Windows Phone 7 owners will be able to play turn-based titles with Xbox 360 and PC players from launch, with real-time gaming "in the near future."
It has been known for some time that Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system will come with built-in Xbox Live functionality, but the company has remained elusive on many of the specific details. We now know one thing for sure - at the X10 event in Toronto, Microsoft rep Greg Milligan confirmed that multiplayer gaming between Windows Phone owners and their Xbox and PC counterparts is in the works.
Due to the technical difficulties involved in the process, multiplayer will be restricted to turn-based games at launch - think board games like Catan or Scrabble. The Xbox Live infrastructure will also allow for "companion" gaming, where "you play a level on the phone and it may unlock a level or a weapon or some special achievement on the console game."
While this may sound crushing to those gamers that dream of playing Halo with their Xbox friends while riding the bus, Microsoft is certain that any technical issues will eventually be resolved. Milligan added, "We are working on real-time phone-to-console, likely initially through Wi-Fi - again, operator networks are sensitive to that ... But, yeah - absolutely working on phone-to-console real-time. That is something we're working on and expect to have in the near future."
Milligan also mentioned that multiplayer will be supported between Windows phones and PC games using the Games For Windows Live interface.
The first Windows Phone 7 handsets are scheduled for launch this Fall. The full interview, which can be watched on the right, contains a number of interesting details for those curious about the operating system.