Patent document shows cloud-only streaming Xbox console that never existed

Microsoft’s mid-gen plans for the Xbox Series S and X consoles looked very different a couple of years ago than they do now. A leaked slide deck from FTC v. Microsoft Last year’s case outlined detailed plans for a revamped Series S, a revised Series X, and even a redesigned controller. Another part of that roadmap included a streaming-only version of Xbox, codenamed Keystone, which was designed to connect to Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming servers instead of rendering games locally.

Microsoft has already talked openly about this version of Xbox. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer told The Verge that the Keystone console was designed and fully functional, but was not released because Microsoft had difficulty lowering the price enough for it to make sense next to the Series S. for $299 (which already occasionally sells in the $200 to $250 range).

We’ve already seen glimpses of Keystone’s design, once on Spencer’s shelf and again on the FTC v. Microsoft Both documents were partial representations or views from afar. But a new design patent document (PDF) discovered by Windows Central shows even more detailed renderings of what the Xbox in the cloud would have looked like.

Series S meets Apple TV

The Keystone’s styling was very reminiscent of the drive-less Series S, with the same white square design and the Xbox button and USB port mounted on the front. There’s also a similar circular cutout at the top, although it may not be an air outlet as it is on the Series S: all the holes depicted in the patent are at the back and bottom, and a transmission box certainly isn’t. would have been necessary. the same cooling capacity as the AMD-designed CPU and GPU in the S Series.

The console would also have been square in shape and considerably smaller than a Series S; not as small as a dedicated video streaming box like an Apple TV or Roku Ultra, but not too far off either (the patent document doesn’t list dimensions, but we’ve done a rough size comparison using the HDMI and Ethernet ports on the Keystone box and an Apple TV 4K). The console controller’s sync button would have been mounted on the side, rather than the front, as it is on the Series S.

Enlarge / The Xbox in the Cloud compares to a current-generation Apple TV 4K, with sizes roughly normalized to the sizes of the HDMI and Ethernet ports. The Xbox console would have been a little bigger, but not dramatically so.

Apple/Microsoft/Andrew Cunningham

In the alternate reality of FTC v. Microsoft slide deck, all of these new consoles and the new controller would have already been announced or released. But as Spencer said shortly after those documents were leaked, the company’s plans have changed substantially in the interim. A discless version of the Series X is coming, but it looks exactly like the current version of the discless console; Microsoft is also pursuing a strategy where more of its internally developed games are cross-platform rather than restricting them to Xbox and Windows PC. These moves are, at least in part, a response to declining revenue from Microsoft’s console business, which has seen its revenue decline by double digits year over year for the past few years.

Neither Spencer nor Microsoft have ever said anything about the Keystone console, leaving the door open for an eventual release if the console’s manufacturing price comes down. In the meantime, the streaming-only Xbox lives on as an app for newer Samsung smart TVs.

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