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Microsoft's Xbox head hints Xbox One could get hardware upgrades like a PC

If you own a Xbox One, you might be able to upgrade your console with new hardware in the future. At least, that's what Microsoft's Xbox division head Phil Spencer seemed to hint at during the company's spring press event for the Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming.

According to Polygon, Spencer stated:

"We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don't have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before."

In a follow-up chat, Spencer stated:

"I still think a console is the best price to performance deal that is out there but when you look at the evolution ... I'm not going to announce our road map for hardware ... but what I wanted to say on stage for people when they see this vision of ours and question our commitment to console I want to make sure that people see that what we are doing enables us to be more committed to what consoles are about than we've ever been and innovate more consistently than we ever have. That's the key for me."

Source: Polygon

81 Comments
  • Hmmm good things to come for Xbox One. At least that's what I'm hoping for.
  • Ever since their partnership with Oculus VR to support Windows 10, I have been expecting them to announce some sort of external GPU that can be hooked up into the Xbox One in order to support native Oculus rendering on Xbox. In addition to Oculus support this could allow any game to get more out of their graphics and AI calculations.
  • Since the fastest external port on the XboxOne is the USB3.0 port, that isn't going to happen without a hardware change.  If consoles were shipped in and updated to Thunderbolt 3.0 USB-C, then it would open the door to a whole new range of possibilites. Or we will see a whole new console with modular upgradability in mind.
  • I understood that the kinect port was stupidly fast.
  • That port is used EVERY DAY!   #XBOXON!!!
  • Sounds more to me like what they've already started in migrating "Xbox" to a brand of games you have in your digital library playable on any device. (backwards compatibility expanding)
  • I don't know how could you infer that from what he said but still...it would be a major win for the XBone if that were to happen. Since he spoke of 4K, the XBone doesn't scale to 4K and as far as we know, its Blu-Ray player won't read the upcoming 4K Blu-Rays. Assuming Microsoft can't fix that with a software update, providing components to upgrade the XBone with 4K capabilities without having to buy a new console would be a great way to start.
  • Anyway, you can't even read a personal movie written on a Blu-Ray via the Xbox One... And that's a firmware limitation asked by Microsoft to the constructor of the Blu-Ray Writer of the Xbox One (yes, it's originally a writer version which can read BD-RE disks...)
  • Its pathetic, too. Some studios even release older catalog titles on recordable media on-demand.
  • I was trying, for once, to just see the positive side. But yeah, that sort of limitation is absolutely pathetic. Even my PS3 can do that and yet the XBone can't.
  • Remember that Sony owns the Blu-ray patent so they can so what they want. It's possible Microsoft was given certain restrictions in what they were allowed to implement.
  • Wrong. Microsoft specifically insisted that Writable media be unsupported.
  • Ummm no they dont
  • Yes but will it attract the console lovers to a great extent? Microsoft I guess had to advertise that a lot that u can now get 4k capabilities on Xbox one or else they wont get as audience as playstation. I guess this can be their win over ps4. Where they can arrange the buy back offer of ps4 and get Xbox one and accessories with 4k.
  • I wouldn't put it that way, but I fully agree that the author seems to be completely misinterpreting what was said.
  • Voted down for "XBone". It's 'Xbox One'.
  • The console people used to call the 'Xbone' is long gone anyway after they changed their policies. No idea why people still cling to the name.
     
