Here’s a first look at Microsoft’s xCloud for the web

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Microsoft has started testing its xCloud game streaming through a web browser. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans tell The Verge that employees are now testing a web version of xCloud ahead of a public preview. The service allows Xbox players to access their games through a browser, and opens up xCloud to work on devices like iPhones and iPads.

Much like how xCloud currently works on Android tablets and phones, the web version includes a simple launcher with recommendations for games, the ability to resume recently played titles, and access to all the cloud games available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Once you launch a game it will run fullscreen, and you’ll need a controller to play Xbox games streamed through the browser.

Microsoft’s xCloud service on the web.

It’s not immediately clear what resolution Microsoft is streaming games at through this web version. The software maker is using Xbox One S server blades for its existing xCloud infrastructure, so full 4K streaming won’t be supported until the backend hardware is upgraded to Xbox Series X components this year.

Microsoft is planning to bundle this web version of xCloud into the PC version of the Xbox app on Windows 10, too. The web version appears to be currently limited to Chromium browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, much like Google’s Stadia service. Microsoft is planning some form of public preview of xCloud via the web in the spring, and this wider internal testing signals that the preview is getting very close.

Starting an xCloud stream inside a browser.
Xbox games run fullscreen in a web browser.

The big drive behind this web version is support for iOS and iPadOS hardware. Apple imposes limitations on iOS apps and cloud services, and Microsoft wasn’t able to support the iPhone and iPad when it launched xCloud in beta for Android last year. Apple said Microsoft would need to submit individual games for review, a process that Microsoft labeled a “bad experience for customers.”