If you are anything like me, the first waking moments of your day are spent staring, bleary eyed and sans glasses, at your smartphone, digging through everything that happened during your forced rest break from life. That in mind, imagine my surprise this morning when stuck in my feed was the news that Microsoft is moving to end its system of ‘Microsoft Points,’ something that was both long coming and long overdue. This directly impacts Windows 8, so I have skipped my coffee to write this on the double.
Microsoft Points, in use on the Xbox, Windows Phone, and Zune platforms have always been a bad idea. By forcing the conversion of currency into point units, Microsoft created a desperately odd system that confused users and developers alike; jokes that involve Microsoft Points are a staple on sites such as Reddit that are made up of gamers and the technologically savvy. No one will bemoan their passage.
However, by removing them entirely, Microsoft is clearing the pathway for a very important unification: the coming together of app sales on every single platform that it operates. Windows 8, which will contain the Windows Store, is a radical step for Microsoft, a company that dominates the sales of ‘software in a box.’ Digital distribution of software, through Microsoft channels, is its strategy, but until now it has been a disjointed affair.
The company has been moving towards the use of regular currency for some time, as we noted: “[T]he Redmond-based software giant has moved away from its virtual currency system in favour of real money for additional services. For example, Microsoft has listed full game downloads in dollars but downloadable content is priced in Microsoft Points. Windows Phone apps are also priced in dollars but users can also download in-app purchases by using their Points balance.”
By making that change complete, Microsoft opens the door for apps to be sold across its platforms, completely. It is, I would argue, fantastically easy to see a world where a game is coded once, and sold on the Windows Phone Marketplace, the Xbox store, and the Windows Store. Buy it once, I assume, and play it everywhere.
Now, why is this important for Windows 8? Simply that as this development is good for developers, it will aid Windows 8 in developing a deep and excellent pool of apps. This makes the Windows Store a selling point for the operating system, and even more, renders Windows 8 more attractive from a functional perspective. This will lead to more Windows 8 sales.
Our analysis could be wrong if we are overstating how far Microsoft is along with its platform unification. We suspect, however, that 2012 is the year that things converge. Call it Microsoft One.
TNW has reached out to Microsoft for comment on this story, but expects to be rebuffed. If a comment is rendered, we will add it here.