Disappointed that the Xbox One isn’t getting over-the-air DVR until 2016? Don’t fret — the nascent gaming box is getting two other big upgrades later this year. During a press conference at Gamescom in Germany, Microsoft announced that both Windows 10 and backwards compatibility would arrive on Xbox One consoles in November.
The Windows 10 bound for Xbox One isn’t quite the same operating system that hit millions of PCs early last week. Instead, it’s a firmware akin to the Xbox 360’s 2011 “metro” update — a redesigned skin with a few new bells and whistles.
At E3 in June Microsoft said the new dashboard was focused on “speed” and “performance,” and that much is evident from its stripped-down appearance. Windows 10 on Xbox One pares down the home screen tabs to Home, Community, Watch, Games, Movies & TV, Apps, and Music, and adds a new trending section alongside your activity feed that highlights popular games and events on Xbox. Friend lists, messages, and Party Chat, meanwhile, have been relegated to a slide-away pane accessible by double-tapping the Xbox button on a controller.
Media’s now easier to navigate. The Watch tab unifies content sources — Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, and live TV — to surface high-profile series. And OneGuide, Microsoft’s overlay for live television, now sports picture-in-picture support and a full screen view.
The changes aren’t strictly aesthetic. Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri-like digital assistant, is also making the jump to Xbox One. So long as you’ve got a Kinect (Cortana won’t respond to a headset), you’ll be take advantage of its robust voice recognition to chain together commands. A phrase like “Hey Cortana, start a party and invite John,” for example, will invite a friend to a newly created chat session.
Xbox One’s new backwards compatibility feature will also launch in earnest in November. It’s been available to users who opted into the Xbox One Preview Program since June, but it will roll out broadly with “over 100” Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade games over the next few weeks. Microsoft said that, going forward, all Xbox 360 Games with Gold selections will be made “with backwards compatibility in mind,” effectively doubling the free monthly offerings for Xbox One gamers.
Windows 10 update will start rolling out to Preview Program members in September, according to Head of Platform Engineering at Xbox Mike Ybarra.