Microsoft’s game streaming service has taken its next big step recently, with the company announcing ongoing testing with browser integration. This would lower barriers to entry for the already streamlined technology even further, making it among the most user-friendly of all game streaming options. With a public testing date set for spring, this announcement signals Microsoft’s faith in the technology and its eventual intentions.

The Next Step

At this time, the xCloud system is limited to Chromium browsers like Microsoft Edge and Google’s Chrome, though it could later support Apple systems. This would depend on per-game testing to meet Apple’s review criteria, so rollouts for iOS users will likely be much lower if it comes at all.

While not the first game streaming tech to head to the browser, as Stadia follows the same route, this step is nonetheless a key move necessary for any modern streaming service. These are systems that have long banked on the concept of convenience above all else, where clunky exterior programs run counter to the central premise.

In theory, browser testing, especially on PC systems, could be as easy as using any other website. With synchronized accounts from browser data, a player should be able to visit xCloud’s website, select the game they want to play, and jump right in. Microsoft has even announced support for Sony’s DS4 controller, which has traditionally struggled with integration on Windows platforms.

Following the Path

While game streaming is a relatively new form of streaming technology on the mainstream, it should be noted that its route follows the footsteps of far more established names. Even within the direct video game industry, Microsoft’s xCloud, which went into preview in 2019, lags far behind Sony’s PSNow, which launched back in 2014 in North America.

At their core, these games borrow heavily from established entertainment avenues that existed from the early internet. Flash games upheld the same ideal, of instantly playable experiences, though Flash itself is now obsolete. In a more modern sense, it has been live casino games that best illustrate this established legacy. As seen on, operating with instant access, new live titles like blackjack and roulette leverage this ideal for more established mainstream success. Indirectly at least, this level of ease of use is the same path systems like xCloud wish to emulate.

Finding the Balance

Though we already know that game streaming can work, we also know that there are some hard realities of this form of gaming that cannot be overcome. The laws of physics are absolute, so latency, in particular, should always be a problem. At more than just 50ms for keyboard and mouse, players start to become disconnected from the experience, which puts a hard limit on some fast-paced games.

Controller titles experience this issue less, and turn-based games have no issue with much greater latency, which shows how much streaming technology relies on the right approach. Unless you live close to a server, we wouldn’t expect games like Doom Eternal to ever be great fits. If you like kicking back with a puzzle or turn-based strategy game, however, Microsoft’s coming browser integration for xCloud could be exactly what you’re looking for.

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