business with my best friend out of my garage (which btw is how the entire 'personal' computing revolution started), then what ecosystems will I be looking to, to market my apps on? Productivity choices for consumers (i.e. "personal" finance choices) draw customers to the MS ecosystem. Customers in turn attract developers. Also, in order to package an iOS app for submission I have to have at least one Mac in my garage in order to "compile" the app for the apple store. And yes I CAN create both Apple and Google apps on a Mac just as easily as I can on a PC. So if I'm a startup, why buy both a PC and a Mac when I only NEED a Mac? These garage startups are what become the next Amazon, Google, and Microsoft with 4000+ employees. Whose cloud will they choose in 2025, 2030, and beyond? Nevertheless this is a bit of a digression from Dan's article about Gaming, but I suppose it relates in the aspect of MS not dropping the ball entirely in the Consumer space and solely resting on their laurels in Enterprise.
  • Maybe because the last time Microsoft tried to copy Nintendo they couldn't market the product worth a damn and ended up scrapping it. All they have to do is make their tablet streaming work over the internet. They don't need to make a portable gaming console. Also the best way to sell the idea is if Microsoft do go into the sim card business as well, have game streaming unmetered so you could have your entire Xbox One collection running at 4/5G speeds (which is more than enough), which should likely be the norm fairly soon, with no extra risk of added costs on top just have it factored into your monthly bill.
  • I don't understand the switch love. It's an old ass X1 with mediocre games and sales based entirely on nostalgia. It's over priced for the hardware and it doesn't perform adequately for 2018. I just don't get it. It's an over priced out dated tablet with a kinda crappy controller.
  • It's literally a home console you can take with you, if you can't see the benefits of that then I guess you aren't interested in portable gaming.
  • Breath of the Wild is a solid 8 and Odyssey is a 10. They're not available anywhere else, so Switch it is.
  • What's cool with it is the form factor, it's basically the Surface of consoles.
  • This! I would snap one of these up in a minute! A true hand held gaming unit! With real buttons, not virtual on screen buttons. But Microsoft would have to step up their game with quality control. Otherwise, this should have happened a decade ago.
  • I like the idea, but Nintendo handhelds sell because they're where Nintendo IP lives. They own that space, part and parcel. Xbox's IP has scarcely been enough to sell its home console, I just can't see it moving enough mobile units to be worth the expenditure. I'd match rather Microsoft finish out this generation and prepare for what's coming next. Chasing Nintendo's successful gimmick was nearly fatal the last time Microsoft tried it, and they were world-beaters at the time. Is now, with a resurgent Nintendo and a dominant Sony, really the time to charge head-first into a wall that pretty much everyone BUT Nintendo has crashed and burned into?
  • I like the idea of a portable gaming unit for Xbox. No idea how powerful it'd be though. What would really set it apart from the rest? I like the idea of a foldable PC/smartphone. Then use a controller or 4 for head to head gaming. Fold it to tent mode and play versus. 1v1 or 2v2. Or team MMO with another group with similar devices. If the controllers were foldable too and act as their own devices, that'd be killer. Foldable phablets linked together to play games and collaborate on projects. After you're done playing, you can still get that workload to your boss in time on the same device.
  • The "magic fairy dust" for Nintendo is their IP. Sorry by MS has no one to challenge the gaming pull of Mario, Link, etc. These are games people have been playing since the 80s and that is what is selling the Switch, not Skyrim and Doom. Sony tried the "mature" handheld with the Vita and it died (though I have one and love it). MS would suffer the same fate as the Vita, middling sales followed by poor game support (evidence, look at the pathetic state of Play Anywhere on PC with regards to Marquee games)
  • I was going to comment, but you said everything word for word that I was going to. Love the Vita, but its dead and niether Sony or MS is going to make anything like it anytime soon.
