Xbox One: Three Operating Systems for Instant App Switching


21, 2013

David Cutler

Today Microsoft announced the Xbox One, which will succeed the Xbox 360.  One way to view the Xbox One is a powerful gaming PC that runs 3 operating systems simultaneously. One of these operating systems is based on the Windows NT kernel and will help runs apps such as Netflix, Skype, Youtube, Twitter, etc.  The second is dedicated solely to games.  The third is the OS is the most important and allows the other two OSes to communicate with each other and it also allows for the fast switching between game mode and app mode. The will give xbox user the benefit of being able to instantly switch between apps.

Boyd Multerer took some time to explain more about the operating systems in the Xbox during the “#XboxReveal Recap with Major Nelson exclusively on Twitch TV.” “David Cutler built the hypervisor that does the switching back and forth,” Multerer told Major Nelson. Some of you may remember that David Cutler joined the Xbox team almost two years ago now. Hoi Vo was director of Hypervisor on Windows Azure joined Xbox around the same time. Together Cutler and Vo helped build the Hypervisor OS that allowed two virtual machines to run side-by-side applications. One partition dedicated to running games and the other to runs apps.

For the average user it is inconsequential that the Xbox One is running three operating systems. They will only see on interface, with the Metro design language throughout and will have the ability to instantly switch between games and other applications.  The Xbox team also took care to add multiple power states for the Xbox. The Xbox One can turn on and off cores on the fly based on what the user is doing.

It is clear that the Xbox team has carefully thought of how they would architect the Xbox One now called Xbox One Architecture) so that it can be future proof. Microsoft understands they may need to make substantial changes to the Xbox as the world changes around them. Think of the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 OS was re-written 3 times, and changes to the interface were made many times over its existence. The 360 was also around for 8 years, quite incredible. I suspect the Xbox One will be on the market for an even longer time than the 360 was.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}