Using Project xCloud on a Chromebook is a tantalising look at future Windows 10 support
You can't actually use Microsoft's cloud gaming service on a Windows 10 laptop officially yet, but it works pretty well on a Chromebook.
Microsoft's Project xCloud, or the soon to be known (and much less catchy) cloud gaming for Xbox Game Pass, is about to be a real, paid-for product. It's already a very compelling product, but has fairly limited reach in that you need to be using Android to actually get any mileage from it. That will surely change, but for now, it's where we are.
However, there is also Google's Chromebooks. These have Android baked in with access to the Play Store. The older, Game Streaming preview app doesn't install from the Play Store, but the Xbox Game Pass app does, and it just got access to xCloud. And you know something? It works really well.
xCloud on Chromebooks
Get xCloud on your Chromebook right now
Game Pass subscribers can check out xCloud on a Chromebook right now with the Xbox Game Pass (Beta) app from the Play Store, and it's pretty good.
Wait, what? Chromebooks?
That's absolutely 100% correct. And not only does it work, but it's a very good experience. You can use your Xbox One controller just fine, and even the old, underpowered, four-year-old Chromebook I have access to right now powers through xCloud with ease. The loading times are a bit longer than on a new Android phone or tablet, but once you're in, you're in.
It's not a difficult process, either. So long as your Chromebook has the Google Play Store you're golden. No sideloading, no hunting for APKs. Simply load up, search for the Xbox Game Pass (Beta) app (opens in new tab) (though this will be available in the regular app before long) and install it on your Chromebook.
Pairing the Xbox One controller is a breeze, too.
- Turn on your Xbox One controller.
- Enter pairing mode by pressing the small button on the top.
- On the Chromebook, open the notification shade.
- Click on Bluetooth and make sure it's enabled.
- Select your Xbox Wireless Controller.
Once you fire up xCloud now you'll be ready to roll.
A surprisingly good experience
The Game Pass app scales really well on a Chromebook, going into a forced fullscreen view as it would be on a tablet. It's not perfect, but it looks quite close to a desktop app like the Xbox (Beta) (opens in new tab) on Windows 10.
From there on out the only limitations really are your network conditions like any other device you use xCloud on. The loading times will probably be better on newer hardware than I have, but once the game has loaded up there's no hiccups. I've sat and played a bunch of games and aside from being on a laptop, it's exactly the same experience as I've had on an Android phone.
Perhaps even better. That might be down to the Intel Wi-Fi hardware inside the laptop, it might be further improvements to the xCloud service in recent weeks, or it could be a total placebo. But I'll openly admit I've had a mixed experience with the service on a phone to this point, but it feels good on a Chromebook.
A teasing glimpse of Windows support
Does it sting a bit that you can use xCloud on a Chromebook before a Windows laptop? Sure does. But it's also a teasing glimpse of how good support should be when it finally does arrive.
Aside from the badge on the OS and UI differences, you would expect that Windows 10 support will be just as good as it is on a Chromebook. That's one of the more exciting parts here.
For now, it's certainly helped breathe some new life into this old laptop. We know it's coming to Windows 10 this year and that it's in testing, but it's a waiting game for the time being.
Xbox Game Streaming
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
I have the old Game Streaming app running on my Lenovo Duet Chromebook and it works just fine
I've heard great things about the Duet. Any complaints?
Did you install that via the Play Store? Because I get an error message saying that isn’t available for my device.
Now bring it to Chromecast 😀
How about bring it to Windows 10 first. 😛
That would put the final nail in the coffin for stadia.
Well, it IS awesome. I tried it for about an hour. I have zero complaints. I've been waiting for this for quite a while. I have a Chromebook that is only used for entertainment such as Sling TV and Netflix. This is what I needed to complete my portable entertaimment machine.
How well do Android apps run on Chromebooks generally? I don't mean how well they scale but rather how they perform. I was under the impression they ran rather poorly on Chromebooks that didn't have an ARM ship. But I noticed you were using an Intel-based laptop and had a great experience.
My chromebook has an Intel Celeron and every Android app I have ever ran on it runs perfectly as far as I can tell and pretty fast as well.
Thanks, that's really good to know. I might get a Chromebook for my daughter for school and it's good to know Android apps appear to run well on it.
In the UK our schools have a deal with Google. And on parents day for high-school they encouraged pupils to buy Chrome books from the school. Everyone that we know that bought them took them back within the month. None were happy with them for school work. They haven't gone down to well with people here in the UK. I've not used one myslef, but the marketshare is less than 1% globally. So not sure it's doing to well. Even with the deals in place for UK schools.
If they would just allow 1080P streaming and rumble.
I'm sure it will happen eventually.
It's possible to test it on a chromebook but not on Windows 10... Makes entire sense
It actually does make sense as this is just the Android app scaled up to fit a larger screen and while, to me at least, there are a few things that don't seems right, that bar on the left just looks odd, this should be what the Windows 10 one will look like.
yeah it runs well on my old V1 Sammy chromebook (ARM processor).