Microsoft plans to hold a Windows 10 event at its Redmond campus in late January, according to the official Windows blog, and Xbox head Phil Spencer will be on hand with others to talk about the "consumer experience."
The news comes the same day that Spencer touched on the importance of Windows gaming in a tweet:
@RpLayy I'll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January, it's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 12, 2014
In March, Spencer took over as the head of Microsoft's Xbox branch as part of a company-wide restructuring and "tuning." In the memo announcing Spencer's promotion, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote that Spencer would report to the head of the Operating Systems team and that in his new job he would help to "bring more of the magic of Xbox to all form factors, including tablets, PCs and phones."
Earlier that month, during GDC, Spencer talked about working toward a "renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming." During E3, we asked Spencer why that renewed focus wasn't evident during the company's E3 press conference.
"E3's a retail show," he told Polygon at the time. "It's a retail show, it's a console show, so it didn't really feel like the right place for us to talk about Windows, but Windows and gaming on Windows is critical to Microsoft's success."
He added that he believes PC gaming, with the successes of titles like League of Legends and World of Tanks, has never been more healthy.
Polygon has been invited to the January event. We've also reached out to Microsoft for more context about Spencer's tweet.
Microsoft has a spotty history of directly supporting gaming on Windows. In 2006, then-Microsoft vice president Peter Moore apologized for what he called a dereliction of duty to Windows as a gaming platform. Vista, it seemed, was meant to be a fix for that problem. In 2007, Microsoft pushed off a major initiative for the launch of Games for Windows Live. The PC-take on the Xbox 360 online service never really took. A year later, Microsoft made a second attempt at invigorating the failing service.
In 2009, gaming on Windows once more seemed to fall by the wayside as Windows 7 launched with little to no mention of gaming. That operating system brought with it an updated Game Explorer, an app of sorts pulled from the wreckage of Vista.
The common thought at the time was that Microsoft was busy working on Xbox as a platform to devote significant resources to Windows. But a strong second option for gaming on PC grew up out of that vacuum: Valve's Steam. Now a powerhouse, it's hard to imagine Microsoft coming up with a meaningful competitor. When Windows 8 and its closed-garden store was first detailed, a slew of developers came out against it, including Valve's own Gabe Newell.
Newell called it "kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space." Blizzard's Rob Pardo and Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson weren't very enthused either.
The aftershock of this latest failed attempt at a Windows store, still called Games for Windows Live, continues to be felt. Most recently publishers are choosing to transition their games to Steam as support of, and consumer enthusiasm for, Microsoft's PC gaming services are at an all-time low.
As we approach another launch of another Windows operating system, it appears that Microsoft is once again looking to court game makers and game players, this time with an actual gamer as head of gaming.
Whether they mean it this time, and can succeed, only time, and maybe Newell, can tell.