January 24, 2013, 3:07 PM — The gaming PC and the living room game console have never been close friends. So PC gamers play their PC games, console gamers play their console games, and never the twain shall meet.
Or is everything changing?
Windows 8 helps tear down the wall that's been built between these two different environments. Nestled within the new OS are a number of different ways by which desk jockeys can interact with their Xbox Live accounts and Xbox 360 consoles without ever having to abandon their office chairs. Follow along, and I'll show you all the new synergies you can explore.
The Games app
Windows 8's default Games app already provides a basic connection between your PC and your Xbox Live account. Within its walled garden, you can track your Xbox gaming history, buy new games that download directly to your console, view your achievements and Friends List, or customize your avatar and Xbox Live profile. The ability to futz with your avatar is a particular attraction, as it's a lot easier and faster to manipulate your virtual clothing on a PC or tablet than on the Xbox 360 console itself.
Don't feel like fiddling around on your TV? The Games app also offers a small handful of Xbox Live-enabled Windows 8 games you can buy, download, and play directly on your PC or tablet--a move that takes you right to Windows 8's official Windows Store app, we should note. (If the link works, that is. See the image to the right.)
All of those features are handy for console buffs, but if you want to squeeze the most out of the Xbox 360 hooks that Microsoft baked into Windows 8, you'll want to download the official Xbox SmartGlass app from the Windows Store, as well.
The SmartGlass app lets you to directly control your console via Windows 8 itself. For example, you'll be able to launch apps and games on your Xbox 360 directly from your Windows desktop or laptop--a perfect party trick and a great way to convince your roommates that your Xbox 360 has been possessed.
A small number of Xbox 360 games and apps integrate more deeply with Xbox SmartGlass, offering robust "second-screen" capabilities that display dynamic maps, stats, song queues, and more. In effect, you use the small screen of your Windows 8 device to affect something on the big screen of your Xbox-connected TV. Lackluster title support hurts right now, with SmartGlass interaction largely limited to Microsoft Studios titles such as Halo 4 and Forza Horizon. But we're hoping other developers start to back this awesome feature as time goes on.
Play to Xbox