Wednesday, September 25th 2019

Beta for Microsoft Project xCloud to be Available in October in Select Regions

After continuously testing its Project xCloud streaming gaming service in an internal group, Microsoft is now looking to expand its testing of the service for a broader audience. This will be done via a Beta launch of the service, available at first only for residents in the US and UK (click here, and (South) Korea (click here). The idea is to stress-test the service, since according to Microsoft, "It's time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real-world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in." There is no end in sight for the Beta: Microsoft wants it to last "until customers are consistently reporting a great, fun experience and the technology meets our internal quality standards."

The only thing that's needed to participate is a Bluetooth Xbox One controller that you can connect to whatever device you want, be it a smartphone, tablet, or other streaming-capable device. The idea here is to test the xCloud service in as broad hardware and network configurations as possible, and it's a Beta, so remember to cool your expectations adequately. You won't be able to play games that are already connected to your account - Microsoft offers a curated selection of titles that includes (for the time being) Halo 5: Guardians, Gears 5, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves.
Source: TechSpot
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24 Comments on Beta for Microsoft Project xCloud to be Available in October in Select Regions

#1
lynx29
hmmm high refresh only for me, so none of the streaming services can satisfy me in bed just yet

:rockout:

PCMasterRace
Posted on Reply
#2
notb
lynx29
hmmm high refresh only for me, so none of the streaming services can satisfy me in bed just yet
Think about it this way:
Thanks to cloud gaming millions of PC/console gamers will switch to much cheaper devices, so there will be less shortage of desktop CPUs for your high fps machine...
...
...
... just kidding.
Actually this will only mean more stuff made for datacenters and less for consumers.
And because less high-end consumer components will be made, PC gaming will become even more expensive. :-)
Posted on Reply
#3
theoneandonlymrk
think of the gaming explosion this could help happen in some underdeveloped countries, Elon musk or oneweb or some other company will happily link them up, be shocking lag all over the place what with cross-platform, at least consoles will finally get to see what cheaters do to games.
Posted on Reply
#4
Cheeseball
Another way of thinking: If cloud gaming does take off that would allow developers to concentrate on reducing latency over the internet. This could be a win for everyone if this is the case.
Posted on Reply
#5
notb
Cheeseball
Another way of thinking: If cloud gaming does take off that would allow developers to concentrate on reducing latency over the internet. This could be a win for everyone if this is the case.
No offense, but how exactly would you like developers to reduce connection latency? :-D

Latency is not an issue. The target group of cloud gaming is not concerned. People have been playing server-rendered games *for years*. We have enough datacenters all over the world and enough bandwidth to sustain this concept.

The enthusiast gamers - people that spend thousands of USD on computers and many hours comparing monitor and mouse latencies - will keep doing what they have. The only effect for them is that high-end gaming components will become even more expensive.
Posted on Reply
#6
Cheeseball
notb
No offense, but how exactly would you like developers to reduce connection latency? :-D
I mean developers in general. Those who are creating and developing the technology. Scientists, engineers, researchers, etc. Not just game developers, but they can be included.

notb
Latency is not an issue. The target group of cloud gaming is not concerned. People have been playing server-rendered games *for years*. We have enough datacenters all over the world and enough bandwidth to sustain this concept.
I know latency is not a priority issue as any lag that we experience in online gaming is satisfactory at best (barring problems with ISPs and not-so-quality hardware). What I mean is we should continue to improve on this. We're getting 10ms to 20ms on a good server now, but I hope for the day when we can get the experience to like having an on-prem machine.

Everyone would benefit from improved latency. Enthusiasts, casual gamers, etc. I would love to play on a server around the world (US to Korea) and have sub 30ms.
Posted on Reply
#7
notb
Cheeseball
I mean developers in general. Those who are creating and developing the technology. Scientists, engineers, researchers, etc. Not just game developers, but they can be included.
These people are not called "developers". Seriously.
And you do understand a lot of this lag is due to physical limits, right?
We're getting 10ms to 20ms on a good server now, but I hope for the day when we can get the experience to like having an on-prem machine.
This will *never* happen. A local machine will always have an advantage. How small this advantage can become and whether a particular gamer notices a difference - that's another story.

You get 10ms lag for each 1000km of distance between you and the server. That's over fibre with no devices on the way. So it's more like 20ms in "real life". Using a client over WiFi will add a bit as well.

