Microsoft has been rumored to be working on a streaming stick to give Xbox Cloud Gaming via a more cheap dongle, akin to Chromecast and Google Stadia, for a few years. Project Hobart was the first clue. More recently, the code name “Keystone” was discovered in an Xbox OS list, fueling speculation that Microsoft was still looking into new hardware for the Xbox series.
We can now confirm that this is correct and that the gadget in question is a modernized HDMI streaming device that runs Xbox Game Pass and the company’s cloud gaming service. On the other hand, Microsoft is taking some time to test out new variations of the product before releasing it.
A Microsoft representative told Windows Central that the firm is dedicated to removing barriers to Xbox content through low-cost hardware but that the current version of Keystone needs some time to bake before becoming live.
“Our goal with Xbox Cloud Gaming is to provide customers the freedom to play the games they want, on the devices they want, whenever they want,” Microsoft claims. “As we announced last year, we’ve been developing a game-streaming device, codename Keystone, that can be connected to any TV or monitor without requiring a console,” a Microsoft representative stated.
“We are always analyzing our efforts, examining our learnings, and ensuring we add value to our clients as part of any technological journey.” We’ve decided to move away from the current Keystone device generation. We’ll take what we’ve learned and refocus our efforts on a new strategy that will allow us to provide Xbox Cloud Gaming to even more people worldwide.”
According to what we’ve heard, Keystone has been in the works for a few years, with Microsoft still working on the product’s features.
Given that “Keystone” first appeared in an OS list with the other Xbox platforms like “ERA” and “GameOS,” it’s possible that Keystone may ultimately run a slimmed-down Windows or Xbox OS. Microsoft would be able to provide its own streaming media apps, such as Microsoft Movies & TV if it used Windows instead of Android. Although relying on applications like Netflix and maybe Spotify, adopting Android OSP could be a faster route to market.
Keystone’s precise release date is unknown, but I wouldn’t expect to see it anytime soon – especially not during the next Xbox and Bethesda Showcase on June 12.
As Microsoft strives to deliver Xbox Game Pass to more families who aren’t interested in acquiring a full-fledged console, a low-cost streaming device makes apparent commercial sense. Microsoft has already hinted about introducing TV applications to Xbox Cloud Gaming, further lowering the barrier.