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Here's what Xbox's ill-fated cloud gaming console might have looked like, according to newly surfaced patent


A diagram reportedly detailing a proposed design for Microsoft's once-planned Xbox cloud gaming console.
Image credit: Microsoft/USPTO

Remember Microsoft's Xbox cloud gaming device, codenamed Keystone? The one that got announced in 2021, was cancelled in its original form a year later, then showed up on Phil Spencer's shelf after that, bamboozling everyone? Well if you've ever wondered what it could have looked like in more detail, a newly surfaced patent might have some answers.

The patent in question was originally filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office in June 2022 - several months after Microsoft announced it would no longer be proceeding with Keystone in its existing form - and features designs for a proposed machine only referred to as an "electronic console device". There's nothing explicitly linking to the document to Keystone, but Windows Central claims that's precisely what it is.

A side-by-side comparison with the "old prototype" version of Keystone that appeared on Phil Spencer's desk in October 2022 also supports that claim, with both the patent and prototype version featuring the same front panel.

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The patent, however, reveals a lot more of the design Microsoft was at one point apparently considering for its cloud streaming games console. It bears much in common with the current Xbox Series S, albeit with that machine's horizontal footprint compacted into square. It's also pictured with an Xbox Series X-style "Hello from Seattle" plate on its bottom.

As for the ports on this proposed form - attributed to principal Microsoft designer Chris Kujawski - there's an Xbox button and USB port on the front, a controller pairing button one one side, plus HDMI, ethernet, and power connectors to the rear. And aside from a whole bunch of heat-dissipating holes, that's your lot - no details of the machine's innards are revealed in the patent.

When Microsoft addressed the progress of Keystone back in May 2022, it said it had "made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration" of the device, and would refocus its efforts on a "new approach". Xbox boss Phil Spencer later confirmed the project had been canned because it was "more expensive than we wanted it to be when we actually built it out with the hardware that we had inside" - and that Microsoft's "new approach" was its Xbox TV app, enabling users to stream Xbox Cloud Gaming titles at 1080p and up to 60fps.

So while Xbox's square-shaped dreams of a dedicated cloud gaming console are perhaps long dead, its ambitions in the game streaming space are far from over.

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