Beam could eventually let you play your Xbox games remotely — on any device

One of Beam's signature features is its ridiculously low latency between the streamer and viewer, powering a more engaging experience as the participating audience and stream host can effectively have a real-time conversation.

The results tend to vary by region and server load, of course. But during off-peak times, this is the kind of insane experience I'm getting on a very clunky home Wi-Fi network.

I just now realized, given Beam's RIDICULOUSLY low latency... this could provide the means to play Xbox remotely. <- Beam stream -> Xbox— Jez 🎮 (@JezCorden) March 1, 2017

Beam stream via the internet (left), Xbox locally (right). Pardon the mess.

I was testing Beam streaming on the Xbox Insider Alpha ring this morning and was stunned with the results. Beam uses regional servers and some homegrown encoding wizardry to produce its video streams, which obliterate Twitch for speed. A couple of Twitter users pointed out that I must have amazing internet, but the experience above was powered by a fairly modest 40MB down, 6MB up internet connection.

As global internet speeds increase, it seems logical that Beam could be the vehicle that Microsoft will use to provide personal gameplay streaming over the internet.

Many companies have tried (and arguably failed) to provide a Netflix-like cloud-based game streaming service, where your games run remotely, uploading your inputs to the internet and giving you feedback via a video stream. While it might work well enough for turn-based games, the latency kills any games that run in real time.

Beam already has developer features that allow users to send inputs to games via buttons on its website, and the logical progression is that it will expand to full game controls in the future.

2013 throwback: Microsoft previously demonstrated Halo 4 running on a Lumia via the cloud.

2013 throwback: Microsoft previously demonstrated Halo 4 running on a Lumia via the cloud.

Consider too that Microsoft is investing in high-speed trans-continental undersea cables, and the company famously demonstrated Halo running on a mobile device via the Cloud. This sort of functionality really fits with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's cloud-first strategy, and Xbox's wider "Play Anywhere" ethos. Hey, they also just launched a Netflix-like, subscription-based service for games.

