Microsoft's upgraded Beam game-streaming service goes live, taking on Twitch and YouTube

Xbox Live integration probably means that you'll see this as the default streaming solution for the Xbox platform before long.

Microsoft’s Twitch competitor, Beam, has now pushed its “Pro” upgrade live to all users, featuring streams with up to 1440p resolution at 60Hz and integration with Xbox Live.

Microsoft’s purchase of Beam last summer came as something of a surprise, given that the company seemed satisfied with its relationship with Amazon’s game-streaming service, Twitch.tv. Even with the upgrade to Beam.pro, it’s not clear how tightly Beam and Microsoft are tied, save for the new option to log in with your Xbox Live username instead of a dedicated Beam ID. (Eventually, however, the company will enforce Xbox Live logins, it said.)

In late December, Beam said the company was pushing its Beam.pro upgrade as a beta to selected users. This week, Beam lead Matt Salsamendi tweeted that the service was now live for everyone, though a formal announcement would be coming later. 

“We’re no longer the scrappy startup we were last year, and with the resources of Microsoft behind us, we’re going back to the basics and evaluating how we can make every aspect of the site more smooth, stable, and epic,” Salsamendi wrote in announcing the upcoming changes. 

Why this matters: Microsoft doesn’t necessarily need its own game-streaming solution, but Beam keeps Windows and Xbox players inside its own walls, rather than moving on to Amazon or some other third-party service. 

Beam.pro pushes higher bitrates

Here’s what the new Beam update includes: a bitrate increase to a maximum of 10Mbps, including 1440p 60fps streams and “super-high motion” 1080p; a 5X improvement in the site load speed; as well as 60fps rendering performance for videos displayed across the site. Beam also added an upgraded video player, a revamped homepage, and “deep chat” improvements that include a new and improved polling interface. 

While Beam added Xbox Live support for better user verification, the company also plans to roll that out in conjunction with the upgraded homepage. One of the more interesting additions is the ability to feature dedicated “mature” gaming streams to authenticated users who are 18 or older.

The higher bitrate streams mean that Beam is now more directly competing with YouTube and Twitch. Gamers can stream on YouTube at 1440p at 60Hz, with bitrates from 9 Mbps to 18 Mbps, all the way up to 4K at 60Hz—provided they have the computational ability within the PC encoder and the bandwidth to handle it. Twitch, for its part, seems more concerned with limiting bitrates so that streams can be enjoyed on a variety of devices; its guidelines cap bitrates at 3.5Mbps, without specifying a particular resolution.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoft

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?