Microsoft has announced a next-generation games development platform called XNA at the Game Developers' Conference in California. The platform will be used to develop games on all future game platforms, including the Xbox Next and PCs, Microsoft said.

Microsoft claims that XNA will allow for a common environment to develop its games, removing the need for programmers to change code for different systems.

The new platform will enable developers to implement Xbox Live features into Windows games, using features such as billing, security, login, friends lists and matchmaking tools.

Control schemes will also be unified, giving the same input APIs (application programming interfaces) and button standards on both Xbox and PCs

XNA will give developers an easier time creating cross platform games claims Microsoft, and the Xbox Next development kits will likely be largely based on the XNA platform.

"Software will be the single most important force in digital entertainment over the next decade," said Bill Gates, founder and chief software architect of Microsoft. "XNA underscores Microsoft's commitment to the game industry and our desire to work with partners to take the industry to the next level."