Good news, Xbox fans: The New Xbox One Experience is now rolling out to Microsoft’s premier console, bringing a major UI refresh, performance improvements, and backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games.
“We will begin the global rollout of the New Xbox One Experience after 3:01am ET/ 12:01am PT November 12th,” Xbox’s Larry Hryb announced on his Major Nelson blog. “It’s important to note that not everyone will get the update at once, as it will be deploying globally to the Xbox One audience.”
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Like other Xbox One system updates, the New Xbox One User Experience will install in the background on consoles configured for Instant-on power management. If you’re using the Energy-saving profile instead, you will need to turn on your Xbox One and manually check for an update. All Xbox One consoles will be required to update on November 23rd if they have not yet done so.
Beyond that, nothing is typical about the New Xbox One Experience. This is not your average system update. You can learn more in my New Xbox One Experience Preview, but here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect:
Windows 10. The underpinnings of the Xbox OS have been upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 10, providing improved performance and the virtualization technology Microsoft used to implement backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. In the future, Microsoft will begin adding other Windows 10 functionality to Xbox One, including support for Cortana and Windows 10 universal apps.
New dashboard. For the first time since launch, the Xbox One user experience is getting a major refresh, with a more efficient new layout and a much-improved Store.
New Xbox Guide. The new Xbox Guide—which you access by double-tapping the Xbox button on the controller—is now presented as an overlay everywhere in Xbox One. As a result, it is much faster than before, though still not instantaneous. And it provides quick access to those things a gamer would need in the heat of battle: Access to their friends, gaming party, messages, notifications, and settings, plus screenshot and video clip recording.
Xbox 360 game compatibility. As noted in Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility on Xbox One Preview, the New Xbox One Experience includes a new feature called Xbox One Backwards Compatibility that lets you console play a selection of Xbox 360 games. Starting later today, you’ll be able to choose from over 100 Xbox 360 games, which will work whether they were purchased on disc or digitally. And more will be added over time.
I spoke with Partner Group Program Manager for Xbox One Richard Irving recently, and he told me that the New Xbox One Experience, like everything else Microsoft is doing with the console, is really about focusing on what fans want most.
“The speed improvements are incredible,” he said, citing a 3X improvement for such tasks as displaying your friends list while in a game. “That is sort of the anchor. “A lot of it is moving pixels, changing the architecture, the migration to Windows 10, and optimizing everything so that there are fewer steps to getting things done. The end result is that everything is faster.”
I’ve been using the New Xbox One Experience for the past month or so, and while some may cringe at this description, it really is like getting a new Xbox One—not to mention an Xbox 360—in your Xbox One. If you’re a heavy Xbox One user, it may take a few days to get over some of the changes, in particular the location of some items, like pins. But as I’ve found, none of this is insurmountable and understanding the new navigation shortcuts—as before you can use the controller bumpers to move quickly left and right, but you can now use the triggers for up and down too—will really help.
Long story short, this is all good news.