Microsoft Could Release Hardware Upgrades For The Xbox One

People have been wondering whether the processing power needed for virtual reality, as well as the changed architecture of the PS4 and Xbox One, could encourage console manufacturers to release hardware upgrades before the current generation phases out.

As it turns out, Microsoft is thinking about that. The reasons why aren't necessarily to do with VR, though.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox for Microsoft, revealed during a keynote speech in San Francisco recently that Microsoft would merge the Xbox One and PC gaming platforms into a new ecosystem relying on Universal Windows Applications (UWAs). The idea is to create a unified developer framework so that applications run across all Microsoft devices, whether they be smartphones, the Xbox One, Windows 10 PCs or tablets.

The Guardian, which attended the event, wrote that Spencer directly spoke about Microsoft improving the capability of the Xbox One's hardware over the course of its lifespan. "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 running on top of UWP. It allows us to focus on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform."

Spencer reportedly added that more than 40% of Windows 10 users are playing games, and that he didn't want the Xbox to jump a generation and lose the ability to play everything previously. "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."

Microsoft has been working on a unified platform for years now, with users who purchase a Windows Phone app able to run that same app on their Windows PC. The Xboxchief also noted that UWAs will be able to support multiple different GPUs and that they would have a solution fixing issues around V-Sync.

[The Guardian]


Comments

    Makes sense now that both MS and Sony are both using similar PC-like architecture.

    https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic

      Damn, that nails it. For posterity, or those that check this tomorrow.
      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2016/03/02/forgotten-sorceries

        My inner Sega fanboi weeps with joy at this PA comic :')

    Dont they say this every generation?

    And "but then I can also see the best 4K games coming out."
    Really? Its at least another two console generations by the time 4K is 'standard'.
    Next generation Xbox and and PS will claim to be 4k but in reality will just be doing 1080/60.

    This is a very slippery slope they are going down. It won't be long before you'll need specific upgrades to play certain games.

      I wouldn't be surprised if they then make it so you need a gold subscription to use the upgraded hardware.

      if only they'd designed it ground up for an expansion like the N64

      Reading the article, I can't see where they are saying they would upgrade the existing XB1 hardware, what they seem to be saying is that the XB2 could be completely backwards compatible.

      Like the "New" 3ds which only has a handful of games that actually need it?

      Point in case... the N64 upgrade pack containing a ludicrously huge 4mb of ram.

      Perfect Dark required it, other games used to push their resolution to en eye meltingly awesome 640x480.

    They made them so underpowered that they are already talking about upgrading them? Might as well just get a pc then and have some control regarding your upgrade path.

      This is the Internet. Your logic is not welcome here. :P

      Considering MS are starting to announce previously 'Xbox only' games for PC, with talk of more coming, this might not be such a horrible plan either way.

      Sort of a fine line for them to walk though, because if everything 'exclusive' to Xbox starts turning up on PC then there'll be zero reason to own an Xbox.

        Yeah it's nice to see gears of war on pc again albeit on the windows app store so not sure how friendly it will be to sli configs. I always thought most xbox exclusives eventually made their way to pc so my usual strategy was a gaming pc and a playstation.

        I just feel that people got stooged thinking that their console is going to last a whole generation and now they find out that they'll have to upgrade. At least with a pc you know from the outset that you'll upgrade at some point.

    Sigh. Now every fanboy will start talking about Xbox one will have hardware upgrade soon

      And us PC owners will choke on our laughter over comments said in the recent past like "You dont have to upgrade consoles!"

        I'm a PC owner and I don't find that comment funny.

        People who say you don't have to upgrade consoles obviously never had a console with a HDD in it or never had to swap it out with an SSD to give it a little perk for newer games.

        Put one in my old PS3 and it certainly helps with Rage. Loads much better. Just a pity the game plays the same and I'm not talking about the console limitations.

          Sorry but I've never needed to swap out the hdd in a console, add usb storage yes, never swap out for "perk".

          I've had 3 consoles with HDD's and have never swapped anything, I would guess that 95% of console owners never have. What are you on about?

          Oh I find the irony hilarious. I own a PC and have owned most consoles that have come out. I find it funny that time after time, when consoles have tried upgrades no matter how minor, they fail. Because consoles should not use upgrades, that's not what they're designed for. This is that whole thing of how many times can you get your wrist slapped before you learn???

        The PC master race strikes again! Muuuhahahaha!

          lol. I'm really platform agnostic, but I do find the whole situation very ironic...

            I know I find it funny too. I own a playstation as well and I do enjoy using it but the first thing die hard console owners throw up is 'I just put a game in and play'. Well that statement is getting more and more ridiculous with each generation!