  • Stfu. Me and my friends love our Xbone. And we call it xbone. Just stop being a **** and deal with it.
  • Oh dealing with it is easy, but holy hell the level of cringe you'll receive if you call it that to anyone in public..
  • We do all the time. We call it that affectionately. Its dumb to be offended by it
  • I dont think anyone's offended so much as they're ashamed to associate with you.
  • lol. no, people who have a problem with "xbone" just need to take the sand out of their vaginas
  • My issue with it is that it is a completely ineffective abbreviation when writing. It takes less effort and characters to write XB1. Which to me indicates someone is trying to be pithy or edgy or whatever. As for talking to friends I just say Xbox because they are generally of an intelligence to know which iteration of the console we've been playing for the last few years.
  • Writing; agreed. SPEAKING.. Nooo. Xbone is two syllables. Quickest way to say it. Its really a non issue except for the humourless.
  • If you'd 'exercise' your jaw muscles more you'd have less of a problem with more than 2 syllable words.
  • Don't you have an xbone to be playing smartass?
  • LOL! No, an Xbox One. :-D
  • Xbone.
  • I've refered to it as Xbone for a long time. I own one. I will not be changing the way I refer to it just because some over-sensitive people don't like it. I don't like a lot of things and I still have to put up with them anyway ;)
  • 100% agree
  • Its Xbone, deal with it. Getting butthurt about it just encourages us to use the name Xbone even more.  
  • Downvoted for being a tool.
  • Dont care, go get triggered by the word "Xbone."
  • Downvoted for being a tool
  • What? So you're a movement now. Let me guess your the Xboners? Sounds more like an unfortunate condition than a movement.
  • Just call it an XBO (XBox One {capital letters illustrate the initials}). XBO=
    Less characters and it prevents confusion or annoyance for others.
  • Could Microsoft not lay a firmware update on the Xbox One.
  • Sadly it cant be a simple update due to lack of hdcp2.2 hdmi2.0
  • Thou lying to me.
  • I can see this happening since Sony is basically going to be doing the same thing for the PSVR to work on PS4s... that it'll offload stuff to an attachment (that is then attached to the VR headset).
  • I thought that as well but it's just a breakout box.  The Playstation does all the computation.  This really makes me question how they'll get the performance they need for >60Hz VR.  Source: http://www.psvr.co.uk/sony-clarifies-what-playstation-vrs-breakout-box-d...  
  • Maybe he's talking about hardware upgrades to the existing console. But maybe he's just talking about backward compatibility on a future console.
    I'm not sure how they'd manage to upgrade the hardware on the xboxone given that they don't want us opening the case. It would have to be some sort of peripheral device like some sort of external GPU plugged into the usb port?
  • Posted my comment before I saw this - I agree it could be about future consoles - I know if I buy a PC game I'll be able to keep playing it way way way into the future
  • This was my understanding too.. In the future we will not have a "new generation" the new hardware will be only an upgraded Xbox One where you can play the same games you already have and sometimes even better like, for example, Quantum Break is already prepared for 4K on PC, a "Xbox One 4K" could run the game I bought to Xbox One in 4K.
  • It's impossible via USB3. But it may be possible through the Kinect port. I don't know how fast that connection is but if it's anything near Thunderbolt 3 then it's very possible to add an External GPU.
  • IDK how well that would even work. External GPUs, in my recollection, were over a Light Peak connection, I thought. IDK if USB 3 can handle that data transfer fast enough. Maybe it can, but I'm not sure.
  • I don't think the data transfer would be fast enough using a USB port...
  • It sounds more to me like he means future consoles will be upgraded without losing access to all your old games - Which is the biggest advantage PC has over console IMO
  • I imagine it would be the next iteration of the x1 console.
  • I can't image that you would be able to upgrade hardware in your Xbox console but perhaps future versions of the Xbox One will have upgraded hardware.
  • Aroo?
  • Calling BS. In order for this to work with a console it would have to be designed as such from the beginning to have fool-proof user replaceable components, much like how the N64 was designed with the upgradeable memory module. Xbox One isn't like that at all. The only way they could pull this off is to have people send in their units for upgrades done by MS. Expecting Joe Consumer to open up his console and upgrade components is a recipe for disaster. Future Xbox consoles? Perhaps. Xbox One? No way. Edit: I dont see him mentioning Xbox One anywhere, Polygon apparently added that crap on their own for headline bait. Polygon and Kotaku should not be used as sources for anything.    
  • it may be possible to add an external GPU through the Kinect port depending on how fast it is.
  • > Polygon and Kotaku should not be used as sources for anything   Damn right.
  • Considering that currently we can't do something as simple as swapping a hard drive I'm going to take the "I'll believe it when I see it" approach.
  • I think your title is a bit of a reach from what he said.
  • He did not hint that in any way.
  • Am I the only one who finds this super amazaing?? First coming together of windows 10 on Xbox one...then backward compatibility...and now hardware upgradation capability...
  • Read more than the headlines, there's nothing here.  
  • Not getting anything about upgrading hardware from the quoted statements. Must be a sub track in Klingon I missed.....
  • I'll A good idea, but if something like this happens I'm pretty sure it'll have to be done by a Microsoft certified technician. So that means sending in your console, and/or having Microsoft train and certify outside techs like those at Geek Squad. Can't see them allowing owners to do their own upgrades, unless they too get certified. Although, they'd probably sell more consoles from all the botched repairs if they do allow owner upgrade options.
