The Xbox Handbook is a book in progress. Xbox on Windows 10 is part of our massive look at how to use Microsoft’s entertainment console. If you have feedback about this chapter of the guide, leave it in the comments. I’ll address it in an update. The Xbox Handbook will arrive as a downloadable book in the Kindle Store later this year.

Just to make sure that their bases are covered, every one of the major video game console makers has tried to shore up its defenses by betting on a cross-platform scenario. The PlayStation ecosystem has the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Now. Nintendo’s Switch console will blend mobile gaming and console gaming. Microsoft is betting on the personal computer with Xbox on Windows 10.

Windows 10 notebooks, desktops and tablets come preloaded with an app Microsoft simply refers to as Xbox. This app has many of the community features of Xbox Live. Combined with software updates, new accessory bundles and fundamental changes to Xbox Live, gaming on a Windows 10 PC is every bit as enjoyable as gaming on Xbox One.

Xbox Play Anywhere

Xbox Play Anywhere

Xbox Play Anywhere is such a unique offering that I thought it demanded its own chapter in the Xbox Handbook.

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Microsoft is using the program to encourage users to both buy their games digitally and build a gaming PC that they can be proud of. Essentially, Play Anywhere is a promise that the games you spend your hard-earned money on will also work on Windows 10 PCs. Buy one of the games that qualify digitally, and it unlocks a companion version for the opposite system. Game saves and purchases sync between the two.

Gears of War 4 Tomorrow Trailer

Right now, Xbox Play Anywhere only has games that are published or have been published by Microsoft Studios. Any Achievements that you earn on an Xbox Play Anywhere game are shared between the two systems.

Xbox Accessories

Using Xbox Accessories

The same sanctity of investment that Play Anywhere promises, is something that Microsoft started delivering last year for owners of accessories made originally for Xbox One.

Xbox Wireless Adapter review (1)

Microsoft launched the rather basic Xbox Wireless Adapter in 2015, giving users a way to connect their PC to their Xbox controller wirelessly. I reviewed the adapter after its debut. The device works, even if it is relatively unattractive. Stereo audio works through the controller’s jack too.

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We thought this was the extent of Microsoft’s deep dive into Xbox compatibility on Windows but, it has gotten deeper. Over summer 2016, the company revealed it was teaming up with gaming PC makers to include the technology that the Xbox Wireless Adapter relies on inside their PCs. Microsoft also revealed an Xbox Wireless Controller that has Bluetooth technology built-in. PC gamers can still use the adapter if they want, or they can opt for one of these controllers. Using the Bluetooth functionality limits the audio quality in your headphones to mono, but it’s still solid.

Xbox on Windows 10

The Xbox App

Finally, there’s the Xbox app. Since launching a year ago, new versions have steadily added new features. Game shopping, messaging, Parties, Game DVR, Clubs and Looking for Group, Xbox on Windows 10 supports these features.

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The app works in tandem with the Windows Store to link you directly to games that have Xbox Live compatibility. That being said, the app has its own tricks. When using Game DVR on Windows 10, users can record from any game on their system – as long as it’s been verified through Steam or other means. While I’m waiting for Cities Skylines to launch on Xbox, I’ve been recording game clips and uploading them to Xbox Live using the Xbox app.

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Speaking of Steam, Microsoft might want you to buy your games through its store, but the company can record clips from and link you directly to your Steam games.

Together, Play Anywhere, the recent accessory changes and the Xbox.com are forging a new path for the Xbox ecosystem, one where gamers have the freedom to play on PC or Xbox.