Xbox Live will make a cameo in Windows 8

It looks like Games for Windows Live and Xbox Live are on a collision course. On his blog yesterday afternoon, Xbox Live Programming Director Larry Hryb, a.k.a. Major Nelson, revealed that Xbox Live is coming to the next version of Windows. The service will be called—wait for it—Xbox Live for Windows.

Unfortunately, Hryb doesn’t dwell on Microsoft’s rationale for bringing the Xbox brand to Windows, or the implications of the move for the future of PC gaming. The three sentences below are pretty much it:

Xbox LIVE brings your games, music, movies, and TV shows to your favorite Microsoft and Windows devices. Bringing Xbox LIVE to Windows 8 is part of our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy. At BUILD we are showing that it is easy for developers to create games for Windows 8 that take advantage of the power of Xbox LIVE.

Oh, and there’s this screenshot, too:

Hryb says he looks forward to revealing more about Xbox Live for Windows "in the near future," so hopefully, all will become clear soon enough. For now, we’re left to speculate about what this all means.

Comments closed
    • Sahrin
    • 8 years ago

    Just let developers (ie, Valve) have the same access to the OS to integrate into the tile/system calls/etc and we’re fine.

      • ColeLT1
      • 8 years ago

      Valve should release a lightweight “SteamOS” that is easy to install, has minimal memory footprint, and self updating (including drivers).

      Say you already have steam, and a large collection of games. You then download the new installer, it partitioned off a small chunk of your hard drive, and allowed you to dual boot. The valve os would not have the games on its partition, but instead they are still all on your windows partition, this way you could pay the same game (gamesaves and all) from windows or steam os.

        • Geistbar
        • 8 years ago

        You do realize just how insanely difficult this would be for Valve, right? Without emulation software, it would be more or less impossible. The number of code dependencies that games have is rather insane. DirectX alone handles input (mouse / keyboard, 3rd party controllers, etc), fonts, 2D rendering, 3D rendering, and sound. Then you have the various C++ (and the like) redistributables, XNA, .Net, OpenGL, OpenAL, PhysX… And [i<]then[/i<] Valve would need to convince everyone to make functional drivers for their OS; overcoming the prior difficulties (which are more than substantial) would seem trivial compared to this single step. All of this (and probably many other things I did not think of) would need to be done just in order to maintain compatibility with already existing games. There is a reason that we have operating systems today, instead of booting to individual programs. Regardless of what your OS of choice is, it plays a significant part in making a modern computing experience possible. Also, I suspect you are overestimating the performance overhead of an operating system.

          • ColeLT1
          • 8 years ago

          Emulation is the wrong route, you missed the point. Virus free, console like experience, you press power and are ready to game in a matter of seconds. They would need to license an OS/kernel, since they already have a team that ported source to BSD, they could use freeBSD, or in a dream world… a directx optimized MINWIN.

          I know its a pipe dream, and will not happen, luckily something similar is on the horizon with the transition of PCs becoming hypervisors, isolating applications into their own VM.

            • Geistbar
            • 8 years ago

            I think I knew the point you were going for, and I feel you have merely glossed over the significant, very non-trivial difficulties in implementing such an OS. Viruses will follow any system that is popular enough, and boot time is something that is always improving*. The differences between porting a game engine to a different operating system and making / adapting an operating system to be compatible with existing software, especially when that software has large and varied code dependencies, is huge. The process that things like MinWin as lightweight as they are also has the side effect of making them incompatible with lots of existing software (otherwise, we would use them). Hypervisors are, I agree, a very bright spot in the future of computers, but the impression I always got was that their advantage was stability and safety; not performance. If anything, hypervisoring everything should lower performance.

            I still feel you are overestimating the effect of OS overhead on a games performance.

            * See the earlier article on Windows 8 boot time. For my own anecdote, it takes more time for my ACHI controller to start than for Windows 7 to do so, all on a mechanical hard drive.

            • ColeLT1
            • 8 years ago

            I keep gaming pc stripped, my c: drive is a 96gb V100+, using 21gb (win 7), plus dual WD640s for everything else, because my gaming PC is just that, but I (we) are the exception.

            We all have seen the bloat that people think they can get away with, the people that have every application to load on startup, you know the type… A majority of the complaints that people have with games is not an incompatibility of the OS/Hardware/Game, but something they “did” to their computer. The steam forums are flooded with problems that people have, that have nothing to do with steam, its just their crappy malware filled pc. If valve could have an isolated environment much like a console experience (which is what steam pretty close already), it would save them headaches, but yes, it would take a monster of an effort to make it, but not impossible.

            I don’t see MS buying Valve, or licensing out a kernel to them, but if valve made polished ports of their games like they did for BSD, for a nix OS, then it would be little time before we saw purpose built Steam forks from popular distros, then valve could run with this.

