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Microsoft Spotted Streaming Halo 4 to PC, Windows Phone

By - Source: TechRadar | B 17 comments

Streaming Xbox 360 games to the PC and tablet may become a reality next year.

As OnLive has shown, streaming high-quality PC and console games to desktops, tablets and smartphones isn't a service of the future, but technology we have right now. Microsoft has shown that it's already taking advantage of this technology with the upcoming Xbox One, and now it looks like the Redmond company may be taking its "Services" dedication more seriously than previous thought.

Sources claim that Microsoft recently demonstrated Halo 4, which is currently only offered on the Xbox 360, streaming to a Windows Phone device and a Windows PC. This demo was supposedly shown during an internal meeting on Friday, and reportedly ran extremely smooth on both form factors. The latency on the Lumia 520 has also reportedly been reduced to just 45ms to cut down on any noticeable lag.

The sources said this Halo 4 streaming demo was a "prototype", so don't expect to see a dedicated streaming service anytime soon. We're already aware that the company is currently pushing to get Windows 8.1 out on the market, followed by the Xbox One and the Spring 2014 update for Windows Phone. Quite a few things are expected to happen next spring, including a possible Surface Mini/Xbox appearance, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the launch of a streaming games service in that window (or E3 2014  launch).

The move is obviously Microsoft's answer to Sony's Gaikai purchase and the PlayStation company's plans to stream older PlayStation games to the new console and PS Vita. A Sony exec even recently admitted that the company is looking to stream PlayStation games outside the Sony hardware fold including desktops, smartphones and tablets. Naturally Microsoft has no plans to be left behind (unlike Nintendo).

Microsoft's streaming service would answer the Xbox One's backwards compatibility issue given that older games won't be compatible on the new AMD-based hardware. Microsoft's senior director of Xbox Albert Penello already confirmed that Windows Azure is capable of this, saying that Microsoft's cloud platform can be used for "more complicated things like rendering full games like Gaikai and delivering it to the box."

Windows Azure is the company's cloud application platform spread out across Microsoft's global network of managed datacenters. This solution provides both Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service, and supports a number of different programming languages. Azure is one of several backbones in the IT industry, providing a strong foundation for a possible Xbox streaming service financed by Microsoft's popular Enterprise solutions.

"We just have to figure out how, over time, how much does that cost to deliver, how good is the experience," Panello said back in June during E3 2013. Based on Friday's supposed demo, looks like Microsoft is on the road to discovery.

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  • 3 Hide
    Stimpack , September 27, 2013 9:34 PM
    I really don't have much interest in an Xbox One, but I will say that I'm happy to see companies begin to lean towards progressing local streaming technology and advocating low-latency solutions. I have an interest in whatever, or whoever, aids my dream of living in a perfect Oculus world.
  • 3 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , September 27, 2013 10:34 PM
    Bah knowing Microsoft's history I don't expect this to become a reality. Anyone remember all the gaming features they talked about that would supposedly be included in Windows Longhorn (AKA Vista)? The ability to play PC games by just inserting the disc without needing to install (like the consoles) or play them while being installed, some magical cpu emulation that supposedly will allow anyone to play games like Crysis without needing a beefy gpu (article was published here at toms), Multiplayer between console and PC (only one game did this). Hell with the Windows Phones 7 they never even bothered to improve or fix many of the issues stated on their pathetic recommendations website. Hell just the other day I got a reply from a Microsoft employee saying that my suggested feature which I posted like 2 years ago was now being taken into consideration! Also, back when the Nokia Lumias where being shown they showed HDMI mirroring and its an option built into the phone's OS but can't be used officially! Also, the Xbox illumi room which looked great but never made it into the Xbox One.

    Microsoft's R&D department make prototypes of some really amazing stuff but they never reach the consumers! Microsoft's own demise will be from its own stupidity, hopefully after Ballmer is out the next CEO will be someone competent in the technological needs of people.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 27, 2013 11:44 PM
    "Microsoft's R&D department make prototypes of some really amazing stuff"

    As do the R&D depts of a lot of tech firms, they patent and sit on it, then a competitor releases a similar idea and so they unlock it from R&D to piss all over the competitor. Why release it early when you can save it as a weapon against the competition?
  • 1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , September 28, 2013 1:41 AM
    I hope to see the other Halo games ported to PC, soon.
  • 1 Hide
    cmi86 , September 28, 2013 2:09 AM
    Why do I care about investing $500+ in to a machine to stream 720i/medium setting when my PC I already own can push far beyond that ?? and can stream to other units if I install steam OS for free ???
  • -2 Hide
    KelvinTy , September 28, 2013 3:42 AM
    "...just 45ms..." Well, it's a start, but it's not even remotely close to playable.
  • 0 Hide
    damianrobertjones , September 28, 2013 4:45 AM
    "and can stream to other units if I install steam OS for free ???"

