After E3, everyone is talking about the new Microsoft strategy, “Play Anywhere”, where you can share the same game on PC and Xbox. However, Microsoft always had the intention to put consoles and PCs side by side using Windows.
When SEGA was developing the Dreamcast, the idea was to use Windows CE as its main operating system. SEGA and Microsoft worked very closely together, but when Dreamcast was released, the games used SEGA’s own software, which 95% of the Dreamcast library made use of.
So, why did it happen? Why was Microsoft’s operating system barely used, even though there was the potential to convert PC games to Dreamcast? While there is no definite answer, the problem was most likely the performance.
Windows CE didn’t have access to the hardware like SEGA’s own software had, and it differed from other devices where Windows was already installed. With Dreamcast, Windows CE was loaded in with every game that made use of it. Although nowadays it looks a mistake, it would be interesting to imagine Dreamcast having software updates like the current-gen consoles have.
With all of the third parties using SEGA’s own software, Microsoft most likely decided to put all its efforts on the Xbox instead of trying to improve the Windows CE for Dreamcast.
Even though Windows CE was not very popular among third-party developers, great games were still developed using Microsoft’s operating system. In the video above, you can see how easy it is to port a game from PC to Dreamcast.