Amongst the predictable onslaught of
rehashed new games out of E3, comes word that the Xbox One is set to receive a significant makeover – courtesy new Windows 10 underpinnings. And it really can’t arrive soon enough as I find the current interface unwieldy and disorienting. Granted, I am middle-aged and perhaps my synapses don’t fire as fast as they once did. But we’re often the ones bankrolling these initiatives. So I’m happy to see Microsoft throw this old dog a bone. In fact, I give them credit – when it comes to Xbox, they’ve never been afraid to blow up the UI and try something new. It may not always resonate, but I salute their risk-taking in support of bettering the experience.
Some highlights: Beyond a much simplified, though still visually rich, presentation, with a heavy emphasis on “community,” clicking left from the new Home screen or double clicking the Xbox button while in a game brings up a narrow overlay of common settings, features, and messages we’d quickly want to get at. Microsoft is also promising a generally smoother, quicker experience. Further improving usability in a highly significant way is an always-present Cortana for voice control. However, it’s not clear to me if Cortana can be accessed via the gaming headset with mic or if I’m going to once again plug in my dust-collecting Kinect. Sadly, while you can still “pin” your favorite apps, games, and the like … they’re now banished to the very bottom of the Home area and, at least for the moment, I pine for higher priority presentation.