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Microsoft's Xbox chief talks 'forward-compatible' hardware and outlasting PlayStation

Mark Hachman | March 2, 2016
For Microsoft, returning users matter as much as sheer numbers of users.

But there’s a problem: UWAs aren’t the traditional Win32 apps that you’re used to, and Store apps like Rise can’t be modded. Spencer says they’re aware of the problem, and they’re working on it. Specifically, Spencer said customers have complained about the lack of support for multiple GPUs (which he said are now supported by UWAs); the lack of mods; and forcing developers to turn on Vsync, or vertical synchronization, which can limit frame rates.  “We’ll fix this,” Spencer said. 

In an interview, Spencer also said it was a plus that gamers pointed out all of these issues, but were satisfied with the overall performance of the app, compared to the older Win32 version. “We are 100 percent committed to the PC gaming space, and Windows is the best place for PC gamers to play,” Spencer said.

It’s important to note that Spencer may be the head of Xbox gaming across Microsoft—but that isn’t necessarily restricted to the console itself. Microsoft now allows Windows 10 users to remotely control and play Xbox games via the Windows 10 Xbox app, and the Xbox One’s user interface has been redesigned to bring it in line with Windows 10, as well as run apps like Edge. Microsoft has even written Android and iOS apps to allow users to access aspects of its Xbox Live services.

Future-proofing the Xbox One

It’s no secret that gamers were disappointed with the launch of the Xbox One—not just with the way it was positioned, but with hardware features like the updated Kinect, which “stole” hardware processing power from the console. Microsoft later trimmed the Kinect sensor, but that didn’t stop gleeful PlayStation 4 fans from lauding the PS4’s graphics leadership.

Spencer said he believes gamers will see hardware innovation in the current console. But what? In an interview, Spencer answered the question in broad strokes. 

“The right notion is to create a platform, for the apps to run on, that is scalable, in terms of the architecture that is underneath,” Spencer said.

“I’ve said we’re committed to future consoles, and some people have concerns—is Microsoft losing its DNA in consoles? No,” Spencer added. “And what I’m trying to say is that we’re actually focusing on a vision that allows us more flexibility, and more creativity and innovation in the hardware space, which should be good for console buyers who want to see the evolution happen in consoles like they see in phones, PCs, and everywhere else.”

 

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