Microsoft is including its recently acquired streaming service Beam as a free program in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update for both PC and Xbox One. Starting next spring, Windows 10 users can use a hotkey to open the program on PC and will be able to both watch and stream gameplay without downloading any external software.
What makes Beam different from other streaming services, and what could be its biggest weapon against websites like Twitch, is the ability to channel a near-lagless stream into ways for viewers to interact directly with the stream itself thorugh Beam's software.
If Beam delivers on this promise, streamers will be able to communicate and interact with their audience in almost real-time and create more interactive streaming experiences that let viewers directly interact with gameplay elements of the stream they're watching.
"Using Minecraft as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them," explained Team Xbox in a blog post announcing the original acquisition of Beam in August.
"You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls.”
In a statement to Mashable, Microsoft said that Twitch integration on Xbox One isn’t going anywhere and that the company wants to ensure players have options when it comes to where to watch and stream gameplay.
Beam joins a host of other creation-centric developments, like 3D Paint and Microsoft’s newly announced $299 VR headset, launching as a part of the Windows 10 Creation update in Spring 2017.