Opinion: Xbox is Windows 10's built-in Trojan
Xbox is Microsoft's most important brand for consumers, as mentioned by the company's new CEO Satya Nadella himself. The brand may have taken a knock thanks to poor and mishandled business decisions from (former) leadership, but it remains the most relatable name for Microsoft to reach the everyday consumer.
Microsoft will be hosting a 'Consumer Preview' event to show off all the things which the company hopes will make your everyday consumer want to upgrade.
It's for this reason that Microsoft slaps "Xbox" in front of things not exclusive to their popular console; such as Xbox Music and Video. The company even uses characters from the Xbox world such as "Cortana" from the Halo franchise to name some of its products. The consumer has never been a priority for Microsoft as the software giant makes its money in the enterprise, but with interest in Windows appearing to wane, it could be vital that Microsoft makes Windows more appealing to consumers.
Apple's products are so successful because they are able to juggle being both attractive to consumers, and capable enterprise products. Gartner had even predicted Apple will be “as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft” by 2014. When you hear Microsoft, you probably think of people in suit and ties. When you hear Apple, you're probably thinking of modern startups. It's an image problem the company has tried several times to address.
On the PC, the one place where Microsoft has gained consumer appeal is gaming. In Apple's "post-PC" era, it's the sale of gaming PCs which is helping to keep the desktop alive. High-end gaming requires the latest hardware, and that is a solid revenue stream from Windows licenses for Microsoft. However, in the enterprise, most businesses are happy to keep with old versions of Windows on their still-capable PCs.
Next month, Microsoft will be hosting a "Consumer Preview" event to show off all the things which the company hopes will make your everyday consumer want to upgrade. The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has confirmed he will be in attendance and that "it's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows."
@RpLayy I'll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January, it's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 12, 2014
It is well-overdue that Microsoft took control of what is one of the biggest things helping to keep their platform alive. Games for Windows is a half-hearted attempt at bringing Xbox Live to Windows, but it's been left with little update forcing Redmond to release a statement back in June saying, "We remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future".
In the enterprise, most businesses are happy to keep with old versions of Windows on their still-capable PCs.
Windows Phone is the biggest sufferer of this lack of control. I strongly believe the platform would have found a margin of success at this point had Microsoft used the Xbox brand to push it as the place for mobile gaming. Satya Nadella said during Spencer's promotion that his job was to bring more of the Xbox to all devices - including PCs, phones and tablets.
Something which will aid Microsoft's cross-device endeavours is DirectX 12. The powerful gaming APIs allow lower-level access to hardware thanks to partnerships with all the major chip manufacturers including Intel, Qualcomm, Nvidia, and AMD. At SIGGRAPH 2014, Intel demonstrated the performance benefits of DirectX 12 on a Surface Pro 3 (which uses the company's HD4400 graphics chip) and showed a 50% reduction in power consumption.
Cortana is making her way to Windows 10, and hopefully with DirectX 12 we'll see Master Chief join her on the PC in Halo 5. Beyond the PC, hopefully we'll see Xbox boost Windows Phone's bleak outlook. One thing is for sure, it's time for Microsoft to change Windows' image and Xbox could be the Trojan horse to do so.
Do you think Xbox will be important for uptake of Windows 10? Let us know in the comments.