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The Evolution of Xbox One

What I am proud of most is my consistency. Even more than this, I am proud of the fact that my predictions have not been proven wrong. As more time has gone by the Xbox One has evolved to become something drastically different to what it had been in 2013. Already we see the Xbox One capable of doing things the PS4 cannot do; namely, playing games that are backwards compatible. The Xbox One is also part of the Windows 10 ecosystem which, in the future, will allow any Windows 10 device user to play on the same game – at the same time. You can bet that developers are already planning for this.

My Prediction is that as time goes on Xbox One will be capable of doing things which are not possible on the PS4. At this point, only a PS5 will have the hopes of matching the Xbox One or Sony will utilize some kind of cloud technology from Microsoft.

You will see articles that claim Xbox One is “already getting old” and that a new Xbox Two is already being planned. This could not be further from the truth. If you know anything about turning on virtual servers in a cloud environment, you know that Xbox One will have virtual instances turned on in the Azure cloud and this will essentially be an “Xbox Two”. This is because the hardware is truly server based. So it is new hardware, but not onsite in your home.

I once thought AMD’s Mantle would be in the cloud when I wrote My Prediction: DirectX 11.2 for the System, AMD Mantle for The Cloud. I said that Microsoft would need some type of virtualized GPU in the cloud in order to make Xbox One more powerful. Though I am incorrect that Microsoft will be using Mantle, I stand by my prediction that Microsoft will eventually use virtual GPU’s in the cloud.

I do have a prediction on how this will work.

Those who have plaed played Halo: The Master Chief Collection (or Halo 2, the anniversary edition) know they can manually switch between old and new graphics. The game allows this instantaneously, and with the click of a button the game transforms to either classic or modern graphics. Fluctuation between these options requires no load time. My prediction is that in a similar fashion, Xbox One owners who are willing to pay a small fee (per month I assume) will be given “virtual gpus” in the cloud. In the same way a gamer would switch between “old” and “new” graphics within Halo: The Master Chief Collection, so too will gamers switch between standard Xbox One graphics and “upgraded”. This will be applicable to any game a developer designed to utilize Azure. This will also reduce Microsoft’s costs. While Sony will need to manufacture new devices (a very heavy cost, hence the elongated lifespan of consoles), Microsoft will instead profit instantaneously from having already made past investments into the Azure infrastructure. Between the two competitors, I predict Xbox One gamers will see 4k gaming on their consoles first.

When Microsoft talks about updating the Xbox One hardware, they are not saying that you must install a physical GPU in your Xbox One (as this would result in a warranty deficiency or a multitude of people calling Microsoft for tech-help on installing graphic processors), but rather that Microsoft will turn on a virtual GPU on the Azure servers that will be dedicated to you.

FYI to all of you who kept making fun of eSRAM; This was designed precisely to flush in and out the graphics that would be pushed out to the Xbox One from the servers. Directx 12 is only going to help this process more and I wonder if Directx12 itself is going to be running mostly in the cloud. Without cloud technology in mind, eSRAM definitely made no sense. (Only those with a deep understanding of technology will have seen this coming.)

So when you finally read Polygon’s article: Phil Spencer signals Xbox One hardware upgrades – you’ll know that this is not a physical hardware upgrade to your Xbox One. It’s an upgrade in the cloud.

And if you’ve followed my blog, none of what Phil Spencer alludes to will surprise you.


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