Microsoft's business dad flip phone now turns into a portable Xbox

Microsoft Surface Duo being held in phone mode.
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is delivering a handheld gaming experience with xCloud, more officially known as Xbox Cloud Gaming, and the device that unlocks the whole experience is… the Surface Duo?

You best believe it.

The Surface Duo is many things: a tablet, a phone, a laptop, and now apparently also a gaming console, courtesy of cloud streaming. The latest update to Microsoft's xCloud cloud streaming app for android enables full support for dual-screen cloud gaming on the twin-screened handheld (good spot, The Verge).

Effectively a mobile phone with extra trimmings, the Surface Duo's Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor wasn't going to get much gaming done alone, but that's where Microsoft's Xbox in the cloud comes in. 

And it really is an Xbox in the cloud, too—server rack after server rack filled with discrete Xbox One consoles.

Cut the cord...

(Image credit: Steelseries)

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Microsoft has announced plans to update its cloud streaming service to Xbox Series X hardware sometime this year. Although I wonder if plans have changed with the ongoing chip shortage, which is causing headaches for console fans as much as any PC builder trying to snag a graphics card.

You could actually plug a controller into the Duo and get some half decent cloud gaming on it before, like any other supported Android device, but this new support allows for the lower half to turn into a controller, no accessories required.

Still, it's a concept we've only partially explored in cloud streaming today: the ability to bring a playable gaming experience to a device that would otherwise be entirely unfit for the task—apparently even ones that were a little niche to begin with, such as the Surface Duo.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is also headed for a wider rollout on Windows 10 PCs, where it's currently available on a limited invite-only basis. So stay tuned for more on that. There are plenty of cloud alternatives in the meantime, too, depending on your device, such as Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia—all of which offer a way into PC gaming when times are tough and graphics cards are hard to come by.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.