The future of Xbox is bright, and it's everywhere

Xbox Logo
Xbox Logo (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Gamescom 2015 was a blast for Xbox fans. Just as E3 was before it. Microsoft keeps floating the phrase, "the best games line up in Xbox history," and it's probably true. After a flaky launch for the Xbox One by anyone's standards, under Phil Spencer's stewardship things are going in the right direction.

And that direction is out. Xbox is finally becoming something bigger than the box that sits under your television. Gaming is important to Microsoft, and Xbox is its brand. Everywhere.

There have been smatterings of it outside the console for a while, like Xbox Live Achievement support for Windows 8 and Windows Phone games, and the now revoked Xbox branding for Microsoft's music and video services. With the removal of the latter, Xbox is now exactly what it should be for Microsoft. It's all about the games.

The big push really began in January when Spencer appeared at Microsoft's big Windows 10 event. It was the launch of Xbox on Windows 10 and while it all sounded grand, as the months have passed the vision has become so much clearer. Phones, tablets, PCs, consoles, HoloLens, Xbox is going to be everywhere. Cross-buy, cross-play and game streaming are but the beginning.

Take this quote from Spencer in a recent interview with Polygon as an example:

"I think when we look back on Xbox five years from now or so, I think Windows itself will be a critical component to the success I think we can realize of Xbox itself — and gaming will be a critical component of the success of Windows. I really believe that. When we say 'putting gamers at the center,' that's different than putting a piece of plastic or a specific device at the center."

Xbox Booth @ Gamescom

Our recent trip to Cologne for Gamescom helped further put this into perspective. The vast space that was the Xbox booth lined with both consoles and Windows 10 side-by-side. Windows wasn't shoved away in a corner, it was right there alongside the biggest new titles Microsoft had to show. Games like Fable Legends and Gigantic playable together, on both platforms. The only difference, your preference for a controller or keyboard and mouse.

Windows 10 is a big step forward for Microsoft in so many spaces. It's allowing the company to do things that it, nor anyone else has done before. Sure, Sony has dabbled with game streaming, but unless you own a PlayStation and at least one other Sony product, it's useless. How many more people already have what they need to stream Xbox One games? A Windows PC. Sony can't boast what Microsoft is able to do with its games on Windows 10. No-one can.

It's also going to become, I believe, less important to focus on how many consoles Microsoft sells versus Sony. And that's because of the platform. In the same way that a smartphone is a way to deliver Microsoft services to your pocket, the Xbox One will be a way to deliver Xbox to your living room. With Xbox as the games platform available here and on hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs around the world, who really gets the bigger marketshare?

Elite Controller

And let's not forget that as of Windows 10, official Xbox peripherals, including the forthcoming Elite Controller, are compatible out of the box. Just plug 'em in and away you go.

We're only at the beginning. There's so much to look forward to that we do and don't know about. The new Xbox One experience powered by Windows 10, cross-play games like Gigantic, Fable Legends and Killer Instinct, not to mention Halo Wars 2 in 2016. Engineers have told us that yes, they'd love to reverse the Xbox One game streaming feature, but whether it happens or not is still an open question. The Xbox app on Windows 10 will get better every month and we've got things like Crackdown 3, leveraging the power of the Microsoft cloud, to look forward to.

