I’m always curious to see what features come along with a new operating system release, but the jump to Windows 10 had me excited for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is the increased synergy between Xbox One and the Windows OS. More than ever, the two products are designed to work together and be part of a crossover experience. There are a bunch of cool features in the Xbox app, but the most significant of those is easily the ability to stream games from the Xbox One console to Windows 10.
It’s ridiculously easy to setup. Just launch the Xbox app on Windows 10 with your Xbox One either on or in Instant-On mode, and you’ll be able to connect to it instantly. From there you can manipulate any controls it has available, turning off the TV, amp, and cable box if you have the Kinect plugged in and performing that function. This could be a fun way to mess with your housemates, significant other, etc., if you like being punched. From there, you simply click a button to start streaming and pick up your Xbox One controller (currently plugged in via USB until the wireless adapter hits later this year).
This is only available across a local network, so most people will likely be able to stream at high quality, unless you’re on a poor quality wireless signal. While the difference between playing direct and playing via stream is visually noticeable, it’s far from painful. It’s a bit fuzzy, but no worse. I’m not skilled enough to count frames in Street Fighter, but extensive time with Far Cry 4 didn’t reveal any significant gameplay lag. Included above is a short video captured using Windows 10’s built-in GameDVR functionality recording a short segment of Far Cry 4 streamed from Xbox One.
If you have control over the television your Xbox is plugged into and don’t have to share it with anyone, this may not be a terribly useful feature, but there are some great applications for it. One person can watch television on the system while you play your game, and neither of you should notice the other while doing so. This essentially untethers the Xbox One from the couch experience. If you’re anywhere in your house (or cleverly using a VPN tunnel with a significant pipe and low latency, probably), you can play Xbox One with the press of a button. If you’ve picked up the Xbox One’s digital TV tuner, you can go in reverse, streaming TV while someone else plays a game. In a household with one television, this could end up being a very frequently used feature.
Now all three of the current consoles have ways to play off-screen – the Wii U Gamepad, PlayStation remoteplay, and streaming via Windows 10. The Wii U and Xbox One edge out PlayStation’s method by providing options that give identical controls and don’t require extra hardware, but all three companies see the necessity of the feature, and we can likely expect to see it improve in future updates and systems.