Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system has long been a darling of gamers thanks to its compatibility with a broad selection of hardware, software, application programming interfaces (APIs) and so on. Likewise, the Xbox consoles are admired by core gamers. However, powerful new platforms designed for video games are incoming and should worry Microsoft. Apparently, the giant is not concerned, at least publically.
In addition to media tablets and smartphones with Apple iOS and Google Android software as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft has two things to worry about: Steam Machines PCs and Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift virtual reality helmet. Potentially, both things have loads of opportunities on the multi-billion market of video games. For Microsoft, this means added competition for its two key products: Xbox One console and Windows operating system.
Steam Machines, personal computers with a Linux-based operating system designed to run video games, can potentially rival PCs featuring Windows as well as Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Such PCs will be available from multiple system makers and will neither run Windows nor have access to Microsoft’s stores (at least initially), but will rely on Steam and other services from Valve and its partners. Since Steam Machines are designed mostly for living rooms, they will eventually become a threat for Microsoft’s Xbox consoles as universal platform for gaming and entertainment.
A Steam Machine PC by Alienware
OculusVR Oculus Rift is a virtual reality helmet that will enhance video games designed specifically for it. The device is compatible with Windows, but it can distract core gamers from the Xbox platform since it brings completely different experience to the gamer.
Oculus Rift helmet by OculusVR
Marc Whitten, chief product officer at Xbox division, is not too worried about the two emerging platforms. He claims that they will amplify the video gaming world in general, but will not affect market performance of Windows or Xbox.
“This is literally the most golden of golden ages that I've ever seen around gaming,” Marc Whitten said in an interview with Engadget. “I think this is what makes gaming great. And you love seeing the passion of seeing someone like Palmer [Luckey] and those guys at Oculus. And seeing someone like John Carmack get on and really be focused on it is great. I don't know how it could be anything but good. […] [Steam Machines] is [just going] to increase the surface area, and I think that's an incredible thing.”
Improving video games and bringing them to the living room in general is clearly a good thing for the industry in general. Moreover, it is hard to expect Steam Machines or Oculus VR’s helmet to have any tangible effect on sales of Windows and Xbox any time soon. Besides, the software giant could work with Valve about bringing Xbox services to SteamOS and with OculusVR regarding support of Xbox and add two new revenue sourses.
KitGuru Says: Microsoft clearly does not have to worry about emerging projects and technologies since they have no immediate effect on its sales. The thing that should worry Microsoft is that those projects and technologies do not come from Microsoft.