Instead of releasing a new console in a few years, Microsoft might start upgrading the Xbox One instead. If this comes to pass, it would be pretty damn revolutionary. Spencer said that Microsoft wants to unify the Xbox One and Windows Platform into a “Universal Windows Platform.”
If anything, this sounds like what Steam’s already doing with the Steambox. He goes on to say that PCs and mobile devices are constantly evolving, but consoles are stuck in this cycle. But if Microsoft succeeds in what it’s setting out to do, this new “Universe Windows Platform,” would be forever backward and forward compatible thanks to how flexible operating systems are today.
What these “hardware upgrades,” as Spencer calls them, might entail, who knows. It might be something as simple as a memory upgrade, or a faster hard drive (which people are already doing), to fully replacing a video card with a new one.
Spencer didn’t go into too many details, and the plans for a Universal Windows Platform may all just fizzle and when 2019 rolls around. Instead, we may just see an Xbox Two. It’s also unlikely that the current configuration of the Xbox One supports shifting around its hardware. So before you can upgrade your console, you’ll probably have to replace it with a new one that’s more modular, but this is just me speculating. Microsoft could’ve been planning this all along.
Spencer wouldn’t go into any nitty gritty details, and when Polygon reached out to him, he had this to say:
“We look at these other ecosystems out there like mobile, tablet and PC and we see that they have a very continuous evolution cycle in hardware, whereas between console generations most of the evolution is making it cheaper and potentially making it smaller.
Both are meaningful but don’t make the games play any better. If you look at PC specifically and see the evolution that happens there, there’s no reason why console can’t ride that same curve.
I look at the ecosystem that a console sits in and I think that it should have the capability of more iteration on hardware capability. Sony is doing this with VR and adding VR capabilities mid-cycle to the PlayStation 4 and they are doing that by adding another box. I don’t mean that as a negative. But it’s not changing what the core console is about.
For consoles in general it’s more important now than it’s ever been, because you have so many of these other platforms that are around. It used to be that when you bought your console you were way ahead of the price performance curve by so much, relative to a PC. But now PCs are inexpensive and your phones are getting more and more capable.
I still think a console is the best price to performance deal that is out there but when you look at the evolution … I’m not going to announce our road map for hardware … but what I wanted to say on stage for people when they see this vision of ours and question our commitment to console I want to make sure that people see that what we are doing enables us to be more committed to what consoles are about than we’ve ever been and innovate more consistently than we ever have. That’s the key for me.”
It’s pretty obvious that this “Universal Windows Platform” isn’t coming anytime soon. If anything, the entire shebang would probably roll out at about the same time Sony is considering release the PS5. It’s likely that this will all come to pass – if it does come to pass – at about the same time you’d expect to be buying an Xbox Two. Only instead of that, you’ll be buying a spanking new Xbox One with perhaps slightly higher specifications and the option to upgrade it infinitely.
Maybe they’ll just call it this Universal Windows Platform the Windows Box or something.
Okay that’s lame.