The ninth generation of game consoles may not even be a twinkle in Sony, Nintendo, or Microsoft’s eye, but Microsoft is doing the next best thing. The American tech giant has listened to community feedback and will be giving the Xbox One, the Microsoft games console that launched in late 2013, a complete overhaul in the form of a soon-to-be-released update.
The update, dubbed the "New Xbox One Experience,” has been described as a “completely reimagined” version of their console. The latest iteration of the software will be made available at no additional cost to Xbox One owners, and will include tweaks to the interface as well as many new features, including the big one that Xbox One owners have clamored for.
Mike Ybarra, Director of Program Management for Xbox, released a newsletter detailing the upcoming paradigm shift, which rolls out to select Preview customers over the coming weeks but will come to all Xbox One owners this November. A new Guide will be a central location that will allow Xbox One gamers to do all the things they do most often - access Friends, start a party, view messages, go to Settings or do more from Home - without having to pull away from their game. The revamped Home will clear the weeds and make it easier to navigate apps and communicate with friends, and a new Community section will sport several features designed to make the Xbox One a more social console. The OneGuide will also receive a makeover, and may yet become the one-and-only destination for TV, movies, and video apps.
The biggest change the update brings is backward compatibility with the Xbox 360, which means that Xbox One owners will be able to play over 100 Xbox 360 games, with more on the way. Last-generation titles will function as if they were Xbox One games, and players will be able to take screenshots or game DVR, stream video, and play multiplayer with friends who are still using the Xbox 360.
At launch, the Xbox One left many gamers underwhelmed. The far-from-intuitive interface made it easy for users to get lost, and in many games it was a struggle to put a party together or communicate on the microphone. To top it all off, the absence of backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360 severely limited the number of games that could be played on the Xbox One in its first couple of years. But Microsoft has listened to its customers, and may make an about-face on all these issues while providing a completely new experience.
In some ways, the Xbox One was Microsoft’s first attempt to build the Holy Grail of the tech world - the elusive all-in-one device that puts gaming, TV, Apps and Music in one convenient spot. The New Xbox One experience may prove to be a step closer to that goal.
The New Xbox One Experience is available free to Xbox One owners this November.