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A first look at Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service for Windows PC

Microsoft--xCloud

Microsoft has started testing its Project xCloud game streaming service for Windows 10 PCs this week. The software giant is making the preview version, which allows you to stream Xbox games to a PC, available to all Microsoft employees. The Verge has been able to get exclusive screenshots of how xCloud will work on PCs.

Microsoft has developed an Xbox Game Streaming application for Windows 10 that will be available in the Windows Store. Like the Android or iOS versions, the app requires an Xbox One Bluetooth controller, a Microsoft account, and a good internet connection. The PC app will also support streaming games from an Xbox One console locally or remotely, instead of using Microsoft’s xCloud server blades.

There are a variety of games available for Microsoft employees to try, but the app is currently limited to 720p streams for now. “This internal preview runs at 720p resolution with 1080p just around the corner,” reveals an internal Microsoft support note.

The experience is very similar to what is available on Android and iOS, including the user interface and the way to access and stream games. It certainly looks ready to be tested in general, and Microsoft is likely to implement it soon in external Xbox testers.

Microsoft also recently updated its xCloud server blades to include eight Xbox One S consoles in a single server instance. That’s higher than the four the company was previously testing.

Microsoft’s xCloud server

Microsoft is now working to eventually transition from these xCloud servers to the Xbox Series X processor. This next-generation processor is much more powerful and capable of running four Xbox One S game sessions simultaneously on a single chip. It also includes a new built-in video encoder that is up to six times faster than the current external encoder that Microsoft uses on existing xCloud servers.

Microsoft has promised to launch xCloud this year, with PS4 controller support and this Windows 10 streaming on the way. The Xbox maker plans to integrate Project xCloud with Xbox Game Pass later this year, allowing players to stream games from the company’s subscription service directly from the cloud.

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