Does the Xbox One’s Windows kernel mean it will run Windows 8 apps?

Xbox One_snap mode

When we saw Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi show off the the Xbox One multitasking in Snap Mode on stage at the Xbox Reveal event earlier this week, we immediately wondered if the new game console will run some variant of the Windows 8 operating system.

After all, the Xbox One has all the hallmarks of a Windows 8 PC. It uses an 8-core, 64-bit x86 combo computer and graphics processor that can technically run computer software (AMD has confirmed it worked with Microsoft to design a custom APU based on the Jaguar architecture for the One), 8GB RAM, HDMI (in and out), 500GB standard hard drive, USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi, as well as a Blu-ray drive that can install programs as well as games (Check out DT’s own Matt Smith’s comprehensive look at the technical specs of the Xbox One for details).

Out of the three different operating systems that Xbox uses at the same time, one even shares some of the same underlying code as other Windows platforms. As Xbox Chief Marc Whitten said briefly during his presentation, in addition to the Xbox OS and the shared partition, the One is running a “kernel of Windows,” which is rumored to be the NT core that’s a part of Windows 8/RT/Server 2012/Windows Phone 8, according to ZDNet. That means the new Xbox shares the same file system, networking, security, graphics (Direct X 11.1), and device drivers as its Windows relatives.

Unfortunately, sharing some of the same genetic makeup as other Windows platforms doesn’t mean the Xbox One will be able to run all Windows 8 apps, or that the Windows 8 apps will automatically be available through the Xbox One Store. For one thing, apps for the new console must work with Xbox controllers and Kinect, which Windows 8 apps just aren’t programmed to do. Even its Xbox Music and Video apps were custom developed for the game console, despite the fact that a variant of the apps already work on other Windows devices. Not just any app developer will be able to create apps for the new system, either. Microsoft will be choosing and inviting select developers for the honor.

With the Xbox One, it seems some form of the Windows operating system now exists on every device – from game console to smartphone. We wonder how Microsoft plans to make use of its wide-spread power. What would you like your family of Windows devices do?

[Image via Xbox One Reveal video]


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