Power Button - Episode 54: Back To Hyrule
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Windows 8 May Or May Not Play Xbox 360 Games

Windows 360

The rumor mill has been churning overtime lately and has produced an astoundingly murky news item from nebulous sources regarding Microsoft's next version of Windows and how it may play nice with the Xbox brand.  Rumor has it that Windows 8 will be able to play Xbox 360 games.  As in, you could take a Xbox 360 disc, slip it into your Windows 8 PC's DVD drive, and play the game with the full Xbox experience.  Far fetched?  Stranger things have happened.  Game Informer has the report.

Teknylate reports from an unrevealed source that if you have Windows 8 installed on your PC, you'll be able to pop Xbox 360 discs directly into your computer tower and load them up as though it were a console. Supposedly gamers will also be able to access their Xbox 360 dashboard and Xbox Live services on PC.

The rumor suggests that players will need to pay a fee to unlock this feature on Windows 8, although its unclear if this just means subscribing to Xbox Live Gold or paying on top of that subscription. It's important to remember that this is all rumor and speculation at this point, but various similar rumors have been circulating for several months now.

There's interesting potential in this rumor.  This could sway Windows 8 owners into picking up the occasional Xbox 360 game in addition to PC titles without making the investment of an actual Xbox 360.  Combine this rumor with the reports that Windows 8 will make use of Kinect technology and it's easy to see how all of Microsoft's home entertainment products could converge.  This could even boost PC sales in that computer retailers such as Dell and HP could offer a Windows 8 PC optimized for the Xbox experience.   

Xbox 360On the other hand, why would Microsoft cannibalize Xbox sales by extending the full console experience away from the console itself?  Wouldn't it make more sense to make Windows 8 work with the Xbox 360 and/or its successor instead of replace it?  As this is all just a rumor, it's only fitting to offer a counterpoint from yet another unnamed source.  Via Reddit user cgmhdblog, here's an explanation as to why this report isn't completely accurate and what the future of the Windows 8 / Xbox combination may hold.  How much you want to believe it is, like the above report, up to you.

Before I begin I would like to say that I will not be able to provide any credible proof of my source as this is not meant to be publicly announced. All I can say is I have a relative who works for Microsoft in the gaming department.

Xbox 360 games will not be able to be played on the next Windows operating system. While the idea is relative to what is actually going on over at MS game studios, it is not correct. Microsoft is in the process of researching and developing a way to integrate the next Xbox systems marketplace and titles with Windows 8.

In simple terms, what this means is that the next Xbox (say Xbox 720) may or may not have full title integration with the next Windows OS giving you the ability to buy a game once and play it on both systems.

From what I have been told, testing and development is currently in the works. Microsoft is trying to develop a solution that will allow you to buy a title, install it on your PC as a PC game, while still being able to use your game disc in your "Xbox 720". The problem is developing a solution that will be acceptable by the general public and controllable in terms of piracy and double usage (think Blu-ray / DVD combo packs, it's like buying two copies for the price of one).

The plan is to develop a system that can lock you out of one device while the other is in use for that specific title. For example, you buy a game and start playing it on your "Xbox 720" and while you are doing this, you will not be able to play it on your PC. From what I have been told, an always online usage check would need to be in place. The system would be able to check whether or not that specific title is currently being played on another device using an internet connection or home network connection. For example, if your Xbox is connected to the same router your PC is, the PC and Xbox would be able to see if the game is being played on another device.

Future Xbox Live Arcade titles would also be available to both systems. As this is purely an internet service and since each title is binded to a Live account, a connection to the internet would be required to play them and the servers could simply check to see if another device is playing that title with the same download ID.

Again, the news that PC's will be able to play current 360 titles through Windows 8 is false. They are simply developing a system that will allow a one purchase, two option management system that will help them take control over the market. If they can provide this benefit to Xbox and PC users it will greatly increase their user base and put them far ahead the competition.

This sounds believable to me as well (particularly the heavy-handed DRM scheme).  Running two marketplaces may be redundant in the Windows 8 future, so why not brand Xbox games as Xbox games for the PC market as well?  This could explain why the Games For Windows Marketplace recently fell under the Xbox brand's banner.  Moreover, there's a Steam Play-type system poised to happen here in which one could buy a game once and play it on multiple platforms (but not simultaneously).  Whatever Microsoft is working on for both the Windows and Xbox brands, I'm sure it will be interesting.