How The Xbox One Can Pull Off Backwards Compatibility
With the news that Microsoft will be bringing backwards compatibility for the Xbox One to all by the end of the year being one of the biggest stories of this year's E3, and arguably one of Microsoft's first real victories over Sony in some time, talk of exactly how it would be achieved began to surface rather quickly.
Particularly in light of the fact that Sony either can't or won't bring the same service to their PS4 platform and commented on the news as believing that the process must be "difficult". Phil Spencer of Microsoft spoke up to shed a little bit of light on the matter.
Speaking in a Podcast with Giant Bomb, the head of Xbox stated that he wanted to encourage people to make the move to Xbox One and that considering so many people invested so much money into the Xbox 360, the providing of a backwards compatibility service was fair.
Man with a plan, Phil Spencer
Spencer said that the process was hard as they had to make very different architectures work together. He explained the solution that Microsoft found.
The approach that we've taken is to actually emulate the full Xbox 360 hardware layer. So the operating system for the 360 is actually running when you run the game. I was around when we did the original Xbox backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 where we had a shim for every game and it just didn't scale very well. This is actually the same emulator running for all of the games. Different games do different things, as we're rolling them out we'll say 'oh maybe we have to tweak the emulator.' But in the end, the emulator is emulating the 360, so it's for everybody.
As a result, Xbox Live believes you are using a 360 and you actually appear to be doing so to your friends online. However, because the Xbox One is fooled into thinking you are playing an Xbox One game, features such as screenshots and streaming are still available on the older games.
It certainly looks like a lot of work has gone into pleasing the consumers. Microsoft seems to be on a strong path to reclaim a portion of the market that they lost two years ago.
Is backwards compatibility enough to make you upgrade to an Xbox One?