Is this Microsoft's new Xbox streaming-only console?

Microsoft's Xbox boss "accidentally" shows an Xbox device we've never seen before

Image by Xbox head Phil Spencer
(Image credit: Twitter / Phil Spencer)

Did Microsoft's Xbox boss leak Microsoft's streaming-only Game Pass device? Well, it certainly seems so.

In an image posted to Twitter, Phil Spencer seems to have included a little Xbox device. Gamers were quick to spot it, leading the Official Xbox to post: "Now what did we say about putting old prototypes on your shelf boss". 

Did Spencer just leak Project Keystone?

Keystone is Microsoft's much-rumoured Game Pass streamer, a dongle that'll turn the best TVs and some of the worst ones too into fully-fledged gaming consoles via the power of cloud gaming. It won't be as powerful or as expensive as an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, but it doesn't need to be: all the heavy lifting is carried out by Microsoft's servers.

Microsoft has previously confirmed that Keystone is real and a priority for the company, but other than that it's kept awfully quiet. So you can see why Spencer's tweet has caused some excitement.

Why this looks like a genuine leak

It's possible, but highly unlikely, that Phil Spencer accidentally posted a picture that just happened to have an Xbox prototype on it. But heads of massive corporations' biggest divisions don't tend to make mistakes like that.

If it is a prototype, it isn't a prototype of the Series S or Series X: it's far too small, and doesn't look remotely like any of the dev kits Microsoft made before finishing those Xboxes' designs. It's closer in size to an Xbox controller than to an actual Xbox.

What it does look like, though, is a box to connect to a TV. Which of course is what Keystone is going to be. So the smart money says that this is either a prototype of Keystone that Microsoft has since abandoned – we know that earlier this year the firm decided to change direction on the hardware – or it's a sneaky leak of the new version.

Whatever the explanation, Microsoft's Xbox dongle can't be too far away: the Xbox TV app is already on Samsung TVs, and Logitech's new handheld games console runs Xbox cloud gaming too. The cloud bit is here and it works; all we need now is the hardware to run it on devices that don't already support it.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (