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Microsoft Brings a Whole Lotta Xbox Into Windows 10

Microsoft says the PC is just as important as the Xbox for gaming.

Eric Johnson

At an event at its headquarters today in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft showed off how it hopes to integrate what it’s learned from running the Xbox gaming business into Windows.

Microsoft is committed to paying as much attention to gaming on the PC as it has on the TV, Xbox head Phil Spencer said at the event. He showed off ways in which the two types of gaming devices are becoming more alike and teased more news to come at the Game Developers Conference in March.

Xbox Live is the “most active social network of gamers in the world,” Spencer said, with more than 50 million users. The challenge was to extend that same sort of community to other devices.

First up was an Xbox app for Windows 10, Microsoft’s newest PC and mobile operating system, which is still in development. The app will list users’ games and Xbox Live friends, and will let them send voice and text messages across Windows 10 devices, Xbox and the Web, Spencer said.

He also showed off the ability for players on two once completely separate platforms — Xbox and a Windows PC — to play together in the same game, Fable Legends.

In other words, a computer running the new OS is becoming a whole lot more like an Xbox, just with all the other stuff a normal computer can do. And another new feature, the ability to stream gameplay from an Xbox to other screens, both PCs and tablets “anywhere in the home,” pushes that similarity even further.

“While Xbox is coming to Windows, Windows 10 is also coming to Xbox One,” Spencer added. New features in the PC operating system will be coming to the living room console, though no release date was announced.

“I don’t think we’ll see millions of people using Excel on Xbox,” Spencer said. But the big idea is that being able to reach Xbox gamers via the shared operating system bulks up the addressable market for almost any Windows developer.

Technically, the first gaming-related announcement at the Windows 10 event was that Cortana — an A.I. character created for the Halo games who has served as Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Siri on its Windows Phones — would come to the new operating system’s desktop. The code name for company’s newest Web browser, Project Spartan, is also drawn from Halo lingo.

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