To sum up, I heard this phrase while at Gamescom that I think says everything. What if you could imagine a future where there weren't Xbox One games and Windows games, there were just Xbox games.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Coolest thing on Earth.
  • Himalayas?
  • North pole.
  • Actually, the coolest place on Earth is in Antartica, the South Pole, not far from this place:
  • Mount k2
  • Me
  • You, sir, made me laugh. While drinking coffee. Made me spit it on my keyboard. 
  • You're welcome!!! Sweet that i could help,... so where's my friggin' xbox achievement for "every day a good deed"???
  • Ice cold
  • My ex girlfriend's heart?
  • I feel ya bro :P
  • A pinguin's ass?
  • going to buy an xbox one this month but i really need to know if for example im installing a certain game and suddenly the electricity go off on the xbox one. does it affect it? (We are suffering from not having electricity in our country) lol
  • Mobile will always be last in Microsoft's priority list. :)
  • That's accurate. After all win 10 mobile might as well be a reskinned android with Microsoft services.
  • Well said... And I have no problem with that... When all the Microsoft services are integrated through my life via Mobile to PC to Xbox to Hololens
  • I think W10M is beautiful! It's nothing like android :)
  • Needs more dev support tho :-/ Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I hear the iPhone is launching in September. ;) To your comment I say, who cares? Windows 10 Mobile has an experience no other phone can come close to, especially if you own an Xbox and have Windows 10. It. Just. Rocks. I'm never switching back to iOS/Android icon boringness and cheapness! :)
  • Exactly :P
    Icons are from stone age and it is the concept of live tiles that I love most about Windows Phone.
  • ^this indeed! :D
  • Those WP7 live tile days.
  • "It's also going to become, I believe, less important to focus on how many consoles Microsoft sells versus Sony.", Of course, since it is now obvious that Xbox is going to be a distant second to the PS4 this generation, we have to put a postive spin on it somehow.
  • Much like apple is a distant 2nd in the desktop world yet don't they come out on top for profit more than almost any other PC maker?
  • Your point would be valid if Microsoft was actually making the most profits in the gaming console market with the Xbox.
  • You have to remember that still today Sony has a net loss of 1 billion $, and has to ditch other divisions (highly probably the next will be phone-xperia) while Msft has in cash almost the double of the value of the entire Sony. Last but not least Xbox One is selling more than a success console like Xbox 360 in the same timeframe. So it's right saying that at this point isn't relevant anymore talking about who's selling more just because sales in this gen aren't clearly declaring the winner: Msft is selling more x1 than x360 and is giving amazing services/games/accessories to its customers, ps4 is selling more but this will not save Sony from its financial problems and that's why is giving to its users nothing but promises about a greatness that after 2 years nobody is able to see and is far than ever.
  • ^^^THIS 1,000x over!! Thank you!
  • FYI, Xbox made more in a quarter for MS, than PS4 did for Sony in a whole year.
  • Care to provide a source for your statement?
  • Even rats know this. Stop watching over and over ps4 ads and "in-engine" cgi of games without any launch date and look at the facts. Look at msft/sony financial balances, look at the lot of exclusives coming to Xbox from the next week till holiday 2016 all with gameplay footage, look at win10 on Xbox one and at the new blazing fast dashboard,look at Cortana, look at dx12, look at the new accessories, look on why xlive is far better than psn and ask yourself why on ps4 you pay the same crappy online that is free on ps3, look at ea access, look at the native/free/offline/full-features xbox BC and ask yourself why you have to pay again a ps3 title that you already own and have to be always online to play in streaming-only through psnow, look on how supported is Xbox one with features coming over and over while on ps4 I'm not able to play a mp3's cd or install games on an external hdd. Just open your eyes and you'll find that there is nothing to source about or do you need that someone tells and proves that sky is blue to be able to know that?
  • ^^^And this, too!
  • The summary of this long ramble; I don't have a source for factually accurate information, I am just making up statistics to prove my point.
  • Statistics about having a feature while the other not?or more exclusives? Lol boy, just lol
  • ...... and the rambling continues!
  • I knew you had to pay for Sony's BC, but it's streaming-only?  That's bad for Sony, MSFT totally won there.
  • What's with the denigrating comment towards rats?  :)
  • Or you're just choosing to read that how you want to read it. If Xbox has transcended the console, how many units are sold per quarter will be become less relevant.
  • By the end of this generation, the number of Xbox Ones sold will be as unimportant as the number of Surfaces sold when measuring the overall success of the Xbox / Windows platforms. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see MS selling 'Xbox-Compatible Certification' to their third-party partners to build livingroom boxes that run Windows/Xbox OS.
  • The race has only just started. Sure PS are out in front, but the future of the PS4 isn't stacking up to Xbox... and we still have the best part of a decade ahead of us.
  • Both company's have said this generation of consoles will have a shorter life cycle, you have 3-4 years tops.
  • More traditional cycle. Last gen was so long due to recession. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Only Sony said 3-5 years. Microsoft said it was a 10 year plan.
  • That's the direction.Don't forget that Xbox One is probably the last "hardware" console, in 2020 we will have a virtual console with Xbox as a service with games playable everywhere through Microsoft cloud. I believe that at Redmond they're preparing to realize this vision, a vision that Sony isn't able to achieve in any way struggled to view gaming only in an old fashion way and in my opinion Sony for services, games and innovation isn't relevant for gaming anymore. Xbox/Spencer/Microsoft are making an amazing work to bring gaming to the next level.
