Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is about to make xCloud gaming much faster

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Microsoft will be making some major upgrades to its Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service in the coming weeks. The Xbox cloud streaming service will move to Xbox Series X hardware on the server side, bringing dramatic improvements to load times and frame rates. Microsoft is also pulling xCloud on the web out of beta, which is good news for Apple device owners.

“We are now in the final stages of internal testing and we will be upgrading the experience for Ultimate members in the coming weeks,” said Kareem Choudhry, head of cloud gaming at Microsoft. “The world’s most powerful console comes to Azure.”

The upgrade includes major improvements to xCloud, allowing players to take advantage of the same faster load times and improved frame rates available on Xbox Series X consoles. Microsoft’s xCloud service launched in September, powered by Xbox One S server blades. The loading times are one of the disturbing aspects of using Xbox game streaming and this upgrade will drastically reduce the waiting time for games to launch. Players will also have access to Xbox Series X/S optimized games.

Microsoft’s xCloud service on an iPhone.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

In addition to the server upgrades, Microsoft will be launching Xbox Cloud Gaming via the browser for all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming weeks. The service is currently in an invite-only beta mode, but the extension makes it available to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to access xCloud streaming on iPhones, iPads, and on any device with a compatible browser (Chrome, Edge and Safari).

Microsoft is also expanding cloud gaming to Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan later this year and hints at plans for new Xbox Game Pass subscriptions. “We need to innovate to bring our games and services to more people around the world, and we’re exploring how we can introduce new subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass,” said Liz Hamren, head of gaming experiences and platforms at Microsoft.

These new Xbox Game Pass subscriptions will likely include some form of access to xCloud game streaming. Microsoft currently only offers Xbox game streaming to those who subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier, which costs $14.99 per month. It’s easy to imagine a future where Microsoft offers a separate Game Pass tier that only provides access to Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud).

Microsoft is also today announcing plans for an Xbox TV app and its own streaming stick, in addition to the ability to access and use xCloud on Xbox consoles later this year.