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Microsoft's Xbox One will succeed where Google TV failed

Mark Hachman | May 22, 2013
Yes, we've seen set-top boxes try to combine the Web, apps, and games before. But nothing approaches the way Microsoft's Xbox One does ...

Microsoft often talks about natural user interfaces. While the launch screen (or Home screen, as Microsoft referred to it) looks suspiciously Windows 8-ish with its brightly-colored tiles, users can literally wave it away. Voice commands give players the ability to cut through the noise. "Play Forza," for example, should launch a One user straight into the game.

And let's not forget the games. Although we're going to see more of what Microsoft and its partners have planned at the E3 show in a few weeks, Microsoft Studios chief Phil Spencer promised 15 games for the Xbox One, eight of which will be new "franchises." Forget the relative paucity of Windows apps in the Windows Store--the Xbox has always been able to attract top-tier, AAA developers, and that looks like it will continue. That has always what has driven a console's success, and what should keep the Xbox atop the two-horse race between itself and Sony. (Sorry, Nintendo.)

In both of these categories, Google has fallen woefully short. Early apps that allowed the phone to serve as a controller were neglected by users, and voice control never quite made it, either. And while Google boasts about 800,000 apps in the Android Market, just a handful of quality apps are available for Google TV.

How does it all fit together?
What we didn't see at the One's launch was how this all fits into the grand ecosystem of Windows devices. Remember, Windows Phone has an Xbox app, so will there be closer ties here? Microsoft executives reminded us that we'll have Windows tablets, and presumably phones, to provide us with the second-screen "SmartGlass" technology to provide supplementary information and controls.

And there are more questions: Will the Xbox connect to Games for Windows? Will there be cross-platform play on future Halo iterations, for example? Will Skype use Microsoft Xbox gamertags as contacts, or will it only be a gamer's traditional Skype contacts? We've asked Microsoft for additional details, but they have yet to respond.

Within the United States, at least, Microsoft owns the living room. According to unreleased NPD data , Microsoft not only outsold all other consoles last month, but has done so for more than two years straight. What Microsoft needs to do now is use its hegemony in the living room to build outward. We can assume that there's a plan in place. Now we need to hear it.


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