Microsoft gets ready to launch its xCloud game streaming service later in 2010 as part of Xbox Game Pass. The service will initially be powered by Xbox One S consoles in server blades in Microsoft’s datacenters, nevertheless the software giant is planning to upgrade this hardware next year. Sources knowledgeable about Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that testing has recently begun on upgraded xCloud servers, and that Microsoft is even experimenting with dedicated PC server blades for streaming PC games over xCloud.
Microsoft uses its new Xbox Series X hardware in xCloud servers next year, plus it provides some big performance gains for its cloud streaming efforts, particularly on the CPU side. This next-gen processor is a lot more powerful and capable of running four Xbox One S game sessions simultaneously. It also includes a brand new built-in video encoder that’s up to six times faster compared to the current encoder that Microsoft uses on existing xCloud servers.
Microsoft’s experiments with PC server blades for xCloud will also likely lead to Xbox Game Pass for PC games being offered through the service. The company is testing an xCloud client for PC that will stream Xbox games to Windows 10 PCs, but it doesn’t support PC games at this time. Microsoft will require these new PC server blades to stream Xbox Game Pass PC games to cellular devices, Windows PCs, and perhaps even Xbox consoles in the long run.
We understand Microsoft is still on the right track for an xCloud launch later in 2010 on Android mobile devices. Microsoft started testing xCloud on iOS earlier in the day this year, but admitted it can’t fully test its service on Apple’s platform due to some unspecified App Store restrictions. The software maker has been trying to pressure Apple into adjusting its App Store policies to allow xCloud to launch on iOS, but those discussions are ongoing and it’s unlikely the service will launch fully on Apple devices later this year.
Microsoft, Google, and many businesses looking to launch game streaming services on iOS will be watching the results of a European antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store policies very closely in the months ahead.