Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch

Microsoft quietly ramps up its small war against Twitch.

Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to Microsoft’s livestreaming play. After acquiring fledgling service Beam last August, then integrating Beam into Windows 10 and the Xbox One, today Microsoft announced a whole raft of changes to make the service more appealing—starting with a new name, Mixer.

Well...not the best start. Sounds like a bad dating site.

The name change is really the least interesting of today’s changes though. “More than just the name, we’re launching several of the features that you all have been asking for. Features that will unlock a whole new world of possibilities for social streaming, and help viewers find the content they’re looking for across the service,” wrote Mixer/Beam co-founder Matt Salsamendi in today’s announcement.

Social streaming is the key phrase. Beam distinguished itself by touting “livestreaming that’s actually live,” a.k.a. with minimal one or two second latency, a huge advantage over Twitch’s 10 to 15 seconds for non-partners. With low latency, conversations between streamer and audience can be a lot more natural.

It also allows the audience to participate in the game—for instance, voting on choices in Telltale games or judging entries in Jackbox Party Pack, effectively becoming part of the stream. These interactions are possible on YouTube and on Twitch, especially for partners who are given lower-latency streams, but there’s no beating the immediacy of one-second latency.

So it’s no surprise Mixer is doubling down on this aspect and then some. What Mixer’s calling “Co-streaming” goes live today. I’ll let Salsamendi explain:

“Starting today, we’re launching the first built-in cooperative streaming experience on a streaming platform where up to 4 streamers can combine their streams into a single viewer experience. Co-streaming enables multiple channel streams to be displayed on a single Mixer page. You and up to three other friends can deliver a stream that combines separate stream sources into one shared ‘split-screen’ view, including a centralized chat experience.”

Examples include watching a League of Legends match where you can see four perspectives at once, or doing the same in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but I imagine it’ll be used more to just get friends streaming together. I know quite a few streamers who group up every week, and even a few who’ve created ad-hoc ways of streaming together (e.g. by overlaying multiple chat windows or going through third-party sites with even more latency) but it’s always been a less-than-ideal experience on Twitch and YouTube. Mixer’s split-screen solution sounds like an amazing idea, provided it works.

Mixer - Co-streaming Mixer

Mixer’s co-streaming experience, here shown playing Rare’s upcoming Sea of Thieves.

And then there are the smaller changes. “Mixer Create” goes into beta today, a mobile app that allows for streaming on the go. Streaming of mobile games is apparently also on the way in the near future. There’s also a new Xbox One Mixer page, as you might expect.

I don’t know if it’s enough to take on Twitch’s entrenched position, but it’s a solid play by Microsoft. Check out the new homepage, or read more about today’s changes here. It sounds like Mixer’s created an excellent toolset—now it just needs an audience, and to get the audience it needs streamers, and to get the streamers it needs an audience. The ol’ chicken-and-egg problem.

Perhaps Microsoft will get a boost from Mixer’s ubiquity in the Windows 10/Xbox ecosystem though. The company’s already promised to stream its E3 press conference over Mixer next month, in 4K no less, which could introduce more people to the service.

Then again, YouTube had everything going for it and botched not one but two attempts to take on Twitch. Never underestimate the power of purple hoodies, I guess.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?