While sources at Microsoft spoke with The Verge recently about a new strategy its Xbox division will be undertaking this year at Build 2016, others have taken it upon themselves to officially confirm it.
Reaching out via his Twitter account, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer shared the company’s plan to talk in detail about Xbox and its relationship with the Universal Windows Platform this year at Build. Without going into further detail on the how’s and when’s of the plan, news about Microsoft’s plan to unveil new Universal Windows Xbox apps at the developer conference have also surfaced online.
We will discuss our next steps with the Universal Windows Platform at //build later this month.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 4, 2016
Traditionally, Microsoft uses its Build developer conference as a stage to announce where and how the company will navigate through the year, as well as laying plans for subsequent years. It seems safe to assume that Build 2106 will be no different. However, Microsoft is doing something a bit out of the ordinary this year by allotting time for its standalone gaming division to discuss opening up the platform to developers.
Last year, during Microsoft’s developer conference the Xbox team, hinted at a possible future where the lines between Xbox and Windows 10 would eventually blur, but the announcement was contingent on a system-wide update that had been scheduled for later that year. With the Xbox One finally running on the Windows 10 underpinnings thanks to the Fall 2015 update, it appears that the Xbox team is ready to discuss further developer involvement.
While developers have been able to create Xbox One apps, the apps were chained to the console environment only. Now, it seems Microsoft is ready to lower the gates and allow for the cross-platform development it’s been preaching for the past two years. Opening up development in this manner should help bolster the app ecosystem on the console, which until now has been an arguably curated wasteland of network TV apps. Xbox One owners could eventually see more indie games come over from other platforms as well as social media apps (that makes sense on a large screen) invade their apps store, and giving people further reason to pick up an Xbox One this shopping season.
Build 2016 takes place at the end of this month and we'll have Kip and Ron live at the event.