The Xbox One is getting Cortana and over 100 backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games in November

E3 2015 Backwards Compatible Xbox One.
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.


Cortana, meet Alexa: Buy an Xbox One from Amazon and get a free Echo Dot

If you buy an Xbox One S or Xbox One X bundle through Amazon right now, you'll also receive a free Echo Dot. The device features integration with Xbox One through the Alexa and Cortana assistants.

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last year, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.

Indie games are the highlight of this week's Xbox Games with Gold

It's that time of the month when Microsoft updates their Games with Gold deals and adds new titles to their Spotlight Sale. Here's our list of the best Games with Gold deals available right now for the Xbox One.

‘Borderlands 2 VR’ brings you back to Pandora, but you’ll go there alone

Borderlands 2 has already released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and even PlayStation Vita, but it will soon have a home on PlayStation VR, as well. Borderlands 2 VR is out in December.

From Blackout to Zombies, here's everything we know about 'Black Ops 4'

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12. Here's everything you need to know about the game, including info on multiplayer, Zombies, Blackout, and Signature Weapons.

GameStop manager marks ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ launch by mimicking cover art

To celebrate the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, GameStop stores held midnight launch events across the United States. One manager even cosplayed as the cover star from the game, complete with an accurate haircut.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' learns a few new tricks, but it's Call of Duty to the core

Despite nods to hero-based tactical gameplay, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer feels as stable as ever -- even as the game trades in its story-driven campaign for the new Blackout mode.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

Here’s our guide on how to get ‘Fortnite’ on your Android device

'Fortnite: Battle Royale' is one of the biggest games in the world right now, and it's finally on Android, even if getting set up is a bit long-winded. Here's how to play 'Fortnite: Battle Royale' on an Android device.

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.

Open-world video games are getting too big for their own good

As technology has progressed, open-world video games have grown increasingly bigger. What seems like a universal positive has shown problems preventing the genre from truly moving forward, however.
Product Review

The Oculus Rift is cheaper, the Vive Pro is better. Is the original Vive still worth it?

The Oculus Rift may have brought virtual reality into the public eye, but HTC’s Vive, built in partnership with Valve, does it better. Does the Vive still represent the true future of virtual reality, or are there better competitors on…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.