    Oh man... I bet every single article or post mentions Steam OS from this point forward. It's depressing.
  • 6 Hide
    chuckydb , September 28, 2013 6:43 AM
    Idon't want halo 4 streamed to the PC... I want halo 4 RUNNING ON the PC...
    Damnit MS..
  • 0 Hide
    smfrazz , September 28, 2013 9:08 AM
    This does work...no matter what your limited understanding of the technology behind this may be...and it works with sub 50ms latency. If you all remember this was talked about when the XBOX One was announced...they stated they would use a Cloud based gaming system using the Cloud servers as a render farm of sorts with the ability to "stream" a game. Most didn't believe it would be possible because most of us have tried to play games over the net with little success. Hell I remember how trying to use XWindows across the net from a Unix server was painful. Technology has changed significantly since then.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , September 28, 2013 9:58 AM
    halo 3 never made it. that made me sad. but oh well, that just stopped me from playing halo. didnt see it as a loss, a lot of other amazing games out there
  • 0 Hide
    smfrazz , September 28, 2013 11:11 AM
    Quote:
    "...just 45ms..." Well, it's a start, but it's not even remotely close to playable.


    And you know this how? Have you seen it... did you play a game this way? Do you realize how little time that really is...even for FPS games this isn't noticeable.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 28, 2013 11:21 AM
    Quote:
    Microsoft's R&D department make prototypes of some really amazing stuff but they never reach the consumers!

    Good ideas are not always feasible or marketable. In order to be successful a product has to appeal to enough people that sales cover the development costs + minimum profit target. With mobile platforms the size and power consumption are the major limits. With desktop and laptops the limits are the average capabilities that most consumers already have or what they are willing to purchase. With streaming the limits are latency, bandwidth, and cell network or ISP data caps. Cell networks still have major limitations and costs but public WiFi helps a bit. With residential fiber becoming more common, streaming to home systems may become more marketable. But people in rural areas are still on dial-up (low bandwidth) or satellite (high latency, 500mS+) so streaming isn't practical for them.
  • -1 Hide
    smfrazz , September 28, 2013 11:36 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Microsoft's R&D department make prototypes of some really amazing stuff but they never reach the consumers!

    Good ideas are not always feasible or marketable. In order to be successful a product has to appeal to enough people that sales cover the development costs + minimum profit target. With mobile platforms the size and power consumption are the major limits. With desktop and laptops the limits are the average capabilities that most consumers already have or what they are willing to purchase. With streaming the limits are latency, bandwidth, and cell network or ISP data caps. Cell networks still have major limitations and costs but public WiFi helps a bit. With residential fiber becoming more common, streaming to home systems may become more marketable. But people in rural areas are still on dial-up (low bandwidth) or satellite (high latency, 500mS+) so streaming isn't practical for them.


    Yes...you are correct...in that the REAL issue isn't that this isn't feasible but still dependent on the "last mile" of connectivity a user may have. It will likely require WiFi and not rely on cellular connectivity. This is all leaked information and not based on any statement from MSFT. Let's see what requirements MSFT states is needed for this functionality. Still even if it's only feasible for ~50% of the users it doesn't negate it's value to the other 50%.
  • -1 Hide
    smfrazz , September 28, 2013 11:42 AM
    Quote:
    Why do I care about investing $500+ in to a machine to stream 720i/medium setting when my PC I already own can push far beyond that ?? and can stream to other units if I install steam OS for free ???


    It's about the ability to play on OTHER devices...not the XBOX One. Look at the gaming market in the mobile space...and tell me why it's doing so well vs PC games. On the XBOX One the game/s will most likely play at the full capability of the game/XBOX One. Unless this is for backwards compatibility use also...then it's probably dependent on the game quality itself. I bet the sales numbers from Candy Crush alone are in the 10's of millions...all this from a "Free" game. In-game purchases have gone through the roof as people are sucked into playing these games.
  • 0 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , September 29, 2013 3:02 PM
    Quote:
    "...just 45ms..." Well, it's a start, but it's not even remotely close to playable.


    I frequently play first person shooter multiplayer at as high as 150ms, and I consider it playable, the few times that my connection works well enough for 45ms I do very well.
  • 0 Hide
    JakeX , October 1, 2013 9:49 AM
    "Unlike Nintendo" he says, when the Wii U goes a step farther than just streaming last generation games and has support to play Wii games built-in! Heck, you can even play Gamecube games with Nintendont or Devolution, or buy console games spanning all the way back to the NES in the virtual console. Just sayin'.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , October 1, 2013 1:54 PM
    Quote:
    "...just 45ms..." Well, it's a start, but it's not even remotely close to playable.


    Really? I spent years playing online games with latency worse than that, and millions of people still do happily. We all WANT a ping that's in the single digit millisecond range all the time, but pretending like double digits is unplayable is just *ridiculous*. I wouldn't want to play in a competitive tournament with that kind of latency, but for casual play, I'd gladly stream from other rooms in my house with that kind of a delay.

    That being said, we'll see if it actually performs half decently. Something like this screams pie-in-the-sky.