Today I got a chance to try the new game streaming ability of Xbox One at a breakout session. For those that are unaware, Xbox Game Streaming will allow you to broadcast your console gaming experience to any Windows 10 PC on the network, and with the Xbox controller drivers being built into Windows 10 now, it makes for a pretty interesting experience.

Now let’s be honest. This is certainly not the first game streaming that has been announced, and some companies already have shipping solutions for this. Steam for instance can game stream from you desktop PC with a GPU to another lighter weight PC. There are also solutions that will stream from your PC to your TV for playing games on the couch.

So they are not the first, but one of the nice things about streaming from the Xbox to a PC is that, especially these days, most PCs are not capable of running games. Laptops in particular do not have enough GPU in order to play many games at good framerates. Using the Xbox for this solves this issue since the hardware is a known quantity (and yes, maybe not enough but that’s for another time).

In my hands on, there was no perceivable latency, so the experience was excellent. Controls on the controller were every bit as good as if playing right on the console.

The Xbox experience on the PC using the Xbox app

Being able to stream games to a tablet like a Surface Pro 3 makes a lot of sense, since the Xbox is often tucked away in the room with the big TV and it may be used by other members of your house. It worked, and it worked well.

I did ask about being able to stream games while someone else is using the Xbox for media (like Netflix or live TV) and unfortunately this is not going to be the case, at least not initially. It is basically mirroring the display on the Xbox to the PC, so the Xbox is well and truly tied up during any sessions. I kind of think this is a missed opportunity for the Xbox team since they have made such a push to use the Xbox as a hub. In my house, the Xbox is in between the cable box and the TV, so it is not a trivial task to use “switch inputs” and the whole point of doing it this way is to avoid having to switch inputs all the time. Hopefully they can add this in a future update, but it is not clear if the hardware can even support this so we shall have to wait and see.

For what it does do, it does really well, and I can see this being a very popular feature.

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  • Gigaplex - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    I'd rather the ability to run Xbox games directly on my PC. Heck, it's a fairly generic x86 box these days, and my PC is significantly more powerful. I'd even be okay with requiring a special USB licencing dongle for DRM purposes if they're worried about piracy.
  • dalingrin - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    This sounds awful. I really don't want my PC to be an Xbox. I want mouse/keyboard support, higher resolution, ultra wide aspect ratios, etc. If no port is required then developers and publishers will just get lazy and PCs would largely loose many of its best features.
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    You're not going to get any of that stuff with this streaming method either. There's also nothing stopping the PC "emulation" layer from bumping up the resolution.

    I agree that a native port would be more useful, but many games are console exclusive (and many ports just suck). I'd rather have the option to play the console game on my PC than not be able to play it at all.
  • edzieba - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    If Microsoft bundled Windows 10 with a super-locked-down Xbox One VM, it would probably boost uptake significantly. The XP and 7 gaming holdouts would have a solid (and easily communicated, try explaining why Windows 8 is a better platform for VR due to its different compositor sometime) incentive up upgrade, and the knock-on effect of technically savvy children pestering parents to upgrade who would normally be ignorant of, or indifferent to, new OS releases.

    Technically it'd be just as tricky as any other emulator though. The XB1's little chunk of on-die memory in addition to the casually shared pool of GPU/CPU RAM is going to be tricky to replicate with a PC's split pools linked via PCI-E. And you can be sure developers are using architecture quirks and timing tricks just as heavily as previous generations.
  • Alexvrb - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Agreed. That doesn't even take into account the Tensilica DSPs or the other custom hardware, such as the four Move engines.

    Yet it's still probably easier to emulate with 100% precision than a Saturn. :D Even Yabause isn't perfect. Thankfully they built Saturns really solid, mine still works.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, May 7, 2015 - link

    I love my Saturn. *sigh*
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, May 7, 2015 - link

    I'd like that too, but this is still cool. Obviously it would be nice to be able to go the OTHER way too, PC to Xbox!

    Regarding the notebook comments in the article, well SOME notebooks run games fantastically, just unfortunately people keep buying low end stuff (although even there they'll often run a lot).
  • akdj - Friday, June 12, 2015 - link

