Microsoft recently abandoned an Xbox One streaming stick, but could it live on?

This week, thousands of streaming video fans around the country will get their hands on the all-new Chromecast Ultra, Google’s 4K HDR streaming device it unveiled at a special event held in San Francisco earlier this year. 

But, in an alternate universe, fans of 4K streaming are getting their hands on another device: Microsoft’s “Project Hobart”, a streaming dongle developed by Microsoft that was designed to meld the Windows platform with a smaller form factor.

So why isn’t that universe we live in now? Well, according to a source that spoke to Windows Central, that’s because Microsoft had to shelve the project to work on two other important products: the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio.

According to the source, Project Hobart was going to be Microsoft’s massive reveal at E3 2016 – it had even ordered 300,000 units to go into production. But that might’ve changed when the Windows maker caught wind of Sony’s PS4 Pro, then codenamed PlayStation Neo – the new 4K-ready system from Sony.

There’s some speculation that upon hearing Sony’s plan to show off the PS4 Pro, Microsoft pulled an audible, switching its announcements at the show, going full steam ahead on Project Scorpio and, for the time being at least, shelving Project Hobart.

The first gaming dongle?

Windows Central’s source didn’t divulge too much information on the device, perhaps because it’s still in active development somewhere deep inside the Microsoft campus, but had revealed a few very key points.

The first point is that Project Hobart would’ve cost $99 (about £79, AU$129) and be capable of running Universal Windows App as well as handle some light gaming. The system would be able to stream games from a nearby Xbox One or Xbox One S, presumably via the Windows 10 Xbox app.

That makes the device sound an awful lot like the PlayStation TV, a streaming device Sony launched last year that had all the same makings of greatness, but was hindered by less-than-stellar support and a re-hashed version of the PlayStation Vita interface.

The source never says that Microsoft officially shut down production on the streaming dongle, which means there’s a chance it might still be in the works with a 2017 unveiling.

At least we hope that’s the case.

Until we see it, however, I guess we’ll just have to settle for Google’s pretty spectacular 4K HDR streaming stick. 

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.