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Microsoft: Xbox One's Windows 8 partition could be used for game companion apps

It doesn't have to be just Skype videocalls and Kinect

Speaking to OXM as part of today's mammoth feature on Xbox One's operating system design, Microsoft's Boyd Multerer has suggested that the console's Windows-8-based partition could be used to run apps that tie in with games, rather than being used purely for non-gaming features.

"When the game is on top, it gets, like 90% - it gets most of the resources of the box," Boyd told us, explaining how players will switch between the console's various, simultaneously active partitions (e.g. in order to use Skype without interrupting a round of XCOM). "When you flip over into the system side, the shared side, you look at your apps, it's able to get more of the CPU and GPU even though the RAM is staying the same.


"This is a very fast transition. You're in the game, you're in the app, you switch back and forth between them very quickly."

The onus in Microsoft marketing has been on using this feature to run entertainment and networking apps alongside games, but Multerer suggests that it could also be used for certain auxiliary game features, and in particular social mechanisms.

"You start thinking of it like "ah, okay, the game developer could really focus on the 3D world, focus on the art and the money they put into it, have this look beautiful," he said. "While working with a set of apps over here that allows us to have different surfaces - hook into social systems, to add value beyond the 3D world of the game, flip back and forth quickly between them.

"And you end up with a vibrant, changing world that can handle the innovation and the pace of change over on the internet, all the start-ups, that sort of stuff, but that can still work with the games, that need the predictability, that need the optimization, that need to make sure they're spending their money on the right things."

"This is quite difficult to do, we've been working on it for almost two years, like a year and a half ago there was some buzz in the press about a guy named David Cutler moving to Xbox," he added. "This is one of the creators of the modern operating system.

"And he's been around for a very long time - and he's writing this one. It's good. He knows what he's talking about. We got a very small, very senior team working on this one, making this fast, making the transitions fast, making it work. And I think this is exciting, I think this is very cool."

Digital platforms and auxiliary features are all the rage, nowadays, as I'm sure you'll know if you've watched an Ubisoft presser in the past 12 months. Tablet crossover is of particular interest to the big boys, who are doubtless anxious to keep people engaged and monetised while they're away from the game itself.

Xbox One is built to scratch all these itches, via the OS design and SmartGlass. For more of this sort of HOT, NUTRITIOUS, WELL-SEASONED exclusive access, check out our Xbox One guide.