They don’t say it very loudly, but Microsoft is going to let us use our Xbox almost as if they were PCs. The key is mouse and keyboard support: it already existed in some games, but now it’s also supported in the console’s Microsoft Edge browser.
What does this mean? That it will be possible to use that browser on the Xbox Series X virtually identically to how we would use it in front of a PC. Edit documents with Office 365 or Google Docs, write emails in Outlook or Gmail.
The Xbox Series X not only looks like a PC: it could also become one, at least in part, thanks to that mouse and keyboard support that now gains integers. It does so in the Microsoft Edge browser, which has become a really popular development since Redmond took the leap and based on Chromium.
Being able to use this browser on the console and also do it with mouse and keyboard gives new possibilities (like playing Stadia from the Xbox!), especially if we have the console connected to a monitor and close to these peripherals. If so, using it to take advantage of all kinds of web services directly from the console will be almost the same as if we did it from a conventional PC.
This news makes the console behave in something like a Chromebook, but instead of having Google’s Chrome browser as the center, it has Microsoft Edge as the backbone of that “browser as an operating system”.
There are many things we can already do from the browser: listen to music or watch movies and series, connect to a work chat via Slack (or to a game chat via Discord, for example) and write content on websites are all done from a browser.
The same could be said of managing email and accessing social networks to publish images that we have edited with a web service, for example. Even connecting to the web versions of WhatsApp or Telegram is perfectly possible from a browser like Edge on the console.
Obviously there are limitations: there is no task or window management as in a conventional operating system, and neither do we have access to native applications in Windows 10, including those that Microsoft has been offering for years to work more efficiently (such as the file explorer, although there are alternatives).
In the end, the Xbox X Series is a fantastic and powerful PC that could do a lot in this area, and so could the Xbox S Series, which, although more modest, has enough power to become a solvent work PC.
It does not seem likely that Microsoft will make moves in this direction: among other things, it would be a disservice to the PC manufacturers it has as partners. There are other drawbacks – security, what about native Xbox games when you could play them directly in that Windows mode – but they are all fixable.
Whatever Microsoft does about it, this preliminary support -for the moment, only for Insiders, and specifically those in the “Alpha Skip-Ahead” group- opens the door to using the console as that “pseudo-PC” we were talking about, and makes it inevitable to imagine a hypothetical future in which we could run in “console mode” and “PC mode” perhaps with a dual boot.