What just happened? Microsoft has confirmed that Phil Spencer has once again revealed an unreleased product, leaving it on his shelf. In this case, the head of Xbox briefly demonstrated his company’s Game Pass cloud streaming device, codenamed Keystone, although this is just an old prototype; the final version will probably look very different.
Spencer seems to have a penchant for leaving unreleased Microsoft products on public display, but not necessarily noticing. He gave an interview in 2020, a few months before the release of the Xbox Series S, in which the console stood on his bookshelf behind him.
In a tweet dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Fallout, Spencer wrote: “Walt-Boy left the shelter and came into my office to celebrate the anniversary of #Fallout25.” He included a photo of his shelves with some Fallout merchandise and other items, including what looked like a tiny Xbox at the top with a smaller controller next to it.
People immediately guessed that the device in the image was Keystone. Back in May, Microsoft confirmed that it was still working on a streaming device, which is expected to be a mini-set-top box or dongle running the Xbox OS version. It will probably also include streaming applications. At the time, the Redmond-based company said it was moving to a new approach to Keystone and refocusing its efforts.
Vault Boy left the shelter and stopped by my office to celebrate the #Fallout25 Anniversary. Congratulations to the @Fallout @Bethesda teams on this major milestone for an iconic franchise. pic.twitter.com/hGoN1sAQRK
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) October 10, 2022
Now Microsoft has confirmed that the device on Spencer’s shelf is an older version of the Keystone prototype, that is, the one that was worked on before the company abandoned this design.
We haven’t heard much about Keystone since Microsoft’s announcement in May. It’s hard to imagine that Spencer deliberately didn’t leave the prototype open to remind people that the device is still being worked on. Perhaps it was an attempt to attract attention before some official announcement by Microsoft.
There has been a lot of talk about streaming-only services after Google admitted that Stadia would shut down in a few months after it failed to gain the expected number of users. The Xbox Game Pass service is already very popular and is available on Samsung phones and TVs, so a special set-top box can succeed where others have failed.