Microsoft is working to bring mouse and keyboard integration to Xbox Cloud Gaming, with platform-level support currently in development for the service. The move will provide a new choice of peripheral to experience Xbox titles via cloud streaming, accompanying the existing touch controls, prominent among mobile users. It would also improve accessibility on platforms like Windows and macOS, where mice and keyboards are commonplace accessories.
Xbox Cloud Gaming, formerly known as Xbox Project xCloud, has continued to expand since its 2019 trials, since launching with an Android-native app, plus a web-based app available for iOS and desktop PCs. Microsoft also introduced Xbox console support in late 2021, later allowing Xbox Series X|S exclusives like Microsoft Flight Simulator to make the jump to aging Xbox One consoles. Microsoft now looks to add mouse and keyboard support to some titles, according to recent comments from Microsoft Flight Simulator head, Jorg Neumann.
“The next step for us is mouse [and] keyboard,” stated Neumann in a recent community Q&A. “This is platform-level support, so it has nothing to do with us. Obviously, mouse and keyboard works for our sim. So the platform team is working on this. I know I can’t give a date because it’s the platform team. I don’t know their dates, but it’s coming.” While Microsoft Flight Simulator currently supports mouse and keyboard on PC and Xbox consoles, the experience mandates an Xbox gamepad when streamed via the cloud.
Mouse and keyboard support would provide a new option for cloud gaming, accompanying existing alternatives geared to phones. Microsoft has a growing list of touch-enabled titles, retrofitting custom on-screen touch inputs upon Xbox streaming, mimicking native mobile gaming. The company has also experimented with gyroscope inputs, allowing users to control some games by moving their phones. While Neumann didn’t commit to a timeline, it’s Microsoft’s first acknowledgment of plans to support mouse and keyboard via the service.
Mouse and keyboard support would improve ease of access via the web, alleviating the requirement for a controller or any surplus hardware on a PC. It’s also easy to look at Microsoft’s growing PC portfolio, including Windows exclusives like Age of Empires IV, with mouse and keyboard support removing a key in bringing these titles to the cloud.
Neumann also stated that Microsoft Flight Simulator would get touch controls in the months ahead, expressing interest in adding gyroscope support on mobiles. While the Flight Simulator head emphasized that timelines remain uncertain, the team hopes to debut the future in the first half of 2022.
The last few weeks have been huge for Windows tablet users. Microsoft shipped three new preview builds of Windows 11, all chock full of improvements and changes specifically for tablets and 2-in-1 devices. After Windows 8, Microsoft really stepped back from trying to make Windows work well on tablets, and the Windows tablet market suffered as a result.