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Evidence of Windows 8 apps on Xbox One presumably in front of us the whole time

Xbox One

It’s no secret that your Xbox One will be more than just a game console when it launches later this year. There’s of course the media aspects that are being expanded on from the Xbox 360, namely video and music capabilities. But it could be so much more than with rumors and hints of Windows 8 apps and games working on the machine. The latest fuel to the fire comes from Justin Angel who noticed something that’s been in front of all of us for a long time.

We didn’t really cover it here at Windows Phone Central, but earlier this year a development kit for the next-generation Xbox appeared on an eBay auction. The seller also happened to be leaking a lot of information about next-generation consoles before he was greeted by a    police raid and had his computer confiscated. The rise and fall of the individual is told really well by Stephen Totilo over at Kotaku. You should go read it and check out some of the screenshots supplied by SuperDaE, the hacker behind the information and eBay sale of the development kit.

One screenshot from the story caught the attention of Justin Angel, who previously worked at both Microsoft and Nokia. The screenshot shows a supposed file directory for Homefront 2. The game was originally being developed by THQ, but the company has since filed for bankruptcy and is now being developed by Crytek.

Xbox One Windows 8 XML

Justin noticed something quite interesting about the file directory, a specific file to be exact. Inside the file directory was “AppxManifest.xml” which indicates a Windows 8 WinRT app. That’s in conjunction with the “DurangoLauncher.exe”, which he suspects is used to launch the Xbox One game. Durango is believed to be the internal codename for the Xbox One.

While it’s not hard to fake screenshots like the one above, nearly all the information supplied by SuperDaE has checked out since. Plus we know the Xbox One is basically running three operating systems at once. You have a system OS to run apps like Skype and Internet Explorer, the “Xbox OS” which will power the games, and a layer that uses tech from Microsoft’s Hyper-V to switch between the two instantaneously. Many people have suspected that the system OS will be where developers, like yourself, will be able to develop and target for games and apps. Microsoft even hinted at such a possibility at the end of Build by telling developers to start building for the Xbox One by developing for Windows 8.

Don’t forget, indie developers can self-publish on the Xbox One.

What are your predictions for the relation between Windows and the Xbox One from a developers perspective?

Source: Kotaku, Twitter, Twitter

Thanks for the heads up Justin! 

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Reader comments

Evidence of Windows 8 apps on Xbox One presumably in front of us the whole time

60 Comments

MSFT boasted about Xbox live games across the WP-PC-XBOX, but nothing happened yet.
,MSFT boasted about app compatibility across WP-PC-XBOX. Yet to be true. My hopes are getting faded every time google release a new update.

If they actually make it happen which is something i knew will happen then the app purchases need to be sorted out. I don't want to buy the same thing for three screens which is stupid since its from the same company app store. Anyways nice piece Sam

How about WP apps on W8...? Just like how iPod/iPhone apps are compatible on the iPad. I really can't see it being practical to have a landscape app developed for large screens to work on ones that are under 5" at the moment.

With the two screens sharing the same kernel it's fairly easy to make a WP app into a W8 companion app and vice versa.

I think that is one of the reason Windows RT is not catching on, maybe an old song, but there is just no apps.
MS had around 100K WP apps already at the time and they decided to start Windows 8/RT app library from scratch.
Bad for users, bad for devs, bad all around. 
 
 

At launch they said something along the lines of "we don't have the SDK ready yet, but just develop a Windows 8 app and you'll be far ahead."

They said that at //Build/ .. if you want to build app's for Xbox One continue building for Windows Store. I am unsure how nobody picked up on that :)
 
My question is .. if its using the Windows RT runtime .. can xbox one games go .. the other direction aka ... to Surface/RT

They should, but remember even on the best PC there is going to be a performance difference.
 
Until PC GPUs catch up to the new features of the XBox One GPU, even a top end system will struggle.
 
As for indie publishers with lighter type games, development shouldn't be much difference for all of them as the frameworks continue to equalize.
 

What are you talking about? PC GPUs are more capable than the Xbox One and PS4 GPUs. GTX Titan is enough to answer that.

