Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, announced during a GDC presentation on Wednesday that we’ll finally get a wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers later this year, enabling use on Windows without a USB tether.
This is huge news because it’ll be the first time Microsoft has made it easy to use any Xbox Controller wirelessly on Windows in years. The Xbox 360 controller had a wireless Windows model for a while, but Microsoft stopped making the adapter easily available a few years back, making it easier to buy a wired 360 controller instead.
The push for wireless on Windows is part of Microsoft’s effort to unify the Xbox and Windows ecosystems—or, rather, to keep the Xbox semi-relevant to PC gamers. The 360 controller earned its place as the favored Windows controller early on in the console’s lifecycle, but anecdotally it seems like most PC gamers have stuck with the 360 controller or moved over to the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 this generation.
I’m still not sold on Microsoft’s Xbox/Windows cross-compatibility. Spencer made a big deal of it, saying “With Windows 10, I believe we will be able to bring one core operating system, one application platform, one core gaming social network, one store, and one ingestion path.” So far, however, the whole thing seems more like a transparent effort to try and salvage the console’s weak indie reputation and make it more competitive with the PlayStation 4 (which continues to sell, despite a lack of big-name games) than a legitimate attempt to “save PC gaming.”
But you know what? If we get some great features like a wireless Xbox One controller adapter out of this whole equation, I’m okay with Microsoft bringing the two platforms closer together. Just don’t try to start charging me for multiplayer.
Details are scarce on the adapter outside of the fact it exists. How much will it cost? When, exactly, will it release? Will all the controller’s features be supported? Questions for later, I guess.
Separately, Spencer also announced that Microsoft’s working hard to develop first-party games for its recently revealed HoloLens augmented reality headset. Developers who want first crack at HoloLens APIs can sign up for the Windows Insider program to stay on the bleeding edge.