Microsoft is gearing up for another serious attempt at offering a cohesive gaming experience for buyers of Windows PCs. At least that’s how it appears based on comments made by Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer about the upcoming Windows 10 event on its campus.
Commenting on what he would have to share when he takes the stage at the January 21st event Microsoft sent out invitations for yesterday, Spencer told followers of his Twitter profile that he’d be “focusing more on what we [Microsoft] are doing on Windows 10 in January.” He elaborated a bit more, declaring, “it’s time for us [Microsoft] to talk about gaming on Windows.”
What that means exactly is unclear. Microsoft has such a checkered history with PC gaming that it’s hard to nail down what Spencer might share at the Windows 10 event. Certainly, it’s possible that he’ll talk more about Direct X12, that’s the next version of the underlying software that powers games on PCs today and the Xbox One.
It’s also possible that Microsoft might finally do something about its failures in the PC gaming area so far. Make no mistake, just about every other gaming company has a better reputation than Microsoft has with PC gamers.
@RpLayy I'll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January, it's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 12, 2014
First it introduced Games for Windows Live, a sort of pseudo service that connected PC users to Xbox Live to earn Achievements and more. Despite early promise, that initiative quickly stalled. Next Microsoft tried jump starting Games for Windows Live again, but that didn’t work and it ultimately shut down the service.
It followed all of that up with the Games for Windows app, a program that let Microsoft-published games in the Windows Store award Xbox Live Achievements and little else. It, like the Xbox on Windows Phone initiative that inspired it, has also stalled and doesn’t offer a single compelling thing outside of Xbox Live Achievements. All of this has transpired while services like Steam have grown in size and scope. Today, Microsoft has virtually no serious gaming infrastructure on PC, even though the overwhelming majority of gamers are running a version of its operating system on their machines.
Since being announced as CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has maintained that to build momentum Microsoft needs to examine what some have described as digital life scenarios. Forget selling hardware and platforms, the company is hoping to make a name for itself by being at the center of what people normally do with their devices. On the iPad and Android that includes giving users proper versions of Microsoft Office. In the living room that includes gaming and television. Its makes sense that Microsoft would make aggressive moves in the PC space, its PC gaming is popular and Microsoft already has the raw ingredients for success.
Maybe – and this is pure speculation – Microsoft has plans to create its own serious gaming service and link that back to its now centralized Windows Store. We know that Windows 10 will offer some big changes for Desktop users. Windows 10 includes a Start Menu that doesn’t completely take over the screen like Desktop users hated with Windows 8. Windows Store apps can now run in the Desktop too. Again, the raw ingredients are already there. Users have been able to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview since September, but it won’t be available in final form until the second half of 2015.
Whatever Microsoft has planned, it’s clear that the company plans to make a big move in the PC gaming space. Steam leaders felt so sure that Microsoft was making a big move on gaming in 2012 that they publicly bashed Windows 8 and its Windows Store before release. Whether it’ll garner excitement from PC gamers in the wake of ever-increasing Steam popularity remains completely unclear.