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Why every Xbox enthusiast needs Windows 10

My gaming habits have changed drastically since I had my daughter. Now with the wife and kid, I sometimes need to wait my turn to use the big screen TV in the living room to do my Xbox gaming. Sure, I could pack up the system and move it to the spare TV in the bedroom, but really who wants to do that? Sound familiar?

Well, if you're an Xbox enthusiast like myself, you'll be happy to know that this will no longer be an issue now that Windows 10 is finally here. Why am I referencing a new PC operating system in relation to Xbox? Well, there's an Xbox App that's native to the OS and you're going to absolutely love it once you try it out and see what you can do with the Xbox App. If you've used Smartglass before, you're well aware of what you're able to do with that app. The Windows 10 Xbox App takes it to a whole new level that once you have it, you're going to realize it's been something we've been wanting all along, even if we didn't know it.

Home

So, if you're like me and have a family that is constantly using the TV, it can be hard to get some gaming time in, especially during prime time day hours, or maybe you have numerous roommates instead that seem to be always hogging the TV. With Windows 10 (and your Xbox One obviously) you'll be able to stream to another laptop, PC, or tablet provided they are running the new Windows 10 OS. That's right, basically any PC or tablet can now play (be streamed to) your Xbox One games.

What do you exactly need to get this sorcery to work? It's actually quite simple, just an Xbox One controller plugged in via USB (play and charge kit cable works just fine) into your Windows 10 device. Yup, that's it. There's no massive setup you need to do, it's as basic as it gets and this allows you to now stream locally over your network via wired or wireless. The game streaming is very optimized from my experience, and although experiences may vary based on your connection, home layout, and interference, with my wired connection I had absolutely no issues playing even more most chaotic and fast paced titles.

Messages

The Windows 10 Xbox App acts very similar to smartglass, giving you access to your games, friends, achievements, activity feed, and more. There's so much more that the app does in addition to smartglass functionality though, even aside from game streaming, making it a necessity for an Xbox enthusiast. While the game streaming is the focal point of the app, there's a few more features within that need some attention as well. It's already been incredibly convenient for myself once I learned about all the features, and I know I will continue to use them going forward.

OneGuide

If you're like me, you have a certain amount of friends you play with on a consistent basis, or if you're a complete nerd like myself, every single night at a set time. Party chat is the obvious solution to this, as this allows you and your friends to chat with one another regardless of what everyone is playing but sometimes I just wanted to chat with a buddy, or needed to contact him for something quick. Before the Xbox App on Windows 10, I would have to turn on my Xbox One and TV, get the controller and headset, start a party and invite them.

Party

Now with the Xbox App, I can do this but much quicker and without needing to leave my PC or tablet since it's always on anyways. Now I can start an Xbox party on my PC and chat to my friends there which is at times much more convenient, especially if the TV is unusable because the kid is watching her shows. Even better, you can go into the settings and choose your microphone and speakers; meaning you can have your party chat coming into your headset or large PC speakers depending on your setup and needs. I've made an open party and when a friend joined I was able to hear him because I had it set to come out of my PC's speakers, so I didn't need to wait around or with my headset on. I've attached a few pictures of the party section of the app so you can see what it looks like and how you can click on any friend to see their profile and activity feed. A big thanks to one of my best Xbox buds BustaFarts (he can also be reached via @Heilman22084) for helping test everything as this was being written.

Profile

The activity feed is one of the newer additions to the Xbox platform, allowing you to see what your friends are doing, achievements they are unlocking, as well as their videos and screenshots they take on their Xbox One. I admit I wasn't using it often before on the console, as it was a little clunky to use, especially if you wanted to comment on friends' updates but now that this is integrated into the Xbox App I'm using the Activity Feed section almost daily to keep up to date with what my friends are doing. What makes this interesting though is how it integrates not only into your Xbox One Game DVR but another amazing feature the Xbox App has, Game DVR for your PC as well.

Showcase

Much like how it's simple to use the Game DVR on Xbox One, you can do this via the app on Windows 10 as well by pressing Windows Key + G. This has the same features, allowing you to record footage or screenshots. The coolest thing though is that you're not restricted by the default 30 seconds / 5 minutes like on Xbox One, as you can now set it much longer, to a maximum of 2 hours. Even better, you can designate any app as a 'game' if you want and record your footage that way. This will be great for capturing footage or creating videos on nearly anything in Windows 10.

Captures

The Game DVR is very easy to setup:

  1. Once the app is open click on Settings > Game DVR.

  2. Enable the "Record That" toggle.

  3. From here you can change multiple settings from length of clips to the settings.

  4. Open the game (or app) you want to record and press Win + G.

  5. If it prompts, check the "Yes, this is a game".

Voila, you can record virtually anything on Windows 10, especially your games!

Game DVR

The pièce de la résistance though is hands down the ability to stream your Xbox One games to any Windows 10 device, be it PC or tablet. Want to play your Xbox One games while you're in the bathroom? This is now a possibility! The game streaming feature simply mirrors what your Xbox One console is doing and you can stream virtually any game (Kinect games won't work, nor will game requiring specific hardware for example). You cannot stream your movies, music, and other content like Netflix obviously as this is truly meant for gaming.

Streaming Home

Setting up game streaming is also very simple:

  1. On your Xbox One, make sure the setting to allow game streaming to other devices is checked (Settings > Preferences).

  2. Launch the Xbox App and click Connect on the left side.

  3. Select which console you wish to stream from.

  4. Have your controller plugged in the PC via USB

  5. Click stream.

Voila, you can now play your Xbox One on any Windows 10 PC or tablet over your local network!

Streaming Killer Instinct

For me, the main use of this is to be able to play when the wife is watching the news or the kid is watching her shows but sometimes I just want to play a quick game of something and now I can take my Surface into the bedroom and play anywhere in my home. A friend made a good point while we were talking about how great this feature is: you can now technically have an Xbox One tucked away somewhere in an entertainment system, or anywhere really, and not even have it hooked up to a TV via HDMI and only into the power brick if you plan to only stream to other devices instead. This will be great for those man-caves that have all of their devices hidden away or for someone that has buddies over and wants to have it showing on the TV and a secondary device. There's a ton of possibilities.

Streaming Smite

For those not aware, Windows 10 is a free upgrade and you don't really need a powerful system for it to work, especially for the game streaming. It's very simple to use and I'm constantly using the Xbox App to either start parties with my Xbox Live friends, check out the Activity Feed, and of course, streaming my Xbox One games when I have to patiently wait my turn to use the TV. If you're on the fence about getting Windows 10, I not only fully recommend it if you're an Xbox enthusiast, it's basically a necessity now that I'm using it daily for multiple reasons.