As the Xbox E3 conference on June 13 (9:30 AM PDT/17:30 PM BST) draws closer, rumors of new hardware and suspicions of full Xbox integration into Windows 10 are reaching an all-time high. With so much speculation as to what direction Microsoft could take the Xbox brand moving forward, and whether said brand can survive shared software support with the most dominant operating system in the world, this writer speculates the potential impact of a surprise announcement that could see Microsoft reveal the exact opposite. What if Microsoft announced support for Xbox consoles to boot into Windows 10?
the idea of enabling the Xbox to boot into a fully functional version of Windows 10 seems like the next logical step
The concept might sound strange at first, but this would not be the first time that a console manufacturer has enabled dual-boot functionality in a home console. Fans of PlayStation will recall Sony’s choice to allow PlayStation 3 consoles to boot into Linux with full mouse and keyboard support. The functionality was eventually removed due to an exploit enabling the installation of custom firmware, with the ensuing fallout leading to the infamous PlayStation Network security breach and downtime back in 2011. It would be easy to question why Microsoft would want to attempt something similar after the disaster that Sony endured for their forward-thinking approach to console functionality, but given that the Xbox One system software is a Windows 10-based Core already, the idea of enabling the console to boot into a fully functional version of Windows 10 itself seems like the next logical step for a company that’s determined to unify the Xbox and Windows ecosystems fully.
The unification of the Xbox One and PC platforms has already begun with the introduction of Universal Windows Applications (UWAs) to bridge Windows 10 and Xbox One development, as well as the Xbox One app for Windows 10 PCs, but will we see the company go further and fully embrace the Xbox One (and rumored Scorpio successor) as a true PC/console hybrid, capable of booting into either the Xbox OS or Windows 10 depending on the needs of the user? The potential for such a move is vast, with the notion of affordable console hardware that can also double-up as a workstation when the need arises being so obvious that one has to wonder why Microsoft has not yet taken the steps towards enabling this.
In theory, the addition of dual-boot capability to Xbox consoles would be a simple move for Microsoft given the system architecture but there’s no way of truly gauging the difficulty or technical hurdles that such a process may present to the team in Redmond. There’s also the question as to whether such a move would be a worthwhile investment for Microsoft to begin with, since the usefulness of full Windows 10 functionality decreases to niche levels when contemplating the average user preferring to be seated on the couch and use their Xbox solely for the gaming. There is no doubt a percentage of consumers who would embrace such a move however, the option to boot into Windows 10 would provide Xbox users with hardware that enables access to Xbox One games, Xbox 360 games, Steam games and a wealth of productivity software all for the price of a console. Microsoft would no doubt relish the opportunity to position the Xbox brand as a PC/console solution to further boost Windows 10 adoption rates as well.
What do you think? Is the thought of a PC/console hybrid too niche to be worth the effort for Microsoft, or would the move be long overdue for a company actively attempting to remove the barriers between the Xbox and Windows divisions? Would the ability to boot into Windows 10 be a gimmick that lost appeal quickly, or would you regularly alternate between both operating systems for access to console and PC game libraries? Let us know in the comments below. (No registration necessary)