There is a compelling rumor stating that Microsoft is preparing to release a streaming-only Xbox console. So as to support this hearsay, the source is none other than Thurrott writer Brad Sams. In the past, Sams has shown his reliability with such matters with his accurate reveal of Halo: Infinite before the game was officially presented in 2018 at E3.
Sams has uploaded a video with his reasoning behind the release of such a device. According to Sams, Microsoft is seeking to release an Xbox that would strictly function as a device to stream its upcoming Project xCloud, which provides access to a massive catalogue of, to date, 3,500 games from all three generations of Xbox consoles.
Since the console would lack a number of components of a standard Xbox One, its price point would be considerably lower. If all of this sounds a bit like déjà vu, that would be because this is exactly what the Google Stadia purports to do with its upcoming launch.
With a lower price point than the Stadia, Microsoft would be looking to undercut Google's entry into the market. However, recently it has been revealed that the Stadia will still require players to pay full price for games that they would not own, but only have access to stream. Microsoft may not have much work to do, as the Stadia looks to be dead on arrival.
With that in mind, there may be no rush to get this kind of product out into the market. The longer Microsoft has to develop its Project xCloud, and the better streaming technology gets, the more powerful its own entrance into the game-streaming market will be. If the Stadia turns out to be any kind of threat, this streaming-only Xbox may launch sooner rather than later.
In either case, there is still much to be done before streaming games is a reasonable choice for the average consumer. It was reported earlier that the Stadia would demand a constant speed of 35 Mbps and use approximately 15.75 GB of data per hour. Such demands are lofty, assuming one lives in a place without the most up to date ISP infrastructure, or has anyone else in the house attempting to use the bandwidth for their own internet activities.
This is a developing key concern for Google. As such, if Microsoft has some way around it, they would surely dominate the streaming market.
For now, we can only wait and see what comes in the near future. With the newest Microsoft console, Project Scarlett, launching at the end of 2020, it does not seem likely that there will be anything else launched beforehand.