Xbox console

Microsoft’s Strategic Shift: Prioritising Cloud Over Console Sales

In a recent internal email exchange between Xbox chief Phil Spencer and Xbox CFO Tim Stuart, it has been revealed that Microsoft intentionally sacrificed Xbox Series X/S sales growth to invest in its cloud and gaming content. This tradeoff was part of the company’s long-term ambition to establish a strong presence in the cloud gaming market. Additionally, Microsoft has also expressed its desire to stream the entire Windows 11 operating system from the cloud, further emphasizing its commitment to cloud-based services. Let’s dive deeper into these developments.

Shifting Priorities:

According to the internal email exchange, reported by the Verge, Microsoft recognized a “yield miss” for the Xbox Series X/S consoles, but attributed the console scarcity during the initial launch period to factors beyond hardware production issues. The company strategically reduced compute units on the consoles to improve production yield, while simultaneously holding back chips for its cloud gaming services. This decision underscores Microsoft’s focus on investing in the cloud and gaming content over console volumes.

Cloud Gaming Investment:

Less than a year after the launch of Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft upgraded its Xbox Cloud Gaming servers with custom Xbox Series X hardware. This upgrade aimed to enhance frame rates and load times for an improved gaming experience. Microsoft’s investments in its cloud infrastructure for Xbox Cloud Gaming demonstrate its belief that cloud-based gaming, combined with compelling content, is crucial to realizing its full potential in the gaming industry.

Windows 11 in the Cloud:

Microsoft’s future plans involve streaming the entire Windows 11 operating system from the cloud. Presentation documents from the ongoing hearings between the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft shed light on the company’s long-term goal. By leveraging cloud technology, Microsoft aims to enable users to load Windows 11 seamlessly, further expanding the accessibility and availability of its software suite. This move aligns with the company’s strategy of using the power of the cloud to offer improved AI-powered services and a personalized digital experience.

Implications and Challenges:

While Microsoft’s focus on cloud and streaming services holds significant potential, it does come with challenges. The company’s ongoing acquisition of Activision Blizzard is being closely scrutinized by regulators due to concerns about reduced competition in the gaming market. Microsoft’s determination to grow its cloud-based services, including Xbox Game Pass, has attracted antitrust advocates’ attention. However, Microsoft remains confident in its ability to leverage its console strength, developer engagement, gaming community, and content catalogue to differentiate itself from competitors like Amazon Luna and Google Stadia.


Microsoft’s decision to prioritize cloud and streaming services over Xbox Series X/S console sales reflects its long-term ambition to establish a strong presence in the cloud gaming market. By sacrificing immediate sales growth, the company aims to invest in its cloud infrastructure, gaming content, and AI-powered services. Furthermore, Microsoft’s goal of streaming the entire Windows 11 operating system from the cloud signifies its commitment to revolutionizing the user experience and expanding the reach of its software suite. As the industry evolves, Microsoft’s strategic shift positions it at the forefront of the cloud gaming and streaming revolution.