Microsoft Nixes Xbox Streaming Stick

Project Hobart, the company's $99 streaming device, met an unceremonious end as its hardware plans shifted.

Xboc Streaming Stick 2

During the E3 2016 conference in June, Microsoft unveiled is trimmer, 4K video-enabled Xbox One S and teased the late-2017 release of its Project Scorpio games console with full 4K gameplay. Noticeably missing was the rumored Xbox TV streaming stick.

A Windows Central report suggests that the early leak of rival Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, also capable of producing 4K visuals, sent ripples across the Xbox group, causing them to rethink their hardware plans.

Microsoft's streaming stick, codenamed "Project Hobart," was to be a $99 dongle that could be used to stream Xbox One or Project Scorpio content over WiFi. The device would have enough computing power to run (UWP) Universal Windows Platform apps and games with modest requirements. According to the report, Microsoft was about to order the manufacture of 300,000 units and launch the device after E3.

However, Sony appears to have thrown a wrench into those plans.

Microsoft wasn't originally planning to announce Project Scorpio at the conference, but the Sony PlayStation 4 announcement at the major video game industry expo unsettled the company's hardware strategy, stated the report. In the end, a promotional Project Scorpio was shown and Hobart was nowhere to be seen.

Last month, Microsoft pulled its Band 2 fitness wearable, amid rumblings that the company was calling quits on the product line.

"We have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year," a spokesperson told eWEEK's Todd R. Weiss. "We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."

Struggling to get the device to run Windows 10—Band 2 and its predecessor use custom firmware—Microsoft reportedly disbanded the team that was making the attempt. The company also pulled the Band SDK (software development kit).

Despite these setbacks, Microsoft recently unveiled plenty of new hardware last month.

One of the highlights of the company's Windows 10 event on Oct. 26 in New York City was the new Surface Studio all-in-one PC. Aimed at "creators" and treading into Apple territory, the device features an expansive 28-inch touch- and stylus-enabled display that can be positioned into an angle similar to that of a drafting table.

Another attention grabber was Microsoft's new Surface Dial. When placed on the Surface Studio, the puck-like peripheral can be tapped and spun, actions that sprout on screen contextual menus, radial color pickers and other tools in drawing and image editing programs.

Microsoft also refreshed its Surface Book, the company's answer to the MacBook Pro (also refreshed late last month), Apple's premium laptop. While it boasts the same design as its predecessor, the new Surface Book with Performance Base features newer, more powerful sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processors, up to 1 TB of storage, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M GPU and up to 16 GB of memory.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...