During the second day keynote of Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco, they finally dropped the news that we developers will get the ability to write for the platform. It was not done as a key part of either keynote, but the audience of thousands of developers were told, ‘while we have nothing to announce today, if you want to write for the Xbox One, the best preparation is to write Windows 8 apps as they share the same core.’
For various reasons the Xbox One runs on an x86 processor, which was the first tick in the requirements box for this to be possible. The second tick was the fact it’s running Windows 8 core and now we have the third, the business decision from Microsoft to allow it.
This announcement was weird, strange and confusing in the way it was done and this clearly wasn’t a huge feature of either day 1 or day 2 keynotes for one simply reason.. it’s not ready yet. While we know the Xbox One is set for release in November, Microsoft clearly aren’t ready to release it just yet. While developers would be keen to have apps built over the next few months and be ready to god in November at launch, what seems more likely now is that we get the tools around the time of the Xbox One release and the development starts then. This would of course make sense given they could then test and develop on real hardware, rather than just a simulator.
The app used to demo this functionality was Khan Academy, which demonstrated a site being converted to a Windows 8 app (update just released) but also on the Xbox One. Traditionally those apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus etc have required an expensive approval process and required a direct relationship with Microsoft. Opening this up to regular developers will spur a whole new generation of development on a brand new platform, this is something no one else has been able to pull off – Apps on the TV.
Microsoft also showed of a slide during the unity partnership announcement (Win8/WP8 app devs will get unity free). Under the first item ‘All Microsoft Platforms’, it says ‘Support for all Microsoft platforms, they include Xbox One.