Backward compatibility is one of the major pillars of Microsoft’s pitch for its next-generation consoles: The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the company says, will launch with the ability to play “thousands of Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Original Xbox games.” But there’s a wide gulf between the capabilities of the two models — “the most powerful Xbox ever” and “the smallest Xbox ever,” respectively — which means that they will handle backward compatibility differently.
Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series S last week, and said that it will debut alongside the bigger, stronger Series X on Nov. 10 at a far more affordable price point of $299 instead of $499. One major difference between what the two models offer is resolution: While both consoles can play games at frame rates as high as 120 frames per second, the Xbox Series X is designed to run at 4K resolution while the Series S is geared toward 1440p.
The next-gen consoles are analogous to the two current models of the Xbox One, the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X. And Microsoft recently announced that backward compatibility will function accordingly on the upcoming consoles.
How will backward compatibility work on the Xbox Series S?
Since the debut of the Xbox One X in late 2017, Microsoft has delivered Xbox One X enhancements for nearly 70 Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. These titles look and play better on an Xbox One X than they do on an Xbox One S (or launch-model Xbox One) — the enhancements include higher-quality anti-aliasing, increased texture detail, and nine times the resolution (4K versus 720p).
However, the Xbox Series S won’t support those enhancements, Microsoft confirmed recently. Instead, the company said in a statement to VGC on Friday, “the Xbox Series S runs the Xbox One S version of backward compatible games while applying improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR.”
It may seem disappointing that even Microsoft’s weaker next-gen console won’t be able to deliver the same backward compatibility enhancements as the company’s stronger current-gen model. But the math checks out — on paper, the Xbox Series S has less raw power than the Xbox One X, with graphics performance of 4 teraflops compared to 6 teraflops. It has less system memory, too: 10 GB for the Xbox Series S (of which 8 GB, at most, is available to developers) versus 12 GB for the Xbox One X (of which 9 GB is available to developers).
Considering that, it’s not a bad consolation prize that the Xbox Series S will still provide some improvements in running older games. Asked for further details, a Microsoft representative told Sports Grind Entertainment that the aforementioned benefits are “enhancements that aren’t possible on Xbox One X.” The spokesperson also noted that the Xbox Series S will still be capable of running some Xbox One games with “double the frame rates” — such as Gears 5, which will support 120 fps multiplayer action on both next-gen Xbox models — thanks to “well over double the effective CPU and GPU performance of Xbox One S.”
How will backward compatibility work on the Xbox Series X?
Microsoft announced in May that backward-compatible games will take advantage of “the full power of the Xbox Series X” for a variety of performance and image quality improvements. In addition to the same doubled frame rate that the Series S will support (again, for certain games), the Series X will be able to “automatically add HDR support to games,” said Jason Ronald, director of program management for Xbox. And of course, Series X users are guaranteed to get games “rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality.”
Both the Series S and Series X will deliver shorter load times, thanks to their fast SSDs — 512 GB for the Series S, and 1 TB for the Series X. And they’ll both support a new feature called Quick Resume, which will let users swap between multiple active games and, well, quickly resume play right from where they left off.
Pre-orders for the Xbox Series S and Series X go live on Sept. 22.
Google Assistant can control Disney+ on Google smart displays
You can now use Google Assistant voice controls to navigate Disney+ content on smart displays like Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. To use the feature, you’ll have to link your Disney+ subscription to your Google Home or Assistant app. Then, just say something like “Hey Google, play The Mandalorian,” to stream content.
From the start, Disney+ has been available on Google Assistant smart displays like Nest Hub. You can already use Assistant to play Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access and HBO content, so it only makes sense that the same feature would be available for Disney+. The voice controls are not yet available in all markets.
Microsoft’s Edge browser is arriving on Linux in beta next month
Microsoft is planning to launch a preview version of its Edge browser for Linux next month. After officially confirming plans for Edge on Linux earlier this year, Linux users will be able to download a preview of the browser in October.
The preview will be available from Microsoft’s Edge Insider site or through the native Linux package manager. Microsoft isn’t discussing how many features found on the Windows and macOS versions of Edge will be available on Edge just yet, but it’s likely that the vast majority of features will make their way across.
The Linux preview is part of a broader push by Microsoft to entice businesses over to using Edge. Microsoft is also announcing today at Ignite that it’s making it easier for IT admins to manage the Internet Explorer mode found in Edge. It’s a mode that helps businesses use older sites more securely without having to touch Internet Explorer itself. Microsoft is trying to bid farewell to the web browser fully next year by dropping support for Internet Explorer 11 across its Microsoft 365 apps and services on August 17th, 2021.
Microsoft is also creating a kiosk mode for the new Microsoft Edge that will be available in preview soon. Businesses will be able to use it to create a locked-down browser for kiosks and digital signage.
New Mike Bithell game is Solitaire with a spy thriller twist
If you ever thought to yourself “Hmm, I’m nostalgic for the days of playing Solitaire on my Windows XP laptop, but I’m a true gamer now so I need something a little more hardcore,” then you’re in luck.
From game designer Mike Bithell (Volume, Thomas Was Alone) comes The Solitaire Conspiracy, which takes everything you know and love about the solo card game and turns it into a tactical spy mission.
While The Solitaire Conspiracy might have Solitaire in the name (and is certainly designed to be a solo card-based experience), it’s not just a fancy recolor of the card game. The game has a different modes (including a story-based campaign taking place in the middle of a cyberpunk conspiracy), characters with different abilities, and full FMV cut-scenes — definitely not the simple solitaire on your old flip phone!
The Solitaire Conspiracy will be available on Steam and the Epic Games store on Oct. 6.
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