Microsoft Project xCloud Could Land on TVs Within 12 Months


Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (Project xCloud) has been available since September. However, it is not quite yet the cross-platform Xbox streaming service Microsoft envisions. At the moment the service is only available on Android because Microsoft pulled the platform from Apple’s iOS.

In the future, Microsoft wants Project xCloud to extend to all types of connected devices, including Windows 10 PC and TV. On the latter front, we recently discussed the company plans to develop a TV stick for Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Speaking to The Verge, Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer has reconfirmed plans for a TV compatible version of xCloud. According to Spencer, smart TV support could come within the next 12 months.

“I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that.”

Changing the Landscape

Project xCloud has the potential to change much in the gaming realm. High-end gaming on PC has traditionally been off limits for most users, unless they are prepared to spend big on a decent gaming PC. For people with a normal laptop, they have needed to purchase a console to get quality gaming.

Microsoft’s streaming service could change gaming and open console quality gaming to all PC users. That’s because xCloud is based entirely on Microsoft’s own Azure servers. This essentially means the company handles all the heavy lifting, so users won’t need a laptop with cutting edge gaming hardware.

Despite the potential of xCloud, Spencer says it is unlikely Microsoft will abandon console hardware just yet. The company has just launched the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Spencer envisions more Xbox devices in the future.

“I don’t think these will be the last big pieces of hardware that we ship,” says Spencer.

“When we think about xCloud, which is our version of Stadia or Luna, I think what it needs to evolve to are games that actually run between a hybrid environment of the cloud and the local compute capability,” he adds. “It’s really a hybrid between both of those.”

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Minecraft Realms Finally Arrives on PlayStation


Minecraft is a complete cross-platform game these days. Microsoft’s ever-popular games is available on mobile, PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo. One of the benefits of Cross Play is that updates, such as the Nether Update roll out on all devices at the same time. However, Sony’s PlayStation 4 never got Minecraft Realms.

That is now changing because Microsoft-owned Minecraft Realms is coming to the PS4 and eventually the new PS5. In some ways Minecraft is playing catch up on PlayStation since Sony messed around so much in allowing Cross-Play in the first place.

With the addition of Minecraft Realms, PlayStation users will finally have the ability to rent servers for up to 10 players.

A new trailer for Minecraft Realms for PlayStation has dropped today. Users on the PS4 and PS5 will be getting Realms backed by Microsoft Azure after it recently transitioned from Amazon Web Services.

Importance of Azure Base

In a recent interview with GameIndustry, Microsoft Studios chief Matt Booty highlighted the process to switch Minecraft to Azure:

“It would be easy for a large organization to come in and say: ‘Hey, we’re going to show you how it’s done. We’re going to get you off this Java code. We’re going to get things moved over to C. We’re going to get you off Amazon Web Services and over to Azure. But it’s important to realize that the conditions that created Minecraft, how it came to be, are likely to be things that are difficult to recreate within a more corporate structure.”

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Microsoft: Don’t Blow Vape Smoke into Xbox Series X Consoles


Remember folks, there’s no smoke without fire. Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X console is now available to customers, and early projections suggest it will be a big seller. Today, Microsoft is moving to hopefully kill off an early trend where vapers are blowing smoke into the Series X.

Yes, it makes no sense and is as stupid in practice and it appears in words. It’s a social media trend picking up pace and (obviously) the vape smoke is causing the Xbox Series X console to overheat.

For some reasons, customers are using the smoke coming out of the device to pretend the Xbox Series X has an overheating problem. It is unclear why this is happening, or why users want to attempt to discredit the console.

Why didn’t Microsoft make the Xbox Series X hot smoke-proof?


Don’t Do It

As you may expect, Microsoft has responded to this trend by telling customers to simply stop doing it. In a tweet on the Xbox channel, the company warns owners against blowing vape smoke into their Xbox Series X.


While it would be easy to think Microsoft should keep quiet and just let stupid people destroy their consoles, the company took the right step by responding. Firstly, it cuts any negativity about the console, it stops future customers from trying to do the same, and it also shows that the console does not have an overheating problem.

