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Why didn't Microsoft ever do what they were known for with the Xbox platform and release an OS?

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
Microsoft is best known for operating systems. Even today with the easy to use free distributions of Linux, Windows dominates the PC market. Do why didn't they ever apply this domain knowledge into an official Xbox OS release?

I am aware of the Xbox features shoehorned into windows 10 (Cortana, game bar, etc), but those features don't really make windows an Xbox.

The advantages seem obvious. Leverage windows existing flexibility to run on a variety of new platforms, drive adoption of the brand, funnel sales into their propitiatory marketplace, and probably the most important - sell more service subscriptions.

Had Microsoft attempted this earlier, we could have seen the Xbox version of the PS3, or maybe more relevant, be looking at the possibility of making the upcoming steam deck a fully mobile Xbox.

I know many people will say they don't want this, but that isn't the point of this thread. I would rather discuss reasons Microsoft hasn't pursued this product when it seems like it's right in their wheelhouse and a no brainer.
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
You realise that Microsoft's main business is well Business customers? having a dedicated Xbox OS makes no sense when they can and do make a modified OS for their consoles
If Microsoft's main business is business customers then why did they get into gaming in the first place? That makes no sense. I'm taking about leveraging their existing expertise. I don't even understand what you mean with the second sentence.
 

Boglin

Member
You realise that Microsoft's main business is well Business customers? having a dedicated Xbox OS makes no sense when they can and do make a modified OS for their consoles
I don't think what you just said conflicts with what the OP is saying.
Just like the modified Windows OS for the Xbox console, the Xbox OS would a modified Windows OS for a console like PC interface.
 

SCB3

Member
If Microsoft's main business is business customers then why did they get into gaming in the first place? That makes no sense. I'm taking about leveraging their existing expertise. I don't even understand what you mean with the second sentence.
They got into gaming to make money and push tech, gaming is a major part of that on PC

What I meant is that the Xbox's OS now is a modified Windows 10
 

M1chl

Currently Gif and Meme Champion
Because it's deeply customized for HW it's running on and that goes from UEFI implementation onwards, so it wouldn't even starts booting on normal PC. Simply too custom for few specific HW platforms.
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
Why exactly would they release an Xbox OS? What would be the point?
If they released an Xbox OS for a trivial cost or for free you may find customers who would be interested in that instead of $139 for win 10 home. Then they could take advantage of the benefits I listed in the OP. There also exists the possibility of gamers on PC who truly are only interested in gaming, people with specialty hardware they want to use for gaming, or people who just enjoy building custom consoles. Maybe the answer is there isn't a big enough market. I still think with Microsoft's portfolio and financial resources it makes for an interesting product.

They got into gaming to make money and push tech, gaming is a major part of that on PC

What I meant is that the Xbox's OS now is a modified Windows 10
Ok... and I was asking why they haven't released a stand alone Xbox OS.

Because it's deeply customized for HW it's running on and that goes from UEFI implementation onwards, so it wouldn't even starts booting on normal PC. Simply too custom for few specific HW platforms.
Yeah, I agree when we're talking about the specific Series, One, etc OS. But this would be an Xbox OS similar to other operating systems that runs given required specs. It wouldn't be hard to bake in a stress test to gauge compatibility of software with the detected hardware + driver setup and warn or block apps that wouldn't run. Alternatively it could offer a PC version of the Xbox marketplace (which was suggested recently) that helps inform compatible software.
 

Boglin

Member
I couldn't find the webpage after a cursory search but if my memory is correct, there was a Q&A from the Xbox Game Bar developers who gave the reason Microsoft hasn't seriously pursued the idea.

It's because the task is far larger than it appears on the surface and they simply don't think there is enough market for the amount of effort it would take.
The poor Windows Media Center and Windows 8 reception left Microsoft wary of less than typical use cases. Living room PCs get very little love from them.
 

