As is usually the case when Xbox boss Phil Spencer open his mouth in public, some interesting words concerning the future of the Xbox One and the games console industry as a whole subsequently emerged to suggest that Microsoft have some new hardware planned for the near future.
As reported by UK publication The Guardian, Phil Spencer mused about how the Xbox One will be able to transcend the usual console cycle of several years through the use of backwards and forward compatibility at a press event in San Francisco last week.
But Microsoft’s ideas go way beyond just that. Spencer says that being able to separate software and hardware platforms from each other will enable the industry to “see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen.”
In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so. We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs. We believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen.
But here’s the most interesting snippet. Spencer explicitly mentions that the move would allow the software giant to release new and improved hardware during a single generation. Could this be a hint at a more powerful version of the Xbox One?
We’ll see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation and allow the same games to run backwards and forward compatible because we have UWAs (Universal Windows Applications) running on top of UWP (Universal Windows Platforms). It allows us to focus on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.
We can effectively feel a little bit more like what we see on PC where I can still go back and run my old Quake and Doom games, but then I can also see the best 4K games coming out. Hardware innovation continues and software takes advantage. I don’t have to jump generation and lose everything I played before.
It’s certainly no secret that the desire to make games consoles last as long as possible results in them becoming inferior to the open-source platform that is PC, but it sounds very much like Spencer and Microsoft are thinking of ways (or already have) thought of a workaround of sorts, to prolong each generation.
By the time the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were superseded by their successors, both consoles were a far cry from the power of top-end PCs, and with this generation’s specs already trailing behind the latter, many believe neither the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 will last anywhere near as long in comparison.
If Microsoft are planning something big, we’re unlikely to hear more until this year’s E3 in June.