More Open Apps Marketplace Rumored for Xbox 360
Rumors have circulated before that Microsoft was planning on opening up the development platform for the Xbox 360 to allow for an app store. It is no secret that the upcoming dashboard update will add an Apps section and a link to an Apps Marketplace, but these apps are going to fit the current mold of app deployment on the Xbox 360. Right now, apps on the Xbox fit into two basic categories: games and service apps, such as Facebook and Netflix. Being a game console, it is unsurprisingly easy to build a game for the system, the big decision being whether you want to try to distribute through the more restrictive, but more lucrative Xbox Live Arcade or go your own way with the Indie Games Marketplace. The service apps on the other hand require a great deal of coordination and co-development with Microsoft.
By all accounts the recent announcement of a plethora of new content providers is part of a larger effort by Microsoft to open up the Silverlight-based UI to developers with a framework codenamed Lakeview.
It’s not just little things that are changing in the code, either. Sources say Microsoft has made fundamental additions and subtractions to Lakeview’s capabilities over the past several weeks, causing partners to update and retest their apps with each new release. The goal is to quickly mature the platform, with the potential of enabling other third-party developers to eventually use the Lakeview framework to build their own apps for the Xbox 360 console.
This whole idea has been floating around for a while and makes a great deal of sense. In a recent episode of Windows Weekly, show co-host Leo Laporte was describing a conversation he had with someone from Microsoft about bringing the TWiT Network to the Xbox, and this sounds like the ideal platform. The current process for bringing service apps to the Xbox Apps Marketplace is only appropriate for larger content providers, but there is an entire Internet of high-quality content providers and social services just waiting to be tapped into. It will be interesting to see whether an Xbox app store follows the more controlled model of XBLA or the free-wheeling Indie Games Marketplace.