Here’s a first look at Microsoft’s xCloud for the Internet

Microsoft has started testing its xCloud game streaming through a web browser. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans say The edge that employees are now testing a web version of xCloud prior to a public preview. The service gives Xbox players access to their games via a browser and opens xCloud to work on devices like iPhones and iPads.

Much like how xCloud currently works on Android tablets and phones, the web version includes a simple launcher with game recommendations, the ability to resume recently played titles, and access to all the cloud games available via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Once you launch a game, it runs in full screen and you need a controller to play Xbox games streamed through the browser.

Microsoft’s xCloud online service.

It is not immediately clear what resolution Microsoft is streaming games through this web version. The software maker uses Xbox One S server blades for its existing xCloud infrastructure, so full 4K streaming is not supported until backend hardware is upgraded to Xbox Series X components this year.

Microsoft also plans to bring together this web version of xCloud in the PC version of the Xbox app on Windows 10. The web version currently appears to be limited to Chromium browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, as well as Google’s Stadia service. Microsoft is planning some form of public preview of xCloud via the Internet in the spring, and this broader internal test signals that the preview is approaching very close.

Launch an xCloud stream inside a browser.

Xbox games run in full screen in a web browser.

The big drive behind this web version is support for iOS and iPadOS hardware. Apple imposes restrictions on iOS apps and cloud services, and Microsoft was unable to support the iPhone and iPad when it launched xCloud in beta for Android last year. Apple said Microsoft should submit individual games for review, a process there Microsoft marked a “bad experience for customers.”

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