There's been code unearthed by an Italian Windows 8 rumor site that suggests something very interesting. Deep within the kernel code are a couple of lines, referencing Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console. Specifically, the lines talk about a system crash on the part of the game system. What does it mean for you and me?
It's possible that it means that Windows 8 will gain the ability to play Xbox games. In a world increasingly dominated by mobile devices and gaming consoles and experiences that aren't the traditional Windows-powered PC, letting your computer play Xbox 360 games would be a huge boon to gamers wanting to consolidate their collection of electronics. The bad news is that this is unlikely for a number of reasons.
For the typical computer to play Xbox 360 games would require emulating the hardware inside of the gaming console. That means that Microsoft would have to emulate a three-core PowerPC (similar to what Apple used to use, architecturally speaking) CPU running at 3.2 GHz - the graphics would likely be an easier issue. That would take a lot more power than most computers have lying around by a broad margin, meaning that the experiences would be terrible.
More likely than that is that the upcoming operating system will have the ability to play Xbox 360 Live Arcade games. This isn't too far-fetched, in all honesty. Live Arcade games are often written using Microsoft's XNA framework, which runs on Windows (and Windows Phone, incidentally) just fine. It would just take a recompile and a couple of code tweaks on the part of the developer, and they'd be able to sell the game to a whole new audience.
Most likely, however, is that the lines of code are simply error messages generated when a networked Xbox 360 console goes down. Microsoft has gone on record in stating that the Xbox brand will be moving from a gaming focus to more of an entertainment focus, and putting the gaming console into a networked environment is part of that goal. There is a definite Windows Phone vibe to the new Xbox 360 UI, and while the 360 is already being used to shift networked content from the desktop to the den, there's little doubt that Microsoft will make these bonds even tighter in the new edition.
Between you and me, though - I'd love to finally play Red Dead Redemption on my desktop.
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