  • This is it. Sony are slowly falling out of their depth in terms of innovation, but it will take a while for the PS loyalists to realise they're missing out.
  • That's for sure but they are missing the whole situation praising Sony just for the huge sales, but as a gamer I don't care about this. I care about features, services, accessories and most of all Games. I can forget the rest but where are the great games that made PS a great gaming brand in the last 3 gen? Microsoft not only is pushing its console services/accessories/features side, not only is delivering huge exclusives that as a gamer I won't miss, but has a vision of the future of gaming, a future supported by its huge infrastructure (Azure,Datacenters,...) that Sony completely miss, they don't even own the Psn's servers, they rent them. And most important today Sony hasn't the money to push anything to its users, anything that is really relevant for the platform they own today and tomorrow.
  • Logistics wins wars,  and the Azure cloud far exceed's any other company's data infrastructure (except maybe the gov., but they use MSFT), and are ready for the future.  Nadella and Spencer have the future in mind, and I'm really liking it.
  • "It's also going to become, I believe, less important to focus on how many consoles Microsoft sells versus Sony. And that's because of the platform. In the same way that a smartphone is a way to deliver Microsoft services to your pocket, the Xbox One will be a way to deliver Xbox to your living room. With Xbox as the games platform available here and on hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PCs around the world, who really gets the bigger marketshare?" This statement doesn't make any sense whatsoever, you still need an Xbox One to stream games to a PC. So exactly how are the hundreds of millions of Windows 10 PC owners going to be playing these Xbox One games without owning an Xbox?
  • Again, you've missed the entire point. Xbox is not just a console. Xbox is now becoming the brand and the console is just a part of that. Xbox games won't just be available on the Xbox One. I know about Fable Legends, Gigantic and Killer Instinct, right?
  • I will believe that XBox games will available everywhere when I see Halo 5 on Windows 10. Or at least even Halo Master Chief Collection.
  • Is all about the future, genius. And is just started like Win10.
  • Not gonna happen. Maybe Halo Wars 2 :D
  • Halo Wars 2 is going to PC as well as XBO Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That moment where you mistake a prediction of the future for a statement of the present.
  • Basically the number of Xbox Live users on both consoles and PC should eclipse the number of users on Sony's consoles.  So it no longer becomes a question of how many consoles Microsoft has sold but how many people are using Xbox Live as a service, especially paying Gold members.  The trick is to get PC gamers to pay for Xbox Live.  Not going to be easy considering the open nature of the PC and all the available alternatives for messaging, chatting, and playing online.  If anything the PC gamers on Windows 10 will make for a nice inflation of the  number of users using Xbox Live.  Will be great for when they have to compare against Sony's Playstation Network users.
  • Xbox Live is free on PC. Microsoft already said. Posted via the Windows Central App
  • If I have it right you still need an Xbox to play Xbox games remotely on a Windows 10 PC. Or am I wrong?
  • Right. You can only stream your own Xbox One games from the console. Sony does cloud streaming of games and it's, well, had mixed reviews.
  • Only this site will praise Microsoft
  • Coming next on Windows Central an ode to the Sony PlayStation 4
  • Get out more.
  • Because only Microsoft deserves this praise today..
  • Turn around and go back to bed.
  • He didn't manage to get out of bed lol
  • Well as soon as Mobile Nations makes a Playstation Central, we can all go praise Sony for that speech they gave at E3 2013 that they are still riding success off of. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Lol
  • I like the last phrase...
  • Best of all it was a Microsoft employee that said it. Seems to me from our meetings at Gamescom last week that they're really serious about bringing gamers together using Windows 10 as the conduit.
  • I like the passion MS' getting things done since the XBox One & Windows 10 announcements. They are really putting things to the table. Trying to stand in line with words and on top of it satisfying most of their customers and followers.
    To me, it is less just the gamers side which I am interest in than more the multi media, entertainment and those good stuffs around it. Days ago one reader stated "ONE to rule them all!!!" ...underlining the "OneMicrosoft" Philosophy with those words, this is where my interest are heading. The future of MS: Doing (nearly) everything with everything and Continuum (on desktops) and keyboard & mouse integration (on Xbox) are hopefully just the tip of the ice berg.
  • When I read the title I thought "The future's bright, the future's Orange" wondered what all the green was about! (Old UK phone carrier slogan)
  • Now I've read the article, I agree the future really is bright, device agnostic software whether it's games or apps is fantastic. I've never owned a console since my original PlayStation 1 but I do play a lot of PC games and games on the phone, if I can hook up a controller and play "console" games that just gives me more games to choose from, and choice is very nice!
  • hope they find a way to make/build xbox games for windows mobile that would be big break through for windows mobile.
  • They have to reduce its size to 1.5-2 gb , I think that's impossible
  • We're not going to see Forza 6 on a phone. But...there are already ID@Xbox titles that have moved from phone to Xbox. No reason the same won't happen the other way. There's a ton of good stuff in the ID@Xbox future that'd be awesome to have on a phone.
  • I think it will be more like keep bringing windows 10 mobile games to windows 10 and visa versa and bringing xbox one's indie games (e.g. ID@Xbox) to w10m and w10
  • No-one can.
    Ever heard about Steam Link?  For 49,99$ you'll be able to stream all your Steam titles on any TV at your home at 1080p/60fps. It isn't just Sony vs Microsoft anymore.  
  • It's not a streaming-war. You are talking about just stream