Is the next Xbox going to be a modified Windows 8 PC?

The past couple of months have been a rollercoaster of a ride for Microsoft. Windows Phone 8 rumoured to be released in September, Windows Phone 7.8 being released for existing devices, hitting RTM with Windows 8 and a slew of rumours and speculation surrounding the next generation Xbox console.

Following the sale of a reported Durango (the next Xbox codename) on eBay, an image from that auction showed an older build of Visual Studio 2012 with the Durango tools connected. The image showed the presence of Package.appxmanifest and the use of the Windows::ApplicationModel::Core::CoreApplication::Exit() method.

Questioning the validity of the image is one thing but, if legitimate, it makes the rumour of the Xbox being powered by a SKU of Windows 8 more believable.

Microsoft is working hard to unify their user experience. Windows Phone 7 was officially released in October 2010; and after showing the Windows 8 interface in the Developer Preview in September 2011, the Xbox was the final piece of the Metro Modern puzzle, getting the dashboard update in December.

Is this the obvious step for Microsoft to finally integrate all three platforms and provide a seamless experience for the users and the devices they use? I am sure there will be much debate on the subject, so tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Source and Image: Within Windows

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While most likely true, the existence of an API does not mean anything. In particular, that is probably the easiest API to reproduce for convenience's sake.

It simply means there is commonality between the development APIs to increase the speed of developers, which makes sense as Microsoft attempts to both modernize and simplify development across their multiple platforms.

MorganX said,
If it does, I guarantee it will run on ARM and not x86.
The Xbox 360 does not run on x86 either. It runs on PowerPC.

ARM does not have the processing power of x86, and I doubt that it has caught up to the best PPC chips either (although I have not kept up with them).

pickypg said,
The Xbox 360 does not run on x86 either. It runs on PowerPC.

ARM does not have the processing power of x86, and I doubt that it has caught up to the best PPC chips either (although I have not kept up with them).

There might be a Tegra 4 or something, but you're probably right. One thing I doubt ever happens again though, is another x86 console. MS would have to port Win 8 to another architecture if they're not going to do ARM.

I want the new XBox to multi-task. So if I'm Netflixing and my kid comes along to play a game, then I can go back to Netflix in a snap, without having to reload it. Considering how much it has evolved in the past several years, I think this will happen. If not at launch then with a software update.

The next Xbox will be WinRT based. Thought this was pretty clear once it was announced WP8 were also. Once you write apps that doesn't take advantage of the hardware specific to the 360, it will be able to run on both Xbox and Laptop/desktop PCs without little no to modification.

AWilliams87 said,
The next Xbox will be WinRT based.

I doubt that - atleast for AAA titles. They already realized that console games have to run in kernel mode with the first XBox. WinRT + Kernel Mode => does not compute!

MFH said,

I doubt that - atleast for AAA titles. They already realized that console games have to run in kernel mode with the first XBox. WinRT + Kernel Mode => does not compute!

Well I'm not taking about games, I'm talking about regular "Metro" applications. They will be able to run on both Xbox and regular PCs. Games are a different story.

MFH said,

I doubt that - atleast for AAA titles. They already realized that console games have to run in kernel mode with the first XBox. WinRT + Kernel Mode => does not compute!

WinRT is a compiled API - in many ways similar to Win32. Atleast that's as much as I've understood it to be..

CasualViking said,

WinRT is a compiled API - in many ways similar to Win32. Atleast that's as much as I've understood it to be..


Yeah, but it still runs in USER MODE....

This could close the rift between consoles and PC's. Imagine going to the shop and buying a game that will run on the Xbox and your PC with the same disc?

Tony. said,
This could close the rift between consoles and PC's. Imagine going to the shop and buying a game that will run on the Xbox and your PC with the same disc?

That will never happen. If I'm honest, if I buy a game for one console, there's no way I'm buying that game again just to play it on another console but in the eyes of the law and the companies that make $$$ from selling you what you already have, it won't be allowed.

n_K said,

That will never happen. If I'm honest, if I buy a game for one console, there's no way I'm buying that game again just to play it on another console but in the eyes of the law and the companies that make $$$ from selling you what you already have, it won't be allowed.

You mean how there is no "universal apps" on iPhone versus iPad?
Or how when I buy a Mac game on Steam I mostly don't get the PC version, too (if existent)?
Or how back in the day my most of my GBC games didn't work with a GB classic?

Yea, no chance in hell.......

GS:mac

it really does smell like cross-platform games in here.
also suggests why they rebranded all the media stuff on Windows 8 with "Xbox".
one codebase to rule them all?

Arceles said,
PC Gamming... Hmmmm.... DRM comming.

PC gammes already have DRM, so do console gammes. What are you getting at?

