Microsoft Research Project Aims To Bring 60 FPS Xbox One Gaming To Your PC Browser

Last month, we covered a new research project from Microsoft, dubbed Project DeLorean, that seeks to dramatically improve the subjective experience of cloud gaming by cutting perceived latency between the player and the server. Today, in a potentially related announcement, comes news that Microsoft is also working on a system that would allow games to stream at 60 fps directly in-browser.

The two projects, which are almost certainly related, would supposedly allow for in-browser play of both Xbox 360 and Xbox One games at up to 60 FPS with the "full" Xbox 360 experience -- meaning that the Xbox 360 dashboard would also run in-browser. According to the Neowin report, the project has Xbox branding and works "outside the walls of Microsoft."

The pros of such a service are obvious. If MS could offer Xbox 360 games online, it could conceivably break down the compatibility issues and give new gamers an opportunity to experience classic titles on PCs. As someone who has never owned an Xbox of any type, there are absolutely some Xbox games I'd be willing to check out as part of a streaming service -- particularly if they were offered up at higher frame rates or with enhanced visuals. Combined with Project DeLorean, it's conceivable that the final streamed product might exceed the experience of playing locally.

The Big Questions

The funny thing is, I don't much doubt that Microsoft can build the backend to deliver this kind of experience. The bigger question is whether it can sandbox that experience directly into the browser. For all that we continue to see better and smoother levels of browser support for 3D standards like WebGL (Microsoft having reversed course on the whole "We will never support the WebGL standard shtick), the fact is, browsers aren't really designed for fast 3D input, controllers, or twitch controls.

Sure, there are games you can play in browser -- but how many of them are as flawlessly smooth as a game you play in a dedicated 3D engine? Even with Windows 8.1 and the latest browser variants, I'm guessing not that many. It's all well and good to say "Render smoothly in a browser," but the vast majority of laptops and desktops on the market today couldn't render 1080p DX9 game at a constant 60 fps per second in a dedicated engine. 30 fps, yes. 60 fps? Probably not.

WebGL improved this situation, but 60fps streaming is still a long ways off

The upside to pulling this off would be a tremendous reason to buy into the Microsoft ecosystem. Imagine if the MS Surface was something akin to Nvidia's Shield -- a platform you could buy into as a game streaming system for Xbox titles with an accompanying controller?

Those are features I suspect a great many people could get0 behind -- if Microsoft can pull off the implementation and integration of the underlying streaming engine.