Microsoft wants to stream PC games to your Xbox One

The software giant is devising a way for Xbox One users to play PC games, though it's a challenge, says Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

You may one day soon be able to stream PC games to your Xbox One. CNET

The Windows 10 Xbox app lets you play Xbox One games on your Windows 10 PC or tablet. Now Microsoft is trying to cook up a recipe to do the reverse.

Microsoft's head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, said that the company is working on a way to stream PC games to Xbox One consoles. Speaking with The Verge, Spencer didn't reveal any specific details or timeframe for when this innovation might occur but revealed that "in terms of where we want to go with our platform, those are absolutely in scope of things that we want to do."

Microsoft has been keen on forging a connection between Windows 10 and the Xbox One. Debuting on Wednesday as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Windows 10 includes an Xbox app that taps into your Xbox One by offering a host of features. You can stream your Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC or tablet. You can capture, view and share your recorded game clips. You can join an Xbox One party or chat. And you can customize different aspects of your account.

Bringing Windows 10 and the Xbox together is a clear way to generate demand for both. Microsoft wants to get Windows 10 into as many hands as possible, and offering this connection could convince Xbox One owners to upgrade to the new operating system software. On the flip side, Microsoft wants to create greater demand for the Xbox One, which has seen its sales trounced by Sony's PlayStation 4 for much of the past year. Providing a bridge to the Xbox One through the new operating system could prompt Windows 10 users to give the console a shot. Gamers also want to be able to play their favorite titles from a variety of devices -- game consoles, PCs and mobile devices, and this bridge between the Xbox One and Windows 10 would fulfill that need.

The Xbox One is also part of Microsoft's "universal apps" strategy, under which developers can more easily create games and other apps for one platform and then tweak them to run on another platform. For example, a developer could create a game once using a core programming code and then easily modify it to run on a Windows 10 PC, a Windows 10 mobile device and on the Xbox One.

Playing Xbox One games on your Windows 10 PC requires just a controller. But playing PC games on your Xbox One would be more of a challenge. First, the Xbox One needs to support a keyboard and mouse.

"We understand if you're going to go PC to Xbox, we need to get keyboard and mouse working completely so you could play those games," Spencer told The Verge.

Second, Microsoft needs to encode PC games so they'll work on the Xbox One and ensure that there's enough bandwidth to stream a large game from your Windows 10 PC to the game console.

Streaming from Xbox One to Windows 10 computers is a lot more predictable "because we know exactly what you have," Spencer said. "It's actually a little more challenging doing the encoding on the PC side to the Xbox, but challenge is good."