              I bought MGSV on the ps4, nothing feels better to me lately when Uni gets on top of me, than kicking back in my recliner, with the ps4 controller and cracking that game out for 4 or 5 hours. Absolutely love it. There's some things about consoles I still love over my pc, such as the inherent comfort factor I've got going there lol.

    I'm a console fan because I DON'T have to upgrade to play a certain game. Don't care about you beaut graphics as long as the game runs smooth. This upgradeable console business really grinds my gears!

      Same, if I want to start upgrading things I will buy a PC.

      Lol but the thing is most console games dont run smooth. I've recently gone back to PC after 2 years on the PS4 and the difference is night and day. Anything below 60fps feels like trash.

    I don't really think they can just sell an "upgrade" to improve current hardware. It'd have to be a new console that is just 100% backwards compatible? So your old one is just useless.

    With regards to UWA\UWP the more i see MS moving to get a stranglehold on the market by trying to implement a walled garden store the more i see linux actually threatening it, especially in gaming - i can see why valve has pushed hard to get steamOS going. Here hopes vulcan lives up to it's hype.

      I don't really think they can just sell an "upgrade" to improve current hardware. It'd have to be a new console that is just 100% backwards compatible? So your old one is just useless.That'd be pretty great. Then not only is the Xbox One not the first one, but there'd also be more than one of them.

      It depends how it's implemented. PC games do scale based on the hardware so if MS is looking to unify the different platforms, then presumably those running on an Xbox would also be capable of scaling. It's not like they'll remove the option for PC games visuals to be customised based on whether you have a $200 or $900 video card, so there's probably no reason a similar process can't be applied to the console. I took that as being one of the reasons to streamline the ecosystem to allow both forwards and backwards compatibility, within reason.

      In some ways it'd be sort of appealing for a new Hardware release to not only be 100% compatible with your existing titles, but for many of them to get a visual boost if you insert your existing disc into it. Your still playing with relatively few hardware revisions so you could probably implement it without the need for users to ever actually tinker with video settings, just ship with hard coded presets per a console revision.

      I'm not convinced this means MS will look to ship new hardware every 24 months or anything like that though.

      Last edited 02/03/16 11:45 pm

    I interpreted the keynote differently. I heard it as the next Xbox could possibly include upgradable components. I haven't read the Guardian article, but I understood this generation to be more about optimising the hardware, not upgrading it.

    Of course, we can speculate all we want, all we get - in true Microsoft CorpSpeak - is that "we have nothing to announce about our hardware roadmap".

      It sounds to me like there might not be another XBox at all. This upgradeable hardware idea goes fundamentally against the idea of what a console is ie a fixed, standard piece of hardware. Once you start talking about upgradeable hardware you're no longer talking about a console, you're talking about about a PC. And between this idea, the Universal Windows Applications and the number of XBox exclusive games making their way to PC, it looks to me like MS are gearing up for an orderly withdrawal from the console business at the end of this generation to focus their efforts in the consumer market on PC / tablet rather than console.

        Cynic in me says there has to be a reason they are giving thier OS away for free. Slow integration of an eventually mandatory walled garden market place makes a lot of sense. It, potentially, could make much more money than just one sale. If to many restrictions are implemented it might lead to user backlash tho.

    Considering the ports on the back of the Xbox One, and their limited bandwidth relative to what is needed for external GPUs, it seems unlikely that any real hardware upgrade can be applied to the Xbox One. That is unless the Kinect port is actually a PCI express port, then it would be possible for an upgrade and really throw the market.

    If you are building games for PC, which already have the capability (sometimes... I am looking at you batman!) of running on multiple hard ware configurations, than an upgraded Xbox is not really too much of a stretch. I.e., the game would always run on the base Xbox, but allow for 4k on the upgraded one.

      Exactly! Any with the same architecture and OS there would be no split player base and no reason why they couldn't continue down this route for the foreseeable future! They could still support each console for 10 years but it's up to developers when they drop support for the "older" versions. Look at this last console generation and tell me the player populations for PVZ:GW or Destiny would not have been better if both player bases could play together!

    Sounds like the 32x add on for the sega mega drive. You could hardly tell it was sitting on top of the mega drive. So dainty......

    Am i the only one thinking they may do this in a iPhone style new console every 3-4 years? Each console tunning the same OS, tiered gfx of the same games and no split player base. Everything feel fine? Stay with the original XB1. Want high fps or res for newest titles? Upgrade to xb1.1. Id actually lile that model for the shared player base, and that the 360 gen lasted far too long. Texture pop in the latest games was mental.

    Considering I don't own an Xbone, some of the games coming to PC would be ideal for me.

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