  • Spoken perfectly. Unless Microsoft can get a mario or zelda license to run on this portable, its not worth it. Those here in favor of a handheld device are simply looking for a new Microsoft device to buy. Windows mobile left such a huge void that many of us would jump at the chance to buy anything close to a windows phone, be it andromeda or an Xbox Go. It can be difficult letting go of technology that had so much potential, but it is what we must do.
  • Look at the piss poor job they are doing with WMR. Who would thought that with vive and oculus already available for years that Microsoft would not been able to come out the gate swinging and snatching market share from htc and oculus left and right with something so impressive forbthe simple fact that they OWN the very PC which makes WMR possible. It hasnt even been a year and WMR is struggling just to stay relevant. Hell, even the name Windows Mixed Reality is a fail because it VR and not AR/VR.. Imagine buying a Flying Car Model S, just to find out it really doesnt fly.
  • This is a terrible idea. Microsoft simply does not have the chops to deal with mobile gaming. They would lose to Nintendo so hard it would only be an embarrassment, just like Sony did, TWICE. If they couldn't succeed in the mobile phone arena, they have no chance at all in portable gaming.
  • NO for 3 reasons.
    1) There are many related but even more important tasks that are not close to complete or maybe not even started, e.g., VR on Xbox, Project Andromeda, more 1st party games (not the ones that repeat every years) and new 1st party IPs. It's hard to believe Microsoft could assign enough resources for handheld gaming device in this situation.
    2) Frankly speaking, Microsoft doesn't quite match with customer and mobile in general, and more likely to fail when combine both.
    3) Switch sale doesn't because the device, but more because of Mario, Zelda, and upcoming Pokémon, Fire Emblem. If we believe vgchartz, top 9 games on Switch are either Nintendo games, or based on Nintendo IPs. Could Xbox games or IPs be as strong? I would think instead of XBoy, try to make Project Andromeda great for gaming is something more likely to be success. I know it doesn't have physical buttons, but that could be solved by providing official cover that designed in a way that could attach controller, similar to Switch, and you could even play it as single screen (Switch), or dual screen (3DS).
  • “Microsoft is in a unique position compared to even Nintendo” Um, no they’re not. Nintendo has been making handheld consoles for over 30 years. Microsoft hasn’t.
  • Microsoft has had a huge opportunity into making a portable Xbox the moment they made the Xbox app for every smartphone manufactured. Yes they could have made a dedicated device that plays Xbox games but they could've disrupt the console and mobile market just by making the Xbox app the front end to access all xbox games. What Xbox fan wouldn't want to be able to play Xbox games on their windows 10 laptop, tablet and phones like the Razer or even the now defunct Windows 10 mobile? They're not only missing the boat, they don't even know that ship has sailed already.
  • I think making Xbox Play Anywhere a mandatory standard is the key. Developing games for Windows first and then building in different graphics levels and presets to allow scaling up and down on different hardware would enable devs to target one platform, one store, and several relatively standardized hardware configurations for optimization. This is what would truly make Xbox Play Anywhere a success and is the key to keeping Windows as the gaming platform of choice.
  • I bought a switch when it came out I rarely played it. Even my kids don't really play it. I have to basically beg my 3rd grade son to take it to school for technology day when they can play games and stuff. But I can't find a tv (or pc)in the house that these damn kids aren't playing Fortnite on the Xboxes or watching youtube videos...about Fortnite.
    I think Nintendo is in a unique position to succeed with a mobile gaming system like the switch. I don't think MS could pull it off. I just see it as an extra device that I could use my phone or tablet or laptop to do the same thing plus much more.
  • There is already a device that's doing that. It wasn't a big success though. The controller was even developed together with MS from what I read online.
    Linx 8 Tablet or Vision 8 Tablet:
    https://m.windowscentral.com/linx-vision-8-xbox-streaming-tablet-lot-bet... I got it for only €60,00 from iBood. It's priority is streaming. And sadly they only put a 32bit UEFI BIOS in it, which is why you can only run 32b Windows 10 on it. But XBOX Streaming works great, even have PS4 streaming working fine with Gamepad Emulator software and older Steam games work fine on the Atom CPU in it.