Over a course of many years gaming providers may build many smaller datacenters all over the world.
As of today, this is where Google is most likely to run Stadia:
https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/location/
Posted on Reply
#8
DeathtoGnomes
There are 2 kinds of gaming lag, one is hardware lag, the other is network server lag, not to be confused with latency, which does happen occasionally. Latency is still hampered by the number of hops between the gamer and the datacenter for a game. This make distance a factor because each network hop takes time. You can see this using 'tracert' in a command prompt window.
Posted on Reply
#9
Cheeseball
notb
These people are not called "developers". Seriously.
And you do understand a lot of this lag is due to physical limits, right?

This will *never* happen. A local machine will always have an advantage. How small this advantage can become and whether a particular gamer notices a difference - that's another story.

You get 10ms lag for each 1000km of distance between you and the server. That's over fibre with no devices on the way. So it's more like 20ms in "real life". Using a client over WiFi will add a bit as well.

Over a course of many years gaming providers may build many smaller datacenters all over the world.
As of today, this is where Google is most likely to run Stadia:
https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/location/
Semantics. Seriously. :laugh:

I know. Latency is caused by material limitation and distance. Improvements can be made by either reducing the distance (which is not physically feasible) along with better semiconductor material. A local machine will always be faster because it's right there, but being able to just jump on the net and play would be nice for those who don't have the time to build their own machines or spend on a console.

DeathtoGnomes
There are 2 kinds of gaming lag, one is hardware lag, the other is network server lag, not to be confused with latency, which does happen occasionally. Latency is still hampered by the number of hops between the gamer and the datacenter for a game. This make distance a factor because each network hop takes time. You can see this using 'tracert' in a command prompt window.
I know. I was talking about network latency. Distance is the biggest factor.
Posted on Reply
#10
bpgt64
I think my brain just melted reading this thread. Game streaming is stupid for high speed re-action/competitive games. RPGs, Turn-based, sounds great!

Now allowing people to pick what ever platform they want, is a FANTASTIC idea.

5G is pointless -- line of sight is a mother. --
Posted on Reply
#11
Camm
I'm much more interested in Microsofts solution for streaming from an owned console to be honest. Especially if that same solution gets made available for Windows as well. That'd be a match made in heaven.
Posted on Reply
#12
notb
Camm
I'm much more interested in Microsofts solution for streaming from an owned console to be honest. Especially if that same solution gets made available for Windows as well. That'd be a match made in heaven.
"From" a console? As in: console being the server? You can already do that today. :-)

AFAIR they've already said the Xbox platform will be unified, so you'll be able to stream to many types of devices. And for each game on your account you may be able to install and run locally. Of course reality may differ after tests and business decisions.

To be honest, this is not far from how Windows Store and Game Pass work today ("Xbox Play Anywhere").
Posted on Reply
#13
Camm
notb
"From" a console? As in: console being the server? You can already do that today. :)

AFAIR they've already said the Xbox platform will be unified, so you'll be able to stream to many types of devices. And for each game on your account you may be able to install and run locally. Of course reality may differ after tests and business decisions.

To be honest, this is not far from how Windows Store and Game Pass work today ("Xbox Play Anywhere").
Within the home network. Microsoft's flagged being able to do this outside your home network (without using a VPN or other shens :P ).
Posted on Reply
#14
R-T-B
bpgt64
5G is pointless -- line of sight is a mother. --
It's also completely irrelevant to this thread? And has multiple far longer range versions coming out soon?
Posted on Reply
#15
DeathtoGnomes
Cheeseball
I know. I was talking about network latency. Distance is the biggest factor.
The number of hops is the biggest factor. You can have 3 hops from the gamer in Newark to the server in Sacramento, and his next door neighbor could have 10 hops from Newark to Columbus Ohio.
Posted on Reply
#16
Cheeseball
DeathtoGnomes
The number of hops is the biggest factor. You can have 3 hops from the gamer in Newark to the server in Sacramento, and his next door neighbor could have 10 hops from Newark to Columbus Ohio.
Yeah, technically that still boils down to distance. The usual reason why there are so many hops is to cover long distances. If it was just one or two hops (example: direct connection) it would still be distance as the cause for latency.

If I connect to our workstation in Korea directly via IP address (one or two hops), latency is around 220 ms.
If I go through our VPN (which routes through Seattle, Japan then Korea, multiple hops), latency is 240 to 250 ms 270 to 280ms.

