Microsoft's director of programming for Xbox Live Larry Hryb recently revealed that the upcoming Xbox One console could land support for a mouse and keyboard after it hits retail stores next month. He indicated that support may depend on game developers, but given the company's push for businesses to use the console, we're betting mouse and keyboard support will eventually be a given.
"We'll certainly have this great SDK for developers to do what they like," he told Newegg TV. "If that's something they're interested in doing, we'll certainly help them do that. You pointed out, as a lot of people forget, designing for a 2-foot gaming experience versus perhaps a nine or ten-foot experience is a little bit different. So they have to be really focused on what is that like and they're maximizing for the largest possible audience."
"Certainly it's possible, but we don't have anything to announce at this time," he added.
Back in July, Marques Lyons, Microsoft Xbox MVP and the Director of Consumer Camp, approached businesses with the idea of using the Xbox One in their environment not as a gaming device, but as an affordable option for video conferencing and networking. Ideal apps include Skype, SkyDrive for viewing documents, pictures and video, and Internet Explorer for opening Office Web Apps and unloading an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation.
"If you host clients at your home, use the power of IE and the size of your TV to showcase your new redesigned website, or snap IE to the side while using SkyDrive to present sketches you're working on," he described. "Because Internet Explorer has access to the Office Web Apps, pair that with a Wi-Fi keyboard and mouse and you have the means to edit documents, when necessary, even if you aren't near your PC."
The "business" pitch seemingly describes a console-sized PC with an included motion sensor. Many offices may not want to deal with the Kinect hand and voice-based gestures, and instead rely on the trusted mouse and keyboard combo. Thus, if Microsoft intends to push the console into the business sector, then support for old-school input may be necessary.
But there's another reason why Microsoft and Xbox One developers may want to consider mouse and keyboard support: Steam Machines. Although Valve Software is making a huge push in using controllers with this initiative, PC gamers will presumably still have the option of using their mouse and keyboard. Unfortunately, Hryb seemed reserved about using the mouse and keyboard method on the Xbox One, saying that this setup has gamers leaning forward whereas gamepads allow players to lean back and "have fun".
"I don't want to incite the religious debate that will ensue, [but] we want to provide a gaming experience that people enjoy, certainly with Windows – that's our other large gaming platform at Microsoft. So there's something there, but right now we're really focused on the console space," he said.
Ultimately developers should consider adding both mouse/keyboard support and gamepad support – especially in titles simultaneously released on both Microsoft Windows and Xbox One -- and allow the gamer to choose their poison. For the record, the Xbox 360 supports a USB keyboard, but not a mouse.