Microsoft's recently announced Project xCloud is a great thing for gamers, but it could also have an impact on general Azure customers. To prepare for its game streaming service, the company is making significant upgrades to its data centers and underlying technology.
The company has announced bandwidth improvements, as well as innovative new video encoding and decoding techniques. It's also installing new server blades with the power of multiple Xbox's, combining their components.
It seems Microsoft Research is also part of that equation, getting a mention in Microsoft'a blog post about the matter. Teams are working to combat latency, but also test xCloud on upcoming advances like 5G and the current 4G.
Fans also wonder if Microsoft Research's Kahawai is coming into play, enabling high-quality mobile gaming with GPU offloading. So far, the company hasn't commented on the matter, but it's possible more details will be available at launch.
A Culture Shift
In many ways, it's a showcase of how connected Microsoft has become. When executives speak of the company in the past, it's one that's fractured and often competing against itself. Different departments have their roles and largely stick to them.
CEO Satya Nadella has changed that during his rule, even more so with the recent restructure. Cloud, Windows, gaming, and AR are intertwined and work toward new solutions.
As a result, it's likely xCloud additions will spur improvements in many products. This isn't the first time the company has tried its hand at game streaming, with a previously announced ‘Arcadia' service never making it to market. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, lessons and possibly technology from the attempt is used in the recent Windows Virtual Desktop.
Project xCloud blades are already present in one of Microsoft's Washington datacenters, with a public test coming in 2019.