Miles708

Member
They were trying to do an unifies OS between all devices when they were commercializing the Windows Phone, but it got nowhere and soon changed directions.
Which is a pity in my opinion, my old Windows Phone is still my favourite one, light cool and snappy.
 

Drew1440

Member
If anything Microsoft are trying to reduce the editions of its OS, Going from Windows 7 that had 3 different consumer versions (Home, Professional, Ultimate) plus the Enterprise, Server and Embedded versions.
They did release versions of Windows that were centered around a 10-foot user interface which were the media center editions of Windows XP and Vista, although these were centered around media streaming (local media stored on the PC or NAS, not like Neflix) rather than gaming. They abandoned it in Windows 8 and removed it entirely in Windows 10.

The modern Xbox is basically the living room media center PC.
 

kingfey

Banned
Microsoft didn't give a crap about xbox at all, after OG xbox. OG xbox had games, studios. 360 didn't really have that much, and they didn't even invest in their own first party, which caused the shit storm xbox one era.

I doubt they would have made OS for xbox.
 

KungFucius

Member
If Microsoft's main business is business customers then why did they get into gaming in the first place? That makes no sense. I'm taking about leveraging their existing expertise. I don't even understand what you mean with the second sentence.
Oh my god. How can you post something so utterly devoid of business knowledge? How can a company that gets most of its money from market A use some of those profits and knowledge to try to expand into market C to make more money? I mean shit, that is impossibly stupid for any company to do right?

They already have Windows and Windows runs games. Why would they try to sell a games only OS that would have to run on expensive PC hardware when those people could instead just buy a copy of Windows and use their PC for gaming and anything else a PC does?
 

6502

Member
Well they didn't target kids so an OS "Jimmy can do his homework on" was not neccessary. It would also have damaged their gaming credentials - rrod etc was bad enough - bsod would have added to it (and was the instant go to mockery when first announced).

It would have been nice to have some homebrew dev environment I suppose but that would be niche, and afaik they did not need to coax future generations of devs onto their system (net yaroze style) as everything was and is moving towards pc standards anyway.

Well, that's my opinion based on zero inside industry knowledge.
 

Brofist

Member
At the end of the day I don't think they want to intertwine Xbox consoles and Windows PC that much.

They prefer the Xbox side of things to be locked down, and well they really have no choice in the Windows side at this point, it's the wild west and they know it.
 

PhaseJump

Gold Member
If Microsoft's main business is business customers then why did they get into gaming in the first place? That makes no sense. I'm taking about leveraging their existing expertise. I don't even understand what you mean with the second sentence.

Microsoft's main business has been licensing enterprise software and subscriptons. They are moving now into licensing IoT security software for embedded chips with Azure Sphere, and pivoting the enterprise stuff to be more reliant on the networked Azure cloud back end. Everything you think you know is irrelevant.

People don't even use PCs that much anymore, with smart phones and tablets around. Xbox has always been a toy that doesn't matter. It has a locked down store to sell games, it keeps Microsoft's name out there, it collects usage data for their advertising.
 

wipeout364

Member
I think if I understand what the OP is getting at it’s basically why isn’t Xbox OS a packaged product that people could buy and install. He has worded it oddly so it comes across weird and sounding like why isn’t Xbox OS it’s own thing and not related to windows.

I honestly don’t think there is any interest in such a OS, Microsoft to my knowledge has never made their OS open source although aspects of it have been made available. Linux/android is simply better since it can be forked and customized as much as needed.
 
Steam and windows on series x is a killblow to playstation
There is 0 reason to build a pc except enthusiast builds if they announce u can get download steam on seires x tomorrow
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
Because what would be the point?
MrFunSocks MrFunSocks asked this exact question and I tried to give some reasoning IN THE EXACT POST YOU USED MY QUOTE FROM. I'm going to give you the benefit of a doubt and not block you yet, but I'm getting really troll vibes at the moment.

Oh my god. How can you post something so utterly devoid of business knowledge? How can a company that gets most of its money from market A use some of those profits and knowledge to try to expand into market C to make more money? I mean shit, that is impossibly stupid for any company to do right?

