In 2013, Microsoft gave up on Games for Windows Live, their attempt at a unified gaming experience on the PC. It was originally billed as a PC companion to their ultra successful Xbox platform, but never quite got there. The two tried to meet in the middle near the end, with PC game listings showing up on Xbox.com, but it didn't seem to help, and the service was shuttered.
The company shifted their focus to gaming on the Windows Store - both PC and Phone - promoting the single store as the place to publish and get the best games for the Windows Platform. The Windows 8 Xbox companion apps, in the form of SmartGlass and the Windows Phone Xbox app, created an Xbox presence on both platforms, but one that was not terribly exciting. It gave access to profiles and achievements, but it certainly lacked the authenticity of Xbox itself.
With Windows 10, Microsoft is going back to its gaming focus, but doing it in a totally different way. By bringing the Xbox platform directly to Windows, it is a bit of a return to Games for Windows Live, which is both a blessing and a possible curse. Gamers have had a lot of fear that Microsoft could see a massive failure in the same way, leaving many to question the validity of the new platform. However, their transparent approach this time around could help. Phil Spencer said,
We want to make clear that when we talk about Xbox going forward, we're talking about gaming on all Windows 10 devices - PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox One, and HoloLens. And we'll talk about some of the games we have coming to the PC this year.
Our vision is to unify platforms so gamers can play the games they want on any Windows 10 device-PC, Xbox One, or otherwise. That can come in the form of game streaming to a Windows 10 PC from Xbox One or simultaneously shipping games on both platforms. While we want to break down the walls between platforms, we also know that certain games are optimized for certain devices.
While Xbox on Windows will feature a games store, the company does not believe that they will be in direct competition with Steam or Origin by EA. In fact, they seem to think that Xbox will be a good pairing with those distribution channels, even allowing Xbox to record and distribute recorded gameplay from games purchased there and not through Xbox. Spencer said that he believes the only direct competition is with exclusives on other platforms: App Store and Google Play.
Hopefully the fact that Xbox One will be based on the same core as PCs, Windows 10, will prevent this attempt from failing the way that Games for Windows Live did. The fact that there will be direct developer support this time could be all that is needed to accomplish this.