"360 Games On PC" Rumours Disguise Microsoft’s Real Plans For Xbox Live - Wednesday, 13 July 2011 19:39
The rumour that Windows 8 will support playing Xbox 360 games on PC isn’t just a case of journalists putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5 – it’s also clouding the real reasons why Microsoft are integrating Xbox Live into their new OS, and what that means for Live’s future – and it’s nothing to do with Halo or Gears of War.

The summer drought of AAA games is in full swing, and silly season has arrived for gaming journalism. Just like their tabloid news counterparts, twiddling their thumbs waiting for genuinely newsworthy material while parliament is in recess and the football season has ended, games journalists can’t resist a headline-baiting rumour in July, no matter how daft it is.

A particular cracker this week has been the mis-reading of the news that Xbox Live will be integrated into Windows 8 to somehow mean that Microsoft could (or would want to) make 360 games playable on the PC.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: it isn’t happening. Skipping over the technical challenges of emulating a triple core 3.2GHz Power PC processor on Intel x86-based computers, or the huge reliance of 360 developers on the 10mb of EDRAM on the custom Xenos graphic chip – both of which require a level of sheer brute power to emulate unavailable anytime soon on the consumer market – the idea makes absolutely zero sense from a business point of view.

The entire reason Microsoft have invested so heavily in its own hardware eco-system and effectively abandoned the PC to Steam as a meaningful gaming platform is for the level of control it gives them over the user, both in terms of the experience and in tying them to their platform for the future. The PC is, by virtue of its openness, the polar opposite of what Microsoft are trying to create, let alone the fact that Windows is arguably the single most pirated piece of software on the planet. Making 360 games run on PC would be both pointless and commercial suicide for their own hardware.

Ironically, the creators of Windows are in a desperate rush to be more like Apple – and that’s the real secret behind Microsoft’s vision for the future of Xbox Live.

Xbox Live: the new App Store

The most fundamental thing to remember about Windows 8 is that it isn’t really aimed at the PC at all. Instead, Microsoft – who made such a mess of their first shot at the tablet PC market in the early 2000s – have watched the success of iOS and particularly the iPad, and have decided: we want some of that.

Windows 8′s main focus – from its Live Tile interface to the decision to create a version that will run on ARM processors – is to try to grab some of the "post-PC" market that Apple have created and colonised so effectively with the iPad, and the riches of a controlled eco-system that offers. It is an operating system being specifically built for tablet computers.

Of course, it will still power the majority of PC’s out there, not least because Microsoft have that area utterly locked down. But that is no longer the Windows brand’s main focus.

And in the same way, Xbox Live will no longer be solely focused on Microsoft’s gaming-specific hardware.

Like "Nintendo" and "PlayStation" before it, the word "Xbox" itself has become synonymous with gaming in the minds of the general public. It’s that fact that Microsoft want to leverage by incorporating the Xbox Live name into Windows 8, both in its PC and tablet incarnations, in the hope that such brand recognition will somehow help it catch up with the behemoth that the iTunes App Store has become.

The transition has already begun: if you own a Windows 7 phone, you already have Xbox Live, separate from the gaming console where it first began – but you wouldn’t expect it to play 360 games would you? So why on earth would you expect the Windows 8 version to?

Your Windows 7 phone does however play a certain mass-market avian touchscreen game, and that is Microsoft’s true vision for the future of Xbox Live: less Gears of War, more Angry Birds.

Source: beefjack.com


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