Xbox plus Edge could equal Google Stadia on Microsoft’s hardware

The browser is in testing and could allow third-party cloud gaming services like Stadia to run on recent Xbox consoles.

Microsoft's Xbox Series S pictured on a black background.
Future Publishing/Future/Getty Images

Microsoft is testing an updated version of Edge for the Xbox that brings the internet browser up to speed with its desktop counterpart. The older version of Edge, now called Edge Legacy, was sunsetted on desktop last year as Microsoft standardizes the Chromium rendering engine that powers most internet sessions today. With Edge Legacy losing official support on March 9, it seems that the new Edge for Xbox should be available to all users soon.

Desktop experience — The Xbox has included an internet browser for a long time, but because the console is primarily intended for gaming, Edge for Xbox has really been a watered-down experience of a browser. The Xbox version of Edge hasn’t featured support for keyboards or mice, for one. And because Chromium is the most popular rendering engine out there, most developers optimize for it and, consequently, their sites might not run properly in Edge Legacy.

The new version looks like it could remedy both of these problems. It will also come with all the additional features that users of desktop Edge appreciate, like data syncing and extensions. The new browser should be available for the Xbox One and Series S / X consoles.

The Xbox Series S / X runs on a highly modified version of Windows 10, making it essentially a cheap PC with powerful specs.

The ultimate gaming machine? — Users on Twitter who have installed the alpha build of the Xbox operating system report that web apps running in the new browser work better than before. Some say that keyboard support is working for them, though it remains spotty for now, and mice don’t appear to work. It’s unclear whether Microsoft intends to offer full support for keyboards and mice. Many PC gamers prefer using gamepads like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, so that may not necessarily matter.

There’s no word on whether cloud gaming services like Google Stadia or Amazon’s Luna can run in the new Edge, but, presumably, there’s no reason they couldn’t. Support for a slew of cloud gaming services besides Microsoft’s own xCloud would certainly make the Xbox the ultimate gaming machine. But Microsoft or Google may choose to handicap Stadia on the Xbox in order to deter customers from patronizing a competitor.

From bang to whimper — Google’s foray into the lucrative gaming industry started with a bang but has limped along since, with the company recently announcing it would graveyard its internal game studios only a year after opening them. It has reassured the public that it still believes in Stadia, however, with plans to release 100 new games by the end of 2021. Cloud gaming services promise a way for anyone to play console-quality games from anywhere, without the need for expensive hardware. Of course, the Xbox S / X is precisely the sort of expensive hardware Stadia was designed to avoid, but it won’t bemoan a chance to appear on that hardware if it means a larger audience for its offering.