I'm not really interested in consoles but I don't get why people are complaining about Xbox. You know it's going to get all the games, plus you have an all in one computing device. Best of both worlds without having to pay thousands of dollars.

for anyone thinking that Windows 8 Store apps will just work out of the box lets calm down for a sec.  Devs will have to re-write for a 10 foot experience and probably kinect integration is mandatory since the kinect is mandatory with XBONE.
This is not the boost to Windows Store everyone is hoping for.  Most likely Microsoft will provide a curated app store like they have done for select 360 apps.

Kinect support is not mandatory, but Kinect is included in the HOPES that developers will support it since every user has one.

"Devs will have to re-write for a 10 foot experience and probably kinect integration is mandatory since the kinect is mandatory with XBONE"
 
The "relative size" of a 10" tablet screen 18 inches away from your face is nearly the same as a 46" TV screen that is 10 feet away.  Therefore, I think most Modern UI apps are already optimized pretty well for the 10 foot experience.  A desktop/laptop is also pretty close in relative size and is also typically used in landscape.  However, a phone is generally used in portrait mode and the relative size of the screen is much smaller.  I think MS got it right when they drew the line between phone apps and everthing else.  For the most part, a phone app has to be optimized for specifically for that form factor while apps for other devices can be a shared experience.
 
Also, Kinect is a mandatory part of XBONE so developers can count on it being there and program for it if it makes sense.  They don't have to use it though.  I'm sure there will be lots of apps/games that just don't really lend themselves to Kinect's functionality.

Hopefully, MS will do some voodoo to turn touch gestures into Kinect gestures thus alleviating the amount of re-writing necessary.  One might even suspect that this was part of the reason that the new Kinect had to be bundled with the device.  This seems like an obvious decision and if they have not already developed this I would be astonished.
CB01

Well, hasn't the Xbox always ran some form of custom Windows build? It isn't too much of a stretch to assume that this is Windows 8 without any of the clutter, all geared towards making it a gaming console but retaining what you would need to develop in a Win8 environment and literally just send it over and have it work just fine? 
Maybe this speaks to MS wanted much easier porting from PC games to Xbox and vice-versa? 

Couldn't this just be the Smartglass integration or a secondary app for second screens? I find it a bit weird that a Xbox game is using another app for the Windows stuff. Also i could imagine that they use a similar technique to get games going on the Xbox OS. Wouldn't be weird if it uses a similar setup to enable communication between OSses or using some API's

The Windows side of the box will not be fully exploited at launch. By 2017 (in 4 years) it will ship with an SSD, 4k disks, and full windows compatibility.
 

full access to Windows 8/RT apps on Xbox One with Smartglass integration would be brilliant (Kinect integration too woudl be awesome). Everyone could then sit on the couch with their phones and tablets and use apps on their 'just-became-a-full-on-PC' Xbox One and giant flatscreen TV. At that point, I don't see why anyone would get a PS4 instead of an Xbox One.

Full access to Windows 8/RT apps on Xbox One with Smartglass integration would be brilliant. Everyone could then sit on their couch with their phones and tablets and use their 'just-became-a-full-on-PC' Xbox One on a giant, HD flatscreen TV. That, coupled in with the TV integration, voice and motion controls of the Kinect, and the games and at that point I don't see why anyone would get a PS4 instead of an Xbox One.

At least in the beginning, it'll probably be a curated selection of non-games. Games, especially one that already have controller support on W8, would probably be not far behind, as MS will probably need to provide asset management tools for developers, with Spartan Assault leading the, uhm, assault.

I think that games are going to have companion apps that run side by side or on SmartGlass while you play the game. It doesn't make sense to me why Homefront would be running on the Windows app platform instead of the Xbox OS side.

How the fuck can you leap to such assumptions?
It's more likely that the app architecture for Xbox One is similar to the Windows 8/RT, because that's also the case for Windows Phone 8.
It's unlikely to utilize the SAME apps. Just imagine using any of these apps with a controller. Keyboard and mouse is bad enough for them, with them often utilizing a tabbing orgy instead of hotkeys to activate functions, but a controller would be hilariously impractical.
You can bet your ass that the apps can be easily ported and are basically the same in terms of development. But they will still be versions created specifically for the console. You might even have one app that exists in multiple versions, meaning that buying the Xbox version will give you the version for Windows, as well.
 
