During Microsoft's Spring Showcase, there was a slew of Xbox related news but arguably the most interesting news was Phil Spencer discussing the further unification of the Xbox and Windows Gaming platform.

Internally, Microsoft has worked on collaboratively bringing together their Xbox and Windows 10 platforms under what they have dubbed the Universal Windows Platform and as consumers we've already seen some of the fruits of their labour with the Xbox App on Windows 10 and the new Xbox One dashboard being heavily based on Windows 10. Further steps are also afoot with cross-platform multiplayer gaming between the two on the cards and first party exclusives such as Quantum Break heading to WIndows 10 as well as Xbox One. Further moves internally are being made to bring the two closer together to form a fully unified gaming ecosystem.

The biggest part of this new way of thinking is that consoles too can be upgraded just like PCs, essentially paving the way for Microsoft to leverage and deliver the same content to both their installed Xbox user-base and Windows 10 users who actively game. After the recent controversy over Quantum Break's PC version shipping on the same day as the Xbox One version, Phil Spencer went to great lengths to justify how such decisions don't erode the Xbox brand but instead bring with it new exciting possibilities, as a whole suite of hardware can play Xbox content including consoles that can be upgraded, along with multiple yearly iterations of an Xbox console. Essentially, the Xbox would become a machine that organically grows as technology advances.

This represents a major shift in thinking compared to the traditional console cycle and it not something we have regularly seen. Microsoft did make multiple SKUs of the Xbox 360 but all the actual technical specs were more or less untouched. They also, of course, marketed the original Kinect's launch as something akin to being a new system.

The most famous example of this kind of practice is without a doubt comes from Sega, who created both the Mega-CD and the 32X during the 16 bit era. Whilst the Mega-CD add-on was moderately successful, the 32X was a cobbled together stop gap before the release of their Saturn console. There are also comparisons to be drawn with something like the iPad business model (and to a lesser extent, smartphones in general) as an example of how this process can work, with apps initially available for all models before those older tablets find their compatibility with the newest apps phased out over time. Phil Spencer touched upon this by saying this approach will allow Microsoft to take advantage of "new hardware capability during a generation, allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible."

In an interview with Polygon, Phil went on to say:

"We look at these other ecosystems out there like mobile, tablet and PC and we see that they have a very continuous evolution cycle in hardware, whereas between console generations most of the evolution is making it cheaper and potentially making it smaller."

Of course, nothing is confirmed and this could all just be conjecture at this point, but would you be happy to enter a cycle where annual hardware updates are available?