EDIT: Make that around 270 to 280ms for today.
Posted on Reply
#17
notb
Camm
Within the home network. Microsoft's flagged being able to do this outside your home network (without using a VPN or other shens :p ).
Oh, OK.
But why would you want to stream from home if a cloud service will be available?

This is a very niche need. I also tried that occasionally and of course it works - if you have very good upload characteristics (rare in consumer connections).
But I'd never do that if I could use someone else's server or cloud.

So maybe you're looking at this from a perspective of someone who doesn't know any alternative and is used to some solution.
Posted on Reply
#18
Camm
notb
Oh, OK.
But why would you want to stream from home if a cloud service will be available?

This is a very niche need. I also tried that occasionally and of course it works - if you have very good upload characteristics (rare in consumer connections).
But I'd never do that if I could use someone else's server or cloud.

So maybe you're looking at this from a perspective of someone who doesn't know any alternative and is used to some solution.
Because I likely won't have to pay for it and I have a decent connection?
Posted on Reply
#19
notb
Camm
Because I likely won't have to pay for it and I have a decent connection?
Better connection than datacenters have? :-)
And you still have to pay: for the game, for electricity, for the PC, for the faster connection...

Moving to cloud is a long-time investment - just like in enterprise segment.
If you use it in addition to normal local operation, it's obviously an additional cost and complexity. There's no way around it.

Cloud only makes sense when you start to replace your earlier solutions.
The biggest saving is obviously from not having to own an expensive PC.
Posted on Reply
#20
Camm
notb
Better connection than datacenters have? :)
How condescending can you be? Sheesh. I already stream my PC to my work phone, works fine. Yeah sure, my setup isn't as good as running it out of Azure, but it works fine, and will certainly be cheaper than $20 or so a month considering I own the hardware anyway.
Posted on Reply
#21
notb
Camm
How condescending can you be? Sheesh.
How was that condescending? :o
I already stream my PC to my work phone, works fine. Yeah sure, my setup isn't as good as running it out of Azure, but it works fine, and will certainly be cheaper than $20 or so a month considering I own the hardware anyway.
Well exactly. You own the hardware anyway. And you've easily spent $5000 on your current setup: not including the things you'd need for cloud anyway (monitor, keyboard, mouse).
Since everything is very modern, it's likely you're spending a lot regularly - moving to the latest and greatest.

The fundamental question of moving to cloud is: how much less could you spend on your PC? How much less could you spend from now on?

If you bought all of this for gaming and you could live with a $1000 notebook, savings are huge and $20/month is petty cash.
Even if it turns out 3440x1440 120Hz from cloud would cost you $100, that's still within budget.

If you really need so much oomph for other tasks or you simply like owning an expensive PC, then you aren't in the group that cloud gaming services want to allure. :-)
Posted on Reply
#22
Camm
notb
If you really need so much oomph for other tasks or you simply like owning an expensive PC, then you aren't in the group that cloud gaming services want to allure. :)
The elephant in the room is latency and you know it. Its fine to fuck around at work on my phone, but for an enjoyable experience at high refresh and resolutions, none of these solutions will provide for it, and arguably won't for the next decade.
Posted on Reply
#23
DeathtoGnomes
Cheeseball
Yeah, technically that still boils down to distance. The usual reason why there are so many hops is to cover long distances. If it was just one or two hops (example: direct connection) it would still be distance as the cause for latency.

If I connect to our workstation in Korea directly via IP address (one or two hops), latency is around 220 ms.
If I go through our VPN (which routes through Seattle, Japan then Korea, multiple hops), latency is 240 to 250 ms 270 to 280ms.

EDIT: Make that around 270 to 280ms for today.
it doesnt "boil down" to anything else. Hardware are each hop location also factors in. That distance, several thousand miles, yea that amount of latency is NORMAL for everyone jumping connections across the ocean, be grateful its only a couple hops.

You should have mentioned that little fact in your original statement :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
Posted on Reply
#24
Cheeseball
DeathtoGnomes
You should have mentioned that little fact in your original statement :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
The point was already made, distance and hardware limitations are the biggest factors that contribute to latency. Distance can't be compensated for easily, so we would need to rely more on future hardware improvements, whether it be better materials, newer technology, etc. That's the point I was making.
Posted on Reply
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