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Xbox One: Exploring its synergies in the Microsoft ecosystem

Mark Hachman | Nov. 22, 2013
Don't believe for a second that an Xbox One will replace your gaming PC or your office PC--or even serve to supplement the PC itself. In some scenarios, in fact, a PC or a phone is almost a necessity for enjoying an optimal Xbox One experience.

You might think, having pored through all of the early launch coverage of the Microsoft Xbox One, that the new console was some sort of hybrid of a PC and a gaming machine.

Let me disabuse you of that notion.

Oh, there are indeed many commonalities between the two machines. But don't believe for a second that an Xbox One will replace your gaming PC or your office PC--or even serve to supplement the PC itself. In some scenarios, in fact, a PC or a phone is almost a necessity for enjoying an optimal Xbox One experience.

Some people have described the One, which goes on sale on November 22, as a member of the last generation of consoles--and if the Xbox and the PlayStation 4 persist for a decade or more, that may turn out to be true. Some aspects of the Xbox One feel as if Microsoft is inviting us into the future. But in other respects, the Xbox stumbles over the basics.

TechHive has posted a full review of the Xbox One as a game console. Here at PCWorld, we wanted to investigate a different question: Does it matter that the Xbox One is a Microsoft product, and will Xbox One users benefit from owning other Microsoft products and services? We ignored the way games like Ryse: Son of Rome played, and instead evaluated the Xbox One on the criteria that Microsoft currently champions: devices, services, ecosystem.

We give it a passing grade, no more. Why? Read on.

Kinect's magic eye makes logging in a breeze
"What if a single device could provide all your entertainment, and what if that device could turn on your TV, and turn on all of your devices in your living room?" Yusuf Mehdi, the corporate vice president in charge of Xbox, said at the launch. "And what if it was always ready and connected?"

With the One, Microsoft puts its best foot forward. A spoken command--"Xbox, on"--turns on the console. If you've owned a previous Xbox version, you own a Gamertag, your callsign within the Xbox world. Much as in the Windows world, Microsoft asks you to tie your Gamertag to your Microsoft account, a benefit that becomes apparent later on.

Kinect then displays a small video window showing what it sees, and it overlays your name and Gamertag over your head. Unless the Kinect sensor is off, the One will automatically recognize you--and, if you're the only player in the room, will sign you in and load all your content, automagically. You can verbally flip back and forth between users if a buddy walks by the Kinect camera. Its face recognition may not be bulletproof, security-wise (there's the issue of twins, for example), but I would love for my PC to include this feature. Imagine how different things might be if your Surface could recognize you from day one.

 

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