Xbox Series X might support Windows Mode, Steam, and Epic Games Store: here's why that matters

The Xbox Series X might let you run Windows 10 (Image source: Microsoft)
The Xbox Series X might let you run Windows 10 (Image source: Microsoft)
A rumor is circling that the Xbox Series X may feature a "Windows mode" startup option, effectively giving gamers access to a full-fat version of Windows on Microsoft's new gaming console. Will Windows mode really happen? Will you be able to run Steam on your Xbox Series X?
Arjun Krishna Lal,

A remarkable rumor, covered by Spanish outlet Generacion Xbox, purports that the Xbox Series X features a unique "Windows Mode" startup option. This option might allow users to boot into Windows 10 and run apps such as Steam and the Epic Games Store, potentially allowing Xbox gamers to play PC titles. If a full-fledged Windows mode exists, it would open the door to a whole host of new possibilities in terms of productivity and cross-plat experiences. 

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been increasingly keen on blurring the boundaries of its Xbox brand. Today, Xbox doesn't just mean Microsoft's home console box. It refers to the entire Microsoft gaming ecosystem across platforms, and including PC. "Windows Mode" on Xbox Series X could just be the next logical step.

Keep in mind, though, that these rumors are unconfirmed. We see reasons both for and against Microsoft bringing full-fledged Windows (or a derivative thereof) to the Xbox Series X.

Why would Microsoft want to do this? An obvious answer would be to broaden the user base of the Series X. Series X hardware is very similar to PC hardware as it stands. And, moreover, the Xbox operating system is based on Windows. Offering a full-fat Windows experience would give buyers more reasons to get an Xbox Series X apart from gaming. This does come uncomfortably close, however, to how Microsoft tried (and failed) to position the Xbox One as jack-of-all-trades. 

Why wouldn't they want to incorporate a Windows mode? The big no factor here is that Windows mode would force Microsoft to relinquish control over its gaming ecosystem. The Xbox Series X will likely be sold either at a loss or at a razor-thin margin. Microsoft needs software sales to drive profitability. Giving Series X gamers access to alternative storefronts like Steam and Epic would mean giving up Microsoft's cut on software sales, something that doesn't make sound financial sense.

Is Microsoft going to implement Windows mode? Will you be able to run Steam games on your Xbox Series X? The rumor mill says it's possible, but we think this one could go either way. We'll update you as soon as we hear something new.

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Arjun Krishna Lal, 2020-01-11 (Update: 2020-01-11)
Arjun Krishna Lal
Arjun Krishna Lal - News Editor
I've had a passion for PC gaming since 1996, when I watched my dad score frags in Quake as a 1 year-old. I've gone on to become a Penguin-published author and tech journalist. When I'm not traveling the world, gathering stories for my next book, you can find me tinkering with my PC.