They already have Windows and Windows runs games. Why would they try to sell a games only OS that would have to run on expensive PC hardware when those people could instead just buy a copy of Windows and use their PC for gaming and anything else a PC does?

Is this response satire? Did you not read the response I was replying to and get the context that the question was rhetorical?

Microsoft's main business has been licensing enterprise software and subscriptons. They are moving now into licensing IoT security software for embedded chips with Azure Sphere, and pivoting the enterprise stuff to be more reliant on the networked Azure cloud back end. Everything you think you know is irrelevant.

People don't even use PCs that much anymore, with smart phones and tablets around. Xbox has always been a toy that doesn't matter. It has a locked down store to sell games, it keeps Microsoft's name out there, it collects usage data for their advertising.

Did you see the person that my words were in response to? I had another user quoted so if you had them ignored or something, maybe my post would look odd?

I know that this isn't 1991 and windows isn't making more money off of win 10 than subscriptions to office 365. In the last year Microsoft won (and lost) a multi billion dollar deal with the DoD over Holo lens. The year before they locked in a massive deal to provide secure serverless compute capabilities to the US gov. That's way more lucrative than windows. But from an everyday consumer perspective, they are still an OS software company. And an Xbox OS cost would be a drop in the bucket that has the potential to ... well I listed the revenue possibilities in my OP.
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
I think if I understand what the OP is getting at it’s basically why isn’t Xbox OS a packaged product that people could buy and install. He has worded it oddly so it comes across weird and sounding like why isn’t Xbox OS it’s own thing and not related to windows.

I honestly don’t think there is any interest in such a OS, Microsoft to my knowledge has never made their OS open source although aspects of it have been made available. Linux/android is simply better since it can be forked and customized as much as needed.
Yeah, my writing skills leave something to be desired 😅. No more creating posts at 2 AM. Also I wouldn't imagine it being open source, just free or very low cost.
 

PhaseJump

Gold Member
MrFunSocks MrFunSocks asked this exact question and I tried to give some reasoning IN THE EXACT POST YOU USED MY QUOTE FROM. I'm going to give you the benefit of a doubt and not block you yet, but I'm getting really troll vibes at the moment.



Is this response satire? Did you not read the response I was replying to and get the context that the question was rhetorical?



Did you see the person that my words were in response to? I had another user quoted so if you had them ignored or something, maybe my post would look odd?

I know that this isn't 1991 and windows isn't making more money off of win 10 than subscriptions to office 365. In the last year Microsoft won (and lost) a multi billion dollar deal with the DoD over Holo lens. The year before they locked in a massive deal to provide secure serverless compute capabilities to the US gov. That's way more lucrative than windows. But from an everyday consumer perspective, they are still an OS software company. And an Xbox OS cost would be a drop in the bucket that has the potential to ... well I listed the revenue possibilities in my OP.

I saw it. You're missing the broader point. The Xbox already runs a custom OS based on Windows, opening it up could lead to a cut into their console software sales.

Regardless of that though, every day consumers and their perspective only matter to benefit and feed Microsoft's ads or traditionally, their workstation/development ecosystem.

Their main money maker was and still is enterprise. The home consumer and the Xbox customer, was always secondary as far as taking in revenue. They locked up contracts for enterprise, and OEM PC resellers locked up licenses to get people hooked on their way of doing things.

Microsoft will paint a consumer friendly picture until hell freezes over, but they only seriously cared about supporting enterprise for decades.
 
Also I wouldn't imagine it being open source, just free or very low cost.
I think you're kind of ignoring the extent to which Windows is already free or low cost. Most people get their copy essentially for free when they buy a prebuilt PC or laptop, and everyone else either upgrades from an older version they already have (you can still do this with Win7 to this day, AFAIK), pays 20 bucks for an OEM key, or just pirates the thing. I don't know a single person who paid full price for their copy of Windows 10. Most never paid at all.
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
I saw it. You're missing the broader point. The Xbox already runs a custom OS based on Windows, opening it up could lead to a cut into their console software sales.

