Don't expect a release date any time soon, as Microsoft says that scaling and building Project xCloud will be a "multi-year journey". Public trials for Project xCloud will begin in 2019.
Project xCloud actually seems contradictory to Xbox's interests in a few ways. "We are developing a new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller", the blog post says.
The service will compete with Google's "Project Stream", a game streaming service that is being tested by the Alphabet Inc unit in partnership with game publisher Ubisoft. While there will still be a need and want for physical boxes (both for games and consoles), streaming may be the future in Microsoft's eyes.
Doorstop turns out to be meteorite worth $100K
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Microsoft isn't the first company to launch a video games streaming service, but Project xCloud being available on phones and tablets is quite unprecentended.
To that end, Microsoft has built custom hardware called "blades" using the components inside Xbox One consoles and has begun installing those blades in Azure datacenters worldwide. Project xCloud's state-of-the-art global game-streaming technology will offer you the freedom to play on the device you want without being locked to a particular device, empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the center of your gaming experience.
Microsoft has already got the system up and running today, and when it's honed and ready, the company promises it will scale out across 54 Azure regions (with data centers in some 140 countries). If you don't have an Xbox One controller, touch controls are also available. "Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network", the announcement goes on. The current test service is apparently running on 10 megabits per second, pushing the upper limits of 5G Wi-Fi speeds which isn't even really a thing yet for most people.