Microsoft wants to ‘decouple’ Xbox software from hardware, system could see yearly upgrades

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has confirmed that the company is looking to unify their software development across Xbox One and PC. This starts now, with Gears of War Ultimate out on Windows 10 today. In addition to this, Gears 4 and all future Forza titles will be developed for both platforms. Ori and The Blind Forest is coming to W10 on March 11th.

It doesn’t end there. Spencer says they are trying to “decouple” their software business from just being on Xbox One hardware. The company may even release annual upgrades for Xbox hardware like you see on phones.

Spencer said:

When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen. You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform

Spencer would later add this in another article that was posted today:

In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven or so. We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs.

It certainly sounds like there is a bright future for Xbox, just that you won’t need to own an actual Xbox to take part in it. It sounds like MS is moving away from traditional consoles to more phone-like upgrades every year or so. This will please some and upset others.

A lot of gamers prefer the console route of releasing a platform and having every game play on it for the next 5-7 years. Microsoft says they will try to make sure everything still plays on older hardware but the fear is there that after a year or two, someone’s Xbox may be outdated and unable to play a future game in a shorter time frame than a normal console generation.