Microsoft had previously mentioned about utilizing their Azure cloud services for more than just offloading server data and hosting multiplayer games through titles like Titanfall. The company hinted at cloud streaming before, but new information indicates that they may be taking a similar approach to streaming in the same way that Sony is approaching the market with PlayStation Now.
Neowin is reporting that Microsoft is currently testing running Xbox One and Xbox 360 games in web browsers; not just Internet Explorer, either. The testing is supposedly taking place in Chrome and other popular browsers, too.
As noted in the Neowin article...
“It was about this time last year that Microsoft showed off Halo 4 running in the cloud on various devices at the company’s all-employee meeting, and this project is the on-going work from that demo to bring it to more users. Our understanding is that significant progress has been made from that demo and it is now being rolled out to more users.”
Earlier in the year Microsoft also showcased how physics-processing could be offloaded to the cloud. Although, we've yet to see how the real-world application of that process could be applied to gaming on a large-scale basis.
Based on the information made available, it would seem as if Microsoft gunning for having games running through browsers might actually relate to them pursuing something ever-so-close to Sony's PlayStation Now service. With PS Now gamers have the option of playing older generation titles and soon newer-gen titles from a wide variety of supported Sony platforms and mobile devices.
With Microsoft looking into Xbox 360 emulation for the Xbox One, it seems like the perfect solution would be hosting Xbox 360 games through the cloud and allowing players to access them through the Xbox One.
It's still not really an ideal solution, given that pricing becomes a huge factor – just like pricing is one of the most debilitating drawbacks for PS Now – and, as mentioned in the Neowin article, licensing third-party publisher games for digital streaming becomes another huge hurdle. Games with licensed music, trademarks or content face tougher roadblocks for being streamed digitally, an issue that held up the re-release of GTA: Vice City.
Nevertheless, Microsoft testing this new streaming service paints a positive sign for anyone hoping for some form of backwards compatibility for the Xbox One. Of course, there's nothing actually official about this other than that they're testing a streaming method. For all we know this could be one of those projects that stays in research and development limbo; constantly being iterated and worked on but never actually seeing the light of day within the eighth generation of gaming.
Of course, we'll only know for sure when the company finally begins to make public their intentions and roadmap for the cloud.
For now it's only been used as a sort of tertiary support system for the Xbox One and its games, and nothing has really stood out for the system that gives the Xbox One any “must buy” appeal.