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Microsoft's New Xbox One Experience missed a crucial chance to kill Steam Machines

Brad Chacos | Nov. 13, 2015
Windows is under assault like it’s never been before, and Microsoft just missed a crucial chance to use its sweeping Windows 10-powered New Xbox One Experience update to cut a powerful new competitor off at the knees.

If Microsoft had enabled PC-to-Xbox One streaming in the New Xbox One Experience—which was pushed out a mere two days after the Steam Machine launch—it could’ve effectively leveraged its console to hit a major competitor where it hurts, while that competitor’s still in its infancy.

Ignoring the bare-bones Link, the cheapest Steam Machine available today costs $450. The Xbox One sells for $350. If PC-to-Xbox streaming were enabled, that $350 would grant you access to not only the full Xbox One game library, but your full PC gaming library as well. Note that I didn’t say your Steam library: While Steam Machines lock you into Valve’s ecosystem, Microsoft could theoretically open the doors to your Origin, uPlay, and locally installed games, as well.

But it didn’t. The NXOE’s game-streaming is a one-way street, and it’s pointing in a direction that does no good for PC gamers.

Microsoft NXOE New Xbox One Experience home 
Microsoft’s Windows 10-powered New Xbox One Experience. Credit: Mark Hachman

Maybe the Xbox One’s weak AMD Jaguar CPU cores have issues decoding streams sent from PCs. Maybe Microsoft’s focused on maximizing the Xbox One’s utility, or perhaps it’s worried that allowing streaming from PCs could cannibalize Xbox game revenue (Steam sales are damned sweet). Arguably, that loss could be worthwhile if it staved off a threat toward Windows itself. Who knows?

For what it’s worth, Microsoft says it’s working to allow Windows 10 users to stream games to the Xbox One. Not having it ready in time to roll with the New Xbox One Experience—to shatter the Steam Machines before they get off the ground—feels like a significant miss, though. If Steam Machines rise in popularity during this holiday season, and enjoy even mild momentum in the years to come, this tardy Xbox One feature could wind up proving costly indeed.


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