There's also the question of performance if it's really the SAME apps. Sure, currently there's enough processing power to overkill the hardware requirements on Windows 8 apps.
This will change three years down the line. And a modern console could exist for up to ten years. You can't unify the systems like that, because it would transform the console into a bottleneck. It's bad enough for games already, where everything is created for Xbox 360 and then shoddily ported to the other systems, often even losing features because of that (like English language support in the European version of Deus Ex).

There's also the Logo, SmallLogo, Splashscreen, and StoreLogo pngs there too, which you need for a WinRT app. I mean, you'd probably need those logos for the Xbox One anyway, but I'm not sure about the splashscreen one.

Im sorry, but how is this news? it was announced in the original press conference. They stated that "key windows 8 apps would be migrated" so theyll bring over some things, but not others, until it gets unlocked, and then itll run anything a windows box will run

1+1=2

Isn't this obvious? The Xbox One does run the kernel of Windows 8 and the WinRT APIs can already scale to different platforms. The 360 could run apps created with something very similar to Silverlight and the new WinRT is the successor.

But that doesn't mean that you will be able to install the same apps or games! Just that the technology is very similar and that a lot of code can be shared (just like between Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT).

I thought I read somewhere that people are referring to this APIs as WinXRT, in comparison to WinRT and WinPhoneRT.

If this is true, MS has just spelled the end-of-PC. Since they just announced of being "device and service company"; because for most of us, we will just need a Surface, a WP, an Xbox One and a cloud in our house! All provided by MS. Like Bill Gates predicted years ago, "computers will disappear from our lives."

They really should join apps in the store, even if it is only by name (screenshots and files between W8 and WP8 could stay different).  There is a place in the store where you can see what the app runs on...  Usually it says:  'ARM, x86'.
I would love to see apps say 'ARM, WP8, x86, xbox one'.
I would also really hope that app developers have to go in and modify their UI for compatibility with an xbox controller before their app is available for xbox.  That way we don't end up with a ton of crappy app ports to xbox one.  Standards are important!  But really, the tile-based UI that windows has been pushing would be EXCELLENT for a game controller, so not a ton of modifications would be necessary.
This also begs another question, if windows 8 is maximized for controller use, how easy would it be to make a winRT box to compete with cheaper TV services by google and apple?  Really simple!!

It's a good idea, but how are we going to controll apps that were made for touch/mouse&keyboard with a controller or even with Kinect? Those kinds of inputs are all totally different! Not sure how are all the apps going to run well with all of them.

I said Microsoft should thrown in a watered down version of Office on XB1for shiats and giggiles in the forums
/Might just be close to right

I would love to see that actually.  Hopping on skydrive, and adding some text to a paper between games seems like a nice idea.  It wouldn't work mind you, but still nice to have.  It would certainly be a push towards total integration into the MS ecosystem. 

Windows 8 apps on the XB1? That would be all kinds o' awesome if that were to be true! Exciting times!! Can't wait for my XB1 to be released!

If the same apps from the windows store will run on xbox one, then this will be a huge win for MS.
If they can say to app developers, that an app created for windows store will have a potential customer from every windows 8 laptop/desktop/tablet AND every single xbox one, then this would be a huge incentive for app developers.
There would be a huge increase in the number of apps being developed and released for windows store.
I would love for the forthcoming VLC player for windows store to also run on xbox one, hope MS wouldnt block apps that compete against there own apps live xbox video / music.
As others have pointed out, if the pricicng structure is well though out, eg buy an app for a single device for less, or pay a little extra and buy it for use across multiple devices, and use skydrive for syncing settings etc, this would be a huge win for consumers.
The next step I feel would be for windows 8 phones, I mean x86 based bay trail chips in smartphones, they could potentially run full windows 8, but with desktop walled off or the modern UI adjusted slightly for phone portrait mode.
I know it would be very annoying for Windows phone 8 owners if MS started over again with x86 windows phones, but it would mean a full, true coherent ecosystem with the same app running on smartphone - tablet - laptop - desktop - xbox
 
 
 
 

I was hoping they were going to announce this at BUILD this year.  If they don't go this route, they are pretty dumb.  They already had Xbox development through XNA, but making it WinRT + Kinect will be a pretty awesome dev experience.

I'd be more interested in XBone games running on Windows 8.
That would be a pretty good boost for the Store (more competition for Steam is always good).