If you really want a cool console, perhaps the best way is with the Xbox Series X fridge Microsoft created last month.

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Facebook Gaming Gets Cloud Streaming Service That is Being Bizarrely Undersold


Facebook has often skirted around the gaming market without ever feeling like it was truly putting its weight into the sector. That may be changing as Facebook Gaming is launching a free cloud gaming service that will be available for all users (with one important caveat) following a successful preview.

Currently, the service is limited to “several cloud-streamed games,” according to Facebook VP Jason Rubin. In the blog post, Rubin adds, “Cloud game streaming promises to deliver unprecedented access to games across every screen. And while we’re thrilled to play a part in that future, that future is a ways off.”

It’s interesting that Facebook Gaming is seemingly getting into cloud gaming but also dismissing it at the same time. Certainly, it does little to promote the new cloud service with any kind of confidence. Besides, there is at least some evidence that Rubin’s opinion is just incorrect.

Certainly, Microsoft with Project xCloud rolling out now would not say cloud gaming is “a ways off.” Similarly Google Stadia, which is now available and providing mobile cloud game streaming despite teething problems.

Rubin and Facebook disagree and are undercutting the value of their service from inception.

“We believe in the long-term future of cloud gaming, but we aren’t going to try to wow you with the wonders of our data centers, compression algorithms, resolutions, or frames per second,” he writes. “Cloud game streaming for the masses still has a way to go, and it’s important to embrace both the advantages and the reality of the technology rather than try to oversell where it’ll be in the future.”

I really don’t get Facebook’s strategy here. It seems like the company has a half-baked idea and does not want to oversell it. Why wouldn’t the company try to wow customers? It makes no sense.

Perhaps some of Facebook’s hesitation comes from the fact the new service is not available on Apple iOS devices. Yes, Apple’s controversial App Store practices mean Facebook Gaming cloud streaming cannot come to iPhone and iPad.

Not on iOS

Of course, we have seen Project xCloud suffer this issue too, although Microsoft is working on solving those problems. Facebook says even if Apple relaxes its rules, the service may not come to iOS.

“Only Android and web players will enjoy integrated cloud games on Facebook while we work on alternative options for iOS,” Rubin adds. “Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path. ‘Of course, there is always the open Internet,’ so mobile browsers may wind up being an option, but there are limitations to what we can offer on Safari. While our iOS path is uncertain, one thing is clear. Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource.”

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Xbox Game Bar Task Manager Widget Leaves Preview


Late last month, we talked about one of the best features to ever come to the Xbox Game Bar in Windows 10. Specifically, it was a built-in Task Manager widget. However, at the time the widget was in preview. Now, Microsoft says the tool is available to all Windows 10 users.

On any Windows 10 machine, users can open the Task Manager with the classic CTRL+ALT-DELETE combination. This is ok for most tasks, but when you are doing something like playing a game, it is obtrusive.

Gamers playing on full screen would need to minimize the game to open the task manager if their resources dipped. Now they can CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to bring the manager up on the game screen. Because this is a widget, users won’t see a complete task manager.

Instead, the tool will highlight some basic information, such as which apps are running and the resources they are consuming.

Currently in preview the widget won’t give you a complete task manager experience. However, it will highlight your processes and what is actively running. Because it is customizable, users can change between percentage usage and individual resources.

Specifically, viewable resources including GPU, CPU, RAM, and Disk. Using a simple traffic light system, the widget shows how much resources programs are using: red showing a large impact and green minimal impact. If a program is hogging system resources, it can be closed directly in the widget.

The widget is available in Xbox Game Bar version 5.420.9252.0 from the Microsoft Store.

Improving the Game Bar

Other widgets that have been interesting recently include one to run YouTube picture-in-picture during gameplay. Also this year, third-party developers added more functionality to the Xbox Game Bar by bringing a calculator and web browser to the tool.

We like the Game Bar, it is admittedly not for everyone. If you are in this bracket, it’s worth checking out our tutorial, “How To Completely Uninstall The Xbox Game Bar”.

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Microsoft Debuts New Xbox Dashboard for Xbox Series X


Microsoft is this week rolling out the October update for Xbox. While it is too early to see all the software details for the Xbox Series X ahead of its launch next month, we are getting some next-gen changes. Specifically, Microsoft is introducing its new Xbox Dashboard experience.

Yes, this is the same new Xbox Dashboard Microsoft initially revealed in August. There’s not much going on in terms of layout changes. Although, the new dashboard does boost the performance of the Xbox system.

Running the new software, the Xbox Series X loads 50% faster than the Xbox One version and consumes 40% less memory. We are unsure if this translates to a noticeable improvement for users, but Microsoft says it will.

On the gaming side, switching between games is now smoother, thanks to a 33% speed boost. This means users will be able to move between games more efficiently. We suspect this performance gain will be noticeable.

Other Changes

Finding frequently used apps and games has become easier. Furthermore, the new Home page comes with more customization options, including the ability to add and remove rows.

Quick access options on the dashboard include Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Live, and the Microsoft Store. Notifications have also been tweaked. Specifically, users can customize how they see notifications on screen.

Looking at the design, there is not much different. However, Microsoft has made some tweaks that will be available across both Xbox consoles, PC, and mobile. This includes new icons and rounded corners. It’s worth noting these changes build on an overhaul of the dashboard brought to the Xbox One in February.

That previous update was a proper overhaul of the Xbox Dashboard experience. It seems this latest update is focused on building on that update to prepare for the upcoming Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

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Xbox Series X and S Use Auto HDR To Improve Backward Compatible Games


Microsoft is just a month away from debuting the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S to customers. Ahead of that November launch, we are finding out more details about the performance capabilities of the devices. In the latest piece of information, we get a proper look at the new Auto HDR mode on the consoles.

Microsoft has already told us the Xbox Series X is the most powerful console ever. The company has even delved into some of the finer details. However, Auto HDR mode has remained relatively elusive in the pre-launch chatter.

We know the Xbox Series consoles will have unprecedented backward compatibility. In fact, both the Series X will offer backward compatibility across four generations of Xbox (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Series X). While the Series S has a few more limitations, it too will deliver backward compatibility.

Microsoft has already described how all games will be able to tap into the full potential of the consoles’ GPU, CPU, and SSD. Yes, even titles originally available on the original Xbox.

Auto HDR

The obvious benefits of allowing this are better frame rates and smoother/faster loading times. However, Microsoft is also including Auto High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode. If you are close to modern TV tech, you will have seen this mode before.

Microsoft Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo explains how Auto HDR will benefit the consoles:

“Auto HDR is implemented by the system so developers don’t have to do any work to take advantage of this feature. Also, since Auto HDR is enabled by the console’s hardware, there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU or memory and there is no additional latency added ensuring you receive the ultimate gaming experience.”

Auto HDR will be available for all backward compatible games, but Microsoft is going a step further. For some games, the company has developed a system to double the framerate compared to the original.

“While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware,” Lo adds.

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Xbox Cloud Gaming (Project xCloud) Shown Running on A Samsung Fridge


Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming streaming service is designed to bring the power of Xbox to all devices and platforms. That idea has taken hit with Redmond’s messy war of words with Apple stopping the service running on iOS. However, how far can the concept of Xbox Cloud Gaming on any platform and device go.

Well, how about a fridge? One prospecting YouTuber (VapingwithTwisted420) published a video along with a photo on Instagram showing Xbox Cloud Gaming running on his Samsung fridge.

If you are unfamiliar with Xbox Cloud Gaming, it was previously known as Project xCloud, which is frankly a cooler name. Either way, it is a streaming service that allows users to stream Xbox games to their devices, including Android smartphones.

Because Microsoft Azure servers do all the heavy lifting, underpowered devices are able to run Xbox console titles.


Android is the key in this story, as is Samsung’s Tizen software. These days, smart appliances can come with screens and full OS experiences. Companies like LG use Android, whereas Samsung uses its own Tizen software.

Microsoft has not said if xCloud runs on Tizen or not, but it seems it does not natively. However, Tizen does allow Android applications to work on the platform. And that’s how VapingWithTwisted420 managed to get Xbox Cloud Gaming on his Samsung fridge.

