Microsoft is Tinkering with the Xbox Dashboard. Again

Xbox Insiders are now testing what I believe is Microsoft’s 117th attempt at delivering a fast and efficient Xbox One Dashboard.

OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But it’s at least the 115th attempt. The slowness and inefficiency of this interface is something that’s been dogging Xbox One users since there’s been an Xbox One, and it seems like every other Xbox update is designed to fix the problem.

So here we go again.

“The Home [screen of the Dashboard] on Xbox One is the first thing you see when you turn on your Xbox One, and we want to deliver an easy and seamless experience for you to navigate your console,” Microsoft’s Bradley Rossetti explains. “We’ve heard your feedback and have continued to iterate on Home to get you into your gaming experiences faster and keeping more of your content front and center. With today’s update, we’re experimenting with a streamlined user interface.”

So, what’s different? Well, it looks like the tabs at the top—or what Rossetti calls “the twists”—are gone, “in favor of separate buttons that launch your gaming experiences. The goal is to let you jump into Xbox Game Pass, Mixer, Xbox Community, and Microsoft Store quicker than ever. We’ve also shifted things around to make more room for your recently played titles.”

Ah yes. Shifted things around. There’s been a lot of that in the Xbox One UI, which has proven so impervious to performance improvements that Microsoft has been relegated to reducing button pushes to make it more efficient. This work apparently continues.

What’s interesting about this one, however, is that Microsoft is actually seeking the community’s help to determine whether this new design is better.

“The new experimental Home rolls out this week to select Xbox Insiders in our Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead rings,” Rossetti continues. “For more details on [the] rollout, keep an eye on the Xbox Insiders section of Xbox Wire. The Home experience will continue to evolve and change based on your feedback, so please let us know what you think and share your ideas for Home at the Xbox Ideas Hub. You may see this layout change and even come and go as we iterate on your feedback.”

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Conversation 16 comments

  • Chris_Kez

    Premium Member
    25 July, 2019 - 7:20 am

    <p>Has anyone inside the Xbox team ever provided any insight into how or why the interface is slow?</p>

    • RamblingGeek

      25 July, 2019 - 7:57 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#444892">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><p>I think its an inherent issues with the architecture of the xbox one x, it's based on Hyper-V and I think there must be issues with performance of the Hyper-V VM running the dashboard, I suspect MS knows this and each time the tweak the Dashboard, they are just trying to get the best perf they can. </p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        25 July, 2019 - 8:39 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#444895">In reply to RamblingGeek:</a></em></blockquote><p>I find it odd that modern 3D games can run at great resolution and frame rates, and yet a basic UI cannot even function effectively. </p>

        • darkgrayknight

          Premium Member
          25 July, 2019 - 6:24 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#444905">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p>Condersing RamblingGeek's comment, I think that would make sense as to why games run great, but the UI doesn't. Without knowing the gritty details, there may be a way to make the UI run in its own VM with special calls back to HyperV.</p>

    • davidtieman

      Premium Member
      25 July, 2019 - 3:23 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#444892">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><p>My Theory has always been that they need to keep the dashboard in memory so it pops up when invoked from with in a game. But they need as much memory as possible for the games so they had very little memory left for the dashboard so it runs slow or they are paging a lot of it out to disk. But this is just a guess.</p>

  • madthinus

    Premium Member
    25 July, 2019 - 8:04 am

    <p>The store experience is terrible. Just search for something last night and reminded of how bad it can be. If you want to buy an Xbox 360 title, three screens to just get to the price. Why is this so bad? </p>

  • gregsedwards

    Premium Member
    25 July, 2019 - 8:17 am

    <p>It’s like engineers cranked the snarkiness setting of the Thurrott-bot AI up to 11 on this one.</p><p><br></p><p>And I caught your Master Chief reference. Nice.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      25 July, 2019 - 8:38 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#444898">In reply to gregsedwards:</a></em></blockquote><p>I distinctly remember when the Xbox One was coming out that, whatever else happened, at least Microsoft would finally get ahead of the Dashboard performance problems. Nope.</p>

      • will

        Premium Member
        25 July, 2019 - 10:37 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#444904">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><p>Well when you have a 6-teraflop system it is hard to have a UI that is fluid…I know, if Microsoft will build a NEW console with SSD, 20-teraflop system, and native 4k 60fps the UI will FINALLY be fast. ;)</p>

  • Passinttd

    25 July, 2019 - 8:22 am

    <p>I actually think this is a much better idea. If they have the tabs at the top be completely different sections of the OS then they wont load at boot / loading home screen. This would allow the home screen to load much quicker. Would also allow that part to load quicker once you wish to get into it. Simplify the home screen and you will be much better!</p>

  • Ron Diaz

    25 July, 2019 - 10:51 am

    <p>Suffice it to say UIs have never really been Microsoft’s thing…</p>

    • flekmatik

      25 July, 2019 - 3:28 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#444952">In reply to Hypnotoad:</a></em></blockquote><p>Actually the complete opposite is true. Windows 95 was piece of art which ensured dominance of this company for decades.</p><p><br></p><p>Interface in Xbox 360 (blades, achievements) was the best console experience ever implemented. It's by miles better than anything available today.</p><p><br></p><p>Overall I believe Microsoft was doing very well in UI department (except for mobile) until they started doing black empty spaces with letters randomly thrown all around.</p>

      • Alastair Cooper

        30 July, 2019 - 5:06 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#445063">In reply to flekmatik:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>The Linux Mint UI on my desktop is an ironic testament to just how good the design of Windows 95 was!!</p>

    • dontbe evil

      26 July, 2019 - 5:16 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#444952">In reply to Hypnotoad:</a></em></blockquote><p>you mean like after metro, almost eveyrbody copied flat and minimal design?</p>

  • michaelpatricehuber

    Premium Member
    25 July, 2019 - 12:32 pm

    <p>I was particularly disappointed when the Xbox One X / Scorpio came out. I foolishly fought that the performance issues were addressed. No luck…</p><p><br></p><p>Aside from performance, the UI has always been poor. Just too much going on. The most basic functions (like starting a game or looking at your full library, or particularly signing out a single account) took too many actions. </p>

  • Shehzad Joss Yousaf

    26 July, 2019 - 5:25 am

    <p>As others have noted, the "blades" concept for the Xbox 360 UI was mostly well received and performed well. I was surprised this wasn't carried forward to the Xbox One. </p>

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