The appointment of Phil Spencer as Head of Xbox has serious(ly good) implications for Microsoft's gaming side. But when put together with other recent news and quotes, it becomes clear that Microsoft doesn't see gaming as an Xbox-only activity anymore, and will be treating it as more of an afterthought in their next operating system.
In his new role, he'll be reporting directly to Terry Myerson, who heads up development of operating systems. Spencer has said they'll be working closely together, and that everyone will be physically moving closer to each other to help make this happen.
When talking about conversations with new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Spencer has said it was important to both of them that gaming was included in everything Microsoft did from that point onwards. To bring the point further, he spoke to Kotaku about integrating that gaming know-how into Windows:
Frankly, a key to me moving into Terry Myerson’s team, who runs the platform software team for the whole company, is to make sure we have gaming in his leadership team, so when we’re focused on Windows — the future of Windows, what we’re doing with Windows Phone — that we think about the success that we’ve built with Xbox in gaming and make sure we learn from that.
The PC, obviously, is a top priority for us as a company. Gaming on PC is incredibly strong, but we as a platform company can do a better job in that ecosystem and those are conversations Terry and I are having almost daily about that focus.
It's entirely possible that the next operating system we see from Microsoft will have a native gaming client, and at the very least it will having gaming as a higher priority. It might be extrapolating a fair bit — but, looking into the crystal ball, if Microsoft did introduce and fully back a gaming app store, complete with native benefits and discounts, it could take a slice of Steam's pie. The whole thing rest on proper implementation, of course, and I'll be the first to raise a sceptical eyebrow with memories of Games for Windows Live still fresh in my head.
But properly backed, and integrated into Windows to the same degree that the App Store or iTunes is integrated into MacOS, we could be looking at another mainstay of gaming — and yet another username and password combination for a service that further divides our game purchases.