Spreading Out

While this is a fun showcase, it highlights the potential of Project xCloud to truly make the Xbox brand universal. Microsoft recently launched the service in general availability on Android after around a year of previews.

Because Android is ubiquitous across hardware, the potential is big. For example, it is expected Microsoft will soon confirm Xbox Cloud Gaming will work on Android TVs.

However, Apple’s iOS is proving more problematic. Microsoft was running xCloud in preview on the platform, but removed the app in August. The company feels Apple’s strict revenue rules make xCloud impossible on the App Store. Last week, we reported Microsoft could instead deliver the service to iOS users through a web browser version.

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Microsoft Xbox Controller “Joystick Drift” Lawsuit Adds More Plaintiffs


A new report suggests Microsoft’s legal troubles over its Xbox controllers will continue and even be expanded. According to VGC, seven new plaintiffs were added to a class action lawsuit against the company on October 2. Furthermore, the action updated the affected peripherals to include both the Xbox Elite Controller Series 1 and Series 2.

For the most part, this lawsuit has flown under the radar. A group of Microsoft Xbox controller users are suing the company saying the peripherals have a widespread problem with the joystick drifting. According to the plaintiffs, the controllers say there is a hardware flaw that means a joystick drift is likely to happen.

That hardware component is the “potentiometer,” which controls the physical movement of the joystick. According to the court filing, a lubricant Microsoft uses is causing more movement that usual. This can even happen when the joystick is not being used.

And there was me thinking joystick drift was just something that happens when a controller is used too much. Over the years I have experienced joystick drift on every Xbox stretching back to the original. Furthermore, I have had it on several PlayStation generations, and as far back as the Nintendo 64 back in the 1990s.

So, it seems joystick drift can happen when a controller gets old. However, is it happening on the Xbox One peripheral because of a fundamental flaw caused by Microsoft? The plaintiffs suggest yes.

The lawsuit wants Microsoft to compensate the users and place an injunction that forces Microsoft to explain the flaw to customers.

“The injunctive relief sought by Plaintiffs will protect the public from Microsoft’s deceitful marketing practices which misrepresent and omit material facts.”

Microsoft has been quiet on this lawsuit, so it is unclear if the company is dismissing the claims or not.

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Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda To Push Netflix for Gaming Plans


Microsoft shocked the gaming world yesterday by announcing an acquisition of ZeniMax Medi. That name may not ring any bells for many gamers, but it is the company that owns Bethesda Softworks. Of course, Bethesda is the company behind the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises and is one of the most popular and respected developers in gaming.

According to a blog post from Microsoft, the company will pay $7.5 billion in cash to acquire ZeniMax. Yes, that’s significantly more than the $2.5 billion Redmond paid to acquire Minecraft in 2014.

Minecraft has gone on to become the best-selling game of all time under Microsoft’s wing. While the company will not expect Bethesda titles to deliver similar results, there is just as much ambition behind this purchase.

Microsoft points to a shift towards a player-centric gaming market instead of the traditional device-centric market. This does not mean the company is abandoning Xbox anytime soon, but it means Bethesda will play a big role in the company delivering its cloud-based digital gaming plans.

Creating a Netflix for gaming platform is something Microsoft has openly talked about before. That’s what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Project xCloud could become.

Project xCloud or Xbox Game Streaming is a platform that allows users to play Xbox games on any device or platform, unless it’s an iPhone on iOS. Microsoft leverages its Azure cloud service to handle resources, removing performance loads from users.

Moving Forward

Microsoft has already combined the xCloud preview with its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, that allows users to access a catalog of games for a monthly fee. These two services together create a robust start to Redmond’s plans for an all-encompassing game-streaming service.

Nadella says the deal to acquire Bethesda is as much about the digital future as it is about bringing a major developer to Microsoft Game Studios:

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.”

We also cannot ignore that Microsoft will now control two of the most respected gaming franchise, Fallout and Elder Scrolls. As console success can often hinge partly on exclusivity, Microsoft is keeping these popular titles away from Sony.

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