Among the questions raised by Microsoft’s “One Windows” vision is what it means to bring Windows 10 to Xbox One. Last night, we found out: Microsoft will roll out the Windows 10 upgrade for Xbox One as a system update this fall and enable a new user experience that includes, among other things, Cortana-based voice assistance while gaming.
If you were expecting a full-screen version of the Windows 10 Start experience for PCs to head to Xbox One, it’s not quite that. Instead, with the Windows 10 upgrade, Xbox One will pick up an updated, evolved UI that is visually similar to the current Xbox One Dashboard. And it will include other new bits, such as Cortana integration, a new quick-menu system, a new Community section, and more.
Here’s what’s happening.
ETA. The New Xbox One Expeirence, as Microsoft is calling this update, will ship “this holiday season” as we expected.
Performance. One my big disappoints with the Xbox One is the performance: I always found the Xbox 360 Dashboard UIs—including the ones that you can pop-up (often by mistake) while playing a game—to be mind-numbingly slow. But the Xbox One is just as bad. Now, Microsoft is promising to fix this UI slowness in the new update. “The thing we wanted to improve most, getting into and out of games, getting access to the friends in your parties, your Game DVR clips, your screenshots … we just want that all to be very fast,” Microsoft’s Richard Irving says.
New Home. The Home section of the Xbox One Dashboard—which is the default view you see when you boot into the system—has been updated with a prominent new Recently Played area that shows all the apps and games you’ve played recently in a vertically scrolling list. As you move through this list, you will see additional information about each game you’ve played, including a Game Hub link, announcements, shortcuts to your most recently-recorded Game DVR clips and screenshots, and more.
Pins. Today, there is a Pins section to the left of Home in the current Dashboard. In the new experience, Pins is the last section in that vertically scrolling Recently Played list.
Community. This new section appears to the right of Home in the new Dashboard. It’s basically a combo view of your activity feed and a what’s trending list, and is somewhat reminiscent of the Xbox app on Windows 10.
Quick Menu. On the left side of the Dashboard, you will see a vertical menu of icons called the Quick Menu, which resembles the collapsed menu pane you see in so many of the universal apps in Windows 10. From top to bottom, this menu has items for Friends, Notifications, Messages, and Settings. And it will appear on top of games as well: just double-tap the Home button on the Xbox One controller. What’s nice about this approach is that it doesn’t cover up the game display. Instead, the game resizes to fit the remaining area of the screen.
Cortana. Microsoft’s Windows 10-based personal digital assistant will help you do things while playing games—”Hey, Cortana. Is Amanda online?”—and will appear as text in the upper-left of the screen while the Cortana voice also reads the response. The nice thing about this functionality is that you don’t have to stop playing. And Cortana can do everything you could do with “Xbox” voice commands, but better. So instead of saying something like “Xbox, record that” you could say “Hey, Cortana. Record the last minute,” and get more video. It’s more natural and more powerful.
I’m really excited about this update and am guessing it will be rolled out in pieces over the coming months, first to Preview members.
Tagged with Windows 10