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A new beta of Microsoft’s Beam game-streaming service now live for Pro users

microsofts beam game streaming service updated pro subscribers beta interface
Matt Salsamendi from the Beam game-streaming service posted a blog on Tuesday stating that “Pro” users can now test a new version that was built from the ground up for scalability. To compete with Twitch, in August Microsoft acquired Beam, which moves away from Twitch’s watch-and-chat setup by enabling users to directly interact with game streamers and even play along. The goal of the Beam acquisition is to provide native live-streaming to Windows and Xbox-based gamers.

The new beta enables users to log into the Beam service via Xbox Live, adding to the current Twitter and Discord options. Eventually, this will be the only way users can log in because Microsoft wants a “universal and easy-to-use” authentication mechanism. This method also promises deeper social experiences, game integrations, and security enhancements. It also merges Beam into Microsoft’s overall Windows/Xbox gaming community.

“We’ll be adopting a Twitter-style username system where, while your username is your unique gamertag, you can specify a custom channel display name that viewers see when going to your channel (e.g. My gamertag is Salsa, but my channel name could be MattDoesGaming),” Salsamendi explains. “It’s likely we’ll adopt a verification system shortly after launch, too, so you know that I’m the real MattDoesGaming, of course.”

In addition to the Xbox Live login feature, the team has improved Beam’s overall performance. According to the blog, the site now loads five times faster than before, and is better optimized for browsers on mobile devices. That means the team is retiring the spinner that hovered on screens like a hurricane when loading content. The site renders faster, too at up to 60 frames per second, Salsamendi says.

But that’s not all. With the performance upgrade comes a new home page sporting more content than before. The revamped interface now provides more screen space for broadcasters, the ability to feature mature streams to users aged 18 and older, and means for scheduling and featuring multiple broadcasters and events. The experience is now more consistent across the site too, sporting “kinetic” animations for interactions and transitions.

Another feature added to the beta is an increased bitrate and improved resolution. The team raised the maximum bitrate to 10 megabits per second, and Beam now supports 1,440p streams running at 60 frames per second. Super high motion 1080p streaming “looks awesome,” Salsamendi adds..

Other additions and improvements made to the Beam service in the new beta include “deep” improvements to the chat system, and a new video player based on HTML5 (bye-bye Flash). The team has also created a new Beam logo that resembles a blue/white life preserver, an eyeball, or a pool ball without a number: you decide.

Beam Pro users can check out all the freshly baked features now in the new beta while mainstream Beam users will see the updates roll out in early 2017. Beam for the Xbox One console is expected to arrive sometime this winter as well, along with “hybrid” applications for mobile users in early 2017.

As a reminder, Beam Pro costs $8 per month, and provides access to new features, premium support, premium chat highlights, and a “2x” experience multiplier. The subscription tier also removes advertisements.

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