    For the price I am happy with it, it is a bit clunky compared to my Switch but it works fine.
  • I don't see it. Nintendo has a serious strangle hold of the handheld market. Even Sony who actually has good backing from Japan failed at competing with Nintendo. Xbox an American company I don't think would stand a chance even with all these good idea included
  • So basically a GPD Win with more powerful hardware and xbox branding
  • I love the Switch. I picked one up for my daughter last year. I play it more than her. PC and Switch for me now. It virtually killed my Xbox One...it demoted it to only a media box... A Xbox portable doesn't make sense to me. I've been burned by too many MS products in the near past too even consider buying something like this. The Switch has been out slightly over one year...it already has better exclusives than Xbox. A portable version of the Xbox won't help.
  • The reason why MS can't sell a Xbox in asian markets is the reason why they shouldnt build a handheld. It wouldn't sell over there. The Switch which I own is selling out everywhere and not just in specific markets.
  • How many people that own a Switch actually take it anywhere? I know I don't. As much as I like the idea of a portable Xbox, and would buy one from the get-go, it just wouldn't get used.
  • I do, i take it to work, I've played it more undocked than I have docked.
  • No reason why not use "surface phone" or any surface for it. Point is to have everything in one device, thats what mobile device(phone) is and gaming is also on the rise On them. For now its one W10, in future it will be one device(using virtual computers and AR).
    BTW it would be great way to make use of AR in real world and get into it, funy AR characters/buying/translation is far from full performance.
  • Not when they can't even keep it together regarding the Xbox One.
  • XboxBoy wouldn't do as well (look at 3ds vs Vita) but Xbox Switch would be pretty cool. Currently Nintendo's online services are pretty bad, it would be the perfect opportunity to create a more powerful, dockable console that exploits this!
  • Unfortunately, I think there are more cons than pros for Microsoft creating a mobile gaming device. IMO, the biggest con is that there are too many ducks that need to be lined up in a row. In order for Microsoft to succeed they'd need to standardize several things like minimum chipset for all their games to run on, hard drive and ram speed, controllers, lining up rival digital game retailers to sell on Microsoft's platform, trying to convince devs to support yet another console, idiot proofing game installs (i.e. a curated game store), coming up with a marketing plan, etc etc. Meanwhile, trying to convince gamers to not buy the perfectly acceptable Switch. If Sony couldn't get all this done, it's hard to imagine Microsoft doing better. Still, a truly pocket-able PC gaming device is freaking tempting. And the multi-media capabilities would be amazing.
  • I've love for Andromeda to take gaming seriously. But I wouldn't want a portable games station. I think Microsoft is right to cater the device towards businesses first, and offer gaming capabilities on the side.
    I would like to see a variant of Windows CoreOS that has the subsystems that businesses need, but then also the stuff gamers want, and the shell adapts when you switch to game mode; maybe even a full Xbox OS as the gaming shell. That said, there's a real risk in being a jack of all trades and a master of none with this device. However I think you're right in saying they have a broad library with a lot of depth to help build their gaming case with a device like this, and I hope they recognise that and use it.
