Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) is using the power of the cloud to run Xbox One games inside of standard Web browsers, including its own Internet Explorer as well as Chrome, Neowin reported. The move would shift focus away from the company's console hardware, but also opens up questions of whether the Xbox One will soon offer backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games.
Sources inside Microsoft told Neowin that the Redmond, Washington, company has enabled browser-based playback on both the Xbox One, which was released last year, and the Xbox 360, which originally came out in 2005. Microsoft is "close" to releasing a consumer version of a cloud-based game service, the site said, according to more than one source inside Microsoft. The company refused to comment.
One source told Neowin that the Xbox One streaming service would enable playback in full 1080p HD resolution at 60 frames-per-second, or FPS, a measure of how smooth a game looks. Microsoft's console was previously unable to display many cross-platform games at full HD at 60 FPS.
Developers released some titles in full HD on Sony Corp.'s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 while opting for lower resolutions on the Xbox One. Microsoft had said it planned on utilizing its Azure cloud services to boost resolutions and offer next-generation features, however, the company has so far used the cloud only for smaller, less hardware-intensive services like multiplayer matchmaking.
The Xbox's dashboard, which offers access to games as well as streaming services and other functions, can be streamed over the cloud as well, the report said. A timeframe for releasing the new service to the public was not clear. Last year, Microsoft demonstrated "Halo 4," an Xbox title, running on a series of phones, tablets and other devices at an annual employee meeting.
Sony already has announced a subscription service called PlayStation Now, which utilizes cloud technology to run PlayStation games on Sony TV's and other devices that would not traditionally be capable of doing so. Sony says it will offer beta testing of the service in January, and will offer it more widely this summer.