Secret Xbox Live Features in Windows Longhorn - Xbox Live Play Anywhere in 2006!
In the 2006 E3 conference, Microsoft announced their new "Xbox Live Play Anywhere" initiative. This allows you to buy a game once for either your Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC and play them in either platform for no extra charge. This also allows for cloud saves, allowing you to continue from where you left off regardless of the device on which you are playing. Your achievements and leaderboard also syncs between PC and your Xbox One. But this is nothign new. Exactly 10 years ago, in E3 2006, Microsoft announced something eerily similar.
Windows Longhorn was an ambitious project for Microsoft, which eventually failed to become a reality. What we got instead was Windows Vista. And part of the Longhorn vision was Xbox Live Anywhere. Windows Vista would have Xbox Live integration built in to the operating system. You could instantly open up your Xbox Live side panel, similar to the one in Xbox 360 at the time. You could see and compare your achievements with your friends in Xbox Live, cross play with other between Xbox 360 and the PC, buy your game once and play them anywhere, and even save progress, which would sync, so that you could continue where you left off from another device.
This dream never became a reality; at least, not like they were hoping. What came out instead was Games for Windows Live, which was no longer a part of the OS and was very user unfriendly to use. It punished users with locked down DRM which harmd the play experience. It was buggy, interrupting actual gameplay. It was a mess. And According to Phil Spencer in an internview with Giant Bomb, Microsoft was too afraid to hurt its console business, which prevented them to be fully committed to PC gaming, resulting in the demise of Games for Windows Live.
In retrospect, it is interesting to see what Microsoft had in mind 10 years before Xbox Live's "Play Anywhere" actually became a reality. It's also fascinating to see what could have been.