Microsoft turns Surface Duo into portable Xbox console with new update

The Xbox Boy is real! (photo: Microsoft)

A simple update turned the Surface Duo device into what is essentially a Xbox version of Nintendo DS, but running xCloud.

Back when Xbox started, 20 years ago now, handheld consoles were still very important, and questions were constantly being asked if and when Microsoft would create its own.

The popular Xbox Boy never happened, but what comes closest to it is, finally, thanks to a new update for the Surface Duo device.

The Surface Duo sits somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet (a ‘phablet’ as some would like) and since it runs on Android, it can also use the xCloud game streaming service, while also using the second screen as virtual controller.

Of course, the second screen is immediately reminiscent of the Nintendo DS, but using the Surface Duo in this way is Microsoft’s deliberate attempt to make it a full-fledged gaming device.

There’s one pretty obvious problem, though, and that’s the fact that the Surface Duo costs over £ 1,300 – so if you’re wondering why you’ve never even heard of it before, this is the reason.

It’s a useful proof of concept, at the very least, with Microsoft’s product manager, Panos Panay, tweeting that you can play over 50 Games Pass games on it.

The combination of Game Pass and xCloud is clearly where the future of Xbox lies, when games will no longer be tied to a particular device and can be streamed regardless of the hardware they’re running on.

Controlling games is an issue though, and a physical controller will always be superior to a touchscreen, which is why Microsoft has been keen for Nintendo to allow Game Pass on the Switch.

Whether or not that happens, the advent of xCloud could finally see Microsoft creating its own dedicated gaming laptop, if other companies are less cooperative than they hope.

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