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Xbox One Will Run Windows 8 Apps – Possibly Including Kindle, Nook, and More

Dell has just given this ebook enthusiast a reason to buy Microsoft’s latest gaming console. According to the product page on the Dell website (and semi-confirmed by Microsoft) the Xbox One is expected to be able to run Windows 8 apps when it ships on 22 November.

That means that come December I could be posting about someone reading a Nook ebook on a 50″ screen.

xbox one hardware

The Xbox One was announced this summer and is Microsoft’s third gaming console. It’s listed on many a retail website, including Dell’s, but not all of the listings say the same thing. One site in particular, Dell, is describing the Xbox One  as having support for Windows:

With all your favorite Windows 8 apps able to be run on and synced to your Xbox One, now your phone, desktop, tablet and TV can all give you a unified web and entertainment experience.

While one should normally be cautious about this type of story I think Microsoft’s current interest in ebooks is a good reason to get excited. PCWorld first reported on this story, and AllThingsD got a confirmation that said, in part:

The suggestion that all Windows 8 apps run on Xbox One is not accurate.

MS might be saying that not app apps will run, but arguably that is also an admission that some Windows 8 apps will run on the Xbox One.  And just to be clear, they are probably referring to Windows 8 and not Windows RT. The Xbox One is running on an x86 compatible CPU from AMD, not an ARM chip, so at the most basic level it is compatible with Window 8.

Microsoft has been interested in ebooks for nearly 18 months now, ever since they invested in Nook Media. They are rumored to be working on an Office Reader app and they also have an Xbox team responsible for some type of ebook platform. All I have to go on is the name, but I think a team name of "Xbox Music, Video, and Reading" means a heck of a lot now that the Xbox One is going to have support for some Windows apps.

It would not surprise me if Microsoft had plans for an ebook app of some kind on the Xbox One. And given how much effort B&N is putting into updating the Nook Windows 8 app, I’m half expecting to see that show up as well.

I doubt very many people do a lot of reading on large screens, but the idea isn’t as crazy as it might sound. Pablo Defendini of Safari Books Online expounded on the idea at last year’s Books in Browsers conference:

I don’t see myself reading very many ebooks on a large screen, but I do think that this offers some interesting possibilities for educational purposes. I would like to use a TV-sized screen to display textbook and other educational info. With all that screen real estate there would be no need to shrink a diagram down to a few inches across. The larger screen would also make collaboration easier, IMO.

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fjtorres October 22, 2013 um 12:07 pm

This…is interesting.
None of the launch games interests me enough to jump right in–I’ll likely wait for Fallout4 or Dragon Age3–but there are quite a few Win8 apps that would work fine in a kinect environment. Something to keep an eye out for next year.

LoganK October 22, 2013 um 4:07 pm

Your speculation is likely as good as mine, but from what I’ve seen:

XBox One effectively runs Windows RT (yes, even though it’s x86). It will run Windows RT (modern UI) applications, but it isn’t coming with the Windows Marketplace and therefore doesn’t run "all Windows 8 apps".

What this means is that modern-UI Skype, Netflix, etc. are running off the same platform, if not the exact same code, between PCs, tablets, and XBox One. In other words, for developers already using Microsoft’s newest frameworks, they’ll have very little effort getting an application to run on the console.

Books? That would be interesting, but I’m not sure people are likely to do that. I can see someone reading magazines and catalogs, though…

Thomas October 22, 2013 um 9:00 pm

As I understand it, all Windows 8 Apps will run on either Win 8 or RT. Windows 8 also runs legacy Windows apps. In order to be sold through the Windows Store, all apps have to be compiled in both x86 and ARM versions. That’s one reason developers haven’t been too keen on programming for Windows 8. The Windows Store is pretty barren compared to Android or iOS.

LoganK October 22, 2013 um 9:25 pm

That’s not quite true. Windows 8 modern UI applications are meant to be platform independent like Android, but sometimes aren’t for various reasons (also like Android). Developers are able to target x86 or ARM or both.

I wouldn’t call the Windows Store barren, but the lesser number of quality applications isn’t really related to the development side. Microsoft’s tools and tutorials are top notch, and the requirements to submit are not onerous. However, the user base isn’t there, and developing for a third (or fourth) platform is a tough proposition. With Windows 8 getting in front of more people and with XBox One a potential success, we might see some movement, though, for living room / PC crossover applications, a space that doesn’t really exist today.

fjtorres October 23, 2013 um 8:37 am

The types of applications that suit the XBOX ONE living room environment won’t overlap much with the desktop/laptop environment or even tablets and phones. There will be a fit for children’s ebook and edutainment apps and for ports of Media Center plugins. Also lifestyle apps and widgets.
With Kinect coming to Windows it makes sense to allow suitable apps to move from one environment to the other so it is more likely we’ll see new apps that existing ones.

William Ockham October 23, 2013 um 1:40 pm

Dell is most likely referring to the ability of Windows 8 to use the Xbox One as screen. The apps won’t be "running" on the Xbox One, they will just be displaying on the Xbox One.

Nate Hoffelder October 23, 2013 um 6:12 pm

In that case they really flubbed the description. Also, why didn’t Microsoft say that in their response?

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