Will Microsoft’s Xbox 720 run Windows 8?

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Specs and details pertaining to Redmond's upcoming Xbox 720 console remain understandably scarce. 

However, Microsoft general manager Brian Hall may have inadvertently let some info about the next-gen system slip during a recent interview about the new Outlook with The Verge. 

Indeed, according to Hall, the Xbox 720 is "coming out with Windows 8."

"We’ve had Hotmail and operated Hotmail for about 16 years, we obviously have Exchange, and Outlook, that people use at work," Hall explained.

"We just decided it was time to do something new and bring the best from each of those and put them together and release it right in time for the new wave of products that we could have coming out with Windows 8, with the new version of Office with the new Windows phone and the new Xbox."

Personally, I’m not at all convinced that Hall was saying the Xbox 720 will run Windows 8. Yes, the latest iteration of Microsoft’s flagship operating system is stripped down (at least for ARM) and probably contains less bloat than anything since 3.1 of legendary yore.

Nevertheless, Redmond probably doesn’t need to load a full-fledged OS on the console to achieve optimal integration with Windows 8. A souped up "New Xbox Experience" (NXE) dashboard with updated APIs should suffice.

As such, it is far more likely that Hall meant the Xbox 720 would debut in the wake of Windows 8 - for better or worse. 

Of course, anything is possible, no matter how unlikely, so it would definitely be foolish to completely rule out a Windows 8-powered Xbox 720.

In the meantime, at least until E3 2013, we’ll just have to content ourselves with analyzing the Durango Xbox 720 dev kit which recently tipped up online for a cool $10,000.

The dev kit is housed inside an anonymous-looking black box with components that reportedly have much in common with a modern "standard gaming PC." The 64-bit kit supposedly boasts an x86 Intel CPU, an Nvidia GPU and 8GB of memory - rather than the 12 claimed by a number of other sources.

However, it should be noted that console development kits are designed to provide devs with a rough approximation of tentative specs and nascent software. 

Therefore, the above-mentioned Durango kit is almost certainly not (precisely) representative of the 720 slated to roll off assembly lines sometime in the near future.