The Xbox One update today introduces backwards compatibility to Microsoft’s console. But the first thing you notice will probably be the Xbox One’s new dashboard. It introduces vertical rather than horizontal scrolling, and is no longer compatible with Kinect gestures.
It’s a sacrifice Microsoft chose to make thanks to low usage of the Kinect on the dashboard. The peripheral has had low sales numbers, and even being bundled with the Xbox One at launch didn’t set a fire under developers and consumers.
“We wanted to prioritize features that customers were asking for, plus areas of improvement from the existing Xbox One UI,” said Xbox’s Mike Ybarra in an interview with Windows Central. “With gestures, the reality was the usage was very, very low. So for now, we’ve cut that from the New Xbox One Experience.”
With this update we’ll also see more crossover between the Xbox One and other Windows 10 machines. The “New Xbox One Experience,” as it’s called, runs on Windows 10. It will be faster, include more social sharing options and easier access to those tools, and add new interactions with friends.
Ybarra paints a picture of a future where the Windows 10 integration runs even deeper, and apps can be accessed across all Windows 10 devices–from the Xbox One, to PCs, to Windows Phones.
“Directionally we stand behind empowering developers to release their apps in every Windows 10 endpoint,” he said. “Through the power of Windows 10 and the app platform we’ve established, the common belief of making developer’s lives a lot easier to span multiple devices and platforms is absolutely a fundamental promise that we want to make.”
With changes like that, however, would come a responsibility to ensure that the Xbox One remains a family-friendly living room device.
“It’s a safe device; I can have my kids playing it, I know they’re going to play games, they’re going to have a good time, with the living room there’s a set of accountabilities that I think we have to think strongly about,” he told Windows Central. “We believe in empowering people to buy their apps and run them on all Windows 10 devices, but we just have to work out the details.”
At 3PM today, backwards compatibility will be live on the Xbox One. Xbox has announced a list of over 100 Xbox 360 games that will be available from the start, and promises that it is continuing to work with developers to make games playable on the new console. It will work with games you bought on disc, as well as games you bought digitally. With the disc version, just insert the disc and you will have access to a digital download. Any game you bought digitally for the Xbox 360 should be automatically available for you to install on the Xbox One.
One of the bigger challenges of making these games backwards compatible was adding in social media components that weren’t there before. Xbox also says any Achievements that you earned will be preserved.