Microsoft is making a fresh push into PC gaming with Windows 10, and it comes at an interesting time for the company’s Xbox ambitions. Following the troubled launch of Windows 8, Microsoft proceeded to torpedo Xbox’s reputation by making its new console less powerful than the PlayStation 4, more expensive due to a mandatory Kinect bundle of dubious value, and more focused on entertainment features to the detriment of gaming.
“It was a tough time for the team, a tough time for what we were trying to do with Xbox,” says Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer in an interview with The Verge. “Because a lot of the original ideas around Xbox One didn’t meet the expectations that Xbox fans have of what we should do with our product.” But after taking over from Don Mattrick, Spencer’s gamer-focused approach has started to pay off after hard decisions like unbundling Kinect; Microsoft’s E3 keynote last month was universally well received.
So it’s on this tentative surge of momentum that Microsoft is putting the Xbox brand at the heart of Windows 10, with an expansive new Xbox app and a long list of gaming features. “We’re taking the Xbox team and really thinking about it as the gaming team in Microsoft,” says Spencer. “Where Xbox is our gaming brand and it’s less solely about the console itself and more about the gaming ecosystem all up — whether you’re playing on a PC, whether you’re playing on your phone, whether you’re playing on your console."