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The Xbox One at Work: Tomorrow's Next Big Business Machine?

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November 12, 2013

The Xbox One at Work: Tomorrow's Next Big Business Machine?

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

The idea of using an Xbox OneMicrosoft's (News - Alert) next big video game console, set for release November 22—at work on the surface seems so ludicrous as to not even bother discussing. But getting past the initial incredulity of it all and taking a closer look at just what the Xbox One can offer, as well as what else Microsoft could be offering on the Xbox One to augment said device, makes it look like a much saner proposition than some might have expected.

While business applications for the Xbox One may seem few and far between for anyone not involved in the video game or electronics industries, there's still quite a bit of potential out there to harness the Xbox One as a powerful device for business use. Consider the Xbox One's connectivity capability; while many see it as just a way to keep people in the conversation whilst sniping at one another over a round of the newest “Call of Duty” or perhaps “Titanfall” when it ultimately hits, the same systems that allow some annoying 12 year old to shriek his frank appraisal of your gaming performance could easily be used to connect the marketing and accounting departments in a business, or connect two separate businesses to each other. 

It's necessary to emphasize “could,” of course, as the systems to do so aren't strictly in place yet. While Microsoft will be including Skype (News - Alert) with the Xbox One, the necessary integration with Microsoft Lync won't be available for at least a while; Microsoft reportedly expects such integration to be in place by August 2014. But that's not the only potential business application, as Xbox One users will also have access to SkyDrive, but only for photos and videos. Documents, however, aren't available yet and may not be any time soon.

But bringing in these two points—Lync and SkyDrive—in the fullest extent does open up quite a bit of possibility for Microsoft and for business as a whole, and a serious advantage for the Xbox One, which it could certainly use after the rocky start it took following the events of E3. With Microsoft Lync in place, in its fullest sense, users get access to quite a few important capabilities. Microsoft Lync offers access to availability for Microsoft Outlook contacts, the ability to show if more than one person is working on the same document, file sharing and SIP for client communications. This makes it an impressive tool for collaboration and remote working alike, and it only gets better when its connections to Whiteboard and PowerPoint get taken into consideration.

Skype is still one of the biggest tools around when it comes to communications, and collaboration with Microsoft Lync is a greatly improved prospect. Could it be that businesses are missing an opportunity by not bringing in Xbox One systems to serve as conferencing and collaboration portals, and that Microsoft is missing an opportunity by not adding on some business capability? With the increasing numbers of people out there participating in the mobile workforce, or having telecommuting options—companies like Yahoo notwithstanding—it becomes more possible than ever that the Xbox One could be not just a home gaming system, but a home working system as well. Only time will tell if Microsoft takes this ball and runs with it, but incorporating systems it already has with hardware it already has to open up a new market just seems like a smart idea.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

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