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 (opens in new tab)).
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.
Microsoft has announced plans to update its cloud streaming service to Xbox Series X hardware (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) and graphics cards are hard to come by.