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Microsoft’s Xbox Keystone streaming device is still ‘years away’

Microsoft had been working on Xbox Keystone for quite some time. Keystone, the codename for a dedicated streaming box for Xbox games, appeared once again on Phil Spencer's shelf a few weeks ago, but now, Spencer confirms that the device is still years away from launch.

We've been hearing about Keystone for quite some time and many expected the dedicated Xbox Cloud Gaming device for TVs to launch fairly soon. However, earlier this summer, Microsoft pivoted resources towards an Xbox Cloud Gaming app for Smart TVs, starting off with support for Samsung TVs.

Speaking with The Wall Street Journal Tech Live Conference this week (via The Verge), Spencer explained what's going on with Keystone after re-revealing it earlier this month:

“Keystone was the codename of something we were incubating internally, which was a streaming console, so there’s no local gameplay, low-cost, plug it into a TV, and you’d be able to stream Xbox games. In the late spring, we pivoted to working with Samsung. We put an app on Samsung TVs that let you play Xbox games, and I still have the prototype; it sits on the shelf behind my computer.”

So that's why that little Xbox streaming box was spotted on Phil Spencer's shelf, but is this device still coming out? Well, probably not. Spencer went on to say: “Will we do a streaming device at some point? I suspect we will, but I think it’s years away”.

Microsoft has not really explained what happened with Keystone, but there is still work that needs to be done to get xCloud into the best shape it can be for the mass market. For starters, streaming is still limited to 1080p/60FPS for xCloud on devices like TVs, while rivals have had apps that support 4K and higher frame rates. With that in mind, Microsoft might be better off focusing on its current console hardware, and improving xCloud to a point where a streaming device could be a good alternative to a native console.

KitGuru Says: I imagine there is a little more to this story that we aren't getting right now. With Xbox currently having a down year when it comes to major exclusive releases, the timing probably isn't right to reveal a dedicated streaming device. Perhaps later in the generation, we'll see Keystone reappear once again. 

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