Like I did after Sony’s event a few months ago, here are some thoughts on the Xbox One after a day of digestion.
What’s in a name?
The Xbox One successfully gets us mentioning Microsoft’s “all-in-one” entertainment box vision and for that I commend them. It’s a confusing name when I’m discussing the Xbox’s legacy but we’re far enough out that it’s not going to be an issue.
Ironically, the Xbox One is backwards compatible with the original Xbox — they both support the x86 instruction set. It’s up to Microsoft to enable backwards compatibility with their origins though.
I’m still wondering what people are going to settle on as an acronym. XONE? XBONE? XBO? XO? X1? XBONER? I’ve been using XONE but XBONE is amusing to say aloud. I guess we should chalk one up to the marketing team for making this a discussion topic as well.
No More Borrowing Games?
Microsoft have already confirmed that multiple profiles can play a game that’s activated on the same system. It will work just as it did on the Xbox 360. But what about sharing of games amongst friends?
I don’t usually buy used games but I lend out and borrow my share of them. It’s a social thing that I’ve participated in since my days with the Super Nintendo. If this is something the PlayStation 4 will allow, it will be my platform of choice but until all of these details are hashed out in plain English by all parties involved, I will wait an see.
How about that TV?
Microsoft would have me believe that the TV is an important thing in my life. That’s not the case at all. I don’t need to flip back and forth between whatever I’m watching and games. If I want to watch PTI, I’m going to watch PTI. I’m not going to flip over to a game of Forza Motorsport 5 in between the commercials. If I wanted something to distract me during commercial breaks, I have an iPad and this Macbook Air here.
Microsoft also wants this box to be at the center of my entertainment unit which is my home theatre area. It will have a place there but it’s not the place I consume TV. I leave that to the living room and the family room. I don’t even have a cable box in the home theater area. If the Xbox One doubled as a standalone and Rogers compatible DVR, I would have seriously considered one for my home theatre area. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In order to maintain a high level of compatibility, they decided to go down the HDMI passthrough route. It’s a clever idea but it doesn’t integrate well with my set up.
Dual Operating Systems
I think the inclusion of the dual operating system and hypervisor is incredibly interesting. It is the first consumer electronics product that I could think of that incorporates this kind of virtualization technology. There’s undoubtedly some performance loss by passing through the hypervisor but it does enable the smooth seamless switching Microsoft is aiming for. By partitioning their hardware resources, Microsoft can run intensive applications on the “Windows OS” and not have it interfere with the “Games OS”.
The dual operating systems also gives them the flexibility to cater to applications and games without having to compromise for one or the other on the deepest levels of the operating system. Again, this fits into their vision very well.
Is it for me?
Microsoft is offering an all-in-one machine where games and other forms of entertainment are on equal footing. Sony appears to be putting games first and I see myself aligning to their vision. That’s not to say Microsoft is wrong though; they just need to show me that the gaming experience on their platform is just as good as their competitors. After all, I’m in the market for a gaming console.