Microsoft xCloud went live in 22 countries in mid September. It has become an integral part of the Xbox Games Pass to some, allowing subscribers to extend their Xbox library gaming activity to (Android) mobile devices, wherever they might be. However, the games streaming service wasn't able to launch on Apple's popular iPhones or iPads due to restrictions on iOS apps and the content available within them.
To sidestep Apple's body block, Microsoft has decided the best move is to develop a web version of xCloud. While there may be many restrictions on Apple App Store content and strict revenue sharing, iOS devices can access all sorts of stores, subscriptions, and paid for services via Safari or the range of other browsers available on the mobile OS - in the same way one might do so on the PC.
The Verge reports that Microsoft's gaming chief, Phil Spencer showcased iOS browser based xCloud services during a recent internal meeting. "We absolutely will end up on iOS," asserted Spencer during the meeting. Progress seems to be solid as Spencer said he "feels good" about the company's iOS progress, assuring other meeting attendees that "We'll end up on iPhones, and iPads with Game Pass."
To fall in line with Apple's latest app policies the likes of Microsoft (xCloud) and Google (Stadia) would be allowed to create a 'catalogue-style' app that collects and links out to all of the individual games apps which cover the subscription offerings. This cumbersome arrangement would cause a lot of digital shoe leather wear as games are added and taken away from the subscription services. Meanwhile, no such jiggery pokery is required by those that offer music or video streaming services on iOS.
Microsoft is thus looking at the App Store bypass approach of using a web browser xCloud portal, like Amazon has decided to do to enable Luna access on iOS devices. According to the Verge story, xCloud should become available to iOS users in this way in "early 2021". Meanwhile, progress to facilitate xCloud to Windows 10 PCs will similarly precipitate results next year.
Microsoft's 10 app store principles to promote choice, fairness and innovation
In related news, Microsoft has published its Microsoft Store on Windows principles. Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney has applauded the clear bullet-pointed statement from Microsoft, which he sees as a way to "formally codify its long-held principles in Windows as an open platform and a fair market for all developers and consumers."