  • I think what he's referring to is the ability to have several generations of Xbox games available to you digitally moving forward.. I'd wager that the PC will be their idea of an "upgradeable Xbox" and the console will continue to be their budget "best bang for your buck" option.. Now, the next-gen Xbox will be a different story and I wouldn't be surprised if they offered a base console that can be upgraded for higher performance
  • So technically xbox will become a pc made entirely by Microsoft?
  • Yeah, I am with everyone else here.  He is not talking about hardware upgrades at all.  What he is talking about is that the XBox brand is going to be more of a service like Steam.  You build up a library of games and play them where you want (PC or Console).  So in the future when you buy a new XBox console, all of your existing games come along with it.  He mentioned the hardware because he still thinks that a console is the best bang for the buck when it comes to price to performance ratio.  So consoles are still important even though they won't be required. 
  • Smell the death of Xbox as more and more gamers move to PC for its performance and graphics.
  • I wonder if the modular PC patent has anything to do with this?
  • I believe game companies will launch new consoles every 2-3 years in future like it's happening with an iPhone. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Just don't go all Sega on us.
  • At this point why not just build a pc? That's essentially what it would do. They just need to sell the Xbox One as an OS like "steamOS" and then boom you have customizable PC's with Xbox One Windows 10. Which I honestly think is dumb. The other issue would be upgrading your graphics card would also mean that developers would most likely abandon older cards and develop for the new ones. This only reintroduces Minimum Requirements Specs for literally every game that comes out.
  • I called this two years ago.  MS is going to split the middle between Steam Boxes and traditional gaming PC's.  A unified Dev kit, and games designed to run at least on the base model, but scaling up both in resolution, framerate, and texture resolution. The Xbox One architecture is close enough to a standard PC that the idea of 'backwards compatability' almost silly.
  • I think people are reading in to this too much. I think he's talking about in-generation hardware redesigns, like SSD drives, not some N64 expansion pack thingy.
  • Customizable XBox's is doable but in a future generation.  I think almost everyone would rather upgrade your base module than add GPU's and other stuff to an outdated one.  From a developer perspective though, it just causes more issues.  I imagine that your match making abilities for online multiplayer would then be based upon system specificiations now as well.  Not sure how that would work for backwards compatibility...
  • The ONE reason I'm playing on a XBOX is because "works on XBox One" means "works on XBox One". One set of specs and you can play every XBox One game that will come out, for years. If I wanted to keep upgrading components, I'll just play on PC. And I don't want to keep up on building gaming PCs because I am building damn servers all day long.
  • Most people that play on PC don't have the hardware to run a game at the same specs of the X1 or PS4. With all the 1080p talk most pc gamers are not able to run their games at on PC at 1080p. Console is still the best bang for the buck.
  • Most PC gamers? By what definition? My pc blows consoles out of the water. I think most gamers have more powerful hardware than I do. If you're defining gamers as anyone who ever plays any games in their pc then you're probably right. But most serious gamers have much more powerful hardware than the consoles.
  • What did I miss? I see no reference to that at all in the blurb? Massive jump there??
  • I was a PC Gamer, but i needed to upgrade the hardware after a while and its was too expensive. A good gaming gpu or cpu almost cost the same as the consoles. So i bought the Xbox One and i'm very happy with it. Didn't care about 900p vs 1080p, it's looks amazing in a good tv. But if microsoft do this, then i no longer need the box, because its the same as pc...so if this happens i will sell the xbox and pick up the ps4. Buy the console->buy the game->play->happy. I dont need external upgrade. Bring a new console instead.
  • Lol glad I'm switching back slowing to PC gaming again. Posted via the Windows Central App for Nexus 5x
  • I'm willing to bet this is more about games scaling across more then one Xbox One console. This makes perfect sense to me and I was predicting this once it was announced they were going with a x86 architecture. It would be just like a PC, where the same game can run on a Geforce 660 or a Geforce 980 ti. I can see a better Xbox One getting released but an official Xbox One game will run on any Xbox One you have.
  • Not sure if there's missing quote content? I don't gather the same conclusion (about Xbox One hardware upgrades like a PC) from those two blurbs...
  • So, here's what I do and I not see in the quotes in this article: What I do NOT see: Anything that implies anything about hardware upgrades on the current XBoxOne system. I don't see how it'd be feasible. I can see some aftermarket GPU enhancer, and maybe a RAM booster. But this would all have to go into an external box tethered by cables, and in order to have a CPU or disc enhancement, at that point, we're basically replacing the whole console anyway. It's conceivable, yes, but not feasible....and most of all, seemingly absent of any kind of indication. What I DO see: A commitment to XBox as a franchise, an -AN- XBox console (not necessarily -THIS- XBox console). And what else I see is hints of an ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL idea of upgradable consoles.....ideas that we should see for the NEXT round. But wait, isn't that "too PC?" Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how rigid your definition is of what makes a console a console. Many of those defining characteristics of the classic, old school [quote unquote] "true" game consoles are long gone already, not sees since the Game Cube - or maybe even the N64! Now our "consoles" operate more like PCs in terms of being multimedia devices, as much about Netflix as about Call of Duty, with games we have to install and frequently update. They even have operating systems and UIs (which also requires frequent updates.) Our devices are also almost constantly on-line. They even have stores! So the days of blowing into a cart, slapping it in, and firing it up for instant, wholesome Mortal Kombat goodness are gone already, and long gone. And keep in mind that I'm sayin this as the kind of gamer that has 20 some old consoles ranging from a Pong clone through the Ataris of the world, and the 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bits and on through to the original XBox. So I'm obviously not saying this with an anti-retro bias. On the other hand, I also have all the major systems of the 7th and 8th generation, so I'm not saying this with an anti-modern-gaming bias either. In fact, if I have any bias at all, it's simply "pro-console", as for all the console immersion I have, I still do not have, nor have I ever REALLY had a good gaming PC. The point is, the line between console and PC has already become so blurry, and most of the present crop of consoles sit in the blurriest center. So I think it's time to abandon rigid, dogmatic definitions of what makes a console a console. And yet, I still think we're quite far away from throwing the baby out with the bath water on consoles altogether. Where the consoles are still resolutely "console" is in the following ways: 1) Set top box form factor, proprietary software library, fixed, enclosed hardware. And by necessary extension though it was never a factor "back then", a proprietary UI which is optimal for controller interaction over a large screen TV (versus a more general full desktop operating system experience optimized for mouse and keyboard.) For all these reasons, it still makes sense to call these things "consoles" - despite all the PC DNA that has bred in. The problem is that consoles are simultaneously becoming more and more expensive to keep up with the PCs, and yet, being made technologically obsolete faster and faster by PCs. So my fear is that unless something is done, the console genre itself will become more and more irrelevant over time. I think upgradable hardware is a great solution to this dilemma. I also think that it's feasible, the idea of a "modular" console as you get the base console, then can buy more powerful modules that slide in and slide out of the system. That way your average Joe can do it without fear of blowing stuff up. Also, for better, worse, both, neither, or other: unlike the days of old, graphics are "scalable" now. In other words, PC games have support for various graphic levels based on the strength of the hardware. It's very rare that a game simply will not work, but will work across the board to various degrees of polish and fluidity. While there's a BIG part of me that seriously laments the passing of the "exponentialism" in capabilities between Atari and Nintendo, or between Nintendo and Sega Genesis, or between Genesis and Saturn, this new "incrementalism" is precisely what makes this "modular console" concept possible. One of the reasons things like the 32X add-on worked so poorly is because it created a barrier. It wasn't that 32X offered games that it would play "improved" on 32X, but would still work in a lesser capacity on the plain Genesis. Instead, it introduced an entirely new software library that you had to have the 32X to use. The RAM booster on the N64 was another example. If you didn't have it, certain games would simply not play on your system. Splitting up the software library into games that require an optional upgrade is a terrible idea. But that should not be a problem in this new age - so long as games are designed to support multiple graphics levels, all games should work, upgrade or no, and yet, the upgrade should still make a serious difference! So, that keeps the console relevant, perhaps, but how does it keep the console "a console". Well, I know that this is very "minimal" of me, but I would feel comfortable calling this thing a "console" so long as it maintained a) a set-top-box form factor, b) a proprietary UI optimized for controller and big TV, and c) at least some proprietary features. In a world of UWP and Continuum, you could have a device that you attach that could morph the thing into a full win32 desktop environment, but once that whatever is unplugged, it goes back to the default "XBox" interface. Then it could do double duty between being a game console and a "PC" on the fly as the situation demanded - and yet, be a -----MUCH MUCH MUCH------ more elegant solution than a conventional PC hooked up to a home entertainment system! The only part I can't figure out is games. Would they be a tightly proprietary format a la PS4, would they be cross play like XB1, or would they just be PC games that run on both systems? I think I'd say the middle option. Only XBox games work in the XBox system, and only PC games work on the PC system, but if you buy one, you get the other version as a download either for free, or for a steep discount. Also, one other "console move" that could further distinguish the XB version of a game from the PC version is since we would have multiple graphics levels supported for various upgrades, if instead of having the huge menus of graphics choices that come with PC games which would confuse and put off most console gamers, they'd simply give users just the one choice of having the system favor graphic detail or favor frame rate fidelity, then program the game to auto-detect which upgrades are present and auto-configure to preset parameters for each upgrade based on your graphics/frame rate choice. That would give you most of the results of a PC but with a simpler, more friendly "console" approach. Would that be console enough for me? Yes, I think so. And would that keep the system relevant without fragmenting the system library and gamer pool? Yes, I think so as well. So that's the way I'd like to see things go. And now we have a glimmer of hope that something like this may actually happen! Would be awesome if it did! I'm excited! Cheers!!!!