  • WP8 was the perfect time and would have probably saved WP and been a product on its own without phone features if users didn't want it to make Calls. WP8 was when it should have happened, and it wouldn't have required a specific device from Microsoft, just the few extra steps to complete what WP8 was lacking. Rumor says that these pieces were held back with the Sinofsky cutting off the WP8 team. First... WP8 should of had XB360/One controller support, even if it was a custom controller just for WP8 devices - OEMs would have bundled it and users would have dropped $30 for it. (Ideally it would have been the Xbox One S controller, just a few years early.) WP8 missed the mark by not getting Xbox game publishers involved. Here is a device that had a really good graphical framework and great graphical performance that Apple and Android were not able to offer yet. Sadly - this is where things hit hard blocks... The Windows 8 team didn't follow through on device interface APIs/drivers for WP8 - so no controller support and pieces of DirectX were fully finished to Win8 levels. (Again, rumor is Sinofsky's people was giving Joe's team the eff you.) The Windows 8 team also didn't bring over the existing WP8 frameworks - meaning WP8 Apps wouldn't run on Windows 8 - as it was originally designed. This affected more than games, but it broke the Windows 8 design goal of a universal framework for Apps and gaming - that also folded in existing WP7/WP8 games into the runtime framework on Windows 8. (Sinofsky's fight with the WP team, and that Sinofsky's people didn't want to put the time into support the older WP framework, killed one of the first major design goals for Windows 8.) This also is why it wasn't until WP8.1 that Sinofsky's people got shoved aside and Joe's team got a chance to try to fix WinRT to be 'viable' and get WP8.1/Win8.1 closer to the same page. It was a mess, as WinRT on Windows 8 had no target - it wasn't fitted for mobile, it wasn't capable of running even tablet class software, and it was miles away from running desktop class software. Most people don't realize how elegant the design of Windows 8 was in conception to the lazy and uncompleted crap Sinofsky's team produced. Even the developers at Build that year were upset with WinRT being so broken compared to the original idea - this on video interviews exist, and they go on to say the decision were arbitrary and come from above (Sinofsky). So not only did WP8 get screwed over by Sinofsky, Windows 8 was decimated by him and his main leads as well. The WP8 devices had the hardware, even low end devices could have met basic gaming needs for the time. The OS was a gamers dream, yet there was no push or coordination with the XBox team or publishers. If Microsoft had been where they are today when WP8 was released, it would have done well by having Universal Apps and being a major gaming platform as it can run advanced full DirectX content. Another thing that got delayed, but is visible with the Xbox development... Microsoft has been brilliant with the with the XBox generation of consoles and the current version of DirectX with the ease that game developers can 'scale' games to fit the generational console differences easily in EITHER direction. So targeting Xbox One X and scaling the game to run on the original Xbox One is fairly easy. This scaling even goes down to lower end hardware as far as the developer want to take it. (As in phone level.) This 'scalability' concept that Microsoft is using with Xbox was a part of the original 'design' goals that Sinofsky threw out, and didn't happen with Windows 8 - or at least like planned, and is why the Xbox games on Windows 10 are still in a maturation curve - when this should have happened in 2012. So taking the Microsoft technologies and 'scalability' approach from the Xbox One generation - if Windows and WP8 had been ready in 2012, game developers could also have targeted WP8 devices - or at least started down that road, and been a common thing in 2018. The Windows 8 team screwed so many aspects of Microsoft, beyond the design features they ripped out of Windows 8 that screwed it too. …. The Nintendo Switch is essentially just common phone hardware - with dedicated controllers and TV output. WP8/WM10 runs on the same hardware - it could of had the XB360/One or its own variation as a standard controller and it also had TV output along with Miracast. The kick in the gut that killed this, was the eff you things from Sinofsky's team that delayed features in WP8, like the few missing pieces of running PC level DirectX and the hardware and driver interfaces and device APIs that were to come from Windows 8. Instead, even using a Bluetooth controller on WP8 was an issue, and Microsoft had no XB controller that would work with WP8. Even something as simple as Xbox One streaming was taken away from WP because there was no an on device controller interface at the time, and once WP8.1/WM10 got the Bluetooth features for controllers and the Xbox One S shipped a Bluetooth controller, WM10/WP was already dead. A lot of 'could of' 'should of' and 'wow it would of been amazing' that never happened. And instead of just a portable Xbox device, a whole portable ecosystem could have been unleashed with WP8 on that class of hardware. Microsoft could have owned the portable gaming and possibly pushed back Android in the phone space. -------------- Today - Microsoft needs to just keep doing what they are with the platforms and technologies of Xbox and Win10. Then as they are ready to do the Windows PC w/phone that can also be a portable gaming class set of devices - they have the technologies already. Key thought...