    Wolfpup, are you inferring laptops unable to 'run current, AAA games' @ 60fps consistently is 'low end stuff?' Those that 'run a lot' actually are quite bad ass machines. With the addition of HiDPI displays, Intel's dedication to the iGPU, PCIe SSD storage options approaching 2Gb/s read/write speeds, all in a package that weighs less than two, three or four pounds. Lasts 'all day', objectively (proven) and damn well pay the bills 'faster' if you're using it as your business partner!
    Those laptops you're inferring as being low end and expensive (usually) sport a reason for the expense. Most of us outgrow PC gaming, or if we don't, build a home rig/pre-packaged gaming machine. Laptops used to 'make money' hardly need the ability to whack zombies at 203fps ( on a display that's refreshing 60x a second. Doesn't make sense does it? --- oh, yeah '4K' which incidentally 'plays back' much better on a Quadro GPU but the zombies will 'get ya' if you're gaming) or last 48 minutes while doing so
    Gaming rigs are STILL (for the most part) very heavy --- Razer & boutique/unique companies aside (as well as Lesser throttling) --- they're 8, 10, 12 --- 15 pounds if you're carrying your wall wart to the LAN party! Make it twenty, you've got the case and Red Bull;)
    BUT, if you're paying your mortgage with your laptop, those expensive, low end computers are fascinating. I'm ambidextrous, use both OSes daily, OS X 10.10 and Windows 8.1. I enjoy both but stranded on the island...OS X, for sure. That said, regardless of the OS, excellent and well priced models do exist. Dell's new XPS or the MacBook line up, from Air to Pro --- not a single one that can give me 60fps of 'Witcher 3 Fun' on a > 4K display in native resolution. But it's irrelevant because it absolutely CAN edit my 4K video in speed demon mode with disc access (R/W), After Effects is a joy, as is many dozen layer, high resolution still shot manipulation in Photoshop. The games that you're enjoying are incredibly enjoyable to code on a display that doesn't blow your eyes out in two hours, enjoys day long vacations from 110v and actually 'gets things done'.
    Gaming is such a niche market these days. I hope it sticks around but I've not donated since picking up my 3DFX Voodoo GPU for my Pentium 233MHz rig. Consoles are fine if I get the itch and unbelievably, my iMacs, MacBook Pro, even my wife's 11" MBA actually 'play' the games we enjoy. Of course, at 44 years old...they measure my faves in megabytes. And even cooler, many of the great titles have been given new life on mobile (iOS, Android, Win Phone, et al).
    Honestly at $1, $2, 5, even $10 a game on my iPad ...I enjoy gaming even more than I did when arcades were how you 'gamed!' Short, quick sessions. Long, extended mission oriented games that allow cloud saving and immediate return to where you left off. Even earlier mentioned productivity aspects like media creation and writing, enjoying media and social media. Checking email, Twitter or compiling spreadsheets. All doable on a single pound device that again, 'lasts all day'.

    Most peeps the world over are FLAT FLOORED by the performance of 'current gen' (hate the continued use of 'next get' ...should be like the Xbox 2 and PSV, right? Anyways.....) consoles. Especially if you've been playing on last gen's gear. 360, PS3 or the Wii. The XB1/PS4 are extraordinary devices and fly when playing games. I've seen the screen shots. The 'comp shots' between computer and the two systems but NO ONE is looking at the terrain closely enough to EVER notice the extra leaf, passing shadow or water ripple.
    Not sure why I'm laying in to you but you should know, I'm no longer a real 'gamer'. I've got to go to work, raise my kids, pay the bills and most importantly, not piss my wife off having a Falcon NW, $9,000 gaming computer showing up at the front door. I hate to admit all of this as I enjoyed gaming as a kid with my Apple IIe, early 80s and it 'schooled' the '2600' IMHO. Playing Microsoft Flight Sim in fact, before 'Windows' and on an Apple lol. Times. They change. But to consider ...and I'm sure there's examples of the low life, crap shoot boutique computers
    But the mainline of computer sales is essentially 'get what you pay for'. You may put more stock into gaming. So the Titan is for you. For 99% of folks, the latest iGPU Iris Pro possibly --- possibly with a dGPU sidekick with 2-4GB of VRAM & the PCIe solid state wicked fast storage is going to BLOW them away MUCH faster than adding another ten frames per second in Doom, Quake or Witcher 3. The speed of the computer 'waking up' and being ready. Just booting to life. Shutting down, installing software updates (it's a hoot to see the speed of the unzipped 350mb Office update installs!) --- multi tasking and changing between apps, the TRUE definition of 'speed' to gen pop's perception is literally ALL in the storage. Sandy, Ivy, Haswell and Broadwell are nearly the same 'speeds' with not a whole lot of increase necessary. They're focus has been in the GPU circuitry as well, the second MOST important buying decision, efficiency. My 2012 15" MacBook Pro gets about four hours off AC if I'm working if I'm just casually browsing or letting it rest
    My 2014, easily seven hours of 'real work' on the same machine. 9-10 hours in the background. Add 50% and you've got the MacBook Air. With the fastest available storage available in a ultrabook, two pounds and up to 15 hours of use, what's not to like? Step up for a hundred more bucks configured identically, you can buy the retina MacBook Pro, the 13".
    Just examples of I'm sure your idea of overpriced, underpowered. But honestly the LAST thing I want to own is another ten pound laptop with two hour battery life. No thanks. Game mobile on your phone or tab. Game at home on your console or desktop.
    Laptops today are faster than anything you could buy just five years ago, MUCH faster, with better everything. Including comparing laptops of today to the desktop of yesterday. But again, you get what you pay for in most cases. We've all got different desires, but for the masses, those high prices on the low end gear that lasts and lasts and lasts....and actually SLAMS performance wise, is supported by amazing peeps and weighs in at just a couple of pounds. That's. Sweet.

    I'd bet most folks ...even those of us here, would be JUST fine on the new core M processor ...the 4.5watt Intel chip in more and more laptops, including a fanless two pound 4K MacBook (with balding fast storage and a display that will bend your mind!)
  • Morawka - Thursday, April 30, 2015 - link

    I want to see it stream games the other way around.. Stream Games from my PC to my xbox. That way i get the best of both worlds.. Better Graphics, Wireless Controller with rumble, better frame rates.
  • loki1725 - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    "So they are not the first, but one of the nice things about streaming from the Xbox to a PC is that, especially these days, most PCs are not capable of running games."

    This is one of the most depressing things I've read all day. While I understand the movement to 'good enough' and in fact herald it, I feel we have gone too far. Two year old hardware sold at the $300 price point shouldn't be more powerful than a new $400 - $500 dollar laptop.

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