            The hurdle that VMs have to cross is passing hardware through, we don’t want to game with emulated devices, unless the tech advances to the point of low overhead/latency emulation. AMD-V or Intel VT-x are a start, but major advances need to be made like a video card VT tech, ESXI 4.1 has limited video card pass-though, but of course I am not gaming on an ESXI setup lol.

        • travbrad
        • 8 years ago

        Why don’t you apply for a job and help them make this magical OS then?

          • ColeLT1
          • 8 years ago

          But it’s not an Apple made product, so it can’t be magical.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    new corporate business casual avatar for windows 8 enterprise edition? lol, work and xbox at the same time! i like it!

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    WTF Microsoft.

    I thought Games for Windows was originally was supposed to be “XBL for PCs”, but your first attempt was half-hearted at best.

    I guess the threat posed by Android and PSN is making you thinking twice.

    • Ryhadar
    • 8 years ago

    Can someone tell me their personal horror stories with GFWL?

    I’ve never had a problem with it. Well, okay not exactly true as I had some trouble getting it to recognize changing my account’s email, but nothing unsolvable.

    I’m not saying it’s on par with Steam and it could definitely be improved (and I’ve sent suggestions in myself), but it’s pretty cool being able to talk with my buddies who play on the Xbox and the achievements are a nice touch. Plus, GFWL games usually jive well with my xbox 360 gamepad (Fable: Lost Chapters being a notable exception but I use Xpadder for those games) and after working 8+ hours a day on the computer it’s great to just be able to play PC games from the couch.

      • ClickClick5
      • 8 years ago

      Moving game saves in GTA4 is simply annoying.

      • BKA
      • 8 years ago

      The only problem I have with GFWL is the slow download speed when downloading games. Other than that it hasn’t been that big of a deal. Yeah, the interface could be better but that’s something I can adjust to. Steam is better though.

      • yogibbear
      • 8 years ago

      My HTPC allows me to play PC games from my couch if I want to.

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Im seriously starting to worry that Ms is too focused on tablets for Win8. Seriously, everything i hear about it seems to be tablet oreintated or comes with sample photos of a tablet running said function. They do realise that most people do not use tablets, and will not in the next few years, meanwhile hundreds of millions of people use windows on desktops and laptops, where big touch friendly interfaces and massivley simplified controls are actually very limiting and frustrating.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      Because from a normal desktop PC perspective, the desktop hasn’t changed much. You can switch to a normal desktop mode and it looks strikingly like Windows 7. No use in marketing/hyping something that isn’t changed much from the previous version.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        i don’t understand his perspective. the old desktop is still there, and it’s even sexied up a bit. you don’t HAVE to use the metro ui, but if you DO have a touchscreen, it works great. it’s the best of all the worlds.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      There’s still the classic interface, which is getting some long awaited updates as well. Right now microsoft doesn’t really have an answer for tablets and that’s a quickly growing market that needs to be addressed.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      “They do realise that most people do not use tablets, and will not in the next few years”

      But they will use touch screens for just about everything. Laptops will have them, and tons of people already have smartphones.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      The future of personal computing is “combined arms”. You have several different platforms working together, combining their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.

      Google is the first party to wage this war. Microsoft and Apple are playing catch-up, but they have an uphill battle ahead of them.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    this is just them integrating games into windows media player. i don’t mind the avatars, but i do think they need to improve the drm and patching. i would like xbox live chat support as well. i think it LOOKS sexy, and as most of you know, that’s what i care about.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    double post. now you guys get a chance to read my brilliant points twice! except i edited it, so you don’t.

      • Kurkotain
      • 8 years ago

      double post SSK?

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        it would in fact appear! damn ie 8! i’m at school, and we use win 7, but ie 8…. god knows why….

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, think of the money they could save the education system by switching to Linux….

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    as if games for windows live wasn’t bad enough. I can only see things getting worse.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    why not just call it microsoft live or windows live and leave it at that and use it as a universal portal for everything. Microsoft has like 3 or 4 different online network presences right now. They would be best served by merging them.

      • RickyTick
      • 8 years ago

      Good point. At least they didn’t call it Zune Live for Windows.

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      From the looks of it, that seems to be what they are heading for. I am all for it.

    • Geistbar
    • 8 years ago

    Honestly, to me it looks more like they recognized they have a good brand name (Xbox) and a horrible brand name (Games for Windows Live), and wanted to just use the good brand name in both instances.

    Of course, assuming that is the case, they went and ruined it by adding “for Windows” to it. I actually like Microsoft fairly well*, but some of the brand names they make are really and truly terrible. Xbox, Bing and Zune (regardless of product success) are both fairly new and good names; they’re simple, fairly unique, and easy to remember. In contrast, they create lots of complex brands that just end up being too wordy and conformist with each other: Games for Windows Live, Windows Live Essentials.. actually, I guess I will just say anything with “Windows Live” in it.

