The Xbox Series X is essentially a PC, so why not use it as such? That is of course what some of us would like to do to take advantage of the power of the console not only to play, but also to work. That dream is now a little closer.
It is thanks to the arrival of the new version of Microsoft Edge to the Xbox. This browser is now almost identical to the version for Windows 10 (or Windows 11) and allows things like playing Stadia from the Xbox and even writing documents or checking email. Not only that: we have also tested it with Windows 365, although here we anticipate that the experience is, at least for the moment, highly not recommended.
A Microsoft Edge almost identical to the other Microsoft Edge
The new browser had already been available to members of the Xbox Insiders program for several months, but it is now when that update has reached all the owners from Microsoft consoles.
There are a few news that they talk about in the official announcement and that had also been advanced. Among them, for example, the possibility of play Xbox Game Pass games from the cloud, without having to install them on the console: this option is great (among other things) to take a look at those games that we have our eye on but want to test briefly in case they convince us.
However, it is that arrival of the new Microsoft Edge to all Xbox consoles. This allows you to enjoy practically all the browser options, including standards support and the ability to use it for example to play Stadia or even Steam games thanks to Parsec, a tool with which to stream those games from a PC to the console.
There are, however, limitations: the browser on the Xbox does not allow downloads or browser extensions, so two relevant elements of that experience on a normal PC are clearly limited by those absences.
it’s possible use the browser to watch videos, but Microsoft warns that you could experience problems if the servers “use web standards that are out of date.”
We have done tests with YouTube for example and everything has gone without problems, but it is true that in these cases it seems to make more sense to use native apps directly that exist for the Xbox both for this and for other platforms such as Netflix and its competitors.
Doncic nails them just as well
We have certainly wanted to try some of those playful options: the behavior for example with Stadia was great, with a practically immediate control response that did not differ much that latency from what we could experience playing natively on the console.
That was noticed in our testing with NBA 2K21, which was perfectly loaded in the browser tab and we were quickly able to put it in full screen to completely hide that frame that the browser raises. That actually gives you the feeling that you are playing NBA 2K21 on Xbox Series X, and not on Stadia.
The graphics, logically, are not what a native version of the game would offer, but in everything else —fluency, response times—the gaming experience was great, and certainly this opens up new possibilities for everyone who wants to enjoy their library in this service directly on Microsoft consoles.
Can the Xbox Series X work like a PC?
Although Microsoft did not want to give too much publicity to that other option, the truth is that the new Microsoft Edge also lets you do a lot more work-related things that many users do in their day to day.
The browser indeed behaves fantastic when it comes to browsing all types of websites: the load is especially fluid and the standards support is very high as Microsoft indicates.
That joins another key element: mouse and keyboard support. I did the tests with a Unifying receiver that allows me to work with my Logitech K800 keyboard and my Logitech MX Master mouse and the result was almost perfect, being able to use them without problems in the browser.
It is important to note why I have used an “almost”. The reason is that the integration of the keyboard and mouse in the browser is combined with that of the command: every time we want to write something in the browser or in the address field, the on-screen keyboard appears that can be operated with the control of the console.
That is something annoying that interrupts the work flow every so often, and while there may be ways to disable that on-screen keyboard semi-permanently to just use a mouse and keyboard, we couldn’t figure out if that was possible.
Even so, it is possible to work for example with the internal CMS of Engadget without problems and also to work with Google Docs (as shown in the screenshot), and although the on-screen keyboard appears when the console detects some small stop after which we want to write, it is possible to hide this keyboard by pressing button B of the command.
The work is therefore partially feasible in this sense, but the Microsoft console is still not suitable for this type of scenario – at least, to publish content – because It is not possible to download for example images that later edit and upload to the content manager. It would perhaps be possible to use images through their URLs, but that takes away a certain autonomy and of course makes the whole flow of (my) work uncomfortable.
Windows 365 tests disappointing
The other option was almost more promising: use the Xbox Series X with Microsoft Edge to connect to Windows 365. The Microsoft “PC in the cloud” is theoretically a good candidate in this area, but the result of our tests, at least on these first impressions, is disappointing.
Everything started well: we were able to connect to our Windows 365 test account —The same one we used to analyze the service a few days ago— and launch that remote session to have a Windows 10 inside the browser.
So far so good, but once we started using that PC in the cloud, Small conflicts did not stop arising. The mouse disappeared: It is as if the Logitech mouse and the Xbox controller were in conflict, because the pointer stopped showing until we left and returned to the session, something that made it impossible to use that instance of Windows 10 fluently.
Added to this problem was the on-screen keyboard of the console, which once again it ended up being a continuous interruption during the test. It is possible that Microsoft will offer some kind of solution to the problem in the future, but the truth is that although the session was going well in terms of fluidity and connection speed (even better than when we tested it on the iPad), this type of conflict they made it very difficult to use this work environment properly.
Maybe a solution would be to have a remote desktop client (RDP) for the Xbox, something that does not exist until now and that Microsoft does not seem to intend to launch in the near future. The truth is that today it is almost better to forget about that option and, if we want to use the console as a PC in certain areas, use it directly with the Edge browser.
Conclusions? In my case I have been wanting much more. At Microsoft, they offer almost everything you need to be able to use the console as a PC, at least in part, but the limitations of the browser and the inconvenience of working with the mouse and keyboard in front of the on-screen keyboard and the console controller make make it all a bit frustrating.
Our colleagues from Genbeta they had already tried the same in July with the preview version of the browser and came to similar conclusions.
We encourage you to try the experience if you can and share your impressions, but for now it seems clear that this is very much oriented towards opening up to other streaming platforms such as Stadia, and not so much to allow us to retire our PC and instead use the Xbox to work.