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Crazy Talk: Windows 8 May Play Xbox 360 Games

As the title states, there's crazy talk circulating the webs claiming that Windows 8 will allow consumers to play Xbox 360 games on their PCs. We're not talking about streaming or purchasing digital versions and using a Microsoft-sanctioned emulator. No, this latest rumor claims that gamers will be able to actually play the game discs in a DVD drive powered by Windows 8.

The rumor arrives after recent reports indicated that Microsoft plans to reveal the next Xbox console at E3 2012 (along with Sony). The unannounced "720" will supposedly feature an IBM Cell processor and an AMD GPU, but so far nothing official has come out of the Redmond company. Even OnLive has admitted that it's currently in talks with the company to bring its streaming games service to the next-generation device.

On Monday, we saw that Microsoft finally integrated the Games for Windows website into Xbox.com. PC games are now located under the Games + Marketplace tab and listed just after the Xbox Downloads link. There Microsoft customers can purchase digital versions of popular PC games, add-ons, and even download game trailers and demos without having to download and install the standalone client. So far, the Games for Windows Marketplace software remains unchanged and can be downloaded directly from Xbox.com.

So where are we going with this? We already know that Microsoft plans to create one universal platform that's shared across the Xbox consoles, Windows Phone and Windows PC. But what we didn't expect was the possibility that Microsoft would endorse the use of Xbox 360 discs in PC-based DVD drives. But in a way, it makes sense: Microsoft is essentially bringing its exclusives to Windows customers who have no interest in purchasing the console, who typically use their PCs as a multimedia center and/or as a gaming rig.

The rumor goes on to indicate that in order to play these games online, Microsoft PC customers will be required to purchase a monthly fee just like their Xbox comrades. This backs up previous reports stemming from E3 2011 that Xbox Live will be integrated into Windows 8. "Live has been successful on the Windows Phone," said vice president of global marketing at Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business group Mike Delman. "Live will be built into the PC. It will be the service where you get your entertainment. We were talking about it — you will not just see consoles and handhelds at this show next year, this show's going to morph into other devices."

He went on to say that Live will be the primary entertainment center for Windows Phone handhelds. "If we have that and the PCs to leverage, that will be a big Live base," he added. "It's our job to make 'buy a movie in one place and play it everywhere, buy a game in one place and play it everywhere.' Making things portable will be a big focus of ours."

Did you get that? Buy a game in one place and play it everywhere. That statement alone seems to validate the rumor that Xbox 360 games will be playable in Windows 8. But let's take the rumor one step further: what if Microsoft plans to copy Steam and allow gamers to register their Xbox 360 game discs to unlock a digital version that can be downloaded or streamed? If Microsoft piggy-backs OnLive's technology, even low-end laptops can play these console titles.

Looking back, maybe the rumor claiming that Xbox 360 discs can be played in Windows 8 isn't such crazy talk after all. Until Microsoft reveals more, let the speculation begin!