Microsoft might, finally, be bringing mouse and keyboard support to the Xbox games console, according to leaked developer presentations.
Support for mice and keyboards was promised by Phil Spencer, executive vice present of gaming at Microsoft, more than two years ago. Then, Spencer had promised support within months - but nothing appeared, until now.
The presentation from earlier this year, leaked over the weekend to Windows Central, was intended to provide guidance to developers about integrating support for mice and keyboards into their Xbox titles. Support would only run to one mouse and one keyboard per console, compared to the support for multiple gamepads.
The guidance acknowledges that users of mice and keyboards in online multiplayer games would enjoy a distinct advantage, and advises developers to make adjustments accordingly, including introducing matchmaking rules that might keep the two sets of players apart.
According to the documents, all USB mice supported on Windows 10 would be supported on Xbox, including wireless mice. However, mice requiring custom drivers or which connect to PCs via Bluetooth would not be supported.
At the same time, Microsoft pledged to introduce a new API for developers to detect tools that enable Xbox users to use a mouse and keyboard while mimicking gamepads.
A number of peripheral makers already provide tools to enable console gamers to use a mouse and keyboard in place of gamepads, although users' experience is not overwhelmingly positive.
The presentation indicated that mouse and keyboard support for Xbox would be rolled out with an update in April - an update that hasn't yet arrived. It's not known whether the update was cancelled or simply delayed.
Mouse and keyboard support would enable Microsoft to better support cross-platform gaming between Xbox and PC users, especially for third- and first-person shooters like PlayerUnknown's Battle Grounds (PUBG), Fortnite, Sniper Elite 4, and the Call of Duty series where a mouse and keyboard confers a clear advantage.
The move, therefore, might be a lever in Microsoft's burgeoning campaign to try to displace Valve Software's Steam service with the Microsoft Store as the go-to place for games on the PC platform.
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