Microsoft Spotted Streaming Halo 4 to PC, Windows Phone

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.

  • Stimpack
    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.
  • lpedraja2002
    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.
  • back_by_demand
    "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?
    I hope to see the other Halo games ported to PC, soon.
  • cmi86
    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 ???
  • KelvinTy
    "...just 45ms..." Well, it's a start, but it's not even remotely close to playable.
  • damianrobertjones
    "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.
  • chuckydb
    Idon't want halo 4 streamed to the PC... I want halo 4 RUNNING ON the PC...
    Damnit MS..
  • smfrazz
    This does 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.
  • eklipz330
    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