It could take years for global internet speeds to meet the standards required, but it's only a matter of time before we see this sort of feature arrive on Beam for Xbox One and Windows 10.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • These are the departments' Sony just cannot compete in with MS. Sorry its true. Sony just doesn't have the infrastructre to even begin to compete.
  • Doesn't Sony have their own streaming service that delivers games right now with almost zero latency?
  • Yep.
  • They do but It sucks. There's actually a lot of latency.
  • Someone has already answered you further down. It's impossible for Sony to compete. Only Google and Amazon can compete in this area.
  • How is it impossible when they already do it? They have PS Now and they stream games directly to your PS4 or PC with pretty much no lag, which is exactly what Beam "could" do. I mean they are different services at the end of the day, Beam streams from your xbox while PS Now is a sevice that doesn't require a PS4.
  • PS now is KNOWN for lag. Reports of up to 100ms. PS NOW is actually one of the reasons MS listened to gamers and are having the Game Pass download games and play native. As opposed to Streaming. The same as Nvidias service and Onlive had similar issues. The difference is MS, Google and Amazon are LIGHT YEARS ahead on infrastructre for services like this. Only Google and Amazon can compete with MS. Even on developing online services for consoles. PSN has fallen hugely behind this gen again. Some of it is the fact Sony had to use an outside OS in Linux. And then stuff like Clubs, Looking For Group, Feeds, Download speeds, disconnections and updates in general are years behind on PSN. Regardless of what people think of exclusives games. Sony just can't compete with infrastructre.
  • Sony fan boys are the worst. They didn't know anything. Sony is a loser. 85% of It's salary is in PlayStation 😂. Only Xbox part of Microsoft can buy Sony 7 times
  • You made up those stats. I've never seen anything that says PS Now suffers from lag that bad. How about linking some sources.
  • Yeah, this guy Richard Loveridge is KNOWN for making up stuff in "console war" discussions...
  • Hahaha. I've provided links before. Only for rabbits like you to try and discredit it with wait for it NO LINKS! How about either A) do some research yourself, or B) wake up. PS Now is a streaming service. Look at any review of the service. Go to YouTube and look at the hundreds of videos showing major lag. Or better yet try it yourself. Some of you I swear are from that Sony website VGChartz. It's like cesspool over their. Lol. So yet again ill make you look like a fool. Post a link which shows terrible lag recorded by Digital Foundry. And you will either not reply or but but but..... Usual Sony fanboy.
  • That's not true. Sony doesn't have to own the infrastructure they use to provide their service (Not to mention they already have a service in place). Heck, Apple uses Google's, Amazon's and Microsoft's cloud infrastructure for iCloud.
  • You answer the point perfectly. Sony cannot compete in that space. When you have to go to outside sources, and rely on others for a fee. You cannot begin to remotely compete with a company that has this stuff done natively themselves.
  • Actually Richard, That's where your wrong. The first Xperia device had playstation title support, back in 2011. In fact, sony had the idea to play PlayStation games on any device before Microsoft. Microsoft's version is just better supported. I say this as both a Microsoft and a Xbox Fanboy.
  • I never said anything about anyone being first. I said Sony can't compete on the same level as MS. 2 complete different things. Anything related to OS, cloud, streaming, online services etc etc Sony cannot compete on.
  • I've been able to remote play my PS4 for years now. Your opinion is that Sony can't compete with MS in some departments. XB1 can't compete with PS4 when it comes to number of games( number of exclusives, AAA exclusives, console exclusives, upcoming games...) For me that's a much more important department as a gamer. :)
  • PS4 cant compete with online gaming. I wanted to throw my PS4 put the window every time I tried to play with a friend online. Absolutely the most ridiculous setup ever.
  • Thanks for your opinion.
  • You're so very welcome.
  • That is likely true, but doesnt mean much when you can't execute which MS is having issues doing in the video game space.  
  • Interesting idea there. If you were using Beam solely for this purpose too, they could disable things like chat just to get that extra little bit of bandwidth. Beam does need to increase their server count though, peak times it's extremely unstable. It's the biggest thing that keeps them from over taking Twitch right now. Also, if you are right, and they de use Beam for remote play, I'm sure they could add some necessary hardware into the Scorpio to make it all that more smooth.
  • I don't think its coming that soon
  • It'll never overtake Twitch.
  • I hope Beam supports Edge by then
  • Sony tries tho you can already stream (locally)and use a controller on an xperia. I've done it in the past works surprising well. Ms could have done this years ago...what makes you think they will let you now. Watch they say they don't think it will be a good enough experience like they did before. They just don't want to have to support it. Xbox should just become its own company and make a Xbox themed phone.
  • I guess you haven't heard of Playstation Now. It streams PS3 games to PS4 with no lag and is deffinetly not local.
  • "No lag" certainly isn't true in my experience.
  • It's no different than Onlive was and Nvidias service. Sometimes its playable. Sometimes its terrible. There is now wat you could play an Online fps game. No chance. Or any fast reaction online game. Especially against someone using an actual PS3 natively.
  • Considering the Xbox struggles to stream over my network to my Surface (input lag and dropouts) I don't have high hopes for this online at the moment.
  • Yeah sometimes there are bugs in that. But my friend does it alot due to his Mrs watching telly. And we game 90% that way with him. I'd say 85% of the time it works great.
  • Update your router
  • Sounds like an issue with your network hardware. I stream to my SP3 at the highest settings and it's perfect. I've even played Halo 5 and Battlefield 1 this way with only minor lag during the most intense action scenes. I could probably bump the quality down to maintain FPS...  although I usually choose more sedate games to play while the missus watches her favourite show on TV. I have high quality network access points which probably help (2 x Cisco WAP371 if you care)
  • Should run insane on my internet then. 1Gbps and 1ms ping.
  • Hyperoptic? I hate you :-) . Still stuck waiting for Openpants to take me beyond 5Mb down and 1Mb up despite living in a decent sized town that has been fibre enabled since 2012....££$""%$ers
  • Wow. I'm happy with my 200mps download speed and 15 Ms ping. Unlimited data. I thought mine was good.
  • I know that feeling. I'm stuck with that 10 Mb Down and 1 Mb Up for know.
  • Same here Starlin, the struggle!
  • Beam only stand at 3500 bit rate max atm
  • I'm at 20Mb up and 1Mb down, with no clear indication of that changing any time soon.
  • You don't constantly have a 1ms ping.
  • @ xreadmore ​ There is a difference between having a streaming service and having the breadth of services like O365, XBox Live, Azure, Windows for Desktop/Laptop/Holography/VR/Mobile, Beam, Yammer, and a myriad of other services that can be leveraged to use those services across the entire ecosystem.  Sony without the ability to integrate those services into the operating system or the cloud services is fundamentally at a competitive disadvantage.  Sorry for some reason I couldn't reply directly to your question.
  • Precisely.
  • What does O365, etc have anything to do with it? We're just talkign about Beam as a streaming serivce. I'm pointing out that Sony is already doing it (streaming service) and you don't need a PS4. Beam has noticable lag, and even if PS Now has noticable lag it still means Sony is already doing it. That's all I'm saying. AND this was in response to "These are the departments' Sony just cannot compete in with MS. Sorry its true. Sony just doesn't have the infrastructre to even begin to compete." FACT Sony IS competing. FACT FACT FACT.
  • Yeah, Beam has only ever run terribly for the the handful of times I've used it, having to drop streams down to 240 res.
  • Fix your router
  • Why? I can transfer files between devices perfectly fine, and at expected speeds.
  • Jeje. Modest 40 MB Down 6 MB up?
  • Im 25 down 5 up
  • I moving to a rural area in the next couple of months. 10 is the fastest I can get. Sure going to miss my 150 :( hope 5G shows up sooner than later.
  • Been saying this for a while we think the same. Ms didn't Buy beam for what it is now.
  • "Eventually" is to long. This should have been going on long ago with the Xbox.
  • 40Mbps, not 40MBps. So... 5MBps, which is indeed not that awesome ;-)
  • Network and link speeds are usually quoted in bps, not Bps, so I'm not sure what your point is. Even a gigabit link is "only" 125 MB/s. 40 Mbps is usually considered very good
  • I just noted what I assume was a typo in the article, that was my point... And I don't consider it as very good, but it depends what place we're considering.
  • Fairly modest internet connection Jez?
    Surely you jest lol, some of us are limping along on less than 2 Megabit download. Mine is somewhat better at 11 Megabit but that will soon change. Trying to gauge support for 1 Gig hyperoptic FTTH.
  • Hope they implement this soon enough.
  • Good choice of Torment for the video!
  • It's damn amazing.
  • BEAM will only get better with access to more of MS's datacenters. MS has had trouble with some of it's recent aquisitions (Skype, Nokia) but historically they have made some very smart buys. As long as they don't let BEAM work independently from MS like Skype.
  • Once they have it just how we like it, they will shut it down and tell us it was a nice little experiment.
  • i would love to be able to stream to my surface RT. it would make it more useful than it already is.   Alternatively, just make it run a version of windows 10 an id be set as well.
  • Yay.
  • You read your internet speed incorrectly.