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Xbox Cloud Gaming is finally rolling out big latency improvements

A laptop, tablet and phone running Sea of Thieves through Xbox Cloud Gaming
(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Microsoft has detailed its work on latency improvements for games on the cloud-based platform. And what's more, mouse and keyboard support is still due to come later this year.

At present, Xbox Cloud Gaming's display pipeline bears a latency of around 8-74 milliseconds. That's the time it takes for controller inputs to register in-game. However, it's now working on bringing its Direct Capture tech to a wider number of games on the service. This will cut latency to an impressively low 2-12 milliseconds, according to the latest update (opens in new tab) from Xbox Game Streaming Team's Morgan Brown.

Similarly to many of the best 4K TVs, Direct Capture slashes latency by disabling a number of features. These include HDR, dynamic scaling and a 1440p resolution cap. That last one we won't have to worry about just yet. Xbox Cloud Gaming is capped to 1080p on PC and Xbox Series X|S, and 720p on mobile at present.

Xbox Cloud Gaming display capture details

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has also reinforced its desire to bring mouse and keyboard support to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Brown, a software engineer on the team says that Xbox is "working on adding it to streaming for PC users." Frustratingly, though, we still have no firm date on when mouse and keyboard support will land.

The baffling omission means that currently, PC players are relegated to using a controller on the streaming service. Additionally, it'll likely mean that mouse and keyboard-based games on Xbox Game Pass like Age of Empires 4 will finally be made available via the cloud.

Growing pains

Direct Capture is already supported by a handful of games on the Xbox Cloud Gaming service. But we're happy to see Microsoft start to roll the feature out to a wider selection of titles. However, limitations like disabling HDR and scaling very much show that even the best cloud gaming services are still in their infancy.

We're not going to pour cold water on Microsoft's efforts here, though. Lower latency is crucial in competitive multiplayer environments where responsiveness gives players an advantage. 

Rhys is Hardware Writer for TechRadar Gaming, and while relatively fresh to the role, he's been writing in a professional capacity for years. A Media, Writing and Production graduate, Rhys has prior experience creating written content for app developers, IT firms, toy sellers and the main TechRadar site. His true passions, though, lie in video games, TV, audio and home entertainment. When Rhys isn't on the clock, you'll usually find him logged into Final Fantasy 14, Halo Infinite or Sea of Thieves.