Now that Internet Explorer is no longer available, Microsoft Edge is taking center stage and dragging along the dozens of features that are being added to it on a regular basis. Some of those features, such as a built-in VPN or currency converter, may be useful. Others, such as shopping and financing, have been heavily chastised for having a negative impact on browser performance. Then there are features that, while not directly related to web browsing, make sense, perhaps as an add-on. However, Edge is getting new built-in features aimed at a somewhat niche audience — in this case, users who play AAA games via their browser using Microsoft’s own cloud-based game streaming service.
Gaming is one of Microsoft’s most consistent cash cows, to the point where there were once both hopes and fears that the Xbox and Windows platforms would be merged in some way. Of course, that never happened, at least not in the way that people expected. Instead, Microsoft built two-way bridges between the two platforms while keeping them separate. The most recent part of that effort is to bring Xbox console titles to Windows indirectly via the Xbox Cloud Gaming streaming service.
While Xbox Cloud Gaming can be enjoyed on smartphones — and was originally designed for them — the game streaming service has also made its way to PCs via the browser. Naturally, Microsoft would prefer that you use Edge for that purpose, and it is currently rolling out an update that improves the software, making it a better gaming hub than the dedicated Xbox app — at least in terms of cloud-based game streaming.
Microsoft Edge gets a gaming hub homepage
Microsoft announced in a blog post that Edge will now display all of your Xbox information, including your library and game recommendations, on the browser’s new tab page. Of course, you still have to click on the new gaming section to get there, so users who don’t care about gaming or don’t have an Xbox Cloud Gaming account won’t be affected. If you have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can start playing a game right away by signing in.
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If you use Edge to stream games, you’ll also get Edge’s new Clarity Boost. It’s a spatial upscaling feature that’s exclusive to Microsoft Edge and only works with Xbox Cloud Gaming; it’s designed to make it appear as if you’re not streaming video footage from a remote server rather than gaming on a console. Of course, it’s all smoke and mirrors, and your actual experience may differ depending on the hardware in your PC.
Microsoft Edge has something to offer PC gamers who don’t have Xbox Cloud Gaming in this update. When you launch a game, the browser’s new Efficiency Mode throttles Edge’s resource usage, allowing the game to use up more CPU and memory without forcing you to close the browser. If you’re not into hardcore gaming, Edge has a dedicated Games menu with titles like Solitaire and Mahjong. Of course, whether these should have been add-ons rather than built-in features is a topic for another day.