One of the key facets of Office 365 is its ability to unify a variety of IT products. Whether you’re collaborating within the Office suite or trading in your 3rd party conferencing solution for Skype for Business, Microsoft has made the point abundantly clear: Office 365 truly unifies businesses and makes them function better together. Did you know that Microsoft has also taken to knocking down barriers outside of the IT world though? Seeing how successful the “better together” philosophy has been with businesses, Microsoft has continued to extend that mantra within itself, namely in the gaming space. The X-Box platform, historically kept separate from the Windows and PC space, has been evolving as of late. Within the last two years, Microsoft has made enormous strides when it comes adding cross-platform technology to the X-Box system. The latest X-Box One operating system is running a derivative of the Windows 10 core OS and utilizes aspects of Hyper-V virtualization technology to keep the gaming and application portions of the console separate. In July of 2015, Microsoft updated both the X-Box One and Windows 10 platforms to support Windows 10 game streaming. This allows owners of the X-Box One system to stream their games to Windows 10 machines that meet a certain set of minimum system requirements. This makes for an easier time gaming if you don’t control the TV and promotes flexibility within the home. In 2016, Microsoft introduced Cortana (a virtual assistant based on the popular ‘Halo’ character of the same name) to the X-Box One as well. Timed to coincide with the Windows 10 anniversary update, Cortana’s debut on the platform allowed X-Box users to use voice commands in place of controller inputs to accomplish many routine tasks. “Hey Cortana…” has become a common phrase around the gaming sphere as a result. Also in early 2016, Phil Spencer (Head of X-Box at Microsoft) began making noise regarding the Universal Windows Platform and how it would extend into the X-Box space. In case you weren’t sure, the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is Microsoft’s initiative to allow developers to create applications that function across nearly all Windows/Microsoft devices, including Windows machines and X-Box. The graphic below offers a great visual as to how Microsoft views UWP: Starting first with a simple Blu-Ray player application, the UWP application list for X-Box continues to grow. With news/entertainment providers like NPR and even learning agencies like the Khan Academy adding their own applications to the platform, it’s clear that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the UWP. What’s also clear is that with the application list it currently has, the X-Box is no longer a simple gaming device. It has grown into a media consumption platform where you can chat with friends, stream Netflix or even view pictures and videos you’ve stored on OneDrive. Sound familiar? Office 365 users should be wise to this strategy already. Microsoft has continued to add additional benefits to the existing X-Box system while removing barriers that prevent collaboration with non-Microsoft products. Just as it has done within the Office 365 space. The “Better Together” mantra has even trickled down directly to games. After purchasing Minecraft from developer Mojang AB, Microsoft has worked to make the incredibly popular game and education tool even more collaborative. The cheekily named “Better Together” update for Minecraft, released just last month allows players on the X-Box, Windows 10 devices and even mobile devices to play together, within the same space! Even as Microsoft continues to unify disparate aspects of businesses through Office 365, you can see it’s hard at work continuing to live that message within. If you’re ready to start knocking down the barriers within your own business, contact New Signature. No matter where you are in your cloud journey, we can help.