If you haven’t already found a reason to buy an Xbox One, that reluctance might change come November 12. That’s because, as the glorified face of Xbox, Phil Spencer, revealed today, the ‘New Xbox One Experience’ will arrive on that date.
A few lucky candidates enrolled in the Xbox One Preview program have already had the opportunity to toy with the new, Windows 10-inspired interface. Some features, however — such as the ability to format external hard drives — were lagging behind the original Xbox One OS. Hopefully Microsoft can massage some of those issues out by middle of next month.
Since its release nearly two years ago, the Xbox One’s user interface has remained largely unaltered. And, while you can say the same about the PS4, navigating the Xbox One UI has been more troublesome than its nearest competitor, as it was originally designed with the Kinect in mind. Now that Microsoft, as well as everyone else, has all but forgotten its hands-free control schemes of yesteryear, the new interface promises a more controller-friendly experience.
For the most part, it’s aesthetically similar to the Xbox app on Windows 10 PCs, albeit clearly optimized for larger displays. While the “Modern UI” tiles are still an ever-present force in the way you navigate the Xbox One, some of the pain has been alleviated with a task bar on the left-hand side, making menus and settings easier to find.
Another thing to look forward to on November 12 is backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games. While the Xbox One can already run a few last-gen titles on its PC-like architecture, over 100 classics will be supported in just a few weeks.
As GameSpot reported in July, the most requested games list for backwards compatibility on Xbox One was littered with shooters, including many from the Call of Duty series. It is, however, still unclear as to which games will be made available when this feature hits next month.
As for other fundamental changes to the Xbox One infrastructure, Microsoft’s virtual assistant AI, Cortana, was supposed to make its way to Xbox One in this major update. Unfortunately, earlier this month the addition of Cortana was delayed until 2016. When she does arrive next year, though, Xbox One owners will be able to communicate with Cortana using either Kinect or, more likely, a mic-enabled headset.
While it’s disappointing that we still don’t know much about backwards compatibility and we won’t be able to use Cortana in this update, it is refreshing to see a much-needed, revitalized user experience on Xbox One — and just in time for the new Tomb Raider.