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No, Xbox Series X won't run Steam or the Epic Store

A preposterous rumor says the Xbox SX will have a Windows 10 mode transforming it into a gaming PC with access to Steam. This won't happen

Derek Strickland | Jan 10, 2020 at 11:26 am CST (15 mins, 11 secs time to read)

There's a ridiculous rumor floating around the Xbox Series X will have a "Windows Mode" that lets you natively run a PC version of Windows 10, complete with access to programs like Steam and the Epic Store. This won't ever happen.

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First off, all Xbox consoles technically run Windows 10. It's just a pared-down version built on the OneCore OS platform complete with an Edge browser built right in. There's limitations, of course, and for good reason, because Microsoft still wants you to subscribe to its productivity services outside of the console space. Consoles are for gaming and multimedia, not productivity. The Xbox Series X will carry these limitations forward and focus on gaming, streaming, and media-oriented subscriptions--that's the whole reason Xbox even exists.

Secondly, I don't think this really needs to be said, but there's no possible way Microsoft would allow access to competing storefronts on its own first-party hardware. That's an absolutely terrible recipe for lost profits and revenues. Yes, Xbox is much more open than it used to be in the old Unified Windows Platform days where Microsoft tried to lock its PC games behind a special new format. And yes, Microsoft has unified PC gaming and console gaming together using Xbox as a bridge. But they're still two separate platforms. Microsoft doesn't care about selling consoles to PC gamers any more, and instead it wants to sell access to PC gamers: Access to services like Game Pass and games sold on Steam and the Windows Store.

It doesn't want to sell PC games to console gamers unless, of course, they also have a gaming PC. Microsoft isn't going to merge PC and Xbox console gaming in one device simply because it makes more money by monetizing these platforms separately.

Including a Windows Mode that runs native Windows 10 apps means, by extension, competing storefronts like Steam, uPlay, Origin, and even the Epic Games Store could be supported. That means you could theoretically buy an Xbox Series X and not buy any Xbox games. Hell, you could theoretically download Google Chrome, a competing web app, and run Stadia natively through Chrome without ever touching a game on the Xbox Store and completely avoiding Xbox LIVE.

This is insane and won't ever happen.

The entire reason Xbox consoles exist is to sell software and services. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo typically take a loss when manufacturing hardware (with the exception of the Switch), and this loss is made up by millions upon millions of software. Case in point: Sony has sold 1.15 billion PlayStation 4 games across a 106 million install base, meaning the average PS4 gamer has roughly 9 games.

The hardware sale is just the beginning. The real goal with games consoles is to be a portal to the lucrative billion-dollar services market. Games and recurring subscriptions like PlayStation Plus, Xbox LIVE, and Game Pass are the real bread and butter of the games industry. Think of it like a service game: The game sale is just the beginning, and the real money is made by long-term microtransaction revenues (just look at GTA Online's absurdly profitable mTX structure).

Engagement is the name of the game and console-makers have lots of tricks up their sleeves to keep you "sticky" in their networks long after you buy a console, whether it be community-driven fundamentals like expansive friend interactions, sharing features, dynamic multiplayer-driven software, and of course free monthly games. There's lots of incentives to buy into these services and once you're in, there's a good chance you'll just keep paying.

That's not to say platform-holders won't allow competing services on their consoles, though. Sony and Microsoft both allow EA Access on their respective systems as an ancillary subscription, but the difference here is Sony and MS take a cut from EA.

The Xbox SX Windows Mode would essentially take away these deals and give gamers way, way too much freedom to circumvent Microsoft's software/subscriptions, thereby defeating the entire purpose of the system's existence.

Plus there's well-known sources like Windows Central's Jez Corden who also says this isn't coming to Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X is due out by Holiday 2020. No pricing has been announced.

Check below for confirmed specs and details, and a huge content listing of everything we've heard about Xbox Series X so far:

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Navi GPU on RDNA architecture
  • Highly customized 7nm SoC from AMD
  • GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution (likely media playback)
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories
No, Xbox Series X won't run Steam or the Epic Store 11 | TweakTown.com
No, Xbox Series X won't run Steam or the Epic Store 6 | TweakTown.com

Lockhart (Unconfirmed lower-end Xbox Series hardware)

  • 1440p 60FPS
  • No disc drive
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC w/ scaled-down 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHZ and Navi GPU
  • Lower GDDR6 memory pool (Possibly 12GB)
  • ~6-8 TFLOPs of power?
  • Aims to rival PS4 Pro/Replace Xbox One S
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • Cheaper MSRP

Anaconda/Xbox Series X/Project Scarlett

  • 4K 60FPS
  • Disc drive with 4K UHD playback
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC with 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz and Navi GPU
  • 16GB GDDR6 RAM
  • 12 TFLOPs of power
  • 2x GPU power as Xbox One X/aims to replace Xbox One X
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • More expensive MSRP

Xbox Series X coverage:

Last updated: Jan 11, 2020 at 06:11 am CST

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Derek Strickland

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Derek Strickland

Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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