Microsoft Connects Windows Phones to Xbox

Microsoft is developing an app that can connect Windows phones to the Xbox, in an effort to make headway against popular Apple and Android-powered smartphones.

The “Xbox Companion,” a free download, will allow users to find, learn about, and control Xbox Live content using a Windows phone. The app also accesses details about Xbox movies, shows, and games, then turns the phone into a remote to control playback, making the Windows phone into a tool to enhance the Xbox gaming and viewing experience.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company teased the app in a recent video showing a girl browsing Xbox content on her Windows 7 phone.

Microsoft likely hopes Xbox fans excited about the new app will buy Microsoft’s Windows 7 phone over Apple’s iPhone and Android-powered smartphones, which are also popular for gaming. Android powers more than half of smartphones sold and Apple’s iOS runs a close second, while Microsoft’s mobile platform controls just one percent of the market.

Microsoft aims to put Windows phones in the hands of legions of Xbox fans, since the success of their gaming console may spur the company’s smartphone platform’s performance.

For example, if an “Xbox Companion” user watches a movie on the Xbox, the new app instantly accesses rich content such as information on stars, plot, actor bios and production details. These features are designed to draw Microsoft’s established Xbox fan base to the company’s Windows smartphones and differentiate the phones from competitors.

People are increasingly using smartphones to play mobile games, a trend Microsoft is hoping to capitalize on without leaving the Xbox console behind.

The inclusion of this app on a phone already suited to gaming may give the Windows 7 phone an inroad in the growing gaming arena and pave the way for greater sales against Apple and Google.

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