This could give the xbox a leg up in the gamer world, due to "console" ports being a thing of the past. Games could come in one flavor that will run on Windows or Xbox, using DirectX/Direct3D, the game would realize it's running on the xbox and adjust the graphics levels to acceptable playing levels without performance issues. I would think programmers would love this, at least until the game had to be ported to the Playstation console.

The major complaint about console ports has to do with the UI and control scheme. They are typically dumbed down for consoles and oriented towards game controllers rather than a full mouse and keyboard. Oblivion and Skyrim are both examples of this problem. The problem is lazy developers who don't want to spend extra time or companies that want to rush the games out.

Edited by Rigby, Aug 13 2012, 1:12pm :

xendrome said,
This could give the xbox a leg up in the gamer world, due to "console" ports being a thing of the past. Games could come in one flavor that will run on Windows or Xbox, using DirectX/Direct3D, the game would realize it's running on the xbox and adjust the graphics levels to acceptable playing levels without performance issues. I would think programmers would love this, at least until the game had to be ported to the Playstation console.

Mmm... While i like your theory, i don't think it's going to come to pass any time soon. The fact is, PC game development is a bit more intense than console game development due to the fact that PCs do not run with uniform hardware. I imagine what you're proposing could be reality if developers put VERY strict system requirements on their games, but i don't see why they'd ever hamstring their sales by doing so.

Yeah and dump that ridiculous 2 foot long "controller" and pointy thing (keyboard + mouse) and add a gaming controller that you can actually play games with and don't give you carpel tunnel.

That's the justification you use to make yourself feel better about using an antiquated gaming device, and arguably less powerful method to control games?

You can keep your gaming controller, and I'll keep my keyboard and 3500 dpi mouse.

1 on 1, I will destroy you every day of the week.

I am confused how does this prove that the next xbox will be a modified pc? Doesn't windows 8 have xbox compatibility built in ? So how do we know this isnt for that?

I wouldn't be surprised at this, but I wouldn't read too much into it either. Microsoft has ported Windows 8 to ARM so there's no reason why they couldn't have ported it to PPC as well. Aside from that, the 360's SDK was designed to be very similar to the existing DirectX SDK and this would be a logical step forward.

Kushan said,
I wouldn't be surprised at this, but I wouldn't read too much into it either. Microsoft has ported Windows 8 to ARM so there's no reason why they couldn't have ported it to PPC as well. Aside from that, the 360's SDK was designed to be very similar to the existing DirectX SDK and this would be a logical step forward.

It wouldn't be the first time either, NT ran on PowerPC until Win2k dropped it.

Even if it's based on Windows 8 that doesn't necessarily mean that Windows 8 will run NeXbox games. And if it does then that poses a lot of questions, like whether it will undermine PC ports and whether it will allow Microsoft to make more money off PC games through licencing - that could give Microsoft an unfair advantage.

The last thing I was is for PC games to be held back. When the X360 was launched 720p TVs were just starting to take off, whereas now 1080p displays are already quite dated. I don't want PC games to be held back by 1080p five years down the line when PCs will have moved onto high DPI displays.

Alladaskill17 said,
Cue the sarcasm... but..
Consoles are just heavily modified and tweaked PCs...

Yup, absolutely true. They have a bog standard PC CPU insi-oh wait, nope. Oh that's right, they use the same RAM! Errr...no actually, they don't do that, either. OS? Nope. Not any more so than your car or TV, at least.
In fact, the only real thing you have going for your statement is that the last generation basically used a modified desktop GPU, but it was more than a simple tweak - stuff like the edRAM used in the 360 makes a hell of a difference.

(p.s. you did say "cue the sarcasm")

Kushan said,

Yup, absolutely true. They have a bog standard PC CPU insi-oh wait, nope. Oh that's right, they use the same RAM! Errr...no actually, they don't do that, either. OS? Nope. Not any more so than your car or TV, at least.
In fact, the only real thing you have going for your statement is that the last generation basically used a modified desktop GPU, but it was more than a simple tweak - stuff like the edRAM used in the 360 makes a hell of a difference.

(p.s. you did say "cue the sarcasm")


The original Xbox actually was very close to a PC. It had a P3 733MHz, 64MB of DDR RAM, 8-10GB HDD, etc. Every console has the same components meaning they have a CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, etc. It is a computer inside anyway. So way to fail Kushan

Kushan said,

Yup, absolutely true. They have a bog standard PC CPU insi-oh wait, nope. Oh that's right, they use the same RAM! Errr...no actually, they don't do that, either. OS? Nope. Not any more so than your car or TV, at least.
In fact, the only real thing you have going for your statement is that the last generation basically used a modified desktop GPU, but it was more than a simple tweak - stuff like the edRAM used in the 360 makes a hell of a difference.

