The May 2019 Update brings a few tweaks to the Game Bar : you can now customise the widgets that appear when you press Win+G. and you can also control Spotify direct from the overlay, as well as captioning and sharing screenshots without having to switch back to the desktop.
     That’s just a small part of Microsoft’s vision for gaming on Windows 10, however. The big news is a service called Project xCloud. which is planned for public testing later this year. Strictly speaking, it’s not part of the May 2019 Update, but it’s certainly a keystone of thisyear’s Windows proposition.
     Simply put, Project xCloud is an online game-streaming platform. The idea is very similar to the existing game-streaming feature that’s built into the Xbox One, which lets you connect your PC to the console over your home network, and play games on the small screen when family members want to use the living room TV. The difference is that with Project xCloud, the games run -as you might have guessed from the name- not in your own home, but in one of Microsoft’s huge data centres. Internet-based game streaming isn’t exactly new: Sony’s PlayStation Now service has been around since 2014 and we’ve covered the Shadow streaming service in recent editions of PC Pro.

     However, it feels like its about to reach its tipping point, with today’s powerful cloud platforms and fast home internet connections capable of delivering high-definition graphics with negligible input latency. Small wonder that Google recently entered the ring with its own Stadia platform.
     This doesn’t mean the physical console is dead. Microsoft has confirmed that it’s working on a next-generation Xbox, which is expected to be released next year. In a blog post introducing Project xCloud, Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s CVP of gaming cloud, assured garners that -we love what’s possible when a console is connected to a 4K TV with full HDR support and surround sound – that remains a fantastic way to experience console gaming”. However, the console is, for the first time, no longer a necessary part of the formula. You may not even strictly need a Windows 10 PC: Choudhry explicitly confirmed that the intention was to allow you to play Xbox games-on your phone, tablet or another connected device”-and Microsoft recently released gaming SDKs for Android and iOS to help bring that vision to reality. The one thing that hasn’t been talked about at all is pricing. Microsoft could decide to charge for each individual game you add to your library, but from the way the industry’s going it seems more likely that the company will follow Sony’s lead and charge a flat rate for unlimited access to a library of streamable games. That’s not something that’s been done on Windows before, and it could greatly change the way games are designed and marketed.


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