    Then if Microsoft wants to 'blow minds' - they could give the hardware OEMs for these class of devices a set of customized SoC/GPUs or co-processors that include the Xbox One X technologies with DirectX instructions in hardware.... Additional thought... (A possibility)
    Without WP... The world is starting to wake up to the Google/Android problem - and with nearly 2 billion people using Android - the world is starting to realize this is a crisis, as there are so few laws/rules/regulation for this type of monitoring and data collection, and the few that exist, Google side steps and dances around them. We need an OS like WP to be available if Android gets crushed with regulation and Google operations start getting shut down. (Which is a big possibility in the EU and even the US following behind.) So this requires something to take the place, and I hope that Microsoft has their Windows PC devices w/Phone ready. Windows already has full regulatory transparency. (Yes, Microsoft complies with transparent and full source code access to government regulatory commissions.) Windows also needs an Android subsystem in all versions, include these new devices, even if Microsoft has to somewhat cripple it to avoid Google lawsuits and use of Google's now proprietary APIs that controls Android.
  • This is an idiotic article, dumbest advice I've heard in a while. Xbox should focus on and push gaming to its heights with the cutting edge technology they have at their disposal. They can only do that by making first party games that push their hardware to the edge and by working on their cloud technology, not by breaking into a market that not only stunts their technological prowess. Nintendo is successful because of its severely casual gaming demographic and because of their legacy IP they continue to milk. Their games don't demand much in terms of power and their games are extremely casual. The only thing that carries them on is because of their rabid fanbase hellbent on playing pokemon, smash and anything mario. If Xbox release a handheld, no one would buy it because first, their appeal as a brand is at an all time low, severely overshadowed by the others and second, because no one would buy it since it'll basically be a weaker version of the Xbox. The X saved them last year because of the power they showed off, because it showcased graphically intensive games like Anthem, Forza 7 and Metro and because they are slowly catering and breaking into a hardcore gaming demographic who do NOT play on portables since they prefer a fully fleshed out gaming experience. Microsoft can't do it because they've grown a fanbase of hardcore gamers and they don't have that extraordinary appeal that Sony and Nintendo have to attract a whole other demographic. Plus they have to fix the Xbox, it's recovering because of the Xbox One X but Sea of Thieves being a terrible game utterly destroyed their chances of attracting new people again.
  • They've certainly mishandled their opportunities with mobile gaming. I think Microsoft grossly under estimates what a well executed portable Xbox device could do for adoption of their mobile platforms. They had the inkling of leveraging this with Windows Phone 7, but in the end it was just some Xbox branding and achievements/gamer tag integration. What I'd love to see is Microsoft create a true Xbox platform, that could exist across numerous devices. Imagine if Xbox One and One X were treated as the example models for the platform. A PC manufacturer could build PCs that could support the Xbox One platform by following guidelines and requirements set by Microsoft. Potentially you could buy a laptop that is "Xbox One" certified, and comes with a registered seal. Beyond "Play Anywhere", you'd have the ability to actually use the Xbox launcher, read Xbox discs, and use any Xbox peripherals. A high-end laptop may only have the minimum requirements for Xbox One support, but a desktop computer may have Xbox One X support. If they took the time to establish a platform like this, eventually mobile hardware would catch up enough to support the Xbox One platform. By this time Microsoft has likely moved on to their next home console, but the previous generation platform has new life in mobile. It could create a cycle that adds longevity to each console generation. Treating each generation as a platform generation, not just a particular physical unit. You'd likely need to plan for this kind of mobility (of code and services) from the beginning, so it's probably too late to do this with the Xbox One platform. But Microsoft could make a "Xbox Mobile" platform that sets standards for system specifications and peripheral support. And they should be thinking ahead for turning their next console generation into a platform, not just a device.
  • Microsoft can create a handheld console if they want to, then there will be no need to buy a smartphone to play games, a Xbox Mini console will be the perfect thing to make consumers very happy and will make Microsoft a lot of millions. Microsoft can do it they just have to stop thinking what they want and start thinking what consumers want for a change.