(p.s. you did say "cue the sarcasm")

Wow you are so wrong... The Xbox 360's PowerPC processor is pretty much the same thing found in older G5 macs, the GDDR3 ram is very similar to DDR3 ram, the hard disk and dvd drive are standard to PCs and it's kernel has a subset of Windows APIs so yeah IT IS a modified PC

Edited by PmRd, Aug 13 2012, 12:39pm :

PmRd said,

Wow you are so wrong... The Xbox 360's PowerPC processor is pretty much the same thing found in older G5 macs, the GDDR3 ram is very similar to DDR3 ram, the hard disk and dvd drive are standard to PCs and it's kernel has a subset of Windows APIs so yeah IT IS a modified PC

No, in many areas he's kinda right. GDDR3 RAM is similar to DDR2 RAM, it is completely and utterly different to DDR3 RAM so you clearly don't know anything there . The CPU is a Xenon designed by Microsoft and IBM and you will not find it in any PC, however the chip type its based on was found in a few older PCs and Macs but as I said, no modern PC has them. Saying that a console is a PC because it has a hard disk and a dvd drive is a bit ridiculous, my car has these - doesnt make it a PC . And wtf "its kernel is a subset of Windows APIs" !??!!! what does that even mean...

ingramator said,

No, in many areas he's kinda right. GDDR3 RAM is similar to DDR2 RAM, it is completely and utterly different to DDR3 RAM so you clearly don't know anything there . The CPU is a Xenon designed by Microsoft and IBM and you will not find it in any PC, however the chip type its based on was found in a few older PCs and Macs but as I said, no modern PC has them. Saying that a console is a PC because it has a hard disk and a dvd drive is a bit ridiculous, my car has these - doesnt make it a PC . And wtf "its kernel is a subset of Windows APIs" !??!!! what does that even mean...

I made a typo writing DDR2 but yes you're pretty much confirming that the Xbox 360 was based on standard PC technology so looks like I'm right after all.

And the kernel having a subset of Windows APIs means that you can basically write your code using the same functions your would use on Windows.

tsupersonic said,

The original Xbox actually was very close to a PC. It had a P3 733MHz, 64MB of DDR RAM, 8-10GB HDD, etc. Every console has the same components meaning they have a CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, etc. It is a computer inside anyway. So way to fail Kushan

While consoles, (& many different kinds of devices too,) are technically computers, they're not the same in spirit. Consoles are machines that are specifically created to serve the purpose of playing video games. Sorta like how iPods are created to play music, and phones are created to make calls. All 3 of those things are now becoming increasingly more & more like the do-it-all PCs as technology advances, but when you get right down to it, they all were created for specific reasons that separate them from PCs.

MASTER260 said,

While consoles, (& many different kinds of devices too,) are technically computers, they're not the same in spirit. Consoles are machines that are specifically created to serve the purpose of playing video games. Sorta like how iPods are created to play music, and phones are created to make calls. All 3 of those things are now becoming increasingly more & more like the do-it-all PCs as technology advances, but when you get right down to it, they all were created for specific reasons that separate them from PCs.

It's mostly the same tech as normal computers but the fact that every unit is the same allows the developers to do things you can't on a PC like directly access the video card's memory which can give huge performance boosts, this is the reason why Rage performs so well on current consoles.

Kushan said,

Yup, absolutely true. They have a bog standard PC CPU insi-oh wait, nope. Oh that's right, they use the same RAM! Errr...no actually, they don't do that, either. OS? Nope. Not any more so than your car or TV, at least.
In fact, the only real thing you have going for your statement is that the last generation basically used a modified desktop GPU, but it was more than a simple tweak - stuff like the edRAM used in the 360 makes a hell of a difference.

(p.s. you did say "cue the sarcasm")

And queue the stupidity...

Although 'technically' the base components in the XBox and XBox 360 are not off the shelf available, they are very much closely related to non-custom PC variations.

For example the XBox used a real Pentium processor from Intel, not even moddifed, the GPU was custom, but later GPUs from NVidia were built off the XBox GPU design. (The XBox GPU design, that Microsoft engineers assisted with, is what several generations of NVidia GPUs were based on, up to and including the Geforce 7900, which is the GPU in the PS3.)

It was a custom built PC, and that was the design goal from Microsoft, as they wanted to use their existing NT and DirectX technologies in the device so that game portability would be easy. (Which is was.)

The same is true of the XBox 360, yes it has a lot of custom fabricated components, but it is essentially, just a PC design.

When the XBox 360 was in development, the hardware didn't exist, so developers and Microsoft used G5 Macs as their development platform, as the CPU matched the upcoming Xenon CPU fairly well for instructions.

It wasn't until literally a few months before the XBox 360 was released that developers got the actual XBox 360 hardware to test and work with.

