Could Windows 8 come to PCs, tablets, Xbox, and Windows Phone, all next year?

ww600_thumb News The latest rumor to surface surrounding Windows 8 was a mention on yesterday’s (episode #233) Windows Weekly, with Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley, and Leo LaPorte, when Thurrott said he’s been hearing that a new Xbox, powered by Windows 8, could appear as early as Q3 of next year.  Thurrott then theorized that we might even hear news of a new Xbox at CES in January (Thurrott had mentioned earlier in the podcast that he is hearing that Nokia’s plans for entry into the US market would be announced at CES).  The Windows Weekly show notes provide a bit more context:

Rumor: Next Xbox will be announced at CES 2012

  • Codenamed TEN, is all about Metro, embedded Silverlight and an Apple-like integration with Windows and Windows Phone
  • The dashboard preview is supposedly this week (tomorrow?) and will include the Bing search integration, Live TV hooks and more

We’ve heard about the possibilities of a Windows 8 powered Xbox before (although most rumors have put a release well into 2013), along with that same kernel powering not only Windows PCs, and tablets, and Windows Phones.  It makes a lot of sense, as one operating system, utilizing WinRT, the new development structure for “Metro style apps”, would not only simplify and solidify Windows across devices, but would allow apps to run cross-device, or nearly so.

Microsoft is betting big on Windows 8, and earlier this year Steve Ballmer called it “the riskiest thing we’ve ever done”.  It’s risky, of course, because for one thing it relies on the success of Windows Phone and Metro (if Windows Phone were to flop this year, it could drag the whole future of Windows down with it), and for another, it places big bets on Windows 8 tablets, and developing a Metro style apps ecosystem.

If Windows Phone is to go Windows 8, and there are indications that it will, then current apps will need to be upgraded to the WinRT/Metro development language.  That may be a somewhat trivial process, but there’s no reason to wait, especially if a Windows 8 powered Windows Phone helps to sell Windows 8 tablets, and visa versa.

A new Xbox, with Metro style apps, live tv, upgraded graphics, and seamless interconnectivity with Windows Phone, the PC, and Windows 8 tablets, all released in time for the 2012 holidays, could make a helluva splash.  It would also make writing Metro style apps all that much more appealing, making versions of them available on tablets, Xbox, PCs and phones, and give the WinRT / Metro style app ecosystem a big push right off the bat.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking on our part, or just maybe, that “Xbox 720” isn’t that far off after all.  Could Microsoft pull off such an end to end hardware and software coup, one rivaling if not surpassing Apple’s iPhone / iPad / iTunes / iCloud ecosystem?  Can they pull it off by next holiday season?