When the current crop of consoles adopted the same “x86” architecture seen in modern PCs, the line between the two started to blur. Where does a PC end and a console begin? Microsoft seems to be on a quest to erase that altogether, and the company’s latest move brings that idea one step closer to being a reality.
In a new Xbox One update currently available to alpha Xbox Insider members, you can now plug any old USB webcam into your Xbox One and use it as a camera during streams on Microsoft’s Mixer streaming service.
Previously, that camera had to be a Kinect, Microsoft’s proprietary camera-microphone combo. Now, any cam should work, though there is one catch – those webcams’ microphones are currently not supported. You’ll need a headset or Xbox One-compatible mic for audio.
Since E3 2015, Microsoft has been inching ever closer to the idea of more universal interconnectivity. The first step was the introduction of the Xbox Play Anywhere program, where any game from Microsoft and any publisher/developer who wanted to join in could make their game available on both the Xbox and Windows stores, and allow the purchase of one to include the other. If you buy Quantum Break or Halo Wars 2 on the Xbox Store, it’s on your Windows account, too. Games like Minecraft and Rocket League are starting to see cross-platform play, and Microsoft is leading the charge on that, too.
Recently, Microsoft said that the first mouse-and-keyboard games are coming. Now, USB webcams are allowed, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see USB microphones follow shortly after. You could even include the ability to plug an external hard drive into the system in that list, too. Soon we’ll be able to plug anything into an Xbox that we can into a computer, it seems.
Indeed, as we inch closer to the release the next generation of the Xbox One, the Xbox One X, it seems like Microsoft is pushing harder and harder to push through traditional console barriers.
The update is only available to Xbox Insiders in the Alpha ring of the preview program right now, but it’ll make its way to everyone eventually.