The XBox 360's CPU is different than the PowerPC in the G5, it has modifications made to it by Microsoft. It is a tri-core for example and can do dual threads per core, meaning it can do 6 instructions at once, etc.

The GPU is custom as well, but it was the start of a new set of GPU technology, and is the where the reference design for any modern GPU comes from, with the onboard DMA, the bus transfer features, and the unified shader technology that we all take for granted today in every freaking PC.

In the later S editions of the XBox 360 the CPU and GPU is a SoC integrated design, but this is transparent to end users and software.

However at the end of the day, the XBox 360 is a PC design in having a CPU a GPU and standard RAM set (which is a bit controversial as it is shared RAM between the CPU/GPU and this confuses people), it has standard internal controllers using traditional chipset designs and processes information like a traditional PC.


So ya, we could pull out the components and go, these are all a 'bit' different than what you can buy, but they are still similar and work just like the same hardware that would existing in a PC.

If you ever had the chance to look at other console designs over the years, they are not like a PC and do not process or even attempt to operate like a PC, as they are custom engineered technologies.

(The XBox wasn't the first to use the PC model, but it was the closest to an actual PC.)

There's a syntax fault in the article.

Questioning the validity of the image is one thing but, if legitimate, it makes the rumour of the Xbox being powered but a SKU of Windows 8 more believable.

But should be by imo

Would make sense as it follows the whole integrated ethos that MS are going for at the moment. Also could bring brilliant cross platform benefits.

MikeHellstone said,
Would make sense as it follows the whole integrated ethos that MS are going for at the moment. Also could bring brilliant cross platform benefits.
Yes, in appearance, but especially if all three use the same kernel.

Mulsivaas said,
Yes, in appearance, but especially if all three use the same kernel.

I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure the Xbox has always used a version of the NT kernel. Maybe not the whole NT subsystem but just the parts needed to do what a games console does. The next Xbox could be more than that though so we could see the whole thing now.

Hell if they can put the NT core into WP8 then there's no problem with putting all of it into the next Xbox.

Mulsivaas said,
Yes, in appearance, but especially if all three use the same kernel.

That's what i mean. They are going for full integration not just aesthetic.

GP007 said,

I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure the Xbox has always used a version of the NT kernel. Maybe not the whole NT subsystem but just the parts needed to do what a games console does. The next Xbox could be more than that though so we could see the whole thing now.

Hell if they can put the NT core into WP8 then there's no problem with putting all of it into the next Xbox.

Yeah you're right, the xbox has been using a modified NT kernel from day 1!

ingramator said,

Yeah you're right, the xbox has been using a modified NT kernel from day 1!

It's actually a myth that the Xbox ran on a modified version of the NT kernel. It was written from scratch for the Xbox specifically, although it does share some of its APIs with Windows.

TRC said,

It's actually a myth that the Xbox ran on a modified version of the NT kernel. It was written from scratch for the Xbox specifically, although it does share some of its APIs with Windows.


Original Xbox alpha and beta development kits say otherwise.

TRC said,

It's actually a myth that the Xbox ran on a modified version of the NT kernel. It was written from scratch for the Xbox specifically, although it does share some of its APIs with Windows.

A person on the XBox 360 team stated in response to it being Win2k, that it was a custom built OS.

It was not Win2K, but it still was NT, and not a 'custom' OS.

The kernel was NT, and the layers were using a non-traditional set of win32 and a modified variation of DirectX, as features in the XBox DirectX existed before they were available on regular Windows NT.

This is true of the XBox 360 as well. The development of the XBox 360 version of NT is what led to several things in the actual Windows NT fork.

For example, it prompted the MinWin project of cleaning up and isolating layers as NT was originally to have remained. When porting back to the PowerPC, the layering had created extra development and problems.

The Video driver model of Vista is based on the GPU architecture and designs that came from the XBox 360 team. The WDM/WDDM is based on XBox 360 technologies for the integrated GPU DMA, RAM Sharing, Bus agnostic transfer technology, scheduling, etc. DirectX from the XBox 360 also was the design reference for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11, with 11 finally catching up in features to the XBox 360 for cross development parity.

(DX10 was to be equal, but NVidia's hardware failed to handles the specifications of the DirectX 360 subset, so DX10 was scaled back to allow the 8xxx NVidia series of GPUs to called DX10 as they were new when Vista was.)


The original XBox was technically NT, it was not Win2k though and was a modified version of NT. The same statement is true of the XBox 360, as it also is technically NT.

Think of the XBox version of NT as an 'Embedded' version, that is often changed and modified by the vendor in ways that change its features and functionality that make it no longer resemble a traditional copy of Windows NT.


So the claim that the XBox or the XBox 360 is NOT NT is a misunderstanding from a Microsoft engineer and poorly worded statement.