Regardless of that though, every day consumers and their perspective only matter to benefit and feed Microsoft's ads or traditionally, their workstation/development ecosystem.

Their main money maker was and still is enterprise. The home consumer and the Xbox customer, was always secondary as far as taking in revenue. They locked up contracts for enterprise, and OEM PC resellers locked up licenses to get people hooked on their way of doing things.

Microsoft will paint a consumer friendly picture until hell freezes over, but they only seriously cared about supporting enterprise for decades.
Ok, I got that, however I will say cutting into console sales in this instance isn't a bad thing right? MS doesn't make money off of consoles because the price points are set lower than BOM to stay competitive. You lose the hit you take on plastic and silicon but keep the locked ecosystem.

I concede we are past the point of this being a viable product in today's gaming landscape with the big push toward streaming, but 15 years ago, they may have had an opening for this idea.
 

kingpotato

Ask me about my Stream Deck
I think you're kind of ignoring the extent to which Windows is already free or low cost. Most people get their copy essentially for free when they buy a prebuilt PC or laptop, and everyone else either upgrades from an older version they already have (you can still do this with Win7 to this day, AFAIK), pays 20 bucks for an OEM key, or just pirates the thing. I don't know a single person who paid full price for their copy of Windows 10. Most never paid at all.
Windows 10 had the upgrade from 7 for free too if I recall correctly. The vendors that builds the PCs and Laptops buy the $135+ OS for something like $12 a key in bulk, which is why you see keys sold for cheap on less mainstream retailers. You're right, exceptionally few people probably go and buy full price direct from Microsoft.
 

RoboFu

One of the green rats
People cannot even understand steam machine let alone the “complexity” around pc gaming. Plug and play is what masses want.
 

skneogaf

Member
I have 3 gaming pc's and one server pc and I'd buy xbox os for my 3 gaming pc's straight away.

I only use the 3 for games and nothing else.

I hate having to update stuff in Windows I don't use.
 

Md Ray

Gold Member
I've always wondered what a "stripped back" low-cost Windows OS for PC gamers would be like... A sort of "tailor made" just for gamers with unnecessary bits and bobs (read: software, programs that run in the background) removed. It would help immensely for those with low-power APU systems with less amount of memory. And I think Xbox OS is just that, a lean OS with less overhead, and even leaner API designed to get the most out of the hardware. I agree with OP, it would be amazing to have something like this for PC.

EDIT:
This is basically Xbox OS vs Windows 10 with the same CPU, running at the same clock speeds. You can see even with a ton more GPU power on the Windows side, Xbox version is ahead with vastly superior frametimes.


 
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cormack12

Gold Member
It's easier to unify your products for compatability and develop features once that are reusable. The simple boring answer.

Also, what makes an OS for a console is similar to the approach by Apple with macOS and iOS. It's very narrow development focus means you can really customise the OS image down to the box itself (in terms of drivers, firmwares, revisions, apis, frameworks etc.) - basically all the bits in the middle. If you suddenly sell an Xbox OS that people can go and install on any PC then you have to add all the extra supports and scaffold in for the large and wonderful PC eco-system. Which will introduce stability issues, update issues etc. At which point you have Windows 10 anyway.

Basically just think of the Xbox OS as an internal, optmised version of Embedded. If you did what you suggest we'd probably end up with a Frankenstein version of POSReady 7.
 
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twilo99

Member
I am aware of the Xbox features shoehorned into windows 10 (Cortana, game bar, etc), but those features don't really make windows an Xbox.

Game bar brings windows inside the ecosystem tho.. I'm able to join xbox parties, chats, etc. with friends who play on xbox.

Gamepass brings most games that are on xbox to PC.

So overall, even if it isn't an "xbox OS" but it does the essential bits.

If anything, they should allow the xbox to dual boot into windows...
 
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