    Err, I guess I diverged a bit. In short, I think this is mostly just an attempt at merging brand names together. I doubt it really means anything, one way or another, about Microsoft’s future support (or, more recently, lack thereof) for PC gaming.

    * Baseless Windows bashing seems to be an insanely common way of accruing “nerd cred”. Humorously, most of the people I knew in person who partook in such would never actually commit to Linux beyond the years long “I’m going to switch to Linux soon”. With the release of Vista & Windows 7 they also clung onto XP like it was the world’s last rifle and they were Charlton Heston.

      • yogibbear
      • 8 years ago

      There’s a significant difference between bashing GfWL and bashing all of Microsoft to it’s entirety. I heartily enjoy using Windows as an OS. I have never enjoyed a single experience with GfWL. They still haven’t fixed issues surrounding lack of support in certain regions, inability to play a game on your PC (that is tied to GfWL) while you’re logged into Xbox Live on your mate’s 360 etc. Plus it has a horrid way of ALWAYS forcing you to download the latest patch ONLY after installing the game and only after trying to run it. i.e. you set asides 1 hr to play a game you’ve just bought and are always forced into downloading a patch and letting it install and restart. When if it prompted you e.g. Steam or any other service out there, you would just walk away rather than loading the game… getting into the title screen… logging into GfWL within the game and then being promptly booted out of your game.

      I think it is childish for MS to label their “gaming” service for PC’s with “Xbox” in the title.

      If this at all replaces Windows Media Centre I will ironically switch to XBMC.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        with regards to patching… I have so many issues with the patching service. Lets start with how horrible the download speeds are for pc vs 360! When installing any patch on GFWL I have to wait 30 min to one hour for a patch I could download in 30 seconds through a third party and install in 5 mins. I know because I’ve had to circumvent GFWL in certain instances because it would take so long, fallout 3 had a patch that took almost 3 hrs through GFWL and would lock up my computer. I hate it so much.

        • Geistbar
        • 8 years ago

        Oh I doubt I have anything good to say about Games for Windows Live, don’t get me wrong. The Microsoft bashing thing was more a somewhat related thought I had. Honestly, I have no strong feelings on this move. It seems a bit silly to bring the Xbox name to PCs, but at the same time, the Games for Windows Live name is… awful.

        In the end, if they are unable to improve it, it just means that Steam (and other, similar entities) will solidify their importance for PC gaming. In those regards, I see a reversal in Microsoft’s favor unlikely, but at the same time, no one expected them to get anywhere with consoles during the early phase of the original Xbox, so who knows?

        • Glix
        • 8 years ago

        So it’s ok for Steam to not let you in, but not ok for GFWL?

        In both instances you can not play your game!

        Regardless of the order, and is my major gripe with account based drms. Why should I have games that I no longer intend to play locked to me? Why should I be stuck with them? Why can’t I pass on my games, yes they have implemented gifting/trading in Steam now, but haven’t gone the full hog and it has been around for how many years now?

        Steam also has the same problem of no offline patching, you can’t start games that aren’t fully patched and you can’t patch without starting Steam.

        Sorry I don’t mean to rant at you yogibear, more at the state of pc gaming atm.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          first off, you’re suggesting valve might need to improve and that ms isn’t the worst ever. that’s a mistake around here.

          steam trading is a joke. hats? who the f cares? it’s a retarded waste of time, and programming. steam has all kinds of issues, but they don’t matter/count.

          edit: I am currently online, at school, but steam says it’s unable to connect to the network, and for some reason offline is unavailable. i am unable to play my games, at all. hmmm. that’s an issue for me.

            • Glix
            • 8 years ago

            I was hoping you’d give me a pointless thumbs up. 😛

            CS 1.5 + Podbot = go go go! 😉

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            done

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      for the record, I hate xbox live. I don’t think many pc gamers actually consider it a worth while monthly investment.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        SURPRISE!!! kamikazie hates something ms did!!

        • Corrado
        • 8 years ago

        However, 20 million people still do.

          • yogibbear
          • 8 years ago

          20 million / 6 billion. Your point?

    • CasbahBoy
    • 8 years ago

    Great, so they’re integrating the “Games for Windows Live Marketplace [now at it’s new home at XBOX.COM!]” into Windows itself.

    Really, this is freaking Microsoft. This isn’t new, this isn’t surprising. This is business as usual.

    • NeXus 6
    • 8 years ago

    Looks like another disaster in the making. The first was Games for Windows Live.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    I hate you MS. Seriously. Who the f()